DIY Laundry Detergent

Motivated to save money I’ve started making my own household products. I’ve been using homemade laundry detergent for about a month and I’m in love. It smashingly meets all three of my “homemade product requirements” – save money, be quick and easy, and work well.

Much like the Dishwasher Detergent I posted about last week, it’s important to note that not everyone will have the same results. A quick Google search will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about Laundry Detergent including the fact that your water has a huge impact on how well it works for you. That said, there are a ton of different recipes out there (most using the same ingredients in differing quantities) for powdered or even liquid detergent. Start with a small batch and adjust if you need to.

I went with a powdered detergent because it required a lot less work.

1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Powder (not baking – washing powder is found in the laundry isle)
1 Cup Borax powder (also in laundry isle)
1 grated bar of soap (I used Fels-Naptha – a “laundry soap”, found in the laundry isle)

Combine above ingredients thoroughly. Use 1 – 2 tablespoons per load. (I’ve used just 1 TBSP per load with good results but add more for extra large or heavily soiled loads.)

Does it Save Money:

This cost $1.80 per batch and made enough to wash 37 loads. Previously I was buying All Free and Clear which costs about $7 for 32 loads if you pay full price. I could usually find it on sale for $3-4. So the homemade version saves me about half, maybe a little more. If you currently use a more expensive detergent, like Tide, this recipe will save you a small fortune.

Most of this cost was the Fels-Naptha soap which I found for 97 cents a bar at Walmart. Many recipes online say you can use a regular ol’ bar of Ivory soap which runs about 30 or 40 cents a bar. But, I also found some warnings about using Ivory soap with a septic tank – which we have. Rather than risk clogging our septic system, I’ll just spend the extra 50 cents for laundry soap.

Is it Quick and Easy:

The bar of soap has to be grated. When I first started that process I thought it would be a nightmare but it really only took about 5 minutes. I just used a simple hand grater that is for “fine” grating. After that you just stir. How hard is that? I haven’t had any issues with clumping like I did with the Dishwasher Detergent. Just combine and put in a container with a lid. About as easy as it gets.

Is it Effective:

Yes. But, there are a few things to consider. First, the Fels-Naptha soap has a very strong smell prior to being poured into the washer. However, when clothes come out of the washer they really smell like nothing. As I stated before, we had been using the All Free and Clear so we are used to smell free laundry – prefer it really. But, if you like heavily scented laundry detergents, this isn’t it. Perhaps the Ivory or another bar soap would have a more lasting scent, but I’m not sure.

Secondly, there are concerns about the Fels-Naptha causing white clothes to look “dingy”. Is this happening to us? Maaayybeee. I can’t really tell. Some things might sort of look a little dingy but they may have been that way before. Clearly, it isn’t very noticeable. I think I will increase the amount of Borax I put in the next batch to maybe 1 1/2 cups since Borax is the “whitening” agent and see if I notice a difference.

Sensitive skin? Us too. I can’t use liquid fabric softener because it makes me incredibly itchy. And Mikayla breaks out almost every day from some unknown skin irritant. Anything rubbing too tight or if it’s too hot she breaks out. So, I was hesitant at first but after using it for a month we’ve had no problems. And I’ve washed everything we wear plus towels and bedding with the homemade detergent. If sensitive skin is a concern, start with a smaller batch and wash something that won’t cause too much discomfort if you do have a bad reaction – in other words, start with a shirt not your underwear.

A note about front load washers – I don’t have one. BUT, from what I understand, front load washers need “special” detergent because they need low-suds. This homemade detergent is very low-suds, or even no-suds. I found many comments on several different sites stating it was safe to use in front load washers. Again, a quick Google search will probably give you more information than you care to have.

In summary, I’m thrilled with the homemade laundry detergent and consider this a successful DIY project. Effective detergent that costs less than half the store bought kind and is fairly simple to make…perfect. Plus there’s a good chance this is better for your family and the planet. A WIN for everyone!

Ever made homemade detergent? How did it turn out?


3 responses to “DIY Laundry Detergent

  1. Pingback: Homemade Matching Card Game « Chrystal Murphy

  2. Pingback: Laundry Detergent – UPDATE « Chrystal Murphy

  3. Mandy Shelton September 21, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    I use this recipe also. I add a tub of Oxy Clean to it. It really helps

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