Tuesday, September 6, 2011

DIY Laundry Detergent


My nemesis.

I've mentioned that I hate doing laundry before, right?

That was a joke.

I'm hopping on a plane to Orlando for a radio conference first thing Wednesday morning. Whenever I go away, I do every single scrap of laundry so it's not waiting for me when I get back.

And so I have clothes to pack. I don't think my radio friends would appreciate me walking around...never mind.

So I spent my Labor Day doing the only appropriate thing: laboring.

Now, here's the thing, you've probably noticed along with me that the price of laundry detergent is ridiculous. RIDICULOUS. And I'm a single person noticing this! I can't imagine how much detergent a family goes through in a week.

I've seen a couple of folks online who have begun making their own laundry detergent. They appear to be perfectly normal people. There are no twigs in their hair. There are no pictures of them hugging a tree. They appear to be normal, hard working folk who are tired of paying for a label. I'm with them. Being raised in a home school environment has made a bit of a rebel when it comes to labels. I don't like to pay extra $$$ to wear or advertise someone's name. Frankly, the marketer in me says THEY should pay ME to advertise their biz, but that's a whole different topic.

Back to making your own detergent.



It took me less time to make this then it does to make chocolate chip cookies. For reals.

What I like about this is that it uses all natural ingredients, it's easy to make (grating soap is the hardest part), it can be fragrance free, and it's CHEAP. All you need is three ingredients that should be found at your local grocery store. My nearest grocery store is about 20 minutes away, but Target and Walmart are closer. I found the Borax at Target and the Washing Soda at Walmart.

Washing Soda

Washing Soda is not the same as baking soda, so let's get that out there right away. They are two different things but they are in the same family. Washing Soda can be used with your regular detergent to boost its cleaning power. For instance, to help with a heavily soiled load of laundry, add 1 cup of Washing Soda, along with the usual amount of your detergent, to the beginning of the wash cycle. It can literally be used all over the house - Arm & Hammer has more ways that you can use it around the house here.


Borax is not boric acid. They are two completely different things, so let's set the record straight, just in case you've been wondering about that. Borax is a mineral, so it is all natural, but you should know up front that this is something that needs to be kept up high away from kids and pets, just like you would any other cleaning agent...because it IS a cleaning agent. I've always had this fear that Borax was like bleach or chlorine, and it's not. It's been used for over 115 years in laundry and can clean just about everything. Check out the uses at the 20 Mule Team website. AOL also shows different ways to use it here.

Bar of Soap

That's pretty self explanatory. Some folks use a bar of Fels-Naptha, which is a heavy duty laundry soap. Some folks use a bar of Ivory or Castille soap. I decided to use what I had on hand. My grandmother gave me some milled soap for Christmas, so I decided to grate that. The Fels-Naptha bar label says it's 5.5 ounces and the Ivory bar is close to five. I have a food scale, so I weighed my bar of soap - it was only 2.5 ounces. I had two of them, so I grated both bars to equal one regular bar of soap. On a side note, I grated my wrist and the knuckles of my thumb and middle finger right after I took this picture. That wasn't awesome. But I'm sure Edison didn't come away unscathed while inventing the light bulb, no?

The recipe for DIY Laundry Detergent is simple:

2 cups Washing Soda
2 cups Borax
1 4-5oz bar of soap, grated on the small holes of a grater

Stir it up and use. The usage varies, I've discovered, but most seem to lean towards using one tablespoon for regular loads or two tablespoons for large or super dirty loads. When I was buying the ingredients, I also picked up the fancy jar for about $8 at Walmart - definitely should have purchased the smaller size. I also picked up the grater for $3 (thought it was better to have a grater that was just for grating non-food items since I grate non-food items all the time...not) and the scoop for $2. The scoop is a coffee scoop that holds two tablespoons. Since I only do super loads, that's perfect. The cost of the Borax and Washing Soda was around $6 total. Using my own soap was free. The savings are huge here. There's still QUITE A LOT left in the boxes, so I'll be able to make more. It comes out to somewhere around a nickel to do each load of laundry. That makes me happy. I did three loads yesterday using my DIY mix, and so far so good. The whites were white, and everything smelled clean and fresh. While the bars of soap that I used had a fragrance, it didn't carry over into the clothing. I do miss the fragrance, but I'm reminding myself that fragrance doesn't mean that it's clean.

So, DIY detergent was made VERY fast, it works, and I'll keep using it. Now that I've got all of this Washing Soda and Borax on hand, I'll see what else I can do with that!

--Erin :-D


  1. I would love to try this. Are you using it in an HE machine?

  2. I coupon so I do not usually pay much for detergent! I agree the prices are ridiculous, even on "sale"! I recently bought 16 bottles for $1 each but they will run out. And if I cannot find another deal like that I will give this a try!

  3. Love how crafty you are! I'm going to make this over the weekend!

  4. Thanks for this recipe! I am definitely going to try it! I think it should work for my he washer, because none of these ingredients are very sudsy.

  5. Can you use it in high efficiency front loading washers, or is it too sudsy? Thank you!


Thanks for taking time to share your thoughts - we love it when you do!

~ Jack & Erin

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