Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Save $ with Homemade Laundry Detergent

The above photos are a few I took earlier today as I was whipping up a batch of Homemade Laundry Detergent . . . I will share the recipe near the end of this post but first I wish to do some explaining . . .
This is one of the best money saving ideas I've ever tried and it is also great for those who suffer from allergies.  This recipe will produce about 10 gallons of liquid laundry detergent.  The smell is mild and clean. If you wish, you can add a few drops of essential oils (available at most every health food store) in a fragrance of your choice. I choose to leave that out.

There are many recipes for liquid laundry detergent but this is one of the easiest and most frugal. For a batch of about 10 gallons, you find that you have generated enough for about 320 average loads of laundry for the grand total of under $3.00 and about an hour of your time.  

A few tips before you start include obtaining 5 gallon bucket. The deli/bakery area of most larger supermarkets have them. A few will give them to you but some (including WalMart) will charge you for them.  Check around. Be sure to get one with a lid.  Some of the buckets are only about 4 gallons but you can adjust with another container.

Another tip is to save your liquid laundry detergent containers. You don't even have to wash them out! You may begin with only one, but I use between 8 and 10 on a regular basis. Of course, when I did purchase them, I got them on a sale . . . a friend may save them for you also.

Here is the recipe:
4 cups hot tap water
1 - bar of Fels Naptha soap (10 - 12 ounces)
      (or Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk's Hardwater Castile, Zote bars or Octagon)
     (If you use Octagon - which I did - you will need 2 bars since they are smaller)
     You will need between 10 and 14 ounces of bar soap!!!
1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
   *Baking Soda nor Arm & Hammer Detergent will work - it must be sodium carbonate
3/4 cup Borax (20 Mule Team brand is readily available)
2 Tbs. glycerin (this is optional but will make it smoother) - it is available at any  
   drugstore/WalMart *(Oops! Walmart no longer stocks it!)

Grate or finely chop/shave the bar of soap.  I find that using a big knife on a cutting board works best. The finer you make it the quicker it will dissolve. Add the hot tap water and the grated soap to a pan over medium heat.  Stir occasionally prevent it from sticking or lumping up.  When the soap is completely melted, fill the 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water.  Add the melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until the powder is all dissolved. Stir in the glycerine if desired. If you wish to use essential oil for fragrance, stir that in now as well (20-30 drops).  Fill the bucket with more water, stir and let sit overnight to thicken.

Stir and then fill your laundry container half full with the soap. Fill the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use as it will gel.  You can leave it in the bucket, stirring well before each use and use a measuring cup to transfer it to your washing machine. If you choose this method, you may divide the detergent between two five gallon buckets and fill each with water, stirring well.

When the detergent is fully diluted (making a total of 10 gallons), here are instructions for use:
Top load machine - 1/2 cup per load
Front load machine - 1/4 cup per load
This detergent WILL thicken so be sure to shake or stir well before each use.

It will leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean and just think of all the money you are saving. What will you do with it? It is my hope that you will use it to stock up on food and other necessities for hard times are just around the corner.

Comments are welcome!


  1. Baking soda will or will not work? the nor is throwing me... do you mean ivory soap like you bath with or is there another kind? Where in Wal-Mart do you find the glycerine, I know it should be in the pharmacy area, but what area... bandages, laxatives, narrow it down for me please. How long does it keep and have you ever had mold or anything grow on it if you keep it too long?

  2. Baking soda will NOT work. I can't remember where to find the glycerine exactly because WalMart is so famous for moving things around - it is in the Rx area - ask some in the pharmacy. It's just a little 4 oz bottle if that helps.
    I've never had it mold . . . but then I do use it up though I've kept it for over a year.

  3. Where do you get washing soda? How is it different from the detergent - I mean in identification, what would it say it does on the box? whitens or softens or what... I have no idea what I'll be looking for.

  4. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda is found where you find other laundry detergents/products in the grocery store.

  5. Love this idea! I'm going to try it. Thank you for posting it!

  6. Besides being cheaper, does homemade detergent work as well as store bought? I have read that it can make colors duller and whites grey. I'm hoping this isn't true.

  7. Have you found one soap to be be better? I need one thqt can lift out ground in dirt, Alabama red clay and concession stand condiments.

  8. I think homemade detergent works as well as store bought. I haven't noticed my whites looking grey or colors duller.
    Also, for ground in dirt, rub a little of the detergent directly into the stains before laundering.
    As far as Fels Naptha soap goes, it is the best I've ever found for whitening white socks when my kids were growing up. They would run around all over the place in their sock feet.
    Another tidbit about it is that if you scrub up with it after being exposed to poison ivy or poison oak, it generally will prevent the rash!

  9. I am very excited about this homemade detergent. I just made some and can't wait to try it. I was wondering if you can use this for washing dishes too or do you have a homemade one for that too?

  10. Dear Anonymous . . . it doesn't suds very well for doing dishes but when I was a girl ( a very long time ago) my mother used to use a knife and shave slivers of Fels Naptha soap into her dishpan to wash dishes with . . Feel free to try it and let me know your results.
    I do have a recipe for dishwashing liquid but I have not made it or used it myself. Let me experiment with it and if I obtain satisfactory results will post it too!

  11. Ok I made the detergent yesterday and I went to look at it today and it is not real thick. Did I do something wrong? I used Ivory soap 3.1 oz. Can I still use it or not?
    Thank you

  12. That is not enough soap, you need to use about 12 ounces. Use at least three more bars, dilute to melt in a little water and add it to the mix.
    I personally have never used Ivory soap and don't know anyone who has, but according to the directions it is supposed to work. I have only used either Fels Naptha or Octagon and they both do a fantastic job.
    It should be thicker and adding three additional bars should do the trick. Good luck and be sure to share your results.

  13. I can't wait to join all of you. I am a babe in the "canning" or making soap department but,,,, this is a new day and a new world. God Bless all of you as I look up to all of you. Prayfully , someday , I will have something valueable to this group of women who God meant for us to be. God Bless, Nanax10

  14. Welcome to my blog Nanax10 . . . As we learn from whatever source, we have a responsibility to share that with others whether they be old or young, male or female, . . we are all in this together!