This homemade laundry detergent recipe can save your family lots of money at the grocery store. Try this powdered laundry detergent made with Borax, washing soda, & a laundry soap bar. Try this recipe
A homemade laundry detergent recipe can save your family lots of money. Try this DIY powdered detergent made with Borax, washing soda, & a castile soap bar.
As we look to reduce our spending this year, I wanted to revive a few of our most popular DIY projects and this is one my FAVORITE DIY projects we have done for our family.
This homemade laundry soap has been one of our tried-and-true projects for both savings AND for getting our clothes clean even with our most sensitive skin problems.
I made this tutorial WAY back in 2013 and have adjusted the prices to the current pricing to ensure that this is as accurate as possible.
As you can imagine, materials pricing went up, but not as much as I had expected.
This is still much more economical than buying store-bought detergent. To add to the cost savings, I’ve included some ways that you can make it even more economical.
What are the Benefits to Making Your Own Detergent?
The top question I get asked is if these homemade detergents work and if it is worth the effort. Not only does it work AMAZING, but the cost savings (detailed below) is also worth it as we combat these rising grocery prices.
Not only does making your own laundry detergent save you money, but it can also reduce your environmental impact.
For example, homemade detergents have a smaller carbon footprint than store-bought detergents, simply from a plastic packaging perspective alone.
On top of that, you can control the ingredients that go into your laundry detergent.
What Ingredients Do I Need to Make My Own Laundry Detergent?
Homemade laundry detergent is a simple and cost-effective way to clean your clothes. It can be made with just three ingredients: Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap, washing soda, and borax.
The Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap is a powerful stain remover that can help to lift dirt and grime from your clothes. It is a staple ingredient in many homemade laundry detergents and can be found at most grocery stores or online.
Alternatively, you can also use Zote, Ivory Bar Soap, or Dr. Bonner’s Castile Bar Soap as a substitute.
Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate, is a powerful cleaning agent that can help to remove stains and brighten whites.
Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a natural mineral used for cleaning and laundry for centuries. It is a powerful stain remover and can help to brighten whites and remove odors.
How Much Does It Cost to Make a Homemade Batch of Laundry Detergent? (pricing updated for 2023)
The current pricing on these three ingredients is:
Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar– $2.59 per bar (currently unavailable online at a reasonable price through Walmart- check on your store shelves)
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 ounce box)- $4.59
20 Mule Team Borax (65-ounce box)- $5.97
One batch of laundry detergent takes one cup of the borax, one cup of the washing soda, and one bar of soap.
Using these current prices, if the total cost of the ingredients is $2.59 for the laundry bar + $4.59 for the washing soda + $5.97 for the borax, the total cost is $13.15. Dividing this by the number of batches you can make, it gives us a cost of about $0.83 per batch!
If you use one tablespoon of detergent per load, it will cost you just $0.06 per load!
If you have a particularly dirty load, you can use two tablespoons, then it would cost just $0.11 per load.
It is possible that buying these items locally will yield even more savings versus buying the ingredients online.
Where Do I Buy the Ingredients for My DIY Laundry Detergent?
Walmart can be a great option (only purchase IN STORE to avoid those third-party online prices). These supplies are all right in a row at your local store and are located on the opposite side of the laundry detergents, over by the stain remover.
If you don’t have success at your store, another unexpectedly frugal spot to shop is your local hardware store.
How Do you Grate the Laundry Soap Bar?
You can definitely use an old-fashioned cheese grater, but the soap can clump up and not completely dissolve in your load unless you grate it extremely fine.
I allow my food processor to do the work for me because it is much easier to do and allows you to also double or triple your batches of laundry detergent in no time flat.
What Can I Use if I Prefer to Use a More Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent?
One update to this recipe we will try this year is substituting our Fels-Naptha with Dr. Bronner’s Bar Soap.
Although we have never had any sensitivities to the current recipe, castile soap is made from plant-based oils (olive oil, coconut oil, and hemp oil), and I think it will be a smart switch for a greener formula.
In case you didn’t know, castile soap is known for its more gentle and moisturizing properties, as well as its versatility in a range of cleaning applications.
It is why it is often used as a base for homemade cleaning products, such as laundry detergent, dish soap, and all-purpose cleaner.
Because it is made from plant-based oils, Castile soap is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. It is also typically free of synthetic fragrances, dyes, and preservatives, making it suitable for people with sensitive skin or allergies.
Keep in mind, making this switch will add to your cost per load of laundry. Right now the pricing is roughly $4.50 per bar. Even with the higher cost of this bar, it is still much cheaper than conventional laundry detergent prices.
To save on this item, shop through the Rakuten app to get money back on your grocery purchases (including Instacart!). I’ve also written a full tutorial on how to get cash back on lots of common items you buy for your household.
Is Homemade Detergent Safe to Use With High-Efficiency (HE) Washers?
The true beauty of using this homemade detergent is that it doesn’t have a lot of suds. You can’t use laundry detergents not made for high-efficiency washing machines because of the suds factor in many store-bought detergents.
Thanks to the small amount of suds and the minimal amount of soap you need to wash your loads, it is the perfect detergent to use with your HE washer! You can use this homemade laundry detergent with confidence!
Is This Homemade Laundry Detergent Septic Friendly?
The ingredients in this soap contain zero phosphates and zero fillers (like montmorillonite clay) that cause commercial powder detergents to clog lines.
I am sure other items you have lurking in your home are less septic friendly than this one, so this is a perfectly safe product to make and use.
How Do I Store Homemade Laundry Detergent?
I love to store my detergent in a glass jar, but you could also store this in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.
How Can I Prevent Static When Drying My Clothes?
You can use vinegar as a natural fabric softener by adding it to your fabric softener compartment in your washing machine. To use vinegar as a fabric softener, you can add 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your laundry.
Keep in mind, vinegar can be harsh on certain types of fabrics, such as wool and silk, so it’s best to test a small, inconspicuous area before using it on your entire load.
Personally, I have become a big fan of these wool dryer balls and love to add a few drops of essential oils to my dryer balls to add a fresh scent to my loads. This one natural homemade laundry routine that our whole family has gotten behind.
Now that you know all about it, let’s get started on our project!
How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent (A Picture Tutorial)
1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap or Dr. Bonners Castile Bar Soap (or more if you plan to double, triple, or quadruple your batch)
1 box 20 Mule Team Borax
Large Mixing Bowl
Jar for Storage (found in the kitchen supplies)
Coffee Scoop (found in the kitchen supplies aisle, optional, but is great for perfect measuring of your detergent)
Cut your bars of soap in half lengthwise so that you can feed them through the shoot of your processor.
Assemble the processor with your cheese grater attachment and feed your soap in slowly and gently through the top shoot.
Once all the soap has been grated, dump it into a bowl and remove the cheese grater attachment.
Reassemble the processor with the basic blade and then put the grated soap back in. Spin it again until the soap resembles fine small pellets. Your soap is now ready to be incorporated into your laundry detergent!
In a large mixing bowl, combine the grated soap, borax, and washing soda. Mix well until the ingredients are well incorporated.
Transfer the mixture to a glass jar or well-sealed plastic container. Be sure to label the container with the ingredients and the date, so you know what’s inside.
To use the detergent, add one tablespoon of the mixture to a load of laundry (or two tablespoons for heavily soiled loads). You can adjust the amount as needed depending on the size of the load and the soil level.
Store the detergent in a cool, dry place. It should last for several months if kept sealed and dry.
You now have a simple and effective homemade laundry detergent that can save you money and customize your laundry routine. Enjoy the savings and the satisfaction of making your own cleaning products!
Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
Prep time: 15 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Homemade laundry detergent can be made with just three ingredients! Try this simple recipe and enjoy the savings!
1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of shaved bar soap (Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha, or Dr. Bonners Castile Bar Soap)
1 cup of borax
1 cup of washing soda
Shred your bars of soap as shown in the tutorial above.
Mix one cup of borax, one cup of washing soda and the grated soap in a large bowl until incorporated
Store in a glass jar or well-sealed plastic container.
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