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Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Laundry, it’s a fact of life. But, did you know that you can make a simple effective laundry detergent in less than 5 minutes from affordable, simple ingredients? And, it’s really cost-effective. It comes out to about $0.02 per load, compared to Tide, which comes out to around $0.12 per load.

Why Make Your Own Laundry Detergent?

Firstly, as we mentioned above, it presents a cost saving, which is always a win. Additionally,

store-bought detergents can be expensive and contain dyes, perfumes, and potentially harmful ingredients. Not to mention the potential for skin irritants for those of us with sensitive skin.

Does Homemade Laundry Detergent Work?

When I first decided to try out this recipe, I was unsure. Full disclosure, I bought the ingredients to make it about 6 months ago, but got lazy and never did. Then, came the first big storm of the season where we got snowed in under 5” of snow. And, you guessed it, one of the things we didn’t have was laundry detergent.

So I decided to whip up a batch figuring there was no harm and it would get us through till the road was open again. My husband is a small engine mechanic, for Bobcat, and as you can imagine, he comes home every day smelling of diesel and covered in grease and oil stains. To say nothing of the constant presence of chicken poop in our lives. (If you keep chickens, then you know what I mean.)

With a little trepidation, we loaded the washing machine and added our new detergent. And, I have to say, it was a revelation. It removed more grime, grease, and smell from my husband's work uniforms than any store-bought detergent. It didn’t cause any irritation to my sensitive skin, was easy to use and has now completely replaced store-bought detergents in our home forever.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Ingredients

What Goes into Homemade Laundry Detergent?

The ingredients are simple, affordable, and easy to find at any supermarket. The ingredients you use—borax, washing soda, and soap flakes—are commonly found in most commercial laundry detergents.


Borax is a natural mineral also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate. It is most commonly found in dry lake beds where mineral deposits have been left behind by water evaporation.

Washing Soda

Washing soda, also known as soda ash, is another naturally occurring mineral comprised of a water-soluble sodium salt of carbonic acid. It has a high PH of 11 and is a great natural degreaser. (If you can’t find washing soda at your local Walmart, Nature’s Nurture has a simple way to make it yourself.

Soap Flakes (Fels Naptha)

Fels Naptha is a type of soap that has been around since the 1800s. Created from sodium palmate, sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, talc, and water, this unassuming soap bar can tackle your toughest stains. Especially when it comes to grease and oil. If you cannot find Fels Naptha at your local Walmart, you could also use Dove soap.

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

One of the best parts about this product is how quick and easy it is to make. But, a word of caution, the ingredients can irritate if breathed in and can be harmful directly to the skin. It is best to work in a well-ventilated area and you may wish to wear gloves when mixing. (I never have, but you may choose to.)


  • An airtight container

  • 1 cup of Borax

  • 1 cup of Washing soda

  • ½ cup of grated soap


  • First, grate your bar of soap. You can do this with a standard cheese grater. (On average, when I mix in the quantities listed, a single bar of Fels Naptha will make 3 batches of detergent, but if you are mixing in larger quantities it will make fewer batches.)

  • Then, to your container, add 1 cup of borax, washing soda, and 1/2 cup of grated soap flakes. Seal the lid and shake thoroughly to combine.

  • Store in your laundry room out of the reach of children.

How to Use Homemade Laundry Detergent

A little goes a long way with the product! To use simply add 2 - 3 Tbls to each load of laundry. This recipe lasts our household 30 days with an average of 3 loads of laundry per week, but your could double or triple it if you like.

Optional Add-Ins:

If you prefer your detergent to be scented, you could add in Downey Scent Beads or essential oils. If you want extra cleaning power, you could add 1 cup of Baking Soda. For antibacterial needs, add ½ cup of vinegar directly to the washing machine with your load of laundry.

Have a Happy Laundry Day!

As you can see, making homemade laundry detergent is a simple and cost-effective way to reduce chemical use in your home and make steps toward a greener life. For a list of other DIY household cleaning products check out DIY Cleaning Products to Kick off Spring Cleaning. If you decide to make this simple Laundry detergent, tell us all about it in the comments below, and as always, until next time,

This Unbound Life Signature

Homemade laundry Detergent 2

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