I know this isn’t the first post on the internet about making homemade laundry detergent. When I decided I wanted to make my own, I found literally dozens of them. But I’ve shared this recipe with so many people that I know, and it’s so simple that I can’t help adding my two cents to the mix.
Homemade laundry detergent is inexpensive, non-toxic and super-simple to make. It only has three ingredients. From start to finish, it takes less than 10 minutes. This recipe makes a powdered detergent works in my front-loading washing machine. High efficiency, check! Low-suds, check! There really isn’t a down-side.
Assemble your ingredients: Borax, washing soda and a bar of soap. Borax and washing soda are next to each other at the grocery store…if you find one, you’ve probably also found the other. (Note–washing soda is like baking soda, only stronger. Both of these products have other cleaning uses, so the leftover will be handy to have around.) As far as the soap…from what I gather, it really doesn’t make a big difference what kind you use. I found the Fels Naptha brand on the recommendation that it was cheap and worked well, and I’ve been pleased enough to not try any other kinds. Why mess with a good thing?
The hardest part will be grating the soap. I use a box grater and grate the whole bar finely. It takes a little while…but you’ll get through it. Since it always takes a bit of psyching myself up to go through the trouble of grating the soap, I always just double the recipe and grate two while I’m at it. I’ve never actually calculated, but I think a double batch lasts us three to four months.
When you’re done grating the soap, you’re rewarded with a wonderful little pile of little soap curls. I like to stop at this step and just admire the pile for a little while. It’s pretty, and it smells SO good.
After you’re done playing with the pile, you need to get the pieces just a bit smaller. I have a little food chopper that works well for the job, or if I’m making a large batch I pull out my food processor. In a pinch, I’m sure you could just run your knife over it for a while, but the mini appliances sure make it easy. I pulse it until the pieces look about like grated parmasean cheese out of a can (or a little bigger than that, but you get the picture.) The smaller pieces will dissolve faster in your washing machine.
After the soap is fine enough, it’s smooth sailing. Combine the soap with the two white powdered ingredients, and mix well. Ta-da! You just made laundry detergent.
The only issue we’ve had since we started using this recipe is that my husband’s super sweaty workout clothes seemed to smell a bit after washing them; we started adding about a half a cup of vinegar to those loads, and they smell fresh as daisies after being laundered. Or as close to daisies as they’ll ever get.
After publishing this, I thought it would be interesting to add a breakdown of the cost associated with the detergent. Here are the non-sale prices for the three ingredients at my grocery store:
- Soap → $1.25 (5.5 oz bar)
- Borax → $5.19 (76 oz)
- Washing soda → $3.45 (55 oz)
One batch of homemade laundry detergent works out to about $3.34. Assuming I use a tablespoon for most loads and 2 tablespoons for a few heavy loads, I’d guess we get approximately 65 loads from each batch. That’s 5 cents per load of laundry…not too shabby!
For all my talk about how good grating soap smells…I started buying pre-grated soap flakes, and I’m not looking back. It’s SO MUCH FASTER and doesn’t add very much cost to the project. Here’s the link for the soap flakes I bought last time.
Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda
1 bar of soap, grated finely and chopped in a food processor
Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.