young girl standing behind sheet on the clothesline

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

I've tried lots of recipes for homemade laundry soap over the years, but this DIY detergent recipe is the best! It's even strong enough to tackle farm dirt for only pennies per load!

What do you get when you mix….

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a pile of this after it’s melted in a quart of hot water…

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a cup of this…

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a cup of that…dissolved in a few gallons of water, left to sit for a day, and then dump in a bottle of this and stir real well….

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All of this! That’s what you get!

I’ve been making my own homemade laundry detergent for a few years now with various recipes you’ll find floating out there on the web and for the most part I didn’t care for them.

Maybe it’s that I struggle with sprinkling only a tablespoon of dry detergent on all of our “muddy” (it’s not really mud) farm clothes. Maybe I need the mental security I get from splashing a capful of soap all over our clothes…

Maybe it’s that my family was begging me for the freshly laundered scent they knew and loved and weren’t getting no matter what essential oils I tried.

Maybe it was that they went so far as to call their laundry dirty without that scent. To my face. (Ungrateful lot.)

Whatever the mental hangup, I have found a compromise both for my budget, their olfactory senses, as well as taking care of the “mud” factor.

And I’m going to show you how ridiculously easy it is to make so you won’t have an excuse anymore either!

Customary with every laundry detergent recipe is a price breakdown, right?

That way we can feel warm and fuzzy knowing that in exchange for a small amount of time and effort, we’re saving a huge amount of money!

What you can save with this detergent depends on whether you give it a boost with the commercial detergent…

If I don’t use it, I need two capfuls of detergent to get the Warm & Fuzzy Feeling that let’s me know how much is enough.

Five gallons of that detergent comes out to $2.60. That gives me 80- 1 cup loads. Which comes to $.03 per load!

But if I boost it up and use the commercial detergent, we get 160- 1/2 cup loads, all five gallons of which costs $8.03. Still an awesome value at $.05 per load!!

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

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young girl standing behind sheet on the clothesline

Homemade Laundry Detergent

This DIY laundry detergent recipe is the best! It’s even strong enough to tackle farm dirt for only pennies per load!

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (Buy it here)
  • 1 cup Borax (Buy it here)
  • 1 bar Ivory Soap (Buy it here), or 100% coconut oil soap
  • 45 gallons water
  • your favorite laundry detergent (I buy this (I buy this and would use about half per batch), optional

Instructions

  1. Grate the bar of soap.
  2. Heat a quart of water on the stove.
  3. Add the soap curls to the water warming until they’re melted.
  4. Measure the borax and washing soda into a 5 gallon bucket.
  5. Fill up about halfway with hot water, stirring to dissolve the powders.
  6. Stir in the melted soap.
  7. Add more water to the bucket until it’s about 3/4 of the way full.
  8. Cover and allow to sit for about a day.
  9. The next day, stir the gelled up soap back in.
  10. If you’re boosting your laundry detergent, thoroughly stir it into bucket.
  11. Ladle your laundry detergent into containers.
  12. Use 1/2 cup of Boosted Homemade Detergent, or a cup of Regular Homemade Detergent.
  • Author: Quinn
  • Category: Homemaking

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22 Comments

  1. Quinn,

    Thank you for your reply. . .did you already answer about the rate of essential oils for the powdered laundry soap. . .do you add them at the end and how much?

    1. I normally don’t bother with them in my laundry detergent, but for the bag of powdered mix I sell on Etsy, I add it into the powdered mix, not in with the actual soap. I think the ratio for adding it into the soap recipe, a normal ratio would be .5 oz. of essential oil for every pound of oil in the recipe.

  2. I grate my with the cheese grater, let those curls dry out for a day, and then run it through the blender. That gets it pretty fine.

  3. Quinn,
    Can you please tell me the best way to grate the coconut soap to get it very fine? I lke to ue this as a powdered detergent and It works better if ground very fine. aslo what is the rate of essential oils to powdered laundry detergent? do you just add them at the end and mix?

  4. I have been making my homemade laundry soap for just a few months now. I put 6 T of Borax and 6 T. of Washing Soda into 1/2 quart of hot water. Dissolve it. I take an empty 4 Litre Vinegar or gallon milk jug and fill 3/4 way of cold water. Pour the dissolved liquid in. Fill it up to almost to the top with cold water. Add 6 T. of Blue Dawn, or liquid Ivory or 4 T. of Castile Soap. That is double strength recipe so only need 1/4 cup of this recipe.
    this liquid recipe is great.

  5. I’ve been making this recipe for over a year now. I don’t use the commercial laundry soap, but I grate Fels Naptha instead of the Ivory so I am getting more soap that way. I have very hard well water and use vinegar for part of the water added directly into the bucket. This helps with the rinsing and is probably what keeps my clothes clean. Friction is what cleans the clothes. Laundry soap keeps the dirt from redepositing. Too much soap in your wash load and there is no place for the dirt to go but back on your clothes. I use commercial detergent on some things, but very few. I also need to use oxi-clean just like I did before I started making my own detergent. I hang my clothes outside to dry when ever possible. The sun helps whiten and brighten as well

    1. “So I am getting more soap that way” Yeah, especially since Ivory went and shrunk their bars down in size. The only time that was more upsetting to me is when it happened with ice cream a few years ago 😉 I choose Ivory though because I know it’s gentle for the babies (who have been eczema prone in the past… but now that I think of it the last few haven’t… connection??) and then I don’t have to sort and wash additional loads. #lazy Thanks for sharing all your info. Sarah!!

  6. I make this and use it exclusively for our laundry. No booster commercial detergent needed and our laundry is clean and smells fresh! The difference is I mix the grated soap, washing soda and borax together and don’t dilute it with any water. I just leave it a powder and use 1 tablespoon per load. 2 tablespoons if it’s an especially dirty load. Maybe your recipe dilutes it too much and that’s why the booster commercial detergent is needed. Try just using the powder and I think you’ll see a huge difference.

    1. I would love to make the powdered version, but I have a front load washer and don’t think it dissolves well enough-especially with a cold water wash.

      1. My current and previous washers are front loaders and it’s dissolved and worked fine- even in cold water. You might want to give it a try. I don’t do it to save $. I do it to avoid all those chemicals. Even the “green” detergents have some undesirable stuff. I use vinegar for the rinse cycle and wool balls with a few drops of essential oil on them in the dryer. That way we avoid a lot of chemical exposure. I do sometimes get static cling with my mictofibet towels but no big deal.

        1. I have made the soap both ways, in my opinion the powdered version does not dissolves as well in my front load washer-especially in cold water. I love the liquid recipe however.

  7. Hi Quinn! Love your video. I just posted my detergent recipe this morning, too…funny. My next one is set for Tuesday, I think. it’s my powder recipe, which I love, too. Always love getting your posts in my box…an encouraging peak at life on Reformation Acres.

    Blessings ~

  8. awwww. Look at that cutie patooti helper!

    I love to see low lines for little ones (and it does offer plenty more space for socks and undies too!

    1. A little flashing back this Friday 😉 That was Lydia almost 5 (FIVE!!!) years ago. Have I really been blogging that long? I hate that this place doesn’t have a low line… I think I’ll go bug Bill and see if he can remedy that. As though he needs another thing on his to-do list.

  9. Thanks Quinn. I have been using this for years…but it is high time to boost! I never thought of adding in commercial soap. It is still cost effective, to be sure. My family will love me for it…I too get the..”this isn’t clean” business!

  10. Thank you for posting this! I have been making my own detergent for several years now as well and I am starting to feel like it is not getting the job done anymore. I line dry all our clothing and we cloth diaper. Have you been using this recipe on diapers? If so how does this do on yours?

    Warmly,
    Tori

    1. Hi Tori, I don’t consistently use cloth diapers, though I plan to use my stash on Phoebe when her little fanny is big enough to fit into them. When I do I plan to try using this recipe.

    2. Don’t do it! I used homemade laundry detergent on my kids’ cloth diapers and they started leaking everywhere… then I had to strip the diapers a couple times to get them to start absorbing again (which takes forever). Lesson learned. Even though it sucks to have to buy it, I have used cloth diaper friendly detergent every since.

      1. It’s the ivory soap in the recipe. It contains Sodium silicate . Change the soap to felt naphtha and it’ll be fine.