Reader question… “I was wondering if you make your own laundry detergent. It sounds like it could be a good way to save a lot of money, but I’m confused because some people seem to love it and say it cleans their clothes well, and others don’t have anything good to say about the homemade laundry detergent at all. Do you have any experience with the homemade laundry detergent recipe?” –Vicki B.

I would guess that you are asking about the laundry detergent recipe that starts with a ground up bar of soap that is combined with water, washing soda, and borax. There are several recipes “out there” but I think the most commonly seen recipe specifies one bar of soap, one cup of washing soda, and one half cup of borax. Other recipes use the same ingredients in different proportions. The process is simple… the soap is grated and then dissolved in four to six cups of water over heat. Then the soap and water mixture is added to approximately three gallons of water, the borax, and the washing soda, stirred well, and allowed to sit overnight. By morning you should have a bucket of gelatinous mixture. Most people say they use from one half to one cup of this “detergent” per load of laundry. At one cup per load, this recipe makes enough detergent for more than forty-five loads at a cost of just a few pennies per load.

So… does this stuff work? It’s interesting to see the different opinions. Some people rave about their homemade detergent and how well it cleans their laundry, and other people vow never to make it again because it didn’t take out stains, their laundered clothes smell, and their whites look dingy. Some people think that the differences in water hardness and alkalinity account for the different cleaning performances, and that may be true, because we have relatively hard water here, and the one bar of soap, half cup of borax, and one cup of washing soda recipe did not work at all for me. One of the items I was washing had a tomato stain, and even repeated washes with this homemade laundry detergent did not remove the stain… but the stain quickly disappeared when I used my regular detergent.

My personal opinion is that especially if you have hard water, this recipe is too diluted to produce a really clean wash. Figuring forty-five loads of wash per recipe means that each cup of homemade laundry detergent contains only 1/45th of a bar of soap, 1/45th of a cup of washing soda, and 1/90th of a cup of borax… not really enough of anything to work with hard water to get your clothes clean… and most of that cup of homemade laundry detergent you’re using per load is water. Of course, the cost per load goes up if you use more of this detergent. I have decided that with our hard water, this recipe with this proportion of ingredients does not work, and having clean, fresh-smelling, stain-free clothes is more important to me than the money I could save.

How about the dry version of this detergent? There are also several variations on the recipe for the dry version, but the most common one seems to call for one cup of each of the three ingredients… finely grated bar soap, washing soda, and borax… and using one to two tablespoons of the dry detergent per load. The dry version is more convenient to store and would be my choice over the liquid detergent, although I probably would not make it using the one to one to one proportions, and with our hard water, I would have to use more dry detergent per load to get the results I want. I have had excellent results using the laundry bar soap I make myself, grating it finely and adding it and borax to each load of laundry… the quantity is dependent on how soiled a particular laundry load is. With my own bar soap and borax, I have never needed to add the washing soda, and clothes come out smelling fresh, stain-free, colors are bright, and whites are white. I do give each load an extra rinse.

By the way, homemade laundry bar soap is made from fats or oils and lye, the same way any soap is made, but laundry soap is not superfatted, which means that just enough lye and oils are used to completely react with each other, so no extra oils are left unsaponified. This is why I think some of the homemade laundry detergents made with beauty bar type soap aren’t as successful as the ones made with real laundry bar soap… the extra oils in the beauty bars that are good for your skin are not so good for your laundry.

But to answer your question… if you’re still interested in making your own homemade laundry detergent, I would suggest making up a small batch and giving it a try. It may work for you or it may not, but the only way you can know for sure is to actually try a batch with your water and your laundry. I’d love to hear your conclusions!

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Comments

Mary

The homemade detergent didn’t work for me either. I didn’t think of changing the proportions. I’m going to try that and I’ll let you know if I have any better results.

Niki

It all depends on the water. If it is hard or soft and on city of well water. I am on a well and have soft water and have had no problems with it at all. Actually I love it, we also make our own dishwashing detergent and have no problems.

chandelle

i use dr. bronner’s castile soap on all of my laundry, including diapers. i’ve never had any trouble using it and i can refill my bottles at the health food store for very cheap. i use bronner’s for everything from hands to dishes to laundry to hair. it’s amazing stuff and a good company to support (fair-trade and organic).

Janet

I started my own laundry detergent in May and have had no problems! I use the dry recipe–1 cup grated soap, 1/2 cup washing powder, 1/2 cup borax. I have tried a couple of different types of soaps and am happy with the unscented Dial soap. I have shared the detergent with several friends and they are happily using the detergent. I use one tablespoon per load of laundry and I use cold water the majority of the time. This detergent has effectively cleaned all my laundry from towels, pet accidents, my husbands outdoor work clothes and regular household laundry. My friend who has a seventh grade son told me that the detergent cleaned her son’s baseball uniform and removed the body odor better than TIDE.

Gretchen

I have made my own detergent, and it has worked really, really well. I do pre-treat stains so I haven’t had any problems and I usually line dry my clothes and they smell very nice!

Jane

I also use the dry recipe with my own castile soap. I have extremely hard water, so I use equal amounts of washing soda and borax (borax is a water softener). I use half about 2 tbsp. per load. I’ll have to try it without the washing soda!

Anna

There’s a couple other tricks folks can try with homemade laundry detergent:

Soaking the clothes. I use the lower timed settings on my washer, let the washer fill up with water, and turn it off. I come back 30 minutes (longer if clothes are really soiled) and turn washer back on. Using a lower timed setting also saves energy. (Setting a timer helps remind you to go back and turn it on :)

White Vinegar. White vinegar can help with hard water – you would have to play around with it to get the proper proportion for your water. White vinegar is also supposed to help keep whites white.

Abiga/karen

My daughter made her own laundry detergent the way you described. We have well water but also have a water softener and I think it works well. Even in the city Tide was the only detergent that got out stains by just washing with it. Here we have stains but if needed I rub bar soap into the stains and scrub before washing in the machine and then the stains do come out. We are on septic tank so therefore we would rather use homemade instead of chemicals to seep into the ground water. Plus it is cheaper and fun. Blessings.

Andi

I use this recipe from Sandy Maine’s book, Clean, Naturally, except I leave out the essential oil:

16 cups of baking soda
12 cups of borax
8 cups of grated castile soap
3 tablespoons lavender, lemon, or grapefruit essential oil

Mix together the baking soda, borax, and grated castile soap. Use a whisk to stir in essential oil. Use 1/8 cup per load.

I just found your blog a couple of days ago and really like it. :-)

Rebecca

I read about using Simple Green and Washing soda, 1tbsp and 1 scoop respectively, to creat your own laundry detergent safe for all laundry, including cloth diapers. I have begun to try and am wondering is there anyone else who has used this recipie? I had 1/2 Borax to load due to hard water and on my first non-diaper load noticed things clean, excpet for a few items still with faint bo or urine odors depending on grow-up or baby previous wearer. Someone must use this reciepie?

Serita

Does anyone know if these recipes work with HE washers?? I’d love to experiment, but I’m bit afraid!!! Thanks!
(BTW, I just found this site and I’m loving it!)

holly

I’ve been using the liquid version using 1/2 C of baking and washing sodas and borax with 1/3 bar grated laundry soap. Love it. Won’t go back to store brand again. I’ve noticed that some site have people who complain about the soap not working well because of some stains still in their clothes. I was looking for soap that worked as well as the store brands and the homemade does. I said as well not better. I still pretreat stains just like like I had to when I used Tide. It’s no different. I am, however, using vinegar in place of both bleach and fabric softener. I read on another site how to use slivers of bar soap from the sink or shower that I’m going to try. Place those little slivers into a jar. Once the jar is half full, fill the jar with boiling water and let sit over night. It’s supposed to be used as a pretreater for laundry. Kind of like a stain stick. You put it on the stain and put it in the laundry hamper to wait for laundry day. I think that I’ll probably melt the slivers in wate on the stove though. Just because that’s how I melt it for my laundry soap and know that works to dissolve it all. If anyone else had tried this, I’d like to know how it worked. Oh, by the way. I have a HE machine and have had no ill effects from this soap. HE washers have problems with regular detergent because of suds damaging the motor. The soap and I think most of the homemade versions have little or no suds. Mine had none. Happy Washing

Sara

Does anyone know if liquid castile soap can be substituted for the bar soap in the liquid recipe?? Probably using 8 oz. for each bar it calls for?

Carolann

I make my own laundry soap using 1 bar of laundry soap ( such as fels naptha, or zote) I add 2 cups borax and 2 cups washing soda. I live in oil field country every one has to deal with oil on their husbands work clothes…my husband is a heavy equipment mechanic so you can imangine…anywho…this formula is perfect for our hard water plus it really gets the oilstains out of my husbands clothes, but is gental enough to wash my grandsons baby clothes in. My formula makes 10 gallons of soap, for work clothes I use 1 cup per load for regular loads I use 1/2 cup per load.
Since soda ash is used by oilfield company’s and is mined right here I get my soda ash for free from my husbands company but before that I bought it from the laundry mat, most laundry mats here have 100 lbs bags where you pay 25 cents a cup to use it as a laundry booster for oily clothes.
My 10 gallons of soap is divided up between me, my parents, and my daughter and lasts us about 3 months or so….my daughter adds essental oil to hers, but my parents and I like it unsecented.

Sky

I make my detergent with a bar of Fels-Naptha soap, washing soda and borax.
It works great in my HE front loader washer because it is very low suds.

M.L.

I’m not sure why there seems to be such a difference for so many people on this subject, but we are in the group of nay sayers. Our clothes started looking dingy and began to smell dirty. So, for now, we’re back to using store bought detergent.

Sue

Hello Shirley, i discovered your website by accident. It is a very VERY good website. I like your idea of being frugal.There is much to learn from you.I have always practise the shopping tip of my own too. I do have an advice on laundry detergent. More doesn’t really mean clean better.I do find the recommended amount on laundry packet is TOO MUCH. So I use a SMALLER SCOOP and SOAK my laundry over night. Then DRY cloths UNDER THE SUN. So I basically wash cloths depending on weather,which is not too bad in California. BTW,to remove tomato stain after your wash, leave the stained cloths in the sun for a few hours. Ketchup or tomato stains will disappear. Trust me it works.

AnnMelanie

I have made my own laundry soap with the borax, grated bar of soap, and baking soda super washing powder – and now there are stains on alot of my clothes. You can see them if you put the clothing up to the light – spots everywhere, on the underwear, socks, pj’s, dresses (cotton). I just made a fresh batch, 5 gallons worth – I’m wondering if I did not dilute it enough ? I have a front loading machine…

Joe

I make my own bar soap and laundry detergent and have great success with both. Something that is very green and a great presoak or prescrub for soiled laundry is liquid glycerin soap made from the crude glycerin byproduct of biodiesel manufacture. Removes organics such as oil, grease, blood, and grass stains slick as a whistle. Biodegradable and great for septic systems. Love your website.

Joe

The reason that some of the homemade laundry detergent is not removing stains is that it does not have enough “wetting” power. I am a retired textile chemist and manager and have lots of experience with wetting and detergency which are the two main issues with cleaning laundry or fabrics. If you don’t wet a stain, you cannot remove it. Add more soap to your formula to lower the surface tension of your wash water even more. The borax and washing soda provide additional powerful detergency.

motherofmany

We have very hard water (had to install a commercial softner) and I did not have luck with the homemade laundry detergent until I tried my homemade soap in it, especially the high coconut oil recipe. I also add a tablespoon of baking soda and a cup of vinegar to smelly loads (like barn clothes) and that gets the smell out really well. I know most store-bought ‘soap’ isn’t really soap, and I wonder if that makes a difference. It was important to us to keep any contaminates out of the water table, so I had to work with the natural ingredients until I found the right mix.

motherofmany

OOPS! Forgot that I wanted to mention…most commercial detergents add whiteners to the mix, so that may be why people’s whites look dingy when they switch to homemade detergent. The clothes actually carry a surface film of light refractors on them, and if you suddenly switch to homemade you will see an undersireable difference because those brighteners are washed out of the clothes. Try the homemade version on a load of new whites and see if the difference is noticeable. You can buy blueing to add to the wash which is safer than the brighteners in chemical detergents.

Natalie

I agree with the comments, I love making my own laundry soap and saving money. I have an HE washing machine and use the liquid version. I have no problems with it and find that if I pre-treat stains by using a spray or rubbing a wet bar of soap on it the stains will come out. Vinegar added to the laundry keeps them bright too.

Christie

We have been using this detergent for over a year now and love the results. The only thing we have not been able to remove is mustard on my 2 year old son’s shorts. We use 1 cup of each: zote (it whitens the best for us), washing soda and borax. (For however many batches you make.)I also add a splash of vinegar to soften and brighten clothes. I love knowing what I am using in my family’s clothing. It’s great for sensitive skin too. Now, just to find my own shampoo recipe…

ScrimplyThrifty

Joe (the chemist) commented about detergency, I have often wondered about that since my husbands white work t-shirts get dingy and even bleach doesn’t whiten them well. I don’t pre-treat them or soak them and they do get very dirty but I would like to get them whiter. I have soaked in zote soap and water, and hung them in the sun (all soapy) and that did whiten them pretty well. But that’s a lot of work to keep them white. I was thinking if I put double the Zote (about 80 cents for a three pack at Big Lots) that it might work better in the laundry. I also use vinegar for fabric softener and have found that if you like some smell to it just buy a jug of vinegar and add a cup or two of fabric softener to it, works as well and lasts much longer. I sometimes use simple green for a stain treater. seems to work good expecially on greasy stains.

Carol

Hi Shirley…I love to read your archives! I have never tried to make my own laundry soap, but hit the mother lode at a garage sale. They were selling homemade lye soap for $1 a box. Some kind of church project that didn’t work out. I love it for my husband’s gross jeans, but down to my last box. I guess the word lye scared people off, and I would never try to make it myself, but it leaves the clothes so soft and clean. But I do agree with a previous poster, stopping the washer and letting the clothes soak works great too.

Elizabeth

I have only been making the homemade laundry soap for about 2 months now. And from a personal point of view I can say my clothes are clean. And with my children have hypersensitive skin and potty training, It has had no effects on their skin and even gets out their occasional accident stains as well as blood stains and grease stains from Mine and my husbands clothes. I personally have even given some to my neighbors and they like it the only thing they would like is if had more suds to it like commerical cleaners do. Other wise they loved it. I am now making it for several of my neighbors even month.As well as my own recipe for fabric softener, too.

Jackie

I’ve also been making my own powdered detergent. When I ask my Facebook friends how they feel about homemade laundry detergent I get answers such as, “It’s easier to just buy my laundry detergent at the store,” or “the cheap detergent doesn’t work,” or “that’s too much work.” Most people don’t want to go out and buy the ingredients and then have to prepare everything. So, I think I should just make up a batch and send samples to my friends with the recipe on it so they can try it.

I use a bar of Lever 2000 (though I think in my next batch I’ll use castile soap instead,) 1 1/2 cups of Borax, and 1 1/2 cups Sun Color Safe Bleach (from Family Dollar), and 3/4 cups of white vinegar per wash (I use a Downy ball that I throw in at the beginning of the wash). I’ve had to play with the amount I use in each wash. I use 1/3 cup of detergent per load and that works for me.

carrie

I think the difference in opinion may depend on how hard the well water is. I made the liquid version and it went a VERY long way! I was super excited about that since we do about 2 loads of laundry per day BUT I found that the clothes didn’t smell that fresh and they did look dingy. I am guilty of over loading my machine though and I think with this recipe you really need to do smaller loads.

Mar-E

I have been using home made powdered laundry soap for one year now.I find it as good as the brands of store bought(on sale and with coupons)that I was using previously.I am happy with it’s performance and the fact that it is one more thing that I can cross off my list to buy all the time.A couple boxes of borax and washing soda and a few bars of soap last a long time when making the powder.I finely grate up 2 cups of laundry soap and mix it with 1 cup each of borax and washing soda and store in a large plastic pretzle canister(recycled).I use 2 tablespoons per load and I notice even my hubby’s ancient white t-shirts becoming more white.I also keep a bar of laundry soap handy by the washer it makes the verybest spot pretreater ever.I wet the fabric and rub the soap on the spot.It takes no longer than using pray or stick.I am getting ready to start making my own laundry soap bars from fats and lye.I already make my own hand and body soaps.

Jennie

I just stumbled across this AWESOME website. But felt compelled to add my 2 cents. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my homemade laundry detergent. I have used it three ways so far. The best smelling and most obnoxious smelling/takes my breath away is the Fels-Naptha bar ground up with 1 cup washing soda and one cup borax. I felt most confident with this recipe, but the other two have worked as well. No dingy whites and all food (I have a 13 yr old, 2 year old and a 1 year old) came out which is a major event around the sleeves. But my Ivory bar with 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda AND 1 cup baking soda…worked as well. Then I tried 1/2 bar shredded of Zote with 1 cup of each sodas and the borax. It worked too. So who knows. My clothes are typically DIRTY from the kids, but none of those homemade recipes took out old stains or made anything brighter than it was. But its awesome. It saves a BUNCH of money and it feels good to be crafty this way. :-) Again, love this site!

chris

soft, clean and fluffy clothes/blankets with homemade laundry soap, my favorite is the dry batch over the liquid for convenience purposes.
i have a top load HE ge washer and use 2 tablespoons or up to 3 tablespoons for heaviest loads
i use these combinations below and like fels-naptha the best, zote is very good as well and sometimes i do mix in ivory soap bars depends on what i have at the time in the house.
i use a food processor (but my processor is soley used for this purpose and not food) to mix everything to a nice powder maybe because i’m lazy and i’m afraid i will grate myself .. sometimes i add fragrance oils at the end..not always, i found ones that smells like gain(favorite), downy and vanilla lavender..
i prefer up to 3 bars of soap but i suppose you can use 2 if you like…
Dry Detergent
3 bars ivory soap (my bars are 4.5oz each) or other soap do not use moisturizing soaps like Dove

2 to 2 1/2 cups borax
2 to 2 1/2 cups washing soda
1/2 to 3/4 cup sun oxygen or oxiclean as a booster

when substitution is required
i use these combinations of soap bars
1 zote(zote is large) plus 1 ivory per batch
1 fels-naptha plus 2 ivory per batch
or just 3 ivory bars alone per batch

when making the liquid laundry soap i pour boiling water into the 5 gallon bucket(about 8-12 cups the more the better) and toss in the soap that i processed in my processor..then stir and add more boiling water and stir(it is now melted liquid) then add the borax, washing soda and some oxy booster…i dont use the stovetop method..i let it sit a bit then fill the bucket with cool water for 5 gallons and stir gently with whisk so no bubbles form. we use 1 cup or a bit more per load.

for 5 gallons liquid i use the same ingredients and quantities as it works well for me and the 5 gallons lasts forever in my home. i do prefer liquids for dark
clothes.

SOFTENER TIP
for a nice fabric softener i use any white/clearish hair conditioner and mix it 50/50 with water and put in a spray bottle/sometimes i do add fragrance oil of my choice..
i use 10-30 sprays depends on what i am drying…i like to spray it onto a fabric dryer sheet and fold it over ..i actually can reuse them that day doing a few loads….some people cut up regular sponges and use the softener in a container and toss a piece of sponge into dryer/but i prefer my fabric sheet method/i like to use the regular downy sheets myself.

Joe

I’ve been using 1 cup of white vinegar (diluted to 5% stuff) for my clothes (2 cups works better, but if they’re not ridiculously dirty or anything, just 1 is needed), and it’s been turning out nicely. It makes your colors and whites just really nice looking, like more colorful in every way. As far as cleaning, it seems to clean well, I’m not sure on stains, though, it doesn’t seem to get out car oil stains perfectly, but I’m pretty sure my old cheapo detergent my mom buys didn’t either, hard to really know, but my clothes don’t smell bad or anything, no smell at all, and no, they don’t smell like vinegar at all.

Also, one cool thing is, it works great as a fabric softener, your clothes come out really soft and flexible, I got a pair of Army ACU pants that had really stiff fabric, and they came out feeling almost like…Dockers? Somewhere around there for stiffness.

So, for now, I’ll keep just using vinegar for my clothes, they keep the colors looking awesome, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it keeps my fabric soft, oh, it also makes you get less lint in your dryer, too.

Most people use vinegar as just a stainremover or color brightener/fabric softener with their detergent, me I just use it alone. I almost think it’s almost like color safe bleach.

Stephanni

I have only made one batch of liquid laundry detergent but I haven’t been that impressed. I’ve also seen reviews raving about the cleaning power of homemade detergent and I figure it must come down to how hard/soft your water is. We have hard/alkali water in my town. My clothes seemed dingy, smelled like clean water, but body odor stains (armpits) remained. I will probably stick with my commercial detergent until I can research a better formula for me. Thanks!

Erin

After seeing your post, I went back to the drawing board for homemade laundry detergent. We have extremely hard water in our city but I think, with some tweaking, I’ve perfected my formula. It’s working very well in my GE front loader.

1 bar ZOTE soap (I grate it by hand — my food processor can’t get it fine enough and it wasn’t breaking down in the wash)

1 1/2 cups of washing soda

2 1/2 cups of borax (the extra borax makes a huge difference with the hard water)

By sheer luck, I can get the Zote Soap for $1.39 a bar at the grocery down the street. I can get Borax at Target for $2.99 and Washing Soda for $3.30 at Kroger (I can get it cheaper, now that I’ve checked, but this is what I had on hand).

If my math is correct, $2.91 does 64 loads at 2 tablespoons a load. When wet, you can smell the citronella of the Zote but after drying (I line dry almost exclusively), they smell like nothing but clean.

Not only do I like the money savings, I like knowing what’s on my kids’ clothes, especially as my son is on the Autism spectrum and we like to limit his exposure to harsh chemicals.

All but the absolutely worst of my husband’s BO ridden shirts (like after chopping wood or mowing in the 90 degree heat) come fresh smelling clean and those few that don’t, I just soak a bit and wash again with vinegar in the fabric softener compartment and the bleach compartment. Works like a charm. I suspect the extra borax helps this too.

And if I wash in straight borax, as recommended by my mom, my daughter gets contact dermititis but so far nothing from this detergent.

Thanks so much for the motivation!

cindy

FYI- Zote contains optical brighteners. No one here reports of issues with sensitivity, BUT if you are looking for something natural or you’re on a septic system avoiding chemicals in your water table, you may choose to avoid Zote.

RG

I have tried making homemade soap a few times now and have run into some difficulties, but really want to find something that works! First, the liquid recipe doesn’t gel. It stays the same thickness only the soap separates from the water and sort of floats around in whisps.(if that makes sense.) I tried a popular powder recipe but have noticed my whites become very dull. I wash my whites in warm water and have tried using vinegar, and baking soda to help but they still look dingy. I have hard water so I added extra washing soda, but still havnt seen the results I want. Anyone have advice?! It would be greatly appreciated.

BW

We have the worst hard water in the USA I think down here at Yuma,AZ.And I make the liquid with 1 bar of fels,and 1 bar of Zote,and 4 cups of Borax,4 cups of washing soda.It makes 10 gal of concentrated soap.I use 1/2 to 1 cup pr load with 1 cup of vinegar rinse.It works great and took out old stains and my whites are white.I also make my fabric softner with the 1 part hair conditioner,and 10 parts water.I use 1 cup pr load.Talk about a savings.I do tho add bleach and bluing to my whites.And we have no hot water to launder with.Try these and I think you’ll see a big difference who have hard water like me.

Wendy G

I first made the powder detergent, 1 C Borax 1C Super Washing Soda and 1 bar of Nels Faptha laundry soap. (TBSP per load)AMAZING. Then I tried the liquid version. All the same ingredients except only half cup of the Borax. Made 5 gallons and it is spectacular.(1/8 cup per load) It is perfect for the HE Front loading machines because the soap is low sudsing. For fabric softener and aid in the washing process (and keeps HE washer from getting funky musty smell as well) I use a 34 oz bottle of white vinegar mixed with a small bottle of scented essential oil and use as I would any fabric softener. Ill never go back to ALL or TIDE. 5 gallons for less than $1.50/5 gallons :)

Paula

I am making the 1c Borax/ 1c Washing Soda/ 1c grated Zote (if I can EVER find it LOL), but I am also adding Downy Unstoppables for scent. I love that stuff.

Alicia

I have been making the 1/2 c Borax, 1 c washing soda, and bar of Fels-Naptha for about a year now. The first batch was made with medium water and given to me and it was awesome! We have hard water with ammonia and the soap doesn’t gel as well. It still works fine, we just don’t dilute it a second time when adding it to the small bottles. Still less $$ than the Tide, etc, and less irritating. I will try the equal parts Borax since it worked well in my dishwasher as a softener. I add tee tree oil for our pet laundry and that is awesome for deodorizing.

Krisztian

I use one graded bar of soap (zote) melt it in a bucked of hot water. after I melt it I put 1 cup of borax, one cup of super washing soda and a little bit of fabric softener to make it smell good. it works fine for me. On dirty loads i’ll use one cup of it, and on not so dirty clothes anywere from 1/3 to 1/2

AJL

I use one box borax, one box washing soda, one box baking soda, and three bars of Castile soap. I then fill the softner cup with vinegar and add two drops essential oil. Love it! Adding the regular baking soda helps with stains and doesn’t have the chemicals of the oxy.

Eileen

Has anyone experienced problem with the washer after using home made soap? I have been using it for almost 6 months and had to get my washer looked at. The transmission was carotid. Was this from the regular soap or the home made soap?

Vada

I have been making my own detergent (the liquid version using 1/3 bar Fels Naptha, 1/2 c borax and 1/2 c washing soda) for over a year now. I treat stains as they happen – usually with a Fels Naptha bar – just like I did before when I bought detergent. I have hard water in my area, generally use cold water (except for washing linens) and I haven’t had any problems whatsoever. My clothes are clean. They don’t smell like store bought detergent – they just smell clean! I cannot imagine using anything else now.

J. Rigor

I use Fels Naptha laundry soap in bar form… 1/2 cup Borax, and 1/2 cup Washing Soda… works gread about 2 cents a load.

Senta

I also use Fels Naptha soap… I grate the bar, and add equal amounts grated soap, washing soda and borax. Most of my “lightly dirty” clothes come out just fine with one or two tablespoons. But, I have to add some oxyclean (I buy a natural version) to loads that have possible stains or loads I consider “dirtier”. I pretreat stains with pieces of the Fels Naphtha that are too small to keep grating. (I use the food processor to grate the soap and also mix the ingredients.) I also periodically do a load of whites with bleach (I will wash my white sheets without bleach about 6 to 8 times and if I notice them looking dingy, I will do a load with bleach. It takes forever to get through a gallon of bleach at my house. This is why I never add oxyclean to my mix of laundry soap since bleach and oxyclean can’t go together.

I love having clothes that don’t glow in the dark or smell so strong of scent. I love having no little rashes or itchiness from the scents. I use vinegar in the rinse water with a Dawn fabric softener ball. That might help also with dinginess too. It doesn’t smell like vinegar. The clothes have no noticeable smell at all which is what I prefer. I can wear perfume or light a scented candle to have nice smells if I want.

jean

The best liquid detergent is made with homemade laundry bar soap. There are too many oils in most of the bars of soap that are on the market, they were made for bathing not for washing clothes. Even the ones that are called laundry bars contain too many oils and chemicals which are not cleaning your clothes properly. Make your own bars from lard and coconut oil then you will know what your detergent is made from and it will be pure and free from all kinds of junk that your skin doesn’t appreciate. Be kind to your skin and the air that you breathe.

jean

Shirley I am very sorry that I wrote the above comments, I wrote them before I read your thoughts at the head of your page….I agree with everything that you wrote.

Shirley (Choosing Voluntary Simplicity)

Jean, no problem… I’m glad to have someone agreeing with me. :o)

Matt

I was introduced to the “home made laundry soap” idea by my aunt…Long story sort (or not so short) she had us making the liquid version…1 Bar Ivory soap, 1 cup of super washing soda, 1 cup Borax and a 5 gallon container. (It was a mess to make and very watery. We obviously were using to much water. It seemed like i would poor 2-3 cups in each load to get the desired results…So after finally going on blogs like this I changed to the Dry version with different ingredients and measurements…It works wonderful. And so much easier to store.

1 Bar of ZOTE soap. The Pink version
2 Cups Super Washing Soda
2 Cups Borax

I peel the Zote bar with a peeler and then let in sit out for a day or 2 until the pieces are dry and snap apart. (It its important to let it dry fully before mixing in in the food processor)

I poor 1 cup of each the washing soda and borax with about half of the dried Zote pieces into the food processor and mix until the Zote is finely grated. Poor that into a container with a lid that will seal out air. Repeat the process again with the remaining Zote, 1 cup washing soda, and 1 cup borax.

Use 1 to 3 TBS per load.

I have a well and a water conditioner (Not a cheap unit from a box store). So with our soft water 1 TBS works fine.

Thank you for your blog!

Tony

I am trying to do some research for my laundry soaps. I change my soap a lot because after so long I can no longer smell the soap on my clothes like I once could and I use to think it was because I got use to it but honestly I think its our hard well water. I want to know what works best for those with the same type of water. My whites are so dingy and my clothes come out smelling even after washing them, I’ve tried different store soaps, different wash temperatures, I’m at a loss. I’ve never made my own soap so I may try that just don’t know how to go about it or what would be the best. Any suggestions?I did read in the above article you mentioning you had hard water and a lot of things didn’t work for you as they do others, what would you or anybody else with the same water recommmend?? I really appreciate any ideas or tips! I’m willing to spend a little more even to just get them clean and smelling good every time and not having to continuously change soaps or wash so much or throw in several dryer sheets in the dryer to help the smell. I go through a lot of dryer sheets as well just because I feel the more I use it will help the smell, not much but more then using just two.

Tony

Also I use fabric softener to help leave more a better smell but when I take my clothes out of the washer I have stains on some of them I think from the softener and I’ve noticed on some of the dark clothes it almost looks as if it didn’t get washed off completely (either the soap or softener) recently that happened I even ran an extra rinse cycle and it still came out with stuff on it. I just have a normal top load washer its new and HE but nothing too fancy. Our water is hard but we have a softener machine that was recently updated (last 6 months).. I’m just at a loss!! I’m big on things smelling good so it drives me nuts when doing our laundry and it coming out smelling bad, looking bad, etc.

Melinda

I use home made laundry soap based on the recipe on the Duggar family website. I have been using it for two years now and love it! Cleans – I have a front-loader and use about half as much as is called for from the standard brands. Of course, I used Clorox with my whites and use Purex Crystals for softener. I love this soap!

Megi

We use 3 cups borax, 3 cups washing soda and 2 bars of FelsNaptha per batch. Wash with 2 Tbsp per load, and 1 cup of vinegar for softening. When we use the dryer, we use wool balls and have had wonderful success with clean soft clothes without all the allergens.

Bonnie

I’m going to say yes and no. Homemade laundry soap does work, but for me, only in a limited way. I use a powdered recipe with 3 bars Fels Naptha, a whole box borax, a whole box washing soda,a while large box baking soda, and a couple containers of dollar store oxycleaner. It’s a lot of stuff, and I suspect some of it does not need to be in there. The wash water always gets gray while agitating, the soap gets clothes soft and takes out odors well (but keep reading), but over time, a couple months, I noticed that my whites were getting gray and colors were losing brightness. We have city water which is on the hard side. I have a couple friends who use this same recipe and they just love it. They have soft water. I was at one of their houses one time and wiped my hands on one of her towels, and my hands STUNK like old sour nasty towels. So,I think some of us just have a different standard of what’s clean. I must have a higher standard for laundry. I don’t say that in a prideful way. I do have a sensitive nose, and don’t like any hint of a dirty odor. So…my towels get washed with a tablespoon or so of bleach every few loss or so (but I also used bleach quite often with store bought detergent too, so…) to eliminate any sour towel smell that drives me nuts. Regular clothes don’t get any odor though. So it works in some ways, and doesn’t in other ways. You know, when I clean my shower, there is usually soap scum from people’s body soap that needs some elbow grease to remove. So I suppose that using SOAP in the laundry might have the same consequence.

Sandra

I use the full boxes and the soap plus add Purex Crystals in whatever scent I want in a 5 gallon bucket. I line the bucket with a medium plastic garbage bag, then use Arm and Hammer Superwashing detergent, Baking Soda, Borax, Oxy Clean, 3 bars of laundry soap and Purex Laundry Crystals. Using my hands to mix them up. Next to have a container I scoop some in to set by my washer. I have hard water so I use 2 tablespoons. Before I decided to try this I used Tide and we all know how clean it gets your clothes so I was expecting a lot and I am proud to say I love this detergent. I wash 6 loads a week and sometimes more. I still haven’t had to refill the small container I am using. The Oxy Clean has 2 scoopers inside it and each wholes 2 tablespoons.

leesers

I have been using a dry mix recipe for about 2 or 3 months now and am beginning to really hate it. I use a recipe based on a 4.5 oz bar of fels-naptha to 1 cup each borax & washing soda. I say “based on” because my husband found that Zote is available here at a much lower price per ounce than the fels-naptha. He also insisted that I make enough to fill an old gallon jar with it, so I have quite a lot of this right now. We have very hard well water. The soap was grated fine with a box grater and just added to the powders, never cooked and never blended fine. (Can’t blend Zote fine or even grate fine: too moist. Looks about the size of fine grated cheese.)

The thing I noticed first was that my clothes look dingey, and that none of my dish towels were looking like they had been washed at all. Then (the part I cannot stand the most) is that none of my towels absorb any moisture at all. They only push the water around on the counter. I began using 1 tablespoon per load, 2 if the load was particularly dirty (all dish towels, and all the men’s clothing.) Then I raised it to 2. Then I raised it to 3 per load. Nothing helped. I tried reading all sorts of sites that told me I was using too much, so I cut back to only 1 Tbsp per load, with 1/2 cup of vinegar in a Downey ball. Still not working and I hate that I have to use this jar of soap anymore.

My question is: Any ideas on how I can “fix” this batch of soap I have? I really don’t want to have to throw this whole gallon of soap away.

Erin

I started making my own laundry detergent last year, and I am very pleased with the results. For those who have trouble with it, I recommend washing in hot water, adding a second rinse, and getting the load into the dryer right away. I have noticed that synthetic fabrics will pick up a smell if I wash them with this detergent and then let the wet load sit in the washer too long.
I make a large batch (lasts about 1 year in a family of 3) of dry detergent with about 6 grated bars of Fels Naptha laundry bar soap, one big box of Borax, and two boxes of Arm & Hammer washing soda. I use about 1/8-1/4 cup per load of laundry, with hot water (this helps dissolve everything) and a double rinse. If I’ve got anything with a bad stain, I toss in a scoop of oxyclean or use the oxyclean spray just on the stain.

Erin

Lessers:
I don’t know how to fix your soap, but I do know how to fix your towels! Wash them in hot water with about 1/2 cup Dawn original dish soap. It actually has to be Dawn brand, and the original “flavor.” That should get rid of the build-up which is keeping them from absorbing water. Wash them normally after that.
Hope that helps!