How to Make Laundry Detergent at Home

How to Make Laundry Detergent at Home

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With two kids and a husband who works in the flooring business, laundry is happening ALL the time in our house.  Over the years, I have become picky about what I use.  After all, the clothes are being worn by the people I love!  I had been buying a super eco-friendly detergent that wasn’t so friendly on our wallet.  While cruising Pinterest, I came across an awesome recipe for homemade laundry detergent!  It was important to me that this recipe be compatible with high efficiency washers, and be more economical than what we were already using.  You can find it here!  Me being me, I had to put my own spin on it.

The ingredient list: (I was able to find all of these in my laundry aisle at the grocery store, for cheaper than it would be if I had ordered it online!)

**Please note this is a powdered detergent.  Some septic systems cannot have powdered detergent.**

  • 4 bars of Fels-Naptha soap
  • 2 boxes of regular baking soda
  • 2 containers of Mrs. Meyer’s laundry booster (or whatever booster you prefer)
  • 1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1 box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
  • 1 7 pound box of Oxi-Clean
  • 1 2-gallon tub to hold everything

Step One

Grate the Fels-Naptha.  You can use your regular cheese grater, but I found it easier to use my food processor.  Cut the soap into smaller chunks and pulse until it’s in small beads.  Don’t completely disintegrate it!

Step Two

Get a big trash bag and dump the grated Fels-Naptha into it.  Next, dump the remaining ingredients.  Twirl the bag so it is shut.  Shake it around to mix all of the ingredients together.  If you have a giant bowl or a tub, that works, as well.  I found it easiest just to smush it around in the bag.

Step Three

Once everything is mixed, transfer the detergent to a container of choice.  If you have a spare tablespoon handy, put it in your detergent vessel.  The Oxi-Clean scoop worked well for measuring.  I marked on the container where the 1, 2, and 3 tablespoon mark is.  I also marked how much to use for each size of load directly on the container.

Using the Detergent

After you’ve loaded the laundry into the washer, fill your scoop to the correct line and toss it on top!  Regardless of wash temperature, the detergent dissolves.  It has worked wonders on my husband’s stinky work clothes.  My batch was made at the end of June and I haven’t made a huge dent in it yet!


My total cost for everything, including the tub, was $38.49.  This recipe makes about 525 tablespoons.  I have found that, for a normal load of laundry for my family, I only use about a tablespoon.  For my husband’s work clothes or muddy chore clothes, I use two.  It averages out to about 400 loads of laundry from this tub.  The laundry detergent I was buying previously was $18 for a tub that claimed to have 128 loads in it.  Because of the hot weather this summer, my husbands work clothes were extra stinky.  Almost every time I used the old detergent, I would have to re-wash his clothes just to get them smelling somewhat fresh.  Figuring in the re-washing, I would assume I would need 4 tubs of this detergent to equal what I made.  $18 x 4 = $72.  Not only am I saving a little over $40, I don’t have to re-wash.  This eliminates extra water use–especially for the towels and stinky clothes, which are done in warm water.

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Libby McPhee
Blogger and Lead Community Builder
Libby works in the Special Education department at her local high school throughout the school year. In her free time, she works on honing her homestead skills, raising her family and animals alongside her husband. They live on a small homestead in the rural mountains of Vermont. Libby is a Founder and Lead Community Builder of Homestead How-To and blogs about her personal experiences on her homestead at Tula Mae Homestead.

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