I started making my own laundry detergent a few months ago and I will NEVER go back to buying it in the store. It is so simple to make, does not take long at all, and saves you a ton of money. Not to mention you know exactly what is in it, so you are exposing yourself and your family to less (unnecessary) chemicals. I wish I knew about this years ago! I have tried a few different recipes for it, and today I am sharing my favorite one with you. It happens to be the same recipe that the Duggar family uses, imagine how much money they would have to spend on regular detergent with such a large family! I do it a little differently than they do but the measurements are the same. For this recipe you will need:
- 1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
- 1 cup Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
- 1/2 cup Borax
I found all of these items in the laundry detergent aisle at Walmart. I do not remember the exact price of each item but it was around $10.00 for all of it (less expensive than only one bottle of most commercial laundry detergents and will last you much much longer). If you can’t find Fels-Naptha or if you have sensitive skin you have many other options. You could also use Zote, Pure&Natural, Dr. Bronners, Ivory, etc. (If using Zote you only need half of a bar) You will also need:
- Hand grater
- Measuring cups
- Medium size pot
- 5 gallon bucket
- Long spoon for stirring
Step one: Grate your soap. I know it seems like a pain but really it only takes a minute. It is not hard to clean the grater afterwards either, it rinses easily. Just be careful when you get down to the end, you don’t want to grate any of your skin off! lol
Step two: Add grated soap to pot with 4 cups of hot tap water. Stir over medium heat until the soap has melted. (Some recipes will tell you to bring it to a boil, I do not do this in fear of ruining the batch. Someone once told me theirs crystalized after boiling it) After your soap has melted you will have what looks like a bright yellow soap soup!
Take your soap soup off of the heat, and stir in your super washing soda and borax until dissolved. This will thicken your soap soup quite a bit. Fill your 5 gallon bucket half full with hot tap water, add in your soap soup, then fill your bucket the rest of the way with hot tap water. Make sure you give it a good stir, then cover it and let it sit for 24 hours. Thats it! How easy is that?!
After 24 hours when you go back to your detergent it will be like a gel. Give it a nice good stir and you are good to go! It will be lumpy, that is perfectly normal (I freaked the first time I made it because I did not know this, lol). This is a picture of what was remaining from my last batch to give you an idea:
Now you can either keep your bucket next to your washer, or fill up an empty container (I used an empty Simply Lemonade container in the top picture) and store the bucket somewhere else out of the way. Use 1/2 cup per load of laundry.
Now many of you may be wondering if this “is safe for a HE washer”, and the answer is yes. We have a HE washer and it works perfectly. This is actually good for HE washers because its low suds. Suds do not equal clean! We recently had someone come to look at the washer for an issue with the pause button, and he said it looked great other than that. So there ya go, proof its safe!
Another thing that many of you may be wondering is “does it work, and do the clothes smell good”. Well I can tell you that it works very well, I actually think it works better than store bought detergent (and I have tried many brands). As far as how the clothes smell, they do not smell like anything when they are done, just clean. But I have a solution for this if you do still want your clothes to smell good. Here is it:
This bottle of Purex Crystals was about 5 dollars at my local Walmart. I just recently discovered these and I am so glad I did. Even though I would never go back to store bought detergent I did kind of miss the good smells. I only use half of a cap full of these per load and my clothes smell fantastic! This bottle will last me a while i’m sure, and I am okay with spending the extra 5 dollars because I am saving so much by making the detergent myself. This is also safe for HE washers! You could use Downy Unstoppables if you so choose, but this is cheaper and does the same thing. (Edit: These must be getting pretty popular because sometimes I have a hard time finding them. I purchased the blue Downy Unstoppables and they made my clothes smell AWFUL. I think I will stick with the cheaper but better IMHO Purex crystals and just go without if they don’t have them in stock at the store) I have also melted about 1/2 of a bottle of these into my detergent with the soap. It takes a while to melt the crystals and the detergent does not gel up as thick but it still works great.
I do not buy fabric softener anymore either. You can use plain white vinegar and it works wonders (the clothes do not smell like vinegar once dry). I also have a cheap and easy recipe for homemade fabric softener that you can find here.
So there you have it, homemade laundry detergent. There are many recipes out there so if this one doesn’t float your boat it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that does. If you have any questions I will do my best to answer them. I hope you will try this (you won’t be sorry!) and let me know what you think!
Homemade Laundry Detergent:
4 cups hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar, grated
1 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
Add grated soap to pot with water. Stir over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat and stir in washing soda and borax until dissolved.
Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap mixture, then fill the rest of the way with hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken. Stir.