Friday, August 31, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

About a month ago I decided to make some homemade laundry detergent.  Olivia and Julie had made some at GEMS camp, and they brought home a small jar of it.  I used it until it was all gone (about a week), and then decided to make more.

Here is the recipe that I used:

1/3 bar grated Fels Naptha soap 
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup Borax
1 5 gallon bucket

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. Stir and add 1 more gallon of water. You use ½ cup per load.

The results:

Well, at first I really liked it.  I liked that I spent only $.99 for the Fels Naptha soap, and I already had the washing soda and Borax in my science closet.

Then after a couple of weeks of using the detergent, I realized that our clothes were really not getting that clean.  We have really dirty, smelly clothes, and they were not coming out smelling or looking fresh.  Between our sweaty running clothes and Clay's soot covered clothes from blacksmithing, I guess our clothes are just too dirty for homemade laundry detergent.

If anyone has a different recipe or any suggestions for how I can make my detergent work better, please advise me.  One thing I could have done is to not add that gallon of water the next morning after the detergent gelled, but it's done now! 


  1. Hi Roan! I have been meaning to try this recipe for a while, but haven't gotten around to it:

    It does look very similar to your recipe, but maybe less watered-down (and not 'cooked'). I am with you--we have so much *truly* dirty laundry that my laundry detergent really needs to WORK!

    I am trying to find a similar detergent for my dishwasher. I've tried several recipes but they left a stubborn film on my classes. A vinegar rinse helped with that, but I've since heard that citric acid mixed into the detergent will help with the glass-fogging issue. So I may try that next!

  2. I use the powdered version and it works great....even on Dave's work clothes! I grate 1 bar of Fels-Naptha, 1/2 cup of Borax and 1 cup of washing soda. I use 2 Tbsp. per load. Much easier to Make, too!

  3. We have used Melaleuca laundry detergent (and household cleaning products, hygiene items, etc.) for 8 years and love it! All natural derived chemicals. It's also cheaper per load than regular store bought detergents.

  4. HI - Just found your blog and I love it! I have a powdered detergent recipe that I am very pleased with:
    8 bars of ivory or fels naptha sopa, grated
    4 lb box borax
    4 lb box baking soda
    3.4 lb. box washing soda

    I have a front loader and the liquid detergent causes build up/bad smell, so I switched to powder. I have 4 kids and this recipe should last me about 5 or 6 months and it cost about $10. I also bought a $10 glass jar with a lid at Wal-mart to display it on the counter in my laundry room. And yes, I use 1 to 2 tablespoons, depending on load size.