Recipe For Homemade Laundry Detergent
Today’s post is not brought to you by America’s consumer products companies. We’ve been making our own laundry detergent for almost a year now, and it’s worked out shockingly well. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I’m convinced that consumer product companies don’t want us to know how easy, inexpensive, and painless making your own laundry detergent is. This little recipe has been our family’s biggest success factor in pairing back our family budget. It’s super easy and cleans well–and I’ve tried to answer as many questions as possible in the directions on this post.
What You’ll Need:
- A Five Gallon Bucket
- A Fels Naptha Bar (available on the laundry detergent aisle at your grocery store)
- 1 Cup of Borax (cleaning or laundry aisle at grocery store)
- 1 Cup of Washing Soda (laundry aisle at grocery store)
- Blender (we use an old Magic Bullet blender for ours)
- Pot for Boiling (the bigger the better, as it easily overflows)
- Put pot on the stove and start to boil water. Pick a larger pot than the own I have shown in the picture above. I consistently over flow this pot, and will be remembering to use a larger pot next time.
- Shred the Fels Naptha bar. Lots of people grate their soap, but that was taking far too long for me, was shredding my fingertips, and still wasn’t getting the soap fine enough. Enter the blender. I cut the soap up in to tiny chunks (it actually starts to fall apart on it’s own a little bit), and blend half of it, until all the chunks are finely ground into a fine powder. Pour into the boiling water. Blend the other half of the soap bar as well, and add it to the boiling water as well. The goal is to get the chunks of soap melted into the water, so the finer you blend the soap, the less time you’ll have to boil it.
- Add the boiled soap-water to the five gallon bucket.
- Add a cup of Borax to the five gallon bucket.
- Add a cup of washing soda to the five gallon bucket.
- Fill the rest of the five gallon bucket with super hot water and stir as you add water.
Literally, that’s it! You’re done! The whole process takes me about fifteen minutes. Use 1 cup of detergent per washing load.
A few things worth mentioning, just because this whole “make your own detergent” thing is a little bit different, and I didn’t know what to expect, so here’s what I’ve learned:
- The mixture is very thin at first. It thickens overnight, congealing and clumping together a bit, but bottom line, it’s a pretty thin liquid. You could add less water if you wanted it to be thicker, but we’ve found that this balance of water to soap cleans really well.
- If you choose to add less water and want it to be thicker, sometimes it will clog the little soap dispenser in your water. When this happens, I just run a load of wash on the sanitary cycle on our machine, and the super hot water clears out the soap dispenser.
- If you don’t like the thickness of your soap, you can add more hot water to your five gallon bucket at any time. This stuff is super-forgiving.
- We’ve been using this mixture in our HE washer for over a year. I did a lot of research on making detergent before trying this, and turns out, commercial companies actually add a substance to the soap to get the soap to sud. Apparently, soap isn’t naturally sudsy. So this mixture does not over-sud, and is perfectly safe for our HE washer.
- It’s not like we’re washing teenage boys’ football gear (yet), but this recipe has served to clean all of our wash over a year. We have little kids, and this stuff has cleaned up some pretty gross stuff, and I’ve been very happy with the performance of the detergent. Once or twice, I have chosen to run a load through twice, but I think that’s been more for my peace of mind than for actual cleanliness’ sake.
How Much Does It Save?
I estimate that we make five gallons of detergent for about $1.50. That’s $.30 per gallon. Compare that to grocery store detergent, which is about $15.36 per gallon. So, I estimate that we save about $15.06 per gallon of detergent. We go through five gallons about every two weeks, so I estimate that we’re saving over $150 per month, and on heavy wash months, almost $200.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
That is a serious monthly saving! I use a Seventh Generation free and clear powdered detergent, so I will need to do the math on that … but I love the idea of (what seems like) an even more natural product.
Is your math right? You use more than five cups of detergent a DAY? That’s what, 20 loads, every day. Do you have more than one machine (mine takes 90 minutes)?
Hi Betty! We actually use about 1 cup+ per load, and we do do several loads per day. I’ve never claimed to be the best at math, though. Thanks for your comment!