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Frugal Tip: Make-Your-Own Laundry Detergent

Catherine McDiarmid-Watt | Thursday, March 07, 2019 | 6 comments
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Image: Washing machine, Laundry, Tumble drier by Steve Buissinne on Pixabay
I have to admit it - I was too lazy to make the liquid version of home-made laundry soap.

But this one looks much easier to make!

DIY Laundry Detergent
-- Uses only 4 ingredients (six ingredients if you add the optional OxyClean and fabric softener),
-- Ingredients will cost you about $28 a year.
-- This recipe will make a batch that will last you a whole year!

• 1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax
• 1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm + Hammer Super Washing Soda
• 2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap or Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap, grated
• 2 (2 lb) Boxes of Arm + Hammer Baking Soda

• 1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean
• 1-2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener

She says you only need 1-2 Tablespoons per load depending on the size of your laundry load - and that it works in HE washers too!

Credit for the idea and photo to Bobbi on HowDoesShe.com:
Cheaper AND Better! DIY Laundry Detergent
-- Make sure to read Bobbi's post for complete instructions and important tips - plus all the great comments from her readers - there were 814 comments when I last checked!

From our Facebook fan page:

Donna C Phillips posted: It does not produce suds. So don't get excited when you don't see them!

Selina Dixon posted: I use to make the liquid for the standard washer I had/ but was afraid to use it in my HE we have now. When I used it before, I never noticed if it produced suds or not... LOL. I will try it again

Michelle Christiansen posted: I am sooooooo doing this!!

Esther Mendoza posted: works wonderful and if you use Zote. They have a box of flakes at Walmart makes laundry smell fresh *-* try it

Tabby Brock posted: I made some last night.

Jessica Stillman posted: Does it matter what kind of soap you use? I mean, can I buy some homemade soap from a local vendor and use that instead?

Bobbie Jo Youmans posted: I have been making this same recipe for over a year now....love it, and you can add a few drops of essential oils also for fragrance. I have used Fels Naptha and seems to work the best but love to use the homemade soaps too.

Melinda Kaye posted: Does anyone know how this is on sensitive skin??

Jenifer Jacobs Webster posted: I make this recipe and @Melinda, I have sensitive skin and also know another lady whose husband has more sensitive skin than me, and it works great. But on the other hand, a relative of mine has a reaction to the Purex crystals, so if you've never used them before I don't know. I absolutely love this recipe, and will never go back to regular laundry detergent!

Melanie Haile posted: I made a big batch of this soap and I love love love it. And it only takes a capful. That is awesome!

Mary Fahrney posted: How does it work in HE washers?

Anne Girucky posted: I make my own laundry soap and it lasts me 6 months. Cheap and it really cleans great.

Christine Mueller posted: Is there anything that cleans as good as Tide, but doesn't have the harsh perfumes? My entire household is a 'free' of perfumes and dyes household. Haven't found a homemade detergent that works, and doesn't cause allergic reactions. Anybody out there knows of a recipe?

AnneMarie Jackman Canu posted: I made both last week and love both!

Vicki Hopkins Gaulden posted: I've been making my own powdered laundry detergent for about 2 years now (and yes, I have an HE). It's basically the same recipe you posted. I recently ran across a recipe calling for Castille soap. Supposed to be liquid but mine is more like wet powder. Have to tinker with it, but I did add some lavender and tea tree essentials to make it smell wonderful

Catherine Agnes Roebuck posted: @Christine, try Country Save detergent. It's not homemade but it's unscented, dye-free and works wonderfully.

Jacque Miller posted: I still love this recipe. My clothes are so soft and fresh.

Kristie Fietzer Rhoden posted: Not to mention that the powdered soap eliminates the wet dog/musty smell that you get when guys sweat in their shirts. The smell comes from the animal fat added to the liquid to keep it liquid-y.

Kristie Fietzer Rhoden posted: Christine M~I too cannot have anything scented, and some of my family has sensitive skin ~ I have been using Tide Free powder, but would like a homemade version!

Suzy Embry posted: I just made me a batch! My skeptical sister was impressed!

Melinda Kaye posted: Thanks Jenifer, I have only used them for one bottle worth except for the clothing for the sensitive one, so I have no idea if she can or can't use it. I am really thinking about making this though (maybe hold off on the crystals this time...) or I can make the batch and put the crystals in after I try a load. Lol, we will see!

Amanda Mathis posted: This is how I make mine. but I add a baking soda to the mix just to beat out any hard water issues. I have never had issues with making mine since I do it in 3 month batches and it's no joke.. you only spend 15-20 bucks a YEAR for it. :) I been doing it for years now and I have an HE washer and never had an issue with it...

Janisis Goocher posted: Been making my own for 2 years with no problems. Total cost for 2 years= $24!!

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About Catherine: I have been writing frugal tips since 1982, when I was a young divorced mom of two - for my baby product company, Born to Love. I am now mom to three sons, who are all grown up - and re-married to a wonderful man. We have rescued two little dogs, Denny and Dexter - and Bella, the cat.

Questions? Email me at catherine (at) frugal-freebies.com or post to my Facebook Fan Page!

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  1. Anonymous says:

    @ Melinda, I use Purex Free n Clear for my household and it works. We quit using Tide and All because it seems there's still an additive in those that still irritate my husband's skin (redhead). I am trying this recipe to see if a.) it works for my home and b.) save me money. Purex costs at Walmart $7 for large 60 loads liquid.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just a question... using a he front load washer where does the detergent go?

  3. In my front-loading washer, there is a little drawer that I pull out, and inside is a place to put detergent.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How does it do on baby stains

  5. Anonymous says:

    Going to try this...have been a Tide user I know that it is just getting so expensive. In this economy where our paychecks keep shrinking we have to do something

  6. Lilly says:

    Those of you that have mentioned having hard water. You can buy a box of calgon or rain drop water softener and mix into your laundry detergent recipe. I use one 42 ounce box, but if your water is extremely hard you can use two boxes. It will make the detergent suds more and will soften the water, and an added benefit is that it will give more loads too.

    Those that have mentioned having sensitive skin, just use your favorite bath soap that you know you are not allergic to. Make sure that you use enough bars to equal or slightly exceed the 28 ounces called for in the recipe.

    Another trick I use is for faster drying out of the soap before grating/grinding. I cut the bars into 1/2" thick slices they dry out faster since they are thinner. If I grate the soap without drying then I put grated soap in a thin layer and let dry then pulse it in an extra food processor so its a powder. In wintertime I have even stuck the slices of grated soap in a warm oven after cooking to speed the drying process but you have to be very careful that the oven isn't more than just warm.

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