Posted: April 24, 2013

A few weeks ago I showed you How to Make Your own Dishwasher Detergent Tabs which was very easy and cost effective!  A lot of readers wanted to know how to make homemade laundry detergent.  Well I did some research and found out it is also easy and cost effective.  My brother’s family has been making their own laundry detergent for years and directed me to The Original Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe. It only takes 3 ingredients, too!  My final cost was $0.53 cents to make 32 loads!  That’s a lot cheaper than my stock up price on laundry detergent!  The nice thing was they were almost the same ingredients I use to make detergent tabs so I had it all the ingredients in my home!

You remember I talked about Washing Soda in my Detergent Tab post? To make this recipe you can use Washing Soda which is in the laundry soap area of the store.  It’s made by Arm & Hammer.  HOWEVER this is almost the same as Baking Soda!  The only difference is that you can make washing soda by cooking baking soda.  Washing Soda cost $1 more per box so I decided to use my Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and make it myself!  It added an extra step, but really was no big deal.  It wasn’t a lot of extra effort.

FREE: The Ultimate How to Guide to Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

Follow these 8 simple steps to make your own $0.03 dishwasher detergent tabs.

Click here to find out more

Here’s how I did it.  First you need your ingredients.  Scroll to the bottom for a printable list of ingredients. You will need Borax.  This has many uses – I put a recipe to make Flubber at the bottom of my Dishwasher Tab post!

laundry detergent ingredients


I bar (or 4.5 oz) of shaved bar soap (Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha) or use the fun microwave puffed ivory soap method instead of shaving it

1 cup Borax

1 Cup Washing Soda – you can see I used Baking Soda above

baking soda

I got the Homemade Washing Soda Recipe from Penniless Parenting. Basically you just lay out your One cup Baking soda, Bake at 400 degrees for an hour. I stirred mine every 20 minutes. Easy! You do not have to do this step.  If you want to buy Washing Soda skip this step.


Grate your bar soap. I used Ivory and it was fast! I think I counted 13 seconds to grate it!


Mix the Borax, Washing Soda and Ivory Flakes for a few minutes.  That’s it! You are done and it’s ready to use!

pour into jar

I cleaned out a Ragu Spaghetti jar and started putting the detergent into it.

pour in washer

Use 1 Tablespoon of detergent in your washer.

pour in detergent

That’s it! Now you can do your laundry!  My brother said that they use warm water to help dissolve it.  If you wash in cold you may want to add it to the water first to help it dissolve.

The jar looks plain so you can decorate it.  Here are a few ideas I came up with some scraps of material laying around my house.


I have some fabric, fancy yarn and scissors.

lid and fabric

Cut a square fabric just larger than the lid.  Get an old canning ring to help hold it in place (or you can use a glue gun.)

fancy lid

Place fabric on lid and press canning ring on to hold it.

lid on jar

Now you have a jar decorated! You could also just decorate the bottom of the jar like this:

jar with fabric

Cut out a square of fabric larger than the jar.

fabric around jar

Fold the fabric (or wrap) it up around the jar.

wrap with yarn

Wrap fancy yarn around it to hold the fabric in place.

fabric wrapped jar

Tie the yarn and leave the top open in your laundry room to use as needed! I don’t recommend leaving the top open if you have children around your home.

Or you can simply use fancy yarn on the jar!  That’s the way I left mine!

You can print the list here:

FREE: The Ultimate How to Guide to Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

Follow these 8 simple steps to make your own $0.03 dishwasher detergent tabs.

Click here to find out more

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  • I have been making my own laundry soap for about 15 years. I make a liquid though and I think it is even cheaper. It uses those same ingredients except half the amount of washing soda and borax. It then makes 5 gal of liquid and you use aprox 1/2 cup or less per load depending on how hard your water is. You heat the soap flakes with water until melted. Add to 5gal bucket with the borax and washing soda, then fill with hot water. Mix well and let set up over night. Do not use deodorant soap as it will discolor the clothes. Most other types of white soap work and I usually add a bit of Fels Naptha to each batch. Interesting information about changing baking soda into washing soda. I don’t have trouble finding it in my area and you have to consider the cost of your oven use when deciding what is most cost effective.

  • kelly

    Happy to see this post, as I’ve wanted to try this. Thank you for the straightforward instructions and the pics. It makes sense to see these diy-type approaches on a money-saving website. It can often be cheaper than using coupons!

  • chris

    Does anyone know if this would be ok to use in a HE washer?

    • barbaralboucher

      Yes HE safe

    • HelperJen

      Yes, I used it in my HE washer.

  • barbaralboucher

    I make my own soap as well :) Im glad to see this on here. Mine is liquid form.
    I do mine by eye and add essential oils.. I use the washing soda, baking soda, water, felts napa soap, Heat it up add to what you wana keep it on add water and add oils last once it has cooled so it dont evaporate.

    • Chris

      What kind of oils do u use?

      • barbaralboucher

        You can use lavender, grapefruit,all those have antibacterial properties and smell great. those are the two I use

  • maria eads

    I have two little tips. If you email the company that makes borax and fels naptha they will send you coupons. I usually get a .25c off of one bar of fels naptha, and .50c off of one box of borax. They will send you coupons once every 6 months, and they usuaslly send three or four coupons for each item. Its the company that makes dial products as well so the last time I asked for coupons for all of their products, and they sent me some for them all. The other is that if you happen to use ivory you should try this little trick because its awesome and kids love it. Heck, I love it. Its quite amazing to watch. But if you do this, you dont have to grate it because it falls apart, and its an awesome show.

    • HelperJen

      Thanks for the “little trick” with Ivory! We had fun doing that tonight! I will do a post on that later.

  • Suzie

    I just started making our laundry soap this past year. Ours has a few more ingredient cost me about $20-$25 to make but for
    my family of 6 it lasts about 4 months and 2 of my children regularly wet the bed still, so the washing machine gets used a lot in our home. I think our clothes actually smell better then using the store bought stuff as well.

  • Karen Dobbs

    I wanna try this!! Question though: Is this hypoallergenic, or is there a soap I can use to to make it so? I have eczema and sensitive skin.

    • HelperJen

      This is supposed to be very safe for sensitive skin. You can substitute the Ivory for Fels-Naphta for an even more gentle soap.

  • Deanna

    Can you use in HE washer?

    • HelperJen

      Yes, I used it it my HE washer.

  • Margie Hall

    But does this make clothes smell any different?? I love when i can actually smell my clean clothes..

    • HelperJen

      It has a light scent to it. I heard you can add some Downy Unstoppables to it for more scent if you want.

  • Rita

    I make my own homemade powdered laundry soap and I make it in bulk. I use 4 Bars of Zote or Fels Naptha grated, 2 boxes Borax, 2 boxes of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, 2 tubs of Oxy Clean,1 box Baking Soda and for scent 2 large packages of Purex Crystals. You only have to use 1 tablespoon per load.

  • Marie Miller

    cool i’m going to try this i like the liquid better i will try this thank you

  • Kathleen

    I made this using zote and made my own washing soda. I am pleased with the results of today’s 2 loads. I may look at making the entire batch liquid, because that is what I have to use where I do laundry. Today I threw the laundry mix for 2 loads in the blender with some very hot water and that worked well. Thanks for the post, I love how cost effective and easy this is for the same or better quality!

  • lori

    can you use this in any machine?

    • HelperJen

      Yes, any including HE.

  • Erin

    I used homemade detergent for a while and although I saved money, it didn’t get my husband stinky work clothes clean, or the stains out of my active boys clothing. It also made my HE washer stink REALLY bad. It worked ok. Not impressed. It also shrunk my laundry.

  • Tracy Justice

    Made my first batch of detergent tonight! I used a little Downy stoppables and a cap of tide since we are huge tide fans. Instead of the bar soap I used the Ivory dish soap and ended up with a gel. Not sure how much money I saved yet but the entire kitchen and laundry room smell awesome. If this works it will be a great way to stretch our tide forever since we already have the giant container of tide.

  • Tracy Justice

    Update! This stuff is awesome….. I found myself washing everything to really test it. I did hubbys work clothes… clean… towels and bedclothes. Everything was nice and clean… Great post.

    • Thanks so much for letting us know you liked it!

  • Dawn

    I found the shaved soap did not always dissolve well, even in warm water and especially in the HE washers so I ran the powder through my blender. Voila. All powder evenly dispersed.

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