Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Homemade Laundry Soap

Do you ever get tired of spending $20-$30 a month on different laundry detergents and softeners?  Buying laundry detergent was one of the most expensive things I noticed myself buying when I went on my monthly shopping trips.  I started researching the use of homemade laundry soap and when I saw how much money it could actually save, I couldn't resist trying it!

I made my first batch in September 2010. and I've been using it ever since!  I love it and it's super easy to make!  I purchased ALL the ingredients for around $9, and will be able to make enough soap to last a  year or more, seriously!  It's definitely worth the savings in money, but it's also great for your washing machine, and for sensitive skin.  There will be no more of the gunky build-up left from soap and softener, and you don't have to worry about allergies from dyes and perfumes!

So what should you do to get started? 

Here's what you'll need. 

One box of Borax (found at most any store in the laundry isle)
One box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda not baking soda--it's different! (This was a little harder to find, some grocery stores have it, Homeland does, or you can order it online on many different sites.  I ordered mine from Ace Hardware.
One bar of Soap--Fels Naptha, Zote, Ivory, or really whatever soap you prefer some are just harder to grate than others.  I use the Ivory.
A bucket or container that holds at least 5 gallons. (I used an old 10 gal. rubbermaid container I had around the house)

That's all you need, now here's how to do it:

1/3 bar Fels Naptha or entire bar of another type of soap, as listed above
½ cup washing soda
½ cup borax powder 

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.  You use ½ cup per load.

I use an old Gain container to pour some of the soap in so it's more convenient than hoisting around a 10 gal. bucket every time I do my laundry! 

The soap will gel overnight.  It may have a runny look, or be more solidified like gel.  Just use a spoon to stir it around and shake your container before use.  The soap does not have a lot of suds, but that doesn't mean it's not cleaning your clothes!

If you are wanting your soap to be scented you can add a drop of essential oil to the bucket after mixing.  I haven't done this and my soap just smells clean.

But is it really cheaper??

Let's compare the prices:

Borax $4.29
Super Washing Soda $3.79
Ivory Soap $.97
Total: $9.05

That total is cheaper than the ONE bottle of detergent I was buying that lasted maybe a month!

And what's even better these ingredients will last you a LONG time!  I've made about 3 batches of this soap now and I still have more than 3/4 of the boxes left.  The only thing I've had to buy again is the Ivory soap, of course!

When you do the math, this laundry soap costs about 71 cents a batch which means it's less than 1 cent per load of laundry!! How awesome is that? 

Read my idea for Frugal Fabric Softener here!

If you have any questions about making this soap or the use of it, please feel free to contact me!  Or, if you've tried this soap, I'd love to hear your experiences in the comments below!  Good luck and I hope you have as much fun saving money as I do!


  1. Thank you sooo much for the recipe for the laundry soap. Easier than I thought to make and I LOVE it. I used Fels Naptha soap, and love the slightly citrus scent. It gets out stains so much better than any store bought detergent that I've purchased.

  2. Thank you for the sweet comments, Marianne! I'm glad you're loving it, and I agree that I think it cleans better than commercial detergent! :)

  3. Ok, I am going to try this. Sound easy enough I'll let you know how it goes. My youngest son is allergic to most laundry soaps so I have been stuck with one brand and it gets expensive. But if I can use the bar soap he already uses it will probably work just fine. Thanks for the post.

  4. @Heather, It's easy and we love it at our house! My husband has extremely sensitive skin and breaks out very easily, but he hasn't had any problems at all since I've been using this! I've always heard it's better since it's dye & perfume free! I hope it works for your family too and saves you money! :)

  5. Hi there!! When you say any kind of bar soap will work, do you think the pretty scented oil of olay would work? I love the smell of the new bars and would like to try out this laundry soap method. Thanks!

  6. Hi Dawn, I don't see why it wouldn't work. I use Ivory in mine, but I've also used Dial (because I was out of Ivory). I don't think it really matter what type of soap, as long as its soap....and the good scent just helps out the laundry scent too! :)

  7. Will this soap work in HE washers?

  8. @Rebecca, yes it will! The main reason for using different soap in HE washers is for less suds. This soap is actually very low in suds, so it's perfect for the HE machines. :)

  9. Have you used this on good/expensive clothes? I have to wear dressy clothes to work and they are very expensive. Also is this gentle enough to use on infant clothes? Drift gets very expensive as well

  10. Jade, I have been using this since September, so going on 8 months now. I have not had any problems with it at all. I use it on ALL of our clothes/towels--everything I wash. You might try it out on some of your less expensive clothes just to make sure you will like it, but I assure you I LOVE it! :)

    And, I have a 6 month old daughter and everything she's ever worn (except cloth diapers) has been washed in it. It's actually very gentle because it has no perfumes or dies at all. I have some special cloth diaper detergent that was given to me for a shower gift that I'm using on those.

  11. Do you have any recipes for dishwashing soap? That is something that I would love to have on hand and make a big batch of it.

  12. @Judee, I have been making dishwasher detergent(which I also have posted under the DIY tab), but I haven't made dishwashing liquid soap. I'll have to check it out and see what I find! :)

  13. Thank you for this recipe!!! I've been telling all of my friends and family about it and they all want to try it. BTW, our Walmart Supercenter had the Borax and Super Washing Soda- I thought it would be harder to find.

  14. OK so I made my first batch last night and it flopped:( not sure if it was the downy unstoppable that I added or if it was because I put a lid on the bucket last night. Reboiling tonight and gonna let it sit again. Trial and error I guess lol

  15. @Amber, it may be because you let it boil. I thought I had that in the post, but I guess I don't. You're just supposed to let the soap melt, but not boil. When it boils it gets much thinner and won't hardly gel after it sets. :)