Laundry Detergent

My friend Jenn is the first to have pointed me toward homemade laundry detergent.  I am forever in her debt!  This is just one of many recipes I found online.  Feel free to experiment and try different recipes or combinations of these ingredients.

This costed me about $13 to make the first batch (10 gallons in the end)  but since I have  the bucket, borax, and washing soda still, the next several batches will cost me about $2 each.  Even at $13 it’s a savings, but at $2 a batch, WOW!  That’s 20¢ per gallon!

Time:  1/2 to 1 hour

Yield: 5 gallons undiluted, 10 gallons total


  • 5 gallon pail with lid (available at home improvement stores)
  • 1 bar of Zote*, Fels Naptha*, or Ivory bar soap (currently available at my local Walmart and employee-owned Woodman’s grocery store)
  •  1/2 cup Borax** (Walmart and Woodman’s)
  • 1 cup Washing Soda*** (Walmart and Woodman’s)
  • Water

Grate the bar soap with a cheese grater- preferably one you don’t plan to use again.  Place it in a saucepan with 4 cups of water and stir it continually over medium-low heat until it melts and dissolves completely.  It is recommended to use a pan you will not use for cooking.  I used a stainless steel pan that I continue to use for cooking, and it is shinier than it’s ever been.  Just figured I’d throw that out there.

Fill the bucket 1/2 full of hot tap water.  Add the melted soap, borax, and washing soda.  Stir it well until everything has dissolved and the water looks evenly cloudy. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water, and stir it well again.

Put the cover on it and let it sit 24 hours or so, until the mixture is gelled.  It will look really weird, slimy, and gross, and it will be unevenly gloopy.  A very strange substance.

When it’s ready, stir it well and half-fill an old laundry jug or some sort of manageable container.  Fill it the rest of the way with water and stir (or shake) it.  Use as you would laundry detergent, shaking or stirring it before each use.   It is safe for efficiency washers.


*Zote and Fels Naptha are brand names for washing bar soaps.  There may be other brands out there, but I don’t know of any.  Ivory seems to have similar ingredients, so it works too.

**Borax is a powder/grainy washing machine additive, similar in look to Oxy Clean, but a simpler chemical.  20 Mule Team makes this product.

***Washing Soda is not baking soda.  It is very similar though, a compound chemical able to be used for many cleaning jobs.  Arm and Hammer makes this product.

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