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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

With the rising costs and smaller packaging of almost everything these days, I decided to try my hand at making my own laundry detergent. There are a slew of homemade detergent recipes out there, some involved cooking soap flakes until they gelled. Eh, too much work for me. My preferred brand is Arm & Hammer laundry detergent anyway, so adding actual baking soda to the mix made sense. Add a few bars of grated laundry soap and washing soda and it seemed simple enough.

Homemade Laundry Detergent 1

Homemade Laundry Detergent

For about 5 lbs, you'll need:
1 lb 10 oz box washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate
2 lb box of baking soda
2 14 oz bars of laundry bar soap

I found the 1 lb 10 oz box of washing soda on sale for $1.29. The directions said to add 1 tsp to an ordinary wash, so I figured using the whole box for this little experiment would work just fine.

The 2 lb box of baking soda was $1.99.

Two 14 oz bars of laundry soap was 89 cents each. Almost every recipe had the Zote brand, I just figured I'd be contrary and add Lirio to the mix. Ivory soap would work as well.

Homemade Laundry Detergent 2

Grate the bars of laundry soap.

Homemade Laundry Detergent 3

Add both boxes of baking soda and washing soda. I dumped everything into double-bagged plastic bags. Shook it up. Then dumped it into my empty container of laundry detergent.

Homemade Laundry Detergent 4

I found the laundry soap a bit harsh on my hands and clothes. My skin peeled a bit after the grating. My clothes seemed a bit more worn. It doesn't clean as well as my usual Arm & Hammer store detergent. Not that my clothes are terribly stained, just that I've been using the Shout a bit more. I used 1/4 to 1/2 cup of detergent per load of wash. On the upside, the $5 I spent to make my own detergent lasted about 5 months.

My pocketbook likes that.

Who else made their own laundry detergent?
Angry Asian Creations used a gentle castile or glycerine soap, Borax, and lavender essential oil.

My other non-edible recipes:
Sugar Body Scrub
Play Dough

1 year ago today, a reader makes my recipe for ca ri ga (Vietnamese chicken curry).
2 years ago today, my oldest uncle's wife's banh xeo (Vietnamese sizzling crepes).


  1. i actually *just* used up my batch. props to you for hand grating the soap, i just bought the flakes and they were $10/bag. where did you buy the bar soap? i also had the hardest time finding the washing soda, stores kept SWEARING it was the same as baking soda.

    i need to make up a new batch soon. i also prefer the arm/hammer laundry detergent brand. i swear i'm not copying you! :)

  2. Promise not to laugh. I keep ingredients similar to these in my "the world is ending" supplies. I've never made it but it's there if I need to. It was good to have your input. My biggest money saver has been to stop using commercial cleaning products. I now rely on vinegar, ammonia and occasionally bleach.

  3. Lan,
    $10 for someone else to grate the soap? The soap is so soft, it was easy. The bars and washing soda were found at my local grocery store.

    My relatives still keep bottles of water, bagged, around the house just in case an earthquake or other emergency. Vinegar is a great glass cleaner. Use it with newspaper and no streaks.

  4. I also like to keep hydrogen peroxide around the house for cleaning too. It does wonders as a non-chlorine bleach for clothes and can help with those armpit stains on white shirts.

  5. wc - the recipe i found said that once you grate the soap, it had to be dried for 2 days or something! i couldn't have that stuff lying around in my condo to dry! it's official, my grocery stores suck, or i'm just not observant enough to find these bars and washing soda.

  6. Alison,
    Great tip. Thanks.

    Maybe look at drug stores for washing soda? Mine was just in the cleaning supplies aisle. And you don't have to buy fancy soap, Ivory works too. No need to let it lay out for days to dry.

  7. Excellent, and love your body scrub :)

  8. Christelle,
    The body scrub is great, isn't it? I need to make another batch.

  9. shame it did not work as you would have liked. do you think its just a matter of finding a better recipe for it?

    if always wanted to make my own detergent/soap/shampoo

  10. Jeremy,
    I think my soaps were just a little too harsh. I might try it again with Ivory and see if I like the result?

    I just went with the easiest recipe. I don't know if cooking everything into a gel would make a difference, but that was too much work for me.

  11. I have been making my own laundry soap for about 4 years now. I always use 20 Mule Team Borax, Washing Soda and either Zote or Fals Naptha Soap (in the beginning, now I use whatever bar soap is on sale, it all works the same!) If you are having a bit of problem getting stains out, add some oxygen bleach (aka Oxyclean) to your mix and that should fix the problem. It adds a bit to the cost, but also adds a lot more power.

  12. Michelle,
    I add Borax to my regular loads of wash too. I've tried Ivory too and it works great. Thanks for the additional tips.

  13. My salon makes our own laundry soap. We boil it into a gel and keep it in a large drum. We've saved so much money making our own.
    Ours is Borax, washing soda and Fels. The towels there are softer and more absorbent than any other salon I've worked.

  14. The Glitzkrieg,
    I've seen some of the gel recipes, but I don't have the storage for that much detergent. I need to get my hands on the Fels Naptha soap!


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