DIY Laundry Detergent

I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for 6 years! SIX. WHOLE. YEARS. It’s safe to say I’m an expert and could easily do this with one hand tied behind my back and a blindfold. Ha! Have you considered making your own detergent? What’s holding you back? It doesn’t take long, and you get TEN GALLONS of detergent for so so cheap. Like, so cheap. Did you even know that most of what you’re paying for when you buy detergent at the store is WATER? Water, y’all. Good ole H20. But then there are a lot of chemicals in your commercial detergent than you can easily avoid by using this 4 ingredient recipe. Save yourself a bundle and give this a try.

The line-up.

Gather your supplies! You will need:

  • Super Washing Soda (found on the laundry aisle at your grocery store)
  • Borax (also found on the laundry aisle at your grocery store)
  • Bar soap (I’m using two bars of Thieves Bar Soap, but you can use one bar of Fels Naptha from your local hardware store, or two bars of Ivory soap)
  • Water
  • a 5-gallon bucket
  • a grater
  • a saucepan
  • a big spoon


Ain’t it grate?!

Grate your soap bar(s)! It will look just like cheese, so maybe make sure the people in your house know you’re making detergent, just in case you step away and someone is like “Yummm! CHEESE!” That would not be a very nice surprise.


Cook it!

Throw your grated soap in to a saucepan and add just enough water to cover it. Then turn the heat on medium-high and cook it until your soap is allll melted. You don’t want any unmelted soap. I use a skimmer to make sure, since it can get a little bubbly and hard to tell. Also? Don’t forget this on the stove. It will boil over and while the clean up is no biggie (it’s just soap and water!), what a waste!


In the words of The Home Depot…

Time to get your 5-gallon bucket! This is the part where it’s going to become very evident that you’ve been paying a lot of money for a lot of product that is *mostly* water…


I spy threenager toes…

In your bucket, measure 1 cup of Super Washing Soda and 1/2 cup of Borax.


The trifecta of clean!

Next, pour in your hot, melted soap!!! And give it a good stir with your big spoon.


It’s foam-r-ific!

Now we add the water! You want to add HOT water directly from the tap. Fill that bucket to the brim, baby! Then put the lid on tightly and WALK AWAY. Let the bucket sit allll night long.



The next day, you’ll take of the lid and it will look like this. Kinda…. congeal-y. {That’s not a word, but you get what I mean.} Take your big spoon and stir and stir and stir until the congeal-y-ness gives way to a thick, detergenty-y consistency. (I’m just making up words all over the place today!) With this particular batch, I actually put my arms in up to my elbows and mixed it up by hand, squeezing it all through my fingers until it was nice and pourable. (FOR REAL?? That’s not a word either?? Give me a freakin’ break, WordPress!)


Et voila.

So when you’ve stirred it up quite nicely, it will look more like this. Take a good whiff. It will smell awesome no matter what soap you chose. I love making detergent, my whole house smells amazing throughout the process.


This part can get a tad messy…

Now you’ve got 5 gallons of detergent, but didn’t I promise you ten?? YES I DID! The bucket is concentrated. You need to half it with water. The best way to do this is to get an old detergent container, funnel, and measuring cup, and alternately measure detergent and warm water into your detergent container. If you aren’t doing this in your sink, do like I do and set your container on the bucket lid to catch any spills. And heck, if you spill, it’s no big deal. Your floor will be cleaner for your “oops”.


You did it!

You’re done! You’ve got your detergent, and you’re ready to launder things! Keep the lid tightly on your bucket so nobody climbs in or dumps it. That would be bad. When you start to run low in your container, refill from your bucket, remembering to dilute with water. You’ll use a full cap full with a regular washer, 1/2 a cap full with an HE machine. I like to shake up my container before measuring, but you do you. Want to add some essential oils? You can do a drop each time you run a load, or you can do lots of drops (like…. 30) into your detergent container. Just avoid using citrus oils unless you are storing your detergent in a glass container. (And who does that?? Nobody I know.)

My next adventure in laundry amazingness will be wool dryer balls. My six year adventure with homemade laundry detergent has been great, and I expect no less from investing in wood dryer balls to help cut dryer time, reduce wrinkles, and add scent to my drying laundry if I so choose!

~Aly D.

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