2 Recipes for DIY Laundry Detergent

Green cleaning the old-fashioned way. Image credit: http://goo.gl/i4AoND

Green cleaning the old-fashioned way. Image credit: http://goo.gl/i4AoND

Today I whipped up a batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent. It costs almost nothing, takes very little time, and lasts for months.

I used to make dry powdered laundry soap but last year I moved to an apartment building where the washers only take liquid detergent. I grudgingly went back to buying store-bought detergent. That stuff is just nasty.

Did you know that a lot of detergents contain florescent pigments to make your clothes appear to be brighter? They’re called “optical brighteners” and are used in detergents, cosmetics, and paper.

I find it really funny that we use chemical cleaning products that reference the natural cleaning methods people used to rely on. Ever wonder why cleaners are scented with lemon or “outdoor fresh scent”? It’s because people used to clean with lemon juice, and by hanging things outside. People “freshened” with fresh air, not Febreeze, and bleached their whites in actual sunlight, not bottles of Unilever brand Sunlight detergent.

I know going back to these methods alone is not always possible, but I do at least try to reduce the number of commercial cleaning products I use by making my own household cleaners.

I had heard about the DIY laundry soap recipe made famous by the Duggar family, and wanted to try it out, but found that the batch sizes were so enormous it just wasn’t practical for a person living in a small space.

Luckily, I eventually found a recipe for a 1/4 batch of the liquid soap recipe that makes enough for two eco-sized detergent bottles. That’s still a lot of soap, but more manageable to make on my little stove in a standard sized dutch oven.

Here are the laundry detergent recipes I’ve had success with. Give them a try!

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

This was originally posted on The Burlap Bag.

You’ll need:

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda*
1 bar of soap

*Washing soda, not baking soda! You can usually find it in the cleaner section at the supermarket along with the Borax.

Now do this:

 1. Grate one bar of soap into a mixing bowl. 

Yes, your regular cheese grater will work just fine.

I’ve found that cheap soap like Ivory or Irish Spring crumbles easily so grates up pretty fast. Fancier “gourmet” soap like The Soap Works or hand-made artisan soap is lovely to use, but it doesn’t disintegrate into a fine powder so is more difficult and time-consuming to grate up.

Use whatever soap you have. I prefer the fancier stuff because I know there are less harmful chemicals and additives, which is one of the reasons I like making my own soap. Also, I can alternate soap colours and get a nice confetti of soap bits into my mix! (Ah, simple pleasures.) But when we’ve bought 3 packs of Ivory bars on sale and the stockpile is staring at me, I’ll gladly use it up this way.

2. Pour in one cup of borax

3. Pour in one cup of washing soda

4. Stir all the ingredients around until it’s well mixed

5. Congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Seriously, that’s it.

Use 1 TBSP per load, 2 TBSP if you have a mess and mean business. Add it to the water before you start loading your clothes. And don’t worry, it works great in cold water.

I used to keep my DIY laundry soap in a big mason jar in the laundry room with a tablespoon in the jar.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent


This was originally posted on Busy-At-Home.

You’ll need:

¼ bar of Fels Naptha soap*
2 tablespoons of borax
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) washing soda
2 clean empty 1.17 gallon laundry bottles

*Again, the soap you use is up to you. Fels Naptha or other laundry soap is fine, or just use what you have around. I’ve actually found that hotel soaps are just about the right size for this recipe, so be classy and stock up during your next hotel stay!

Now do this:

1. Grate the ¼ Fels Naptha Bar
If you are using another soap, this equals about 1/5 of a cup of soap. I usually use 1/4 cup of grated soap, or one bar of hotel soap, just to keep it simple.

2. In a small pot, melt the grated soap in 1 cup of water over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
Keep going until all of the soap bits have dissolved.

3. While you’re melting the soap, pour 10 cups of water (2½ quarts) into a large container.
Make sure there is enough room left to double the amount of liquid and some. 

4. Once the soap is ready, pour it into the water along with the borax and washing soda.

5. Stir the mixture.

6. Add another 10 cups (2½ quarts) of water.
You’re thinking, “That’s a whole lotta soap!” You’re right. But hang in, we’re just getting started.

7. Stir again.
It should start to get a little sudsy.

8. Cover the mixture and let it sit overnight to thicken.

9. Once set, stir well to even out the thickness of the gel.

10. Fill each of the empty laundry detergent bottles about halfway with the soap, dividing evenly.

11. Fill up the rest of the bottles with water so that the mixture is 1 part water to 1 part soap.
THAT’S a whole lotta soap. And this is a quarter of the original recipe? Good grief.

12. Shake the bottles vigorously now, and before each use.

It will separate so be sure to mix it up before pouring. Use 1/4 cup per load of laundry.

If you enjoyed this post and want more DIY, money saving, eco-friendly ideas for around your house, check out my Thrifty Hippie Tips Pinterest board.


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