When you find you need to cut back on expenses, or you simply would like to live simply, there are surprising ways to pinch a few pennies. DIY laundry detergent is easy to make and works as well as the store-bought products. Make and store in recycled containers to add to the planet-friendliness.
Homemade laundry detergent recipe
Leah Ingram of Suddenly Frugal came up with this 3-ingredient recipe for laundry soap and shared it with Living on the Cheap readers.
DIY laundry soap ingredients
- Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
- 20 Mule Team Borax
- Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap
You can find all three of these ingredients in most supermarket laundry aisles and in many hardware stores.
Recipe: How to make your own laundry detergent
The recipe is so easy. You can have laundry soap ready to go in 5 minutes or less. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Combine all of the following:
- Two parts washing soda (Let’s start with two cups of washing soda)
- Two parts Borax (again, two cups)
- One part grated or chopped Fels-Naptha soap (a cheese grater works well)
Step 2: Mix well. If you store the detergent in a reuseable container that holds 10 cups of liquid, you can mix by closing the lid tightly and shaking well.
Step 3: Wash your clothes.
Most recipes recommend using about four tablespoons of detergent for a regular-size load of laundry, which is a quarter of a cup. Dedicate a measuring cup to the laundry room for easy use. Or look at the empty caps from your last store-bought liquid laundry detergent bottle. Some have lines on the side that indicate amounts of laundry soap. Simply measure a one quarter cup of detergent into the cap, and mark the line with a marker.
Tips for making your own laundry detergent
The laundry detergent doesn’t bubble like traditional soap, so it should be safe for use in front-loading or top-loading machines.
If you can’t find Fels-Naptha soap in the store or don’t want to spend money on a “special” soap, you can use any bar of soap you have. Have you stockpiled little bars of soaps from past hotel visits? Use them in this recipe, and they will work just as well.
Another frugal tip I’ve discovered: When you need a stain remover, reach for clarifying shampoo. It is much cheaper than liquid laundry detergent or commercial stain removers and does just as good a job.
If you liked this article, you might also like:
- Make your own toothpaste
- Make your own dishwasher detergent
- Homemade cleaners that will save you money
- Make your own shampoo and other personal hygiene products
- Cheap and easy carpet cleaning solutions
- Make dryer balls, a cheapskate’s fabric softener
I’m going to try this. I started using Borax several years ago, replacing half of the detergent with borax. Borax was recommended by my doctor (allergist/M.D.) to denature the dog dander on my clothes (when washed at 140’F). We had two big fluffy dogs at the time sadly, they are no longer with us…). I’ve liked the way the addition of borax got the clothes very clean and fresh smelling and I’ve continued to use it to this day.
I’ve been making my own laundry soap for years now. I like the powdered version. Since the Fels-Naptha soap is so hard to grate and I have arthritis, I started using it without it. However, I’ve always added Oxygen Cleaner to my recipe. So now I just use equal parts Oxygen Cleaner, Borax, & Washing Soda. I haven’t had any problems with clothes not getting clean.
They sell laundry scent boosters now if you want to add some scent. I’ve also found some great bars of soap at Big Lots called “Zote” for 50 cents. They are very similar to Fels-Naptha and pink. They still take a bit of work to grate, but they have a better smell, IMO.
Also, a very good pre-wash treatment, that I’ve had get out nearly everything is Oxiclean’s laundry spray. It’s amazing!
Yes, using Borax, and also Oxigen Cleaner has seriously reduced my use of chlorine bleach. About the only time I use that is if someone gets ill and I want to sanitize their laundry. Otherwise, the other two do a fantastic job of whitening and I don’t have to worry about spilled/splashed bleach ruining things.
Tex dakota says
This is great information and just the kind of do it yourself stuff i like. I will be trying this out soon and posting info about it on my blog Cheap-ass-living.blogspot.com. May I have permission to post a link to this article?
LOTC Staff says
Yes you are welcome to post a link. Thanks for asking.
I’ve used this recipe for years. The only problem I’ve ever had with it is if I use too much. Stick to the recommended 1/4 cup (or even less, depending on the capacity of your machine).
To de-stinkify stinky clothes, add baking soda to the mix and try white vinegar instead of fabric softener. Since I don’t have a fabric softener cup in my frugal machine, I got a pair of empty plastic Downey balls and just add the vinegar to them.
If clothes need more softening, consider making or purchasing felted wool dryer balls. They last forever, cut down a bit on drying time, and do a nice job of fluffing.