Homemade Laundry Detergent

A few years ago I tried making my own dishwasher detergent.  It was a dismal failure but apparently I was using a wrong ingredient.  The recipe called for soda and so I used baking soda.  That was very wrong.  I needed Washing Soda.  I have not tried it again but this week, after talking with a friend who makes her own and after the topic came up on the soap forum I belong to, I did get inspired to make my own laundry detergent. I really do dislike all the perfumes in regular detergent; they are just too strong smelling making my nose twitch. 🙂

I used Fels-Naptha in my laundry detergent this time but I would like to try using my own homemade soap.  Fels-Naptha has some “unnatural” ingredients as well as yellow dye that I would like to avoid.  Fels-Naptha looks like a bar of soap and it is used for the pre-treatment of stains.

Here is the recipe I followed this time.

The ingredients are few:  water, Fels-Naptha soap, Washing Soda, Borax.

Step 1.  Grate 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha.

3.  Add it to 3 pints of water and dissolve over low heat.

4.  Add 1/2 cup Washing soda & 1/2 cup Borax.

5.  Stir until thickened. (I never saw a major difference in thickening after I added the soda and Borax.  I have read that, if that’s the case, add more Fels-Naptha next time.)

6.  Add 1 quart hot water to 2 gallon bucket.

7.  Add soap mixture and mix well.

8.  Fill bucket with cold water and mix well.

9.  Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens.  (This is what it looks like after setting 10 hours.)

10.  Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

Here is the recipe once again, taken from the soap forum I belong to.

Liquid Laundry Detergent
3 pints water
1/3 bar Fels-Naptha or Castille soap (once again I use my own soap)
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax
2 Gallon Bucket
1 Quart hot water
Cold Water
Essential Oil or Fragrance Oil to preference (use only oils that are safe for skin)

Dissolve grated soap bar in 3 pints of water over low heat. Add washing soda & Borax. Stir until thickened and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2 gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and mix well. Fill bucket with cold water and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.
I have marked lines on the container I use to mark the water levels so I don’t have to measure each time.

Washing Soda & Fels-Naptha can both be found at A*ce Hardware.  I actually found the Fels-Naptha to be cheaper at A*ce than at the groery store. 

I will be trying this homemade detergent out in the next few days as I am almost out of my store detergent.  I’ll post the results after I use it.

Also, I have read that you can use 3% Hydrogen Peroxide in place of bleach.  Has anyone tried this and what have been your results?



Filed under Household Cleaners, Thrifty Tips

4 responses to “Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. Joane

    Can’t wait to see your results on the homemade one

  2. Hi, Elisabeth!

    It’s been a while since I’ve posted – busy moving 🙂

    We (I should say the girls) have made this regularly and it turns out fine! It does a good job even on my contractor husband’s sweaty clothes!

    It’s surely a money saver and doesn’t take up that much time for the money it saves.

    Hope it turns out well for you.


  3. Lucille

    Hello Elisabeth,

    Neat idea! I have a different question. I love that container. Where did you get and does it come with a lid? Would be perfect for me to store my grain in my fridge because square in shape, uses space more wisely. 🙂 I actually have the same base (found around the home somewhere) but need the lid, so wondering where you buy such a size and shape container. 🙂 (In case you didn’t happen to pick it up around the home somewhere.)

    • timbuck2mom


      This bucket was one we had laying around the house. I know it had a lid at one time but it’s nowhere to be found at this point. It’s a 4 gallon bucket.

      I looked online and found Container & Packaging Company has square buckets and will sell lids separately. Try this link. https://www.containerandpackaging.com/item.asp?item=PL6104 They are only $1.71 each but the shipping and handling are quite high. What about local hardware store?


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