Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

I can’t even begin to quantify how much money you’ll save over the years by learning to make this homemade laundry detergent recipe!

With our big family and with using cloth diapers with my babies, I’ve saved thousands, yes I said thousands of dollars using our homemade laundry soap and pre-treat

This is money that can go to your bottom line and help pay off debt and put more in savings!

Frankly, it’s just crazy how much the stores want for laundry products when it costs just a few dollars to make your own!  Plus, you can skip out on all the toxins that are in most laundry soap products, even the ones that claim to be gentle!

3 ingredient laundry detergent


Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

This recipe costs me less than $4 for 10 gallons of soap!  I’m quite sure that I’ve saved thousands of dollars from making this homemade laundry soap over the years!

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It’s safe, safe, SAFE

I’ve used this detergent with top loaders and front loaders. 

I’ve used this detergent with city sewer and septic without any problem. 

After talking to the gentlemen who clean our septic, they said they would recommend this detergent’s ingredients because it’s more pure than the detergents on the shelf and will break down better.

It’s a simple recipe that only takes a few minutes to make.  You’ll need:

  •  1 bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap (about $1)  If you have sensitive skin, you can use Castile soap or Goat’s milk soap as a substitute here
  • 1 cup Washing soda (NOT baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Old wooden spoon that will be used for this purpose only
  • 2-5 gallon buckets

Step 1:  Grate the bar of laundry soap using a grater or food processor.  I prefer to use a stainless steel grater, and I keep a separate pot for this purpose only.

grating bar soap

Step 2:  Bring the soap savings and 1/2 the pot filled with water to a boil, careful to not boil over.  Once it boils, reduce heat to low and cook until soap shavings are melted, about 20 minutes.  I like to keep the exhaust fan on during this process.

soap flakes in pot with water

soap flakes cooking in pot

Step 3:  Pour the liquid soap into the first 5-gallon bucket, then add the borax and washing soda.  Be careful not to inhale the borax or washing soda.

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5 gallon bucket with homemade detergent

Step 4:  Fill the rest of 5-gallon bucket with hot water and stir.  Let sit overnight.

Step 5: The solution will be goopy after sitting overnight.  Pour 1/2 of the solution into the second 5-gallon bucket so that both buckets are 1/2 full.  Now fill both buckets with hot water and stir, using a wire whip is helpful.

Step 6:  I use 1/3 cup per load, 1/2 cup if super dirty.

Now you can go hang your laundry out on the line! 

pretreat laundry ingredients

DIY Pre-Treat Spray Recipe

Once you’ve made homemade laundry detergent, it’s time to make your own pre-treat spray!  Here’s what you’ll need…

-2 parts hydrogen peroxide

-1 part Dawn dishwashing liquid

-1/4 part baking soda

-Old spray bottle

Simply mix and use!


By using these DIY laundry products, you will easily save hundreds of dollars every year!  These are dollars that you can put towards other financial goals like saving for a home or paying down debt!

Have you tried homemade laundry detergent?  Tell us about your experience in the comments!




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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Kim Bradford

    Great advice and info for sustainable living. I look forward to exploring more of your articles and using more of your recipes.

    1. Kelly

      Hey Kim, thanks for being here!

  2. Kaila Casteel

    Can you add essential oils to make the clothing smell better? I prefer lavender scented bedding to help my husband and I sleep. If not essential oils, then what other methods to scent the laundry soap?

    1. Kelly

      Hi Kaila, YES, you can absolutely add essential oils to your laundry soap! Much of the fragrance of the detergent lies in the soap that’s used, keep that in mind when choosing a laundry soap. Good luck and thanks for reading!

  3. Stacie McCain

    How long does the laundry soap last ? Can it go ‘bad’ or rancid if not used quickly? Looking forward to trying these & other recipes! Thanks

    1. Kelly

      Hi Stacie,

      I’ve been using this laundry soap recipe like forever and a day! It will not go bad, although after a number of months, it might change consistency. However, it will still perform the same. If you cover it with a lid or cellophane, that will help. I’ve also used this detergent in top load and front load machines without issue. I currently use it with a septic tank without issue. My septic cleaner told me that it’s safer for septic tanks than commercial detergent. All of this and it’s so cheap to make!! I hope I’ve answered all of your questions!

  4. Kristy

    Dr Bronners Has a liquid Castile soap, could this be a substitute for the bar soap?

    1. Kelly

      Hey Kristy, I’ve never tried that but I don’t think it would hurt to give it a try! My experience has been that non-detergent soaps tend to leave a film. Let us know how it turns out!

  5. Mary Lynn Lethcoe

    Is the DIY Pre-Treat Spray recipe safe to use on colored clothes (will not bleach the spot treated)? Thank you!

    1. Kelly Morris

      Hi Mary Lynn! I can only speak my from personal experience but I’ve never had an issue using this spot remover. That said, I would test it on an inconspicuous part of the garment to make sure! Thanks for your question!

    2. Rebecca

      Hi Kelly
      Thanks for sharing this, I made it this week and it is amazing, even my husband has commented how clean our laundry has come out, will definitely not be wasting my money on the shop brought washing powders/ liquids ever again.

  6. Lauren

    Does this detergent work in a high efficiency washing machine?

    1. Kelly Morris

      Hi Lauren! I have used this detergent on HE machines for years without issue. Hope this helps!

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