Tutorial: Homemade Laundry Detergent

laundry detergent recipeI have tried a few different recipes I found online for homemade laundry detergent, and ultimately decided to make my own powdered recipe that works best for me.  Most ingredients online are similiar, so feel free to adjust quantities to suit your own needs and preferences.

If you’re looking for more reusable DIY product ideas, be sure to try our reusable duster cloths tutorial and reusable sweeper pad tutorial! And in extreme situations, our post about 5 different face mask patterns to use during shortages might come in handy.

This tutorial will guide you through the steps to make your own homemade powdered laundry detergent recipe.

1 bar Fels-Naptha bar soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup Baking Soda
*All of these items are found in the laundry isle next to the laundry detergents.  If you live in Utah — I had best luck at Winco for all the supplies, I was not able to find the Fels-Naptha soap or washing soda at the Walmart or Target in my area, but you may have better luck.
*If you try this recipe and like it, you can double or even triple the ingredients the next time you make it to get a larger batch.

laundry detergent recipe

1. Grate the Fels-Naptha bar soap finely.  I grated mine first using a hand grater, then put it in the Magic Bullet to finish it off.  A food processer works great too.  Coarsely grated, this equals about 2 cups.  Finely grated measures less, of course.

2. Add 1 cup Borax.

3. Add 1 cup washing soda.

4. Add 1/4 cup baking soda.

5. Find a helper and stir well (that is banana on his nose, if you are wondering — no need to be grossed out).


6. You should have a nice powdered mixture that looks like this:

7. Place in an airtight container.  Use 2 tablespoons per regular load of laundry.

Here’s a label you can use for your container.  Click on the image below, then right click to save it.  I recommend opening it in Word or Publisher and printing it from there.  That way you can resize it to fit your own container.

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  1. That is so cool. My SIL and I were actually talking about this last week. We really want to try making our own laundry detergent. I heard that it works really well – and it is great for food (or non-food) storage.

  2. I am all about trying this…so tired of paying so much for laundry detergent and all about making my own cleaners. Thanks!
    504 Main

  3. Thanks for sharing your recipe! I’ve really been wanting to try this but it seemed that most of the recipes I found didn’t have any feedback as to how effective it is. I’ll definitely try yours…Thanks!

  4. This is so great, I love that you only need to use 2 tablespoons per load! I’m going to make a batch ~ Thanks for sharing! ~Marcy

  5. I would love to try making some of this detergent myself, but I’m not familiar with this Fels Naptha soap. Is it some special type of bar soap, like an old fashioned lye laundry bar or something?

  6. Midnight Rambler — Fels Naptha soap is a laundry bar soap, found in the laundry isle. You can experiment with other soaps too (I even tried Ivory once, which I didn’t like), but a laundry bar soap works best.

  7. We use the same ingredients but make ours liquid laundry detergent instead. I think someone must have requested that Walmart stock the ingredients because it wasn’t there one month but once it caught on in our area it was. I know someone from church specially requested the ingredients at the local grocery store and then put the store’s name on the recipe so we all knew where ALL of the ingredients would be.

    1. johnsmarketplace@4141 s redwood rd. in Taylorsville,utah also carries all of the ingredients that you’ll need for making home made laundry detergent.

  8. Anonymous – From what I have read, a lot of people with front loaders use powdered homemade detergent. I would check with your owners manual though, especially to make sure that you won’t be voiding any warranties :).

  9. I have a front loader and I make my own powdered laundry detergent too. I don’t put baking soda in my mixture. Does it make a difference in how well your mix cleans your clothes?

  10. Thats too Cool! Love the Bullet approach!…I make the Liquid version and use the immersion Blender to imulsify the mixture so it puors like regular Liquid laundry soap!Cant Wait to Check out all the other Ideas you have


  11. does the fels naptha soap have coconut oil in it. DS has issues with coconut and we found out that its in charlies soap, ivory soap and many others so I am looking for an alternative. Thank!

  12. Christine, I looked on Purex.com where it has the ingredient for Fels Naptha listed. They are:

    Soap (sodium tallowate*, sodium cocoate* (or) sodium palmate kernelate*, and sodium palmate*), water, talc, cocnut acid*, palm acid*, tallow acid*, PEG-6 methyl ether, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium chloride, pentasodium pentetate and/or tetrasodium etidronate, titatium dioxide, fragrance, Acid Orange (CI 20170), Acid yellow 73 (ci43350)

    *contains one or more of these ingredients

    Hope this helps!

  13. I make my own also but I use Yardley Almond scented soap – its amazing. I use this to wash our cloth diapers as well as our regular laundry and it works great (only use 1 T. also)

  14. Great recipe! I would be a little careful about the washing soda, though. The box I have says that it’s not safe for anything with silk in it.

  15. I already use a non-toxic soap I like but would love to try making my own. The only thing that’s held me back is the borax – do you find you have to wash with warm or hot water in order for the borax to properly dissolve? I wash mostly with cold so I worry about the borax. Love your label btw!

  16. i’m very intrigued! thanks for posting this step-by-step with such great photos.
    how do the clothes turn out smelling? does the soap have any smell to it? just curious!

  17. Sarah — the soap is actually fairly strong smelling. The finished laundry doesn’t smell very strong, but you can smell the packaged soap in a room.

  18. I make this too, about the same, but I also add in some water softener as I have very hard water. I have also found that is works just as well to double all the ingredients but the bar of soap and it decreases the smell a little and makes it last longer.

  19. This is so great! I live in Utah, and Winco isn’t that far away! Can’t wait to make some! :)


  20. Very cool!

    Thanks for joining Get Your Craft on Thursday. Please join me next week for another wonderful party!!

    Please stop by next week I am having guest over each day and I would love for you to tell them HI!

  21. I’ve been using homemmade laundry detergent for about a month now and LOVE it. My recipe doesn’t call for the baking soda though….what does this add to the mix? Is it for brightening whites or something?
    Oh, and LOVE your label!

  22. This is such a good idea. I really want to make this but i was wondering if you had to wash your clothes in warm/hot water, I along with a previous blogger wash a lot in cold water and was wondering what would be best? Thanks!!

  23. Anonymous – I usually wash in warm or hot water, but I’ve tried this with cold water and it seems to still work well. You just need to make sure your soap is grated quite finely, or it may not dissolve.

  24. I want to try this! Thanks:-)

    Is it less expensive to make it than buying detergent at the store?


  25. Nancy – yes, it is WAY less expensive than buying detergent. I still need to figure out the exact cost per load, but I think it’s around 1/2 the price of normal detergent.

  26. Just wanted to let you know that I live in Washington State – I have looked on Arm and Hammer’s site at their products locator section and according to their website there isn’t a single place (in Washington) that stocks it. So, upon further research, I have found out that Super Washing Soda is actually Sodium Carbonate (NOT BAKING SODA – that is Sodium BICarbonate) – and it is readily available at Wal-Mart in their pool section in the pool supplies. It’s a prouct called Ph Plus (you have to read the ingredients, there are two almost identically labled bottles). The ingredients listed will just say “sodium carbonate”. My Wal-Mart only stocks pool supplies seasonally so I imagine I will have to go to a store that stocks products for pools on the off season (or stock up with the Wal-Mart stuff for the year!). I have been looking for Super Washing Soda for WEEKS! I am glad that I found it, even though it the most oddest of departments. Good luck to those of you who are still having trouble locating the product.

  27. I have been making the liquid detergent for the past year and love it. To me it makes the clothes softer. This would be much easier and take up less room in your laundry roon since the liquid recipe makes 10 gallons
    I wonder too about the felths naptha disolving in cold water.

  28. What are the differences in the powder recipe and the liquicd one?
    I have a front loader and I think I have to use liquid.

  29. that is pretty much the same recipe I use! I have a Front Loader and I love it! I have never had a problem with my clothes not getting clean.

  30. Your pictures are so bright and beautiful! Nice job! and thanks for the info, too. I am excited to try this. -_”_-

  31. This detergent works SO well. I’ve been using it well over a year. Sure wish I’d known about it 30 years ago…just think of the $$ I would have save!

  32. Sweet! I wasn’t looking for this, but I like it. I have been looking for washing soda, to no avail. Where did you find it? The first picture looked like you added cornmeal so I’m glad you added photos of grinding the soap.

  33. Thank you WA Anonymous. I too live in WA and this silly anti-soap nonsense is killing me! Can’t get washing soda, my dishes are a nasty mess and I am forced to purchase boxes of TSP from the hardward store just to get some soap back in my cleaning. Yah, I’m sure too much soap is a bad thing but my dishes are truly disgusting and it is wasting my time and waaaayyy more water than it should. Thanks for the tip on the soda. I also found a website that has more homemade soap options- http://www.soapsgonebuy.com/Arm_and_Hammer_Washing_Soda_p/ah1001.htm

  34. Homemade laundry detergent?! No way! I am, well was, looking for a neat gift to make for a bunch of ladies I know. This is it for sure! Thank you!

  35. Thank you for the recipe, I have been making liquid laundry soap for quite a while now and have been wanting to try a dry one to save some time. I have just made a jar and have a load in right now, I will be posting about it on my blog once I have done a few more loads.


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  37. I think that this is really going to be fun. I like it. I think this can really help my expenses in detergents.

  38. WA info: I too, live in the Great State of Washington and FOUND Arm & Hammer All Natural Super Washing Soda as well as 20 Mule Team Borax in the laundry isle at Winco just the other day when I heard about making laundry soap. I have a septic tank so I worry about what goes down my drains.
    I did try to add the washing soda and borax to my laundry and found CHUNKS of both or one of them at the bottom of the washer, un-disolved. WhatUP?? I wash only in cold (unless it’s really dirty) so I’m still concerned whether or not those disolve in cold water.
    Due to the fact that at least 3 ppl in my family of 4 have skin issues with soap, I’m going to try Lever which is the only one they can use.
    Anyhoo, I did find those items in Washington, the greatest state EVA. :D

    Kristi (I couldn’t sign in; sorry)

  39. I make the liquid version of the soap. I use KOTE soap instead of Fels Naptha because it is easier to find where I live in CA. Winco does have everything though. I like the smell of the Kote soap better. I make double batches and sometimes will use both soaps. In the liquid form, you melt the soap in water and add the powdered ingrediants until dissolved. You then pour the dissolved soaps into a bucket of hot water and let sit 24 hours. This recipe is also online. It works very well in cleaning. The only thing I find is that the whites are not as white as I would like. Any suggestions on that front would be great.

  40. I’m very excited about trying this! I priced it out and it is much cheaper. I have allergies, so I am looking forward to knowing exactly what I am washing my clothes in. I am also having a baby in May and am looking forward to not buying “special” baby detergent! Thanks!!

  41. I just wanted to say that I found this post a while back and have been making this detergent ever since. It coses me like 10$ a year and I love it!! Ive also shared this post with many of my friends who have converted over…so thank you!!!!

  42. I love that idea…on my online research though…i found a website about borax that said that i could cause damage (towards the baby) during pregnancy and recommened not using borax in detergents at home. they suggested to use washing soda instead. it should still work fine!
    sorry, i feel like im spoiling the fun…but i feel i ought to let you people know what i found out!
    all the best, andrea

  43. I’ve read several comments on homemade detergent. A few questions maybe someone could answer:

    Do you find that this detergent is harsh on clothes? Do they wear out/fade faster?

    Is it safe for sensitive skin?

    Have any of you added essential oils to make it better smelling? If so, what are your favorites?

    Does it work well for “color-fastedness?”

  44. I’m definitly going to try this. I’ve been wanting to but hesitating, worrying that it could be a waste of money if it doesn’t work for us. Then I realized that we wash a load or two a week of just dishcloths (we don’t use paper towels or napkins), so worst case, we can use it for that. Thanks for posting the DIY and the super cute label!

  45. Hey,
    I live in CA and Walmart had all the supplies and at the best prices :) thanks for the post.

  46. I tried your detergent and I really like it! It smells really good and seems to clean well. Thanks so much!

  47. How long does 1 batch last you? I am going to make some for my mom to give to her when I visit and I want to make sure that I make her enough to last a while. Thank!

  48. tattoedmommy10 – One batch lasts for quite a while, but I’ve double the recipe in the past to have it last even longer. It’s nice to get twice the amount done with not a whole lot more work, ya know?! I’d double it if you want your mom to be set for awhile :).

  49. I make this stuff, but without the baking soda. I have a front-loader and use 1 tbs, but when I make it as a gift I recommend 2 tbs for top loaders.

  50. Have you used this in an HE washing machine? That is what I have and I live overseas and HE detergent is so expensive.

  51. Fels-Naptha soap or Washing Soda can be found at Walmarts in the Ogden UT area in the Laundry detergent aisle. :) The Fels-Naptha was only $ .97 :) Thank you for sharing your recipe.:)

  52. For those people looking for washing soda…this is also known as Soda Ash or PH Plus and can be found at a pool store or the seasonal pool isle In Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc….

  53. A friend directed me to this. I tried it because it doesn’t make a monstrous amount like the liquid recipes do. I hope it works well in cold because I do all laundry in cold with Tide Coldwater. This is way cheaper. I measured it and it makes right about 40 tablespoons (20 loads)I don’t like the smell of the Fels-Naptha so I may add some essential oils. I found all the ingredients at my Wal-Mart in the laundry isle (except baking soda of course).

  54. Next time I make this I am going to purchase a very cheap food processor or do 25 bars at a time so that it is worth the time it took to get the soap chunks out of the nooks and crannies of my big Kitchen Aid processor.

  55. Don’t know if it has been ask but I have a few questions. 1. I use liquid soap what do you add to make it liquid? 2. I have and HE washer its to use only HE soap can this be used? 3. I only have cold water at my washer hook up so is washing in cold water with this a problem?

  56. I found all the ingredients to make this on Amazon at great prices. (FREE shipping with Prime too!) Just wanted to pass on the tip.

  57. Hi! I tried this tonight and my Fels-Napa didn’t grate in the Magic Bullet very well…almost like it was too wet. It just stayed in large clumps in the jar, even after mixing it with all the powder. Do you think I just got a bad bar??

  58. Megan – hmm, that sounds weird! You may be right that you got a “bad” bar. Do you live somewhere that’s extra humid? That could make a difference, or if there was any water hiding in your Magic Bullet. Maybe try to chop it in smaller amounts too, that may help!

  59. Hi! I live in Kansas City and it’s pretty “non” humid right now. Amd my Bullet was dry as a bone. I also hand grated it before I put it in the bullet, like you suggested…so strange.
    I just did a load and some of the clumps didn’t dissolve all the way, but for the most part I think it worked. I’m going to buy another bar and try again…I’ll keep you posted!

  60. I am not sure if someone has already asked about this, but I was wondering how much does this typically cost per load? Thanks so much!

  61. Ok, I’ve tried it and LOVE it! My daughter says our clothes seem “lighter and fresher” now as well:)
    Plus, it’s fun to make!

  62. Quick question, about how many loads will one batch make? I made this and it didn’t seem to make very much. thanks Sarah

  63. So i see people keep asking about the HE wash machines, maybe its the blonde finally coming out in me, but i dont see the answer anywhere…. is this safe for an HE machine?

  64. A few answers – one batch should make about 40 tablespoons or 20 loads (thanks to the commenter above :))

    – as far as HE washers go, I’d refer to your manufacturer’s instructions – I’d hate to say it’s okay and it to void a warranty or cause problems. Having said that, I have heard of a number of people who’ve used it in their HE machines with no problems at all :)

    – price-wise, I don’t have the exact amount per load (please share if one of you does!), but I can say it’s FAR less expensive than store-bought detergent

    1. I have a HE washer,& use non HE detergents all the time. You just use LESS of the normal stuff than you would of an HE labeled brand. HE’s are HE because they are supposed to be more efficient on your water, therefore won’t necessarily have enough water during a cycle to breakdown the amount of normal soap you would use in a non HE washer. The HE labeled detergent is a rip-off to me; unless you can find the “safe for HE ‘regular’ detergent” which is not usually price inflated like the other. It’s all too expensive though IMO

  65. Walmart in our area just started carrying the Fels Naptha & Washimg Soda. It’s a lot cheaper than at Wegmans – less than $1 a bar. You might check near you again.

  66. I’ve been making this detergent and it works great but I’ve been hand grating the Fels Naptha Soap. When you use your Bullet for grating the soap are you able to use it for food and drink again.

  67. I can’t wait to try this! But i must admit my favorite part is that cute face with banana on his nose! Absolutely adorable!!!

  68. Thanks for the tutorial! I tried your recipe a few months ago and haven’t purchased laundry detergent since. I really dislike the strong smell of the Fels Naptha soap, BUT- when it’s mixed with the other ingredients it’s fine. Our clothes come out smelling very clean. I use white vinegar in the rinse cycle. Today I tried it with a bar of pink Zote and doubled the other ingredients because Zote is a 14.1oz bar. I also decided to add a half cup of ‘oxygen booster’ to this batch. The only complaint I have is that my whites are getting dingy. I’m hoping the Zote and oxygen booster will help with that. Excellent job and I’m planning to do a write up on this on my blog and linking to this tutorial. Thanks! http://www.love-jujubeancreations.blogspot.com

  69. I have used this for almost two years and it has saved me tons of money! I do put about a half cup of white vinegar in each load as a fabric softener as well…works great.

  70. How freaking cool is this!? I’m going to try and and add some tea tree oil for scent.

  71. I’ve been looking for a good diy laundry detergent tutorial and I found it! Totally making this ! Thanks for sharing!
    Diana @decoratemediana

  72. Have you tried using less of the detergent? I have a similar recipe I use and only use 2 teaspoons and it works great. I don’t use the baking soda but either use nothing else or I’ve just started using Oxiclean in it. Either way I don’t use much and it works great.

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