Tuesday, August 2, 2011

But Is She Really Thrifty: Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been making my own laundry detergent for YEARS! Why haven't I blogged about this?! I don't know! So, here you go! This is my favorite liquid recipe because I feel like it gives me more product than the powdered version--but I'll give you both recipes. This is almost exactly what is known as "The Duggar recipe", although it's been around for ages. Like with all laundry detergents, this may work great for you or it may not.  I think it really has a lot to do with what kind of water you have (soft or hard) but it's worth it to try it out! Get your friends together (everyone bring a few milk jugs!) and share the recipe if this seems like a lot to make all at once!

Homemade Laundry Detergent (liquid)
1 bar of Zote, Fels Naptha or even Ivory soap. I use Zote.
1 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda.)
1 cup of Borax
4 cups of water
5 gallon bucket with lid
Lots of containers to store this stuff in! I use old milk jugs mainly.
Optional: 1 cup of Oxyclean (I use the generic from Dollar Tree), essential oils to make it smell nicer.

First, grate the bar of soap. It must be pure soap. I use the pink Zote. Grate it FINELY. Next, put it the soap in a pot and add the four cups of water. This is the part you need to be patient with. Boil the water on low and let the soap melt into the water. After years of using this recipe I've never been able to get ALL of the soap to melt, don't stress out. It will take a while. Next, take your 5 gallon bucket and fill it half way up with HOT water (I do this in the bathtub). Stir in the Borax and the Washing Soda (again, NOT baking soda). Make sure it's good and dissolved. Then add the hot, liquid soap into the 5 gallon bucket. Stir it all up. Fill the bucket to the top with hot water, put a lid on it (if you have small children or pets) and let it congeal over night. 
*Thrifty extra: Those pesky bits of soap that never seem to dissolve? Don't dump them! Fill your pot with hot water and add the bits and let THAT sit overnight. It won't be as thick as your laundry soap, but it's great for handwashing!
The next day: Take your containers and fill each container HALF WAY. The detergent will be THICK so we need to dilute it again! Stir up the detergent. If you wanted to add some essential oils, now is a good time to do that. I just jump in the tub for this messy job of filling the containers. Cut a 2-liter soda bottle top half off for a funnel if you don't have one. I fill 10, 1 gallon milk jugs half way full of the detergent. YES. 10! Then add hot water to fill the jugs up to the top. DONE! If you choose to not dilute your detergent all at once you can keep it in the 5 gallon bucket and just fill one milk jug at a time halfway (and then fill it with water). Your choice. It's now or later. Use 5/8  of a cup (I normally just eyeball this, about half a cup) per big load of laundry for a top loader. Use 1/4 for a front loader.


  1. woohoo I am so excited to try this. Like you have NO idea how excited! Thank you.

  2. It rally is so gratifying to make your own detergent! Have fun! And feel free to share the recipe with friends!

  3. Is it cloth diaper safe??? I want to try it!!!!

  4. That's all in the eye of the beholder. After 5 years of cloth diapering I've come to the conclusion that it depends on your water quality and your machine. I don't have hard water or soft water and a fairly basic washing machine and it's fine on my prefolds and flats and even covers. I would consider this to be a pretty hardcore detergent though and wouldn't use it if there was any kind of detergent sensitivity. I hope that helps!