How can I make my own laundry detergent?

Real Mom Problem

“Does anybody make their own laundry soap? I need some help.”

by babs61679 babs61679

Quick Tips

  • 1. Make small batches of different recipes to determine what you like best
  • 2. Experiment with adding essential oils for a signature scent
  • 3. Start small by adding baking soda to your regular detergent before moving on to more ambitious recipes

Real Mom Solutions

Making your own laundry detergent can save you a lot of cash and reduce your family's exposure to unnecessary chemicals. See how these moms do it!

Hannah Keeley Hannah Keeley

Our Expert Mom Says...

I spend about two cents per load to wash my clothes because I use homemade detergent. The recipe is simple and you can find most ingredients at your local grocery store.

Here are your ingredients:

  • 4 cups hot tap water
  • 1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 3/4 cup Borax
  • Essential oils of your choice

  1. Grate the bar of soap and add enough water to cover the soap, or approximately two cups. (I tried to take a shortcut and just break up the bar in pieces to melt. Don't do this! It actually takes a LOT longer to melt. Grate that sucker up!) Stir continuously over medium-low heat until the soap dissolves and melts.
  2. Fill a five-gallon bucket half full with hot tap water. Add the melted soap, washing soda, and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill your bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir, cover, and let it sit overnight to thicken. This part is amazing -- kind of like being in science lab all over again -- it actually thickens up, just like regular detergent!
  3. Stir and fill a clean, used laundry-soap dispenser half full with the soap and then fill the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use because it has a tendency to gel up.
  4. Get your customized scent by adding 15-20 drops of essential oil per two gallons. (Add it once the soap has cooled.)


This liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons. For top-load machines use 5/8 cup per load (approximately 180 loads). For front-load machines, use a 1/4 cup per load (approximately 640 loads).

Important note: It MUST be Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. Do not use baking soda or Arm & Hammer detergent.

Hannah Keeley is the producer and host of the national television series, "Hannah, Help Me!" She is also the author of "Hannah Keeley's Total Mom Makeover," founder of the mom website, hannahkeeley.com, and the mother of seven rambunctious kids! Hannah has appeared on the "Today" show, "Fox and Friends", TLC, and has been a frequent guest on the "Rachael Ray Show". She has also been featured in "The Wall Street Journal," "Better Homes and Gardens," and "Real Simple" magazine.

The Moms of CafeMom Say...

  • M3Love
    M3Love

    I make our own laundry detergent, and it actually makes our clothes softer than when I used to use All Free and Clear. You can find the recipe here (just scroll down past the vinegar part).

    Tip: Don't use the liquid detergents, use the dry formulas! Simply eliminate the step that says to add hot water and boil. So much easier all around, and it works great. The soap dissolves really easily in water when you add it to your laundry. We add half the amount before we add clothes, and half after. Also, all these ingredients were found on the same shelf at our local Walmart. Apparently, a lot of people make their own laundry detergent!

  • AudlyLuvly
    AudlyLuvly

    I make my own laundry soap, and it saves me sooo much money! Here is the recipe I use (you will need a small bucket, about a 2-gallon size):

    • 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap
    • 1/2 cup washing soda
    • 1/2 cup Borax powder
    Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan. Add six cups of water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and Borax, and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour four cups of hot water into the bucket then add your soap mixture and stir. Then add one gallon plus six cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. Use 1/2 cup per load of laundry.

  • Suzukigirl710
    Suzukigirl710

    Here's a homemade laundry detergent recipe, and all the ingredients are found in the laundry aisle:

    • 1 12-ounce box of Borax
    • 1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (this is NOT Arm & Hammer laundry detergent; you will find it by the Borax and other odds and ends in the laundry aisle)
    • 3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap (or pink Zote soap)
    • 2 small containers of Oxyclean (3.5 lb containers)
    Shave the three bars of soap down using a cheese grater or something similar. Mix all products together in a trash bag-lined five-gallon bucket. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load of laundry. All the ingredients cost under $20 and this should last you quite a long time if you're using 1-2 tablespoons per wash.