Laundry soap how-to

Here is a post for all of you who have asked me for a recipe to make your own laundry "detergent."  There are many versions of this recipe, but this is the one I use.

Keep in mind that this homemade soap is different from commercial detergents, which contain optical brighteners to make clothes appear whiter and brighter as well as surfactants that provides lots of bubbles and suds.  On the other hand, this is soap, pure and simple, and doesn't contain any scents, colors or common skin irritants.  For me, the choice for homemade is a no-brainer.   
The three ingredients: washing soda (not baking soda), borax, and a bar of laundry soap.

I grate 1/2 the bar of soap with a cheese grater.  Some people use a food processor, but either way, it doesn't take long.

Pour one quart of water into a pot and add the soap shavings.  Heat the water and stir until the soap dissolves.

Add 1/2 c. of borax and 1/2 c. of washing soda; stirring to dissolve.

When all is dissolved, pour the mixture into a pail and add cool water until the mixture reaches two gallons.  Measuring all that water is a bit of a hassle, so I marked the two gallon line with a sharpie to make filling the pail a quick step.  Stir it up, then pour it into gallon jugs or used laundry detergent containers.

The liquid thickens a bit as it cools and gets gel-like and a little gloppy, somewhat like egg-drop soup. 
I shake the jug up before pouring and use 1/2 cup per load of laundry.

I don't have a high efficiency washer and don't know much about them, but I have read that since homemade detergent is low-sudsing, it is safe for HE washers.  If you're a member of the fancy washer club, you might want to look into that yourself. 


  1. Ah yes me too! Love the homemade soap for my laundry. I got lazy though and I just use it all dry. Since no water I only need 1-2 Tblspoons per load. It even works on my husbands chore clothes. For my own nicer clothes I add a couple drops of my essential oils to the mix and laudry day smells great. Thanks for sharing your liquid version!

  2. Thanks, Donna! I've heard that some people use it dry and that would certainly eliminate a step (not that the whole process is any big deal) but I didn't know the usage amount.

    I actually added orange essential oil for the first time to the batch I made this week. The clothes had the nicest scent!

  3. A good recipe, Amy! I have been using a solid recipe similar to yours but for white clothes I add sodium percarbonate: it's the best way to get white clothes whiter while protecting colors.
    Thanks for sharing, nice to see more and more people use homemade washing powder!


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