Making your own laundry detergent from home is surprisingly easy and cheap, and with this recipe, there is no soap grating necessary! It uses just three ingredients and works like a charm – I know because I’ve been using it for nearly a year and my clothes always come out clean and soft. I provide two versions here – one with and one without Borax.
Making your own detergent also just makes logical sense if you want to save money. Why? When you buy a cleaning product, especially laundry detergent, you’re mostly paying for WATER. $18 for a gallon of mostly water if you buy Tide. Here’s a way to save those dollars and make it yourself at home in just five minutes!
So, once my gallon of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap arrived in the mail from Amazon, I went on a mission to see how many green cleaning products I could make myself using my new, supposedly magical, soap. One of the items on the list was homemade laundry detergent! I wanted something that would be safe for the ground water, environment, cheap and gentle on my clothes. I scoured the internet to find a great recipe, because to my disappointment, there are no laundry detergent recipes in my handy “Clean House, Clean Planet” book (except to use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds in an undiluted form – NOT cheap). So, I came across this recipe, from the Backwoods Home magazine website, and after two months, am still very happy with it! And I even have very hard water (oh the fun of living in the Marcellus Shale!)
According to their article, this homemade recipe costs a tenth of the cost of store-bought laundry detergent. I’m too skeptical to believe things like that without checking it out for myself, so I set out to see if they are correct!
How Cheap is this Homemade Detergent?
1 box of Super Washing Soda (where to buy) (55 oz.) = $2.69 (at Wegman’s)
1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax (where to buy) (76 oz.) = $3.99 (at Wegman’s) or 4 lb. Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda (where to buy) = $7.96 (Amazon) or $1.99/lb.
1 gallon of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (128 oz.) = $51.99 (at Amazon.com with free shipping)
To make two gallons of the detergent you use:
Super Washing Soda (you get 13.75 uses out of one box) = $.20 a batch
Borax (20 Mule Team ) (you get 19 uses out of one box) = $.21 a batch or $0.66 a batch with Baking Soda
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (you get 21 uses out of one gallon) = $2.47
Add it all up, that’s a mere $2.88 for two gallons, or 96 loads if you use the suggested 1/3 cup a load.
Compare that to Tide 2x Ultra Concentrated: 1 container of 150 oz. (or 96 loads) of Tide costs = $17.99
And Tide is not green or safe for the environment. Not only can you help the environment and wash clothes that are safe for your little ones (i.e., hypoallergenic & gentle), you can save $15.11!
You save even more if you compare it to a green (eco-friendly) laundry detergent.
A Note About Borax
Borax is controversial in green circles and I have found arguments for and against it. When I originally wrote this recipe, I did not know that the EWG gives Borax a rating of F for reproductive and organ toxicity – yikes. Apparently, it does not harm the environment, though, which is good. I use the EWG (Environmental Working Group) to research the safety of many products, so this was quite a find. I have decided not to use Borax any longer based on the EWG’s rating. The good news is that baking soda and super washing soda or a combination of both are excellent substitutes for borax and are readily available in grocery stores.
If you do decide to use Borax, please take proper precaution and use gloves and a mask for your nose, as the particles can be considered very irritating to some. I no longer use it in this recipe.
- 2 one-gallon containers in which to store the detergent (I recycled an old laundry detergent container and a vinegar jug)
- A measuring cup or two
- A two-gallon bucket or larger (I used my old mop bucket)
- Funnel to pour the detergent from the bucket into the containers (not necessary but certainly helpful!)
- 1 hand blender or immersion blender
The Secret? Mix with a Hand Mixer or Immersion Blender!
I have experimented with how to keep clumps from forming for years with this recipe and I finally figured it! I used to boil it down on the stove, make the powders dissolve with hot water (doesn’t work at all!), and stir like crazy. I finally got smart and decided to try my immersion blender. Perfect!
How Long Does it Last? How Many Loads?
This batch lasted about two months for a family of four, and even included a three day visit from four girls in my family who love to wash clothes (and have lots of them!). I find it works for about 96 loads, which for us is about 2 1/2 months, so I don’t have to make it very often!
I find this detergent works just as well as Tide, All, and Arm and Hammer’s detergents, all of which I’ve used. The website suggests using it as stain remover as well and I tried that with no luck at all – stains didn’t budge a bit, even after soaking for days in the detergent.
How Much To Use in the Washer:
I use 1/3 cup like the website suggests (and I do have an HE washer) and find it’s important to mix the detergent before each use. I swish my container around so it doesn’t get too sudsy, and it works like a charm.
Overall, I love this detergent and how much money I’m saving on it, while doing my part to be friendly to nature and our health.
- Take your two gallon bucket and pour lukewarm to cold water in the bottom of it, about an inch high of water
- Add the dry powders (baking soda, super washing soda, borax (if using borax)
- Add more water if necessary to cover the powders then take your hand mixer or immersion blender and blend the powders for a few minutes, or until it is fully blended and there are no clumps.
- Fill your two-gallon bucket up almost all the way with tap water (the temperature doesn't matter).
- Add the castile soap (this helps it not to bubble up), and stir with a long-handled spoon.
- Using the funnel, pour into your containers.
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