Make Your Own Laundry Soap…and it only costs pennies a load!

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I'm so excited to share this Make your Own Laundry Soap recipe with everyone! This is one major way that I save my family money and it doesn't require any coupons! I make our own laundry detergent! It's easy to do and it's so cheap….we are talking pennies a load! And yes, it can be used in HE front loading washers because it doesn't make suds. (That's the type of washing machine I personally have)

This recipe makes 5 gallons of laundry soap. Before you make it save containers and have them ready to be filled. Empty detergent bottles and milk jugs work great!

First thing you need to do is gather the ingredients. I was able to find everything I need at Walmart in the laundry isle. The picture above shows what the shelf looked like and the prices when I bought them.

You need these 3 ingredients (plus water):

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (Note: This is NOT baking soda!!)

Borax, I recommend the 20 Mule Team

Fels-Naptha Heavy Duty Laundry Bar Soap (it doesn't suds up)

Materials you will need:

Measuring cup

A cheese grater

Large pot

5 gallon bucket with lid

Long stick for stirring, like a broom handle

Empty containers to store the finished soap

To make each batch of laundry soap you will only need 1 cup of Washing Soda, 1 Cup Borax and 1 Bar of Fels-Naptha. As you can tell by the size of the boxes you will be able to make a lot of batches. So that means you will only need to buy a new Fels-Naptha bar each time.

Grate the bar of Fels-Naptha soap. It's very soft so it shouldn't take very long. It's important to have the whole bar grated. One time I got lazy and just chopped up a portion and it never dissolved properly.

Measure out 1 Cup Borax and 1 Cup Washing Soda

Put everything into a big pot and fill it 3/4 of the way full with water. Heat on medium high until everything is dissolved and blended together. Be sure not to let it boil over, it makes a mess…again I know from experience!

When the soap mixture is all blended together put it in the 5 gallon bucket. Fill the bucket with the hottest tap water you have. Fill it almost all the way full. Just leave enough room to be able to stir it around.

That's it for now. Put the lid on it and let it sit over night.

This is what it looks like after it sets over night. It all gels together. Take a long stick, like a broom handle, and stir it together. Break it up as much as possible.

I put my youngest to work stirring, she is the reason I do so much laundry!

When the mixture is as smooth as you can get transfer it to your clean containers. I leave a little room in mine and add some extra hot water and shake it up to help mix it one last time.

Label the containers and you're done! You can use any where from 1/4-1/2 cup. experiment and see what works for you. Make sure you shake the container before each use.

I made a batch in February, I didn't have to make more until October…and we have a family of 5! And since I already had the boxes of Borax and Washing Soda all I needed to buy was the Fels-Naptha bar, which is less than $1!

If you have any questions or concerns don't hesitate to ask!



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  1. I have been using a variation of this recipe for over two years now and love it! Since it’s only me and my husband, I make a 2 gallon version using 1/3 bar fels naptha, 1/2 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup borax. The process is exactly the same though. I use 1/3 cup per load in our HE front-loader and add one tablespoon of Oxiclean or Sun Oxygen Cleaner. The cost of this homemade detergent is less than one penny per load and it is just as effective as the brand name detergents that cost $0.15 to $0.20 per load!

      1. Great tip. However, we have no city sewer. Being on a septic and 120 feet from a year round creek, I am concerned about the possible effects of the Borax on the eco system. Can you enlighten me as to if and why this mix would be okay to use in a septic system?

  2. I make my own as well and have been for about a year it’s approx $2.00 a batch and yeilds 10 gallons

  3. Anyone know if this works (below)
    No-Grate Laundry Soap

    Supply List
    ■5 tbsp Borax
    ■5 tbsp Washing Soda
    ■3 tbsp Liquid Dish Soap (I prefer Dawn)
    ■Empty 1 Gallon Container with Lid
    ■Funnel (if needed)
    ■Tap Water

    ■Pour Borax, washing soda and dish soap into your one gallon container, using a funnel if necessary.
    ■Add a few inches of hot tap water to the container. Put on the lid and swirl vigorously for 1 tor 2 minutes until powders are dissolved.
    ■Fill with tap water, letting bubbles run out.
    ■Use 1/2 cup per load (a little more for large sized or heavily soiled loads).

    1. I haven’t tried that recipe. My own concerns would be that is calls for Dish Soap. I would be careful putting something that wasn’t meant for the washing machine in the washing machine. And if you are using a front loader, I wouldn’t use this recipe because dish soap causes lots of suds. Front Loaders need non-sudsing detergent.

      These are just my opinions and concerns. If you make it let me know how it works!

      And grating a bar of soap isn’t that much work, took me about 5 minutes by hand! (Great job to pass on to the kiddos!)
      ~Princess Lacey

      1. Dont mix dish soap with the borax and washing soda. I did this one day using ajax and it creates a chemical reaction like when mixing bleach and ammonia. It created fumes that smell something like hair die. This could be harmful.

        1. i have used the above for doing clothes in a top loader using dawn dishwashing soap not the ultra dawn and it worked better than the name brand i have used for years and years. whites came out brighter even some of my husbands postal shirts lightened up the bluish green stain they get on them. the only problem was some of my daughter in laws clothing faded so i only use this for whites. i am going to try your recipe for all my laundry now

    2. Yes this recipe works great and is so much easier and quicker to make than using the fels soap no cooking Ive made this used it and liked it I have an He front loading washer and it works great

  4. I have been doing this for a year, I started with this recipe and it worked great. BUT I ran across something online, saying Borax can contribute to infertility. Of course some argue that laundry soap has nothing to do with that. I stopped using it, (I use washing soda, baking soda, and fels naptha now) and my due date is a week after the new year. This probably wouldn’t affect most people, but it is something to consider if you’re trying for a little one.

  5. I make this, only the dry version, a whole lot less work! Also, if you leave the soap out to dry for a few days it is much easier to grate.
    1 box borax
    1 box washing soda
    3 bars fels naptha soap (grated) (you could use more, but this works fine)
    I use approximately 3 tablespoons per load.

      1. I’m curious but I’m sure there’s a good reason… Why does it have to sit overnight instead of putting it in containers after you add it to the 5 gallon bucket with the water?

    1. I use this version too, except I put in a container of OxiClean and Purex Crystals too. My son has pretty bad eczema and it doesn’t bother him!

  6. I have considered this concept, but I guess the only question or concern…what about fading of the colors. I wear scrubs (colors chosen by the doctor) grey and brown all week. Manufacturer tells you they don’t fade but one of the girls at work uses a powder detergent and her scrubs don’t match her scrub jacket. Don’t want to look like a rainbow at work or worry about dark clothes I might wear on the weekends. How is this on colors?

  7. I am so happy to see a recipe making liquid laundry soap! We have such hard water in the desert! I use my own handmade bar of soap which I call, “Pure and Natural”. I make and sell my own artisan soaps because I want to be sure that the products we put on our skin are made from quality butters and oil, not toxic chemicals.

  8. You said put it into a “large” pot. Large is a relative term. How many gallons of water are we talking about, I could use a soup pot, a bigger macaroni pot or a larger yet lobster pot! Please be specific, I really want to try this. thanks.

  9. This is such a great idea!! I do have a concern though. Like most, I separate whites, colors, darks and towels/blankets. I’m particularly anal about my whites. How is it on them? I use bleach (of course) to get my whites bright white. Does this do the same or would I have to add an extra ingredient specific for whites?

    Also, does the soap bar matter? I have a youngster with eczema and it would be so fantastic if I could use his medicated soapbar (instead of fels naptha which I’ve never heard of) just for his clothes.

    1. I use it on my whites. Try it and if it doesn’t work then only use it on your colors. This was you are still saving a ton a money on detergent!

      The bar that I use it specifically for laundry. My concern with using another kind is that it is not made for your washer or clothes. It could leave some sort of film and it may cause sudsing which would not work in a front loader.

  10. When did this originally post? All those ingredients are 3x’s as expensive as stated here. Also would zote soap work the same as fels naptha?

    1. This was written only a few months ago. These are still the same prices at my local Walmart. I guess they might be higher other places but you might want to check other stores if the one you are looking at it that much more.
      I’m not sure about zote soap. I’m not familiar enough with it to recommend it either way.

  11. Would Castile soap (bar or liquid) work instead of fels-naptha? I can’t stand the smell of Fels!

  12. I have been making the same exact recipe for about a year. I will never go back to the store bought detergent. I have a HE washer and haven’t had a problem. It smells fresh and clean. If you want,though, you can use a few drops of your favorite essential oils, too.

  13. Hello thanks for sharing this I defiantly plan on trying this. I mean any penny saved these days is definitely worth the effort. However I do have one question. Is it safe for sensitive skin. My husband breaks out in full blown blisters if I use fragrances. Not everything with fragrance, but it has happened from time to time. Has anyone made this and found it to be a problem?

    1. I was also wondering the same thing as Heather. Can you leave it in the 5 gallon bucket or will it “dry out”??? Amazing Idea…..Now to find something for the dishwasher…..Do you have something for that? lol

  14. My daughter-in-law gave me this recipe, which she uses for my 7-month old grandson’s clothes:

    1c washing soda (Arm&Hammer)
    1c Borax
    1 Fels Naptha Bar
    1/2 c Oxy Clean
    2 caps of Purex Crystals

    It makes about a gallon of dry detergent, smells great, leaves the clothes clean and soft, and has lasted me for over 9 months. I’m just about ready to make a new batch!

  15. My daughter-in-law gave me this recipe and uses it to wash my grandson’s baby clothes:

    1c washing soda (Arm&Hammer)
    1c Borax
    1 Fels Naptha Bar
    1/2c Oxy Clean
    2 caps of Purex Crystals

    This makes about a half gallon of dry detergent, smells great, and leaves the clothes smelling great and clean! So far, it has lasted over 8 months and I’m just about ready for a new batch.

  16. Oh yes one more thing don’t no if you have this but home made fabric softener makes 3 liters.. 2 cups of your favorite scented cheap hair conditioner, 3 cups of vinegar and 6 cups of your hottest tap water… mix water and conditioner first stir not shake until all is well diluted then add vinegar mix and put in empty pot….

  17. hello i live in Canada and looking for these products and cant seem to find them at our walmart.. anyone here know where i can find them please. thank you… love your site great and saving ideals keep up the good work…

  18. I have made the powder & the Liquid. The problem is my husband does most of the laundry & wants suds, since I do not have an HE washer that isn’t an issue. I’ve added dawn to it, but he still uses too much, any suggestions?

    For sensitive skin you can use Ivory soap (nuke it instead of grating, it puffs up). I also put the crystals in the liquid, great smell.

    For those who can not find washing soda use baking soda. Put it on a cookie sheet and bake at 200 for 1 hour. This changes it into washing soda.

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