How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

Is it weird that I was anxiously awaiting for our laundry detergent to run out? I might have to coin a new term for that: nerdy domestic. So anyways, I had read before about how easy and cheap it is to make your own laundry detergent. In fact I first read about it on Becca’s old blog. I re-read her entry and performed a few online searches for tips and tricks. I also heeded the advice of a friend who made it. Here’s what I came up with and what is working so far.


Homemade Laundry Detergent

2 Cups of Washing Soda

2 Cups of Borax

1 Bar Fels Naptha (or Castile) Soap

Essential Oils (optional)

Basically you just grate the bar of soap which is super soft and easy to do. Then you add in the dry ingredients and mix it all up in a large bowl. I opted to add some tea tree and lavender oils to my mix. This is really optional and more for scent or to give you peace of mind about bacteria killing, which tea tree oil is great at. I purchased an air-tight container for the detergent which I think was a good idea to keep moisture away from the mixture. It has a small pop tab allowing easy pour. I’ve been using approximately 1 TBS per small load and 2 TBS per large load.


My friend advised to put the detergent in first and let it dissolve in the water first before adding clothing so I have done that. She also had some issues with color fading so I’ve been conscious to not use too much detergent. Adding more borax and washing soda parts to the mixture may have helped also. Most recipes call for 1 cup of each instead of the 2 cups I used. Fels Naptha soap is rather strong, so I I can find reasonably priced plain castile soap, I would try that next time instead.


Prior to making this homemade mix I was using whatever liquid detergent was cheapest, usually Purex. Also of note, the wash comes out smelling like… clothing. You aren’t going to have some crazy springtime fragrance with this stuff. It also yields a rather strong soap smell when you use it! But that way you also get more bang for your buck. ;)

(P.S. For Cleveland locals I had a heck of a time finding ingredients to make this. Everyone sold borax but I only found Fels Naptha soap at Giant Eagle and Ace Hardware and the washing soda only at Ace Hardware!)

*Read more about my DIY and homesteading projects here.


  1. says

    I make the liquid version of this, and have used it for quite a while. The only issue I have found, is don’t put the detergent in the washer and not run it immediately. It took the color out of a couple of shirts. Otherwise it is better than name brands. Instead of essential oils, I use Unstoppables or the Purex one to scent.

    • Holly says

      Good to know. I read about the liquid version and it’s worth mentioning. I just figured time-wise it would be easier for me to make the dry version. Thanks for reading!

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