homemade laundry detergent

I’ve had several requests for my homemade laundry detergent recipe so I thought I’d share it with you. But first, a little intro…

My daughter has had contact dermatitis since she was a baby and her doctor suggested that it may be from the detergent I was using. So, I switched from my normal laundry soap and tried dye free, fragrance free, organic, natural, blah, blah, blah detergents with no luck. She continually broke out in an annoying rash. I had just about given up when I read about homemade laundry detergent. It seemed easy enough, so after perusing many sites and collecting as much info as I could, I headed out on the homemade laundry detergent journey.

Please note that my detergent recipe is one that works for me – and for my daughter. Since using the homemade detergent  (for about a year, now) she hasn’t had one single outbreak of dermatitis. If you want your clothes super-fragrant and fluffy, this isn’t the detergent for you. If you expect lots and lots of suds when washing…you won’t get that with this detergent. What you will get is super clean clothes at a fraction of the cost of regular detergents!

I’ve made both the powdered and liquid types of detergents – they both have their pros and cons which I will share with you.

Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe

  • 1 bar Fels Naptha (Kirk’s Castile soap, Zoat or any hard milled/castile soap)
  • 1 box Borax
  • 1 box Washing soda


All ingredients can be found in the laundry aisle at your local supermarket. Use one entire bar of Fels Naptha grated (you can use a metal cheese grater or a food processor). Make sure the soap is finely grated. Add one cup of Borax and one cup of Washing Soda. Mix well, store in airtight container. When making the detergent I usually double or triple the recipe so I have a large quantity on hand. If you’d prefer more of a fragrance you can add a few drops of any essential oil. I use lemongrass or spearmint in mine. Use approximately 3TBS per large load of laundry. It is suggested that with every other load you add white vinegar to your rinse water to avoid getting soap build-up in your washer. I just add the vinegar to the fabric softener cup. Als0, if you feel your clothes aren’t bright enough you can add OxyClean to the dry detergent as a laundry booster.

Homemade Powdered Detergent

Homemade Powdered Detergent


  • Easily made and stored
  • Long lasting


  • Must dissolve detergent in washer before adding clothing – hot water works best
  • Must add vinegar in rinse water, every other load, to avoid soap build-up in washer
  • Cannot be used in front-loaders

Liquid Laundray Detergent Recipe

  • Fels Naptha 0r Kirk’s Castile soap
  • Borax
  • Washing Soda
  • Liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronner’s)
  • Plastic container (1 gallon or larger – I use a one gallon vinegar container for easy pouring)

Grate 1/2 bar of soap, finely. Bring one quart of water to boil. Lower heat to medium and add grated soap. Stir and let soap dissolve. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup Borax, 1/2 cup Washing Soda, 1/2 cup liquid castile soap to melted soap mixture, stir well. Pour into plastic container. Add one gallon of very hot water. Shake or stir well. The mixture will be very goopy/chunky. Shake well before using. Use 1/4 cup per large load.

I use Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile Soap which gives it a pleasant, not to over-powering scent. Dr. Bronner’s also comes in Almond and Peppermint which I will be trying soon. Essential oil can also be added for fragrance.

Homemade Liquid Detergent

Homemade Liquid Detergent


  • Dissolves easily in water
  • Has more fragrance than powdered detergent


  • Messy and time consuming to make
  • Must have large storage container
  • Doesn’t last as long as powered recipe
  • Cannot be used in front loaders
Close-up of the chunky/goo

Close-up of the chunky/goo

The ingredients cost approximately $8 – and that $8 provides me with 4 large batches (of the powdered version) which lasts almost a year!

Here is a great site that offers plenty of  recipes and FAQ’s about homemade laundry detergent:


Good luck with your homemade laundry detergent venture. Please feel free to share your thoughts/recipes/findings with me. Happy washing!

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4 thoughts on “homemade laundry detergent

  1. I use the same recipe except I cut the soap bar in half and use a whole bar of Ivory. Makes the hubby’s skin not break out that way. I disagree with a con of the powered though. When I used this recipe straight it went in the from loading washer just fine. Then again, I only need to use2 TBS max on anything. Great recipe though!

  2. I’ve been trying soap nuts for my laundry and they work surprisingly well! All natural and gentle and no fuss when it comes to the rinse cycle. The clothes come out soft and fragrant free.

  3. I have been using a very similar recipe for liquid soap. I make it in a 5gal bucket and then add more water then I put it in a milk jug for easy usage. Plus its gives it better liquid soap consistency ( with lots of shaking of course!) I have used this in my front loader for about 3 years with no problems. Perfect especially with front loaders because its low sudsing. One of my children had pretty bad skin issues until I started doing this… Haven’t had any problems since!

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