Thursday, June 24, 2010

Make your own... Laundry detergent!

I decided this week that I would try my hand at making my own laundry detergent.  I have a small mountain of laundry from the "Move the Stuff in the Garage to the Basement" project, and we were about out of detergent anyway.  So, I figured, what the heck?

I got this recipe from my friend Kim, who in turn got it from the Duggar Family website.  (Remember them?  They're the people with 8 million kids on that TLC show?  Can you imagine the laundry in that house?  Makes my mountain look very insignificant...  Seriously though, if they want 8 million kids, more power to them.)

So I made a trip to Rural King to collect the necessary ingredients, and got rolling!

First, take a bar of Fels-Naptha soap...

(Next time remember to take the picture before I get started.) ...and grate it up.  I just used a regular cheese grater.

Admire your finely grated pile of soap, and remember that it is not cheddar cheese.  Please do not eat.

Heat 4 cups of water in a saucepan, and add the grated soap.

Stir constantly(-ish) until the soap is melted.

{As a side note, I added the whole pile of soap at once, and ended up with gloppy hunks of partly melted soap.

It all melted eventually, but it took longer than I thought it would.  Next time, I would only add small amounts of the grated soap at a time.}

Take a clean 5-gallon bucket, and fill it about half-full of tap water.  Grab your other ingredients:

...add 1/2 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Super Washing Soda to the bucket.  Stir to dissolve the powder.
Then add the melted soap-soup to the bucket.

Stir it all together, and fill the bucket the rest of the way with tap water.  (Be a little careful here, as the soap gets sudsy!)

Cover your bucket, and let it sit overnight to thicken.

The next day...

Take off the cover and stir your soap.  Don't think about what it looks like...

...just stir it up really really well.  The jelly-like soap will un-gel, and become more liquidy again, I promise.

This is actually double-strength detergent now.  Using whatever dispensing container you want (I used the last recently emptied store-bought detergent bottle), fill your container with 50% new detergent and 50% tap water.  Shake well before each use, as the concoction will gel again in the new container.

For a top-loading washer, use 5/8 cup of detergent per load.

For a front-loading washer, use 1/4 cup of detergent per load.

If you like scented detergents, you can add a few drops of essential oil to your detergent (10-15 drops for every 2 gallons).  I would recommend adding fragrance to your smaller "working" bottles, not to the 5 gallons of stock!

I was able to buy all the supplies for this batch of detergent, including a new 5-gallon bucket, for less than $17.  For TEN GALLONS of detergent.  I have plenty of Borax and Washing Soda left over, so if I ever run out of detergent, all I will need to buy is a $2 bar of Fels-Naptha soap.  Remarkable!

I have used this so far on some musty-smelling towels from the garage yesterday, and some "business casual" clothes this morning.  So far, no complaints!

Printable recipe card:


  1. I have heard about people making their own detergent, but never knew the recipe. Now I am intrigued!!!

  2. Hello,

    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it - great recipes YUM YUM.
    We would like to add it to the

    We would be delighted if you could add your blog to Petitchef so that our users can, as us,
    enjoy your recipes.

    Petitchef is a french based Cooking recipes Portal. Several hundred Blogs are already members
    and benefit from their exposure on

    To add your site to the Petitchef family you can use or just go to and click on "Add your site"

    Best regards,



Real Time Web Analytics