Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Gets an Upgrade

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My homemade laundry detergent

Two years ago, I posted about making my own laundry detergent.  I mentioned how I had left behind the liquid in favor of the dry.

Fast forward through time and you will find me not using either.  Until recently.

I decided I was going to try again after reading this post from Mooberry Farm.  She had a little different configuration of the same ingredients I was using.  But, the real difference was I no longer had any of our homemade castille soap, so I had to purchase some Fels-Naptha.

For those of you who don’t know what Fels-Naptha is, it is a heavy-duty laundry soap in a bar (often used for stain treatment) that costs about $1.15 per bar.  You can buy it in just about any supermarket in the detergent aisle.

Let me give you the new measurements and directions and then explain a little more (I tweaked the directions a bit from what was on the Mooberry site):

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
1/2 bar of Fels-Naptha
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
2 gallons of water, divided

Also need:
a grater
a large saucepan (8 cups or larger)
large bucket or container with lid
liquid storage containers for finished product

1. Grate 1/2 a bar of Fels-Naptha into a saucepan (I still use my Bosch grater).

2. Cover shavings with 4 cups of water and heat on low, stirring often, until soap has melted.

3. Remove from heat.  Add the borax and washing soda and stir in another 4 cups of water.  Mixture will resemble pudding.

4. Pour mixture into a bucket or other container with a lid (I used a cooler–see photo below), add another 24 cups (or 1 gallon + 8 cups) and stir well.  In fact, you may want to use a whisk.

5. Let mixture set overnight.

6. The next day, the congealed soap will have settled to the top.  Stir it back in and pour into storage containers if you’d rather not dip your hand into a bucket every time you do the laundry.  I used old laundry detergent bottles.

Use 1/3 – 1/2 cup of detergent per load of laundry.

And yes, you can use it on your cloth diapers too!

A few notes of interest:

*I didn’t have enough old detergent bottles to pour into, so I keep a very hard to open cooler with the remaining amount in my laundry room.  This has proven to be a very good method.

*I don’t add essential oil.  It would take way too much to make a difference in the smell, so if I ever add any, it will be tea tree oil for it’s anti-bacterial properties.  I’d rather use my yummy-smelling essential oils in other ways.

*Speaking of smells, Fels-Naptha does have a distinct, yet not unpleasant, odor.  However, that smell does not transfer to your clothing.

*The reason I think this is doing so much better than my homemade castille soap did, is because Fels-Naptha is intended for laundry.  Additionally, upping the amount of borax and washing soda helped the consistency greatly.

*This does not suds.  It’s ok.

*The mixture ends up looking a bit curdled.  It’s ok.

Now, for the question that will determine if I continue to make my own laundry detergent…

Is it cost effective enough to be worth my time?

First off, the time required to make this is nominal.  It’s easy, folks!

Secondly, I am going to use very general numbers since prices vary regionally.  If you want it exact, use your own region’s prices.

Cost Breakdown:
Fels-Naptha – 1/2 bar = 58¢
Borax – 1 cup =  53¢
Washing Soda – 1 cup = 44¢
Water – 2 gallons from tap = 20¢
Total per batch = $1.75
Total per load = 3¢

For me, each batch fills around 3 of the containers I had on hand.  We only use one kind of detergent and for that size it costs around $3.00 a bottle when on sale (and it goes on sale often).  I do have to use a bit more of the homemade detergent than the store detergent, but not much.  So without factoring that in…

Cost difference = $7.25 in favor of the homemade detergent

And since we taken it this far, let’s figure my savings for a year if I only used homemade detergent…

Let’s say it takes me 2 weeks to go through each 50 fl oz bottle of detergent.  That means every 6 weeks, I am making more at $1.75 or buying more at $9 for 3 bottles.  That’s $15.17 a year for the homemade and $78 a year for the store bought, which equals…

Yearly savings = $62.83

Is the trouble it takes to make my own laundry detergent (again, nominal) worth $62.83?  In some seasons, I’d have to say no, but right now this feels like a significant savings for very little work.

What do you think?

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146 Comments on Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Gets an Upgrade

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146 thoughts on “Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Gets an Upgrade

  1. I use this recipe, too. I did buy tea tree oil, so when I make the next batch I’m going to try it in there. I bought a 5 gallon bucket at lowe’s and keep my detergent by the washer in there. Mine fills the 5 gallon bucket. I usually fill my bucket halfway with warm or hot water and add the washing soda and borax, then melt the soap in a pan on the stove. Once that’s done I mix the melted soap in the bucket and stir, then fill the bucket the rest of the way. I usually cool it overnight and use it. It’s a gel consistency, too. It lasts 2-3 months depending on the amount of laundry I wash. :)

  2. I made this last late spring/early summer and I still have about a 1/4 left in my 5 gallon bucket. I think our measurements are a little different (I used a whole bar of soap and would have to check the soda/borax amts) but it lasts forever. I do laundry for 6 people and my mom has taken a few bottles out of it and by the time I run out, it’ll be about a year since I made it. I love it. Most of my friends are even using it now. I used the Duggar’s recipe. It’s so worth it to me.

  3. Thanks for this post. I think I could save a ton of $$ by making my own, but am wondering if this safe to use in HE washing machines?

  4. I used to make it for about $0.04/load but I did not like making it and had trouble using it. I was also worried about the amount of borax being used on my cloth diapers and did not like the unnatural ingredients. I now make soap nut liquid with much less work, completely natural, and far more effective (in my experience it is the BEST cloth diaper soap) for about $0.05/load. I’m pretty pleased with it.

  5. I would love to use homemade soap, but after using it for about 6-8 months the last time we ended up with horrible build up on our clothing. My husband and I were putting on shirts and noticing that they smelled like we had worked all day in them. Have you noticed this? Do you have any ideas for preventing this build up of deodorant and sweat?

    • I would first suggest checking the amount of detergent you’re using per load. If you’re okay there, I would try adding a little vinegar to the rinse cycle of your wash. It’s a great deodorizer

      The * easiest* way to do it is to purchase or use (if you already have one) one of those little Downy “Balls” that are made for dispensing fabric softener in your washer. (You can find ’em on the laundry aisle, near the fabric softener for a little over a buck.) Fill it about 2/3’s with vinegar… close the stopper & toss it in the wash.

      And no, your clothes will not smell like vinegar! 😉

      I do this with my husband’s clothes, as he sweats profusely at work, particularly in the summer & his clothes sometimes go in the washer smelling nearly rancid! LOL

      Hope that helps!

    • I love the idea of useing homemade detergent but do you have to use color bleech or fabric softner in addition to the laudry soap?

      • I don’t typically use bleach and you can use vinegar as a fabric softener if you like. I use dryer sheets just out of preference.

  6. Ok, ok maybe I’ll try the Fels Naphta again! {sigh} I’ll just have to make somebody else do it. The stuff sends me into a sneezing fit. It’s SO strong.

    • If you can let it sit outside for a few days open not only will it help the smell go away it will also help with the grating (I do it by hand) because it dries the soap out.

    • Ginger, If you let the soap sit out for a while before grating, it becomes very hard and dry and will actually be worse for your nose since the dryer flakes will fly everywhere. 2 suggestions: 1st, if you grate the soap immediately out of the wrapper, it’s at its softest state and therefore less apt to fly around. 2nd, use a food processor if possible for this task. It goes much quicker and while you are feeding the soap down the tube, place a damp towel over the machine to keep the dust to a minimum. I tried both methods of this with a fresh bar and the dried out one and believe me when I say, the dried out bar is worse for your sinuses. (The soap dust was everywhere!) Hope this helps.

  7. I have been using Fels Naptha in my dry detergent mix for a while now and I love it too. Works great! (before that I used Ivory, it was ok but didn’t get the clothes as clean and didn’t melt all the way unless I used hot water). I found a tip on another site that said she also mixes in grated glycerin soap into her liquid detergent because she has very hard water. I have very hard water as well so I am thinking of putting liquid glycerin in mine to see if it works just as well. (my hard water was making the borax chrystalize in the jar after it cooled).

  8. I use the same amount of ingredients, exept the water. I use a full 5 gallons of water to make the soap, then fill my dispenser with half water, half soap. This makes a full 10 gallons of laundry soap, and imagine the savings, then!!! My clothes are still clean, I just like to add a little something for that laundry soap smell.

  9. I was wondering is there a difference in washing soda and normal soda? And were in the instructions do I add the soda and the borax? Also from reading another comment what is glycerine soap? Thank You for your help.

    • Yes, there is a BIG difference between baking soda (sodium hydrogen carbonate) and washing soda (sodium carbonate.) They are NOT interchangeable. Washing Soda is sold in the laundry aisle in most larger stores.

  10. We use homemade laundry detergent and love it. My configuration is a bit different than yours though. We use a full bar of Fells-Naptha and dilute it to 10 gallons. I make it twice a year right now, but that may change when we add in diapers in June! I dilute it before it congeals and I store it in milk jugs!

  11. Myself and one of my sons and have very sensitive skin, if I buy the wrong detergent because its on sale, we get itchy everywhere the clothes touch us…not fun. Does anyone in your family have a sensitivity like this so that you could answer if this recipe would work where there are special laundry needs?

    • @Angela…my son and I have sensitivities also, since we have switched to this detergent we haven’t had any breakouts. I use a vinegar/water mix for our fabric softener now.

    • I have sensitive skin and had a flare-up of eczema when I started using this homemade laundry detergent. I switched back to commercial laundry detergent and the eczema has cleared up. I was using Fels Naptha in my homemade mixture.

      • My daughter has rosacea and since she was born I have had to do a lot of trial and error for her w laundry soap, body wash, even shampoo. She can’t even use bubble bath like reg kids can. I once sent a half hour reading all the ingredients on the back of laundry detergent. I was so happy when I came across a liquid detergent that I could make (a bit diff than this one) and I use a soap that I know that she can use that I got from Whole Foods but I think any glycerine soap would work. I love my detergent and the light smell from.the soap makes my clothes smell even cleaner and my daughter has no reactions. I also add in baking soda on top of everything else and put it in a 5 gallon bucket and then just refill the bottle we last had for laundry detergent. I also have hard water and it works great. I’ve recently made some for my dad who does work that makes him sweat and stink and he came over the other day after being sweaty and dint stink like he normally did using store bought stuff. He has well water too which is just as bad as hard water imo.

        • Would you mind sharing the type of soap and how much baking soda you add? I use a recipe similar to Amy – maybe not as strong, I have to check my recipe – but I can still smell sweat in the armpits of my husband’s shirts after they are washed. I’ll try the vinegar trick someone else mentioned but would more details on what works for you!

          • I am so sorry I’m late in returning to this. I have several emails and was actually clearing this one out (had almost 10k emails sitting in it lol) and came across this, glad I did. To answer your questions I use equal amounts of baking soda as washing soda and borax. I put it in when I put the other stuff into my melted soap mix. So far I have used soap that is handmade, stuff that I would use on ours bodies. I figure if it can be used on our bodies in the bath then why not in clothes and it works great, I do know that they all have glycerine as the base and maybe its the essential oils that help too, but I think the baking soda does the trick w the smells. I also have made some for my father who has well water and his clothes would sometimes smell bc of the rust and then when he would sweat it would be really bad, think sour milk mixed w the sulfur of garlic and body odor all mixed together, however after a month of using the detergent he came over the other day after doing some yard work here in the hot FL sun in the middle of the day and he didn’t even smell half as bad as he use to. Same for my husband. We recently had to use store bought bc I have physical issues that keep me from doing anything that requires standing, walking or moving sometimes and just couldn’t manage to make the detergent. Today, I wore a shirt that has been washed a few times in the store bought and I was sweating and I could smell the stink on the shirt. We are going back to the homemade now that I’m better and more capable of doing things.

          • Shannon, can you let me which body soap you use to make this? I have very sensitive skin and I would to buy one that already works for somebody else highly sensitive skin. Thanks :)

          • @Susan I use soap that is handmade. If you use a handmade soap already just use that or if you use another kind of bar soap you can use that as well. I just recently mixed 3 diff bars and it has this amazing clean minty smell…yet none of the soaps were minty, go figure lol go to whole foods or another place that sells soaps that are pretty much all natural w none of the icky chemicals. I kind of wish that bath and body works still made their glycerine soap, the smells were awesome, imagine cucumbers watermelon or some of the newer ones in your laundry and how your laundry area would smell plus the added benefit of all that glycerine

  12. We love using the soap and have used it about 3 years. I use the same batch on the Duggar site and it makes a bigger batch that lasts us (family of 9) about 8-10 weeks. It should probably last longer, but I use about 1/2 cup vs the 1/4 recommended. We have an old washer and dryer that can’t do really big loads, so we end up doing about 20 loads a week. We used to use castille soap too and when I found the Fels Naptha it made a huge difference! We like the smell and our clothes get much cleaner. I still use bleach for whites and still pretreat stains (but I did that when I bought very expensive Tide too :) It’s completely worth the time for our family. We were spending about $240 on laundry soap a year and now only spend about $15.

  13. I read your recipe three times and don’t see what you do with the borax and washing soda? Did you forget a line of the instructions on what to do with them? Can you edit this post to include those ingredients?

  14. We’ve used this Fels Naptha recipe for a while. Our process is slightly different, though. Still, the only real drawback for me is that I can, well, taste the soap in the air while it’s cooking. But the kids have taken to it and it takes no time to prepare. Now if I can just get them to tell me we’re out BEFORE we are completely out!

  15. I’m going to try this. I’m looking for ways to save money right now due to a loss of some side income my husband made. I had tried making det. one time, but it used grated Ivory soap. This sounds like a better option for our large family.

  16. I have used this same basic recipe, except I keep it in a 5 gal bucket. When switching over to the laundry bottle I use, I add half detergent and half water. In total I get about 10 gals of detergent. Have been doing this for several years now and have not noticed the “build up” others have sometimes talked about and our laundry gets nicely clean. We also have had allergic reactions to several different store detergents, but so far no problems with the Fels Naptha. Definitely worth switching to and using. And the time spent to make it is so minimal that it doesn’t add to my work load at all (especially since I only make it every 8-9 months).

    • I’m a little confused. So I used 1 full bar of soap, 1 cup of borax, and 1 cup of wash soda for a 5 gallon bucket. Do I need to divide it into two buckets of 5 gallons each and add more water? if so, how much soap will I then need to use per wash. If i leave it as it is, how much am I supposed to be using per wash??

  17. For myself the savings are even bigger, as when I purchase laundry detergent from the store I have to buy the most expensive kind. Two of my family members have very sensitive skin and get rashes from their clothes if I use anything but an expensive brand, or home-made. So to me, it’s very worth it.
    The other cost I would consider is that I strongly believe that home-made laundry detergent gives your clothes and (particularly) cloth nappies a longer life. I spent one year using store detergent, then the next using home-made. I saw a significant difference in how my children’s clothes (the ones that get washed the most) were affected. Also, some nappies were totally worn out by the harsher stuff from the store.

  18. When I was making that recipe I had a hard time finding the fels-naptha and the washing soda. I think I quit when I ran out of the ingredients, not because I didn’t like the product.

  19. YOu’ve made a believer out of me;) I’ve been sitting the fence on “homemade” laundry detergent because I don’t like dry detergent, I prefer liquid. And the other ingredients were either too hard to find or a real investment!!

    SO I’m saving my detergent bottles and I’ll get started! Thanks!!

    How many regular detergent containers do you think I would need to make 2 batches??

    • It depends on the size of your bottles. Mine were 50 oz bottles and it would take about 6 of them for 2 batches. Good luck!

  20. I like the idea of saving so much money over the store-bought detergents, but I have just now gotten rid of the yucky smell in my HE washer by switching to a powdered detergent (Gain seems to work best). I’m concerned that if I switch back to a gel, I’ll start to have odor problems again. (supposedly the odor is caused by a buildup of the gel residue in the pipes; maybe it’s just petroleum-based products?) . Has anyone experienced this odor problem with an HE machine?

    • Hi LeighAnne, I was concerned about the smell-issue in my HE washing machine too, so I am careful to leave the (front-loading) door open for a long while after every load. This allows the moisture to evaporate instead of sitting in the machine and mildewing. It has worked very well for the last few years now.

    • If you like the powder laundry soap, check out DIYNatural website. They have a recipe for this, just in powder form. I have used another one of their recipes and I love it!

  21. Amy,

    Thanks so much for this post! I recently had great success with homemade dishwasher detergent and have been considering homemade laundry soap. We use cloth on our 19mo and I was wondering how much soap do you use for a load of diapers? Right now I’m using a liquid detergent called Ecos on our clothes and diapers, about 1/2 as much soap for the diapers than the clothes. If that makes sense :) Do you also follow the 1/2 as much soap for diapers than clothes using the homemade soap as one would if using a commercial detergent? Thank you!

  22. This is pretty much the same recipe we use too. Got it from the Duggar’s first book… call my crazy, but I actually *like* the smell of Fels Naptha, though I am glad that it doesn’t transfer to the clothes, ‘cuz I really don’t like “scented clothing!” LOL

  23. I started making my own laundry soap just over a year ago, and I found the cost savings to be worth the effort, especially when I added in the other benefits for our family. There are several of us with sensitive skin/allergies, unfortunately we are all allergic to different things, so finding one commercially made soap that bothered none of us was hard ( and expensive!). Homemade soap bothers none of us, has very few, if any yucky chemicals and no scent is left on the clothes ( another allergy…). Here in Canada, we don’t have the laundry bar you mention, but we have one made by “Sunlight”. I make mine in bigger batches to lessen how often I need to make it. I found a 10 gal pail from pool chlorine and cleaned it really well. I make a batch big enough to fill the pail, and it costs me about $2. Compared to the $10 small bottle of the commercially avaialble stuff we were using, it’s an amazing bargain for our family. Also, you need much less of the homemade stuff than the store bought stuff. I use 1/4 cup per load at the very most, and I have a super capacity washer. So, the volume of homemade soap will last you much longer than the same volume of store bought would. I also put some of this soap mixture in a squeeze bottle and keep it near the sink to use as a stain treater, works great!

  24. I found the Fels-naphtha to be too harsh for our clothes. I’m thinking the combination of minerals in the water was not a good mix.

  25. Hey Amy! Funny you mention essential oils. I was just at the health food store purchasing some today. If you are looking at 100% pure essential oils that aren’t diluted with other oils (often olive oil or coconut oil) you’ll only need a drop per gallon of liquid. A 15ml bottle (standard) has 300-350 drops. :) The orange, lavender, lemongrass, etc (fresh for laundry smells) are only about $7 – $8 per bottle. Not too bad! Plus, many of them are anti-microbial too. Tea tree smells horrible (I used some tonight on my daughter’s eczema – yuck!) but SO many fight bacteria. It might be fun to add just one drop to your small every day dispenser and see how it works! I’m going to try lavender in mine this week.

    • Ok, so it’s weird that I actually like the smell of tea tree oil?? :) Definitely might try just adding a drop to the load itself.

  26. Thank you for updating this recipe, Amy. Your recipe uses more borax and washing soda than the one I was following used. Increasing the borax and soda really gets clothes cleaner. I am very pleased with the results.

    I do my detergent a little differently in that I grate the soap in my kitchen aid and then mix everything together in the bowl (sometimes I use the wisk attachment if there are lumps!) As storage is at a premium for us, I store it dry in a large plastic container and just mix it into liquid when I need it. I heat 1 cup of the mix in several cups of water in a saucepan, long enough to melt the soap. Then I pour that into my jug and fill it the rest of the way with warm water. Shake well and you are ready to go. I often make two gallon at a time, so I have one in reserve. This system works well for us.

  27. My husband has very sensitive skin, so much so that we could only use a couple kinds of laundry soap. Since we’ve been making our own, he’s not complained a bit. Also, our clothes feel like we’ve added softener. The recipe I make is about the same, though I use regular bar soap (Lever) because I know it’s not going to bother my hubby. No trouble with clothes smelling and I don’t seem to have much of an issue with fading or our whites yellowing (we have very hard water). Even though it’s just the two of us now, I’d still rather mix up my own than lug home jugs from the store.

  28. I started making my own laundry detergent last summer and love it. My recipe is similar to yours but I make a concentrate in a five gallon bucket (with lid kept in the garage…purchased at Lowe’s for $5) that dilutes to 10 gallons as I refill my smaller container. It cost me under $5 for 10 gallons which will last about 5-6 months. I was using a detergent that was costing me about $15 per month so the saving is huge for me. I also use it on my cloth diapers with PUL and have had no problems. I keep around some of our old detergent in case I run out and don’t have time to make more for a period of time or for guests but love the savings:) Thanks for sharing this post!!

  29. I have been using the Duggar recipe and love it. I have a machinist husband who brings home very oily, sweaty,icky clothes and a 24 yo son who is a landscaper with muddy sweaty clothes. I am a nurse, but wear business clothes to work, so between all of us we have a wide variety of fabrics and laundry challenges. I have sensitive skin. this gets your close nice and clean, leaves no residue or buildup in your washer or dryer. I use straight vinegar in my washer’s fabric softener dispenser instead of fabric softener or dryer sheets. I have also added a 1/4 c of the borax dry into the washer for extra dirty clothes per load. The fels naptha bar soap can be used directly on stains to pretreat. Just moisten a corner the bar with a little water from the machine as it’s filling, and rub it straight on the stain and wash. I love the savings, the “greeness” of it all, and I do like the freshness of the fels naptha scent.

  30. I’m going to be making this tomorrow! I’ve made my own laundry detergent in the past with almost this exact same recipe, except I used Ivory soap instead. I’m going to use the Fels-Naptha soap this time around. I’ve always used baking soda instead of washing soda because I read somewhere that washing soda can be hard on your clothes, so I’m a little gun-shy about the washing soda. Our clothes have always smelled and felt clean with the baking soda.

    Is my “fear” of washing soda unfounded? Has anyone had any problems with it?

    • I have had no issues w the washing soda. I also put in baking soda. I have hard water so i don’t know if that matters. I’ve never heard of washing soda being hard on clothes.

  31. I just tried your recipe this morning, made the first part of the recipe yesterday morning, added the required water today and am on load number 2 of laundry. The first load I did was jeans and tshirts, I had no residue on my clothes and they are nice and clean smelling hanging on the clothesline as we speak. Load 2 is whites with added liquid bleach and I’m sure they’ll turn out just fine. This recipe was very easy to make and definitely life changing for this household. Thank you so much for taking the time to share it.

    I have tried similiar recipes in the past but ended up with soap residue on my clothes, not sure what is different with this recipe but am so glad it worked.. less plastic in our landfills, less suds in our rivers and more money in our pockets

    Anna In Ohio

  32. Does the fact that you won’t see suds make it more difficult to tell if you have rinsed all the soap out of your cloth diapers? We hope to be CDing soon and I have never done it before…and all the sites say to check the rinse cycle for soap suds to make sure you don’t need another rinse.

  33. Check Ace hardware if your grocery store doesn’t carry the ingredients. If you don’t have Ace, you can probably ask your local store to order them in. Explain that you’ll be telling all your friends about it and they’ll need to buy some, too. 😀

  34. I made some homemade laundry detergent last year, but made a mistake by using baking soda instead of washing soda. Recently, I found a formular and experiement it with 1 bar of Fels-Naptha, 1cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, and 1cup Free&Clear detergent (I used the cheapest brand). I dissolved the soap in 2qt of water, pour into 5 gallon bucket, whisk and add borax and washing soda, continue adding hot water half way up the bucket, add Free & Clear detergent, keep stirring and adding hot water to the top, then cover and wait 24 hrs. My came out silky and smooth like storebought, also it got my clothes very clean. I use 1part of fabric softenner to 10 parts of water in a spray bottle, shake it up and spray over the clothes before drying. It’s been over a year, and I yet use up 1/2 small container of the softenner.

  35. You can also easily douple or triple the recipe so you don’t have to make it as often, which makes it even less work. I asked everyone I knew to give me their liquid laundry bottles, so I ended up with about 12. I fill them all right after I make the soap when it is still not gelled, then just shake it up in the bottle before use!

  36. I’ve used this recipe for at least 12 years. I only do it a little different. I use Ivory Soap because the Fels Naptha wasn’t available when I started. I’ve seen it in stores now but don’t like the way it smells (can tell it’s made by Dial!). It’s good to know that the clothes don’t smell though so maybe I’ll try it. I also only use 1/2 cup each of borax and washing soda. Other than that, it’s the same recipe. I’ve been very happy with it all these years and it has saved me SO much money.

    The one caution I’d mention (I didn’t read all the other comments so hopefully no one else mentioned it) is that I couldn’t use this for our cloth diapers. My son got such a terrible rash and I found out it was because the ammonia in the urine reacts with the baking soda in the washing soda (and I always put vinegar in the rinse cycle). So, I had to get a bottle of cheap detergent to wash the dipes in but other than that, I have loved it.

    • My husband who doesn’t like anything except detergents that do not smell really likes this. I’d say it is worth a try (maybe on a load of socks or something small like that) and if you notice a rash, you aren’t out much money. :)

  37. I use Zote instead of Fel-Naptha, because I haven’t been able to find Fel-Naptha and I can find Zote almost everywhere. I have used this recipe for years, I have a HE and it works great. I have Eczema and it doesn’t bother my sensitive skin at all. My husband works out in the Texas heat, believe me he sweats and it seems to clean his clothes fine. It has really saved us money!!

  38. I have been making my own laundry soap for years using the fels naptha. My one dislike about making the soap was grating the fels. I had an old food processor that I would use to grate it until it finally died on me…I was still looking for another one at second hand shops when I came across a recipe for laundry soap without the fels!

    I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and I love it. It is so much easier and quicker to make it now.

    Disolve 3/4 cup borax and 3/4 cut washing soda in 8 cups of water- I do this in the microwave so it gets nice and hot. Then add 4 tablespoons of dawn dish soap or a laundry soap of your choice- I used Era because I love the scent. Pour in a bucket and add enough water to make 3 gallons. pour into laundry soap containers for ease of dispensing. It does not get at all thick, but it doesn’t matter. I works great and is quick and cheap.

  39. If you put the Fels Naptha in the microwave for about 30 seconds it will be much easier to grate. It will bubble, let it cool and it will grate into a powder.

  40. I’d be careful with using borax. Or to quote wikipedia:

    “Borax, sodium tetraborate decahydrate, is not acutely toxic.[19] Its LD50 (median lethal dose) score is tested at 2.66 g/kg in rats:[20] a significant dose of the chemical is needed to cause severe symptoms or death. The lethal dose is not necessarily the same for humans.

    Sufficient exposure to borax dust can cause respiratory and skin irritation. Ingestion may cause gastrointestinal distress including nausea, persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Effects on the vascular system and brain include headaches and lethargy, but are less frequent. “In severe poisonings, a beefy red skin rash affecting palms, soles, buttocks and scrotum has been described. With severe poisoning, erythematous and exfoliative rash, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and renal failure.[21]

    Boric acid solutions used as an eye wash or on abraded skin are known to be particularly toxic to infants, especially after repeated use, because of the slow elimination rate.[22]

    Borax was added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. The SVHC candidate list is part of the EU Regulations on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals 2006 (REACH), and the addition was based on the revised classification of Borax as toxic for reproduction category 1B under the CLP Regulations. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings “May damage fertility” and “May damage the unborn child”.[23]”

    Esp. that last paragraf has meant that borax has become something of a no-no chemical where I work.

    • I have been looking for a recipe for laundry detergent that doesn’t use Borax or any other harmful chemicals. Do you (or anyone out there) know of a reliable one that you can share? Thanks!

  41. I couldn’t find anywhere why you no longer liked your dry laundry detergent? Did your clothes start to smell? Skin reaction? Too much work?

  42. I’m so sorry you feel that way but I on the other hand LOVE my liquid laundry soap… I’ve been making it for a little over a year now and LOVE it…. It cleans very, very well and all I have to pay for in a year’s time is for the 97 cent bar of soap… I know to each is on but that’s my personal take on it and I will NEVER go back to buying store washing soap again,… I also make my on fabric softner :)

  43. can you use this safely in the newer HE machines? Supposed to use only certain detergents and I wasn’t sure about the homemade soap. Been wanting to try this.

  44. Im making my second batch today. This recipe doubles the washing soda and uses a gallon less water. .. so im giving this a try.

    I do add Mrs Stewarts bluing to the mix. This batch I added 2oz of bluing to keep tge whites bright.

    Wife says my last detergent works better than the store bought stuff. This is an even stronger recipe. We use 2oz per load in our HE washer.

  45. I just made my first batch. After letting it sit overnight, the soap that was flavoring on top was very curdled and the detergent mixture was very thin and watery. Is this normal?

    • Batches will sometimes be different in consistency depending on the humidity outside or other weather factors, but what we do is just mix it in and give it a good shake before each load.

  46. This is the same recipe I’ve been using for about five months. I love it. It cleans beautifully. Grimy cuffs on coats come out looking new. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  47. I’m interested in starting to make my own. I was wondering what you mean by washing soda? Is there a brand name? Could you post a picture of the container maybe?

  48. Mine is not dissolving well Do u know what I might be doing wrong? It leaves big white paint like stains on the clothes when they r finished. Could my hard water have anything to do with this?

  49. Hello! I love the soap and have been made about 3 batches so far. I was wondering if i was doing something wrong though. I make the 2gallons and pour it into an open container with a lid, the first time i did it i put it into the big laundry container where you press the button for it to pour out, well…it didnt pour out because it was one big block of gel lol. So should i add more water to it so that i am not dumping a gel into my washer (and going through detergent faster) or is it ok that i have the 2gallons of gel?

    • It does have a globby effect, so I would use a container that doesn’t have a small spout. I simply shake well before pouring into the washer.

  50. How long does the detergent last? Any concerns with detergent spoiling? Should a preservative be used like (T-50 vitamin e)?

    I can not use essential oils. I have a fragrance mix allergy.

  51. Is there something I can substitute for Borax. I can only find single packet use to add to the laundry and I dont thing it would be very cost efficient to do it that way.

  52. I think it’s definitely worth it. I’ve been doing homemade for a while, but I’ve been a little disappointed with the results. the clothes don’t seem as fresh (but that might be because my boys are now doing their own laundry, lol!). I’m going to try my next batch with the Fels-Naptha and see if that helps. Thanks for sharing this!

  53. I make my own laundry soap as well using an almost identical recipe. Our clothes look/smell/feel so much nicer. I am sensitive to chemicals and so this is so much better for us. It IS VERY easy. I use my pressure cooker pot because is so big. My soap, for some reason, kinda turns out looking like slime but It cleans just as well and is actually fun to play with. Hehe.I store it in plastic tubs in my garage where I do my laundry. It IS worth it where every penny counts. No more over priced, smelly, undersized laundry soap jugs. Hello fresh clean clothes and savings! Lemon juice and baking soda work really well in pre-stain wash.

  54. I’ve been using the dry version of homemade laundry detergent with Fels Naptha for about 6 months. I was thinking about switching to liquid and found this article when Googling it. I seem to go through too much of the dry too fast (for only 2 people). Not sure if I want a whole 5 gal container so will dry to do the math for a smaller portion. On a happy note, my grandchildren LOVE the smell of the Fels Natha. When the one comes to visit, the first thing she does when hugging me hello is sniff my shirt exclaiming, “I LOVE the smell of your clothes, Nana!!” Awwwwwwww … is that too cute or what?? :) Thanks for the article!