That time I made laundry detergent.

I love Pinterest. I like to think it brings out the best in me. Like I’m super creative and crafty and all that. It’s the worst to look at it right before lunch. So. Many. Delicious. Dishes.

At any rate, I found a pin about making your own laundry detergent, and I was intrigued. I love trying this kind of stuff, and I’m trying to be all green and stuff, so I decided to give it a try.

Turns out it was EXTREMELY easy. Like way easier than I thought it would be. And, ounce for ounce, it costs a fraction of the store bought stuff. Pinterest success.

Here’s how I did it.

You need:


1/3 bar Fels Naptha

1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax

1/2 cup  Washing Soda (not baking soda)

A bucket (I used an empty and rinsed cat litter bucket)

A container like an old detergent jug for your finished detergent (optional, but makes easier use)

Grate the Fels Naptha soap on a cheese grater. Heat about two quarts (or so… measurements don’t need to be exact) in a medium sauce pan and add the shredded soap. Don’t let the mixture boil, just stir until the soap is melted. Add the borax and washing soda and stir well. Remove from heat. Pour a quart of hot water into your bucket, then add the soap mixture and stir well. Now add another 5 quarts of hot water and stir it up again. Let it sit for several hours (or overnight). When you check your detergent the next morning (or whenever) it will be all gloppy and gelatinous, but it is pretty much done. Stir it pretty vigorously again to break it up and make it relatively smooth and even. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Now you’re ready to use it. Fill up your old detergent jug if you have one to make it easier to pour and use. Pouring or dipping from the bucket each time you use it is a little unwieldy. Use 1/2 cup per large load of laundry.

Put the rest of your soap away for the next time.

Put the rest of your soap away for the next time.


Heat until the soap is just melted and blended.

The finished product!

The finished product!

While I’m at it, if you want to be a totally green DIY’er, you don’t need to buy expensive fabric softener either. You can totally use white vinegar. No, your clothes won’t smell like a pickle. You won’t even notice a difference. I have a Downey ball, so I just fill that up with cleaning vinegar (6% acidity, as opposed to 5% acidity of regular vinegar). I bought two gallons of it when it was marked down a few months back. Regular vinegar works just fine, too. Just don’t use cider vinegar. If you don’t have a Downey ball, simply add about 1/2 of vinegar to the rinse cycle. Supposedly it makes your whites whiter, but I’ve only used it a couple times on whites, and I haven’t noticed a difference yet.

The cost for this DIY detergent is pennies on the dollar compared to store-bought. My calculations are pretty rough, but here goes. I can do about 100 loads of laundry with the batch I made. The Fels Naptha was 1.99. One third of that is about 66 cents. The Borax was 8.99. A half a cup is about 1/16 of the box. That’s about 56 cents per batch. The washing soda was 9.00. Half a cup is 1/4 of the box, so that comes out to 64 cents per batch. This comes out to a whopping 1.8 cents per load. Two cents if you round up. That’s about 1/20th of what the store-bought stuff costs if it’s not on sale. One tenth of the cost if it is on sale. With buying one box of Borax and one box of washing soda, I’m pretty much stocked up for about five years with detergent. Hard to argue with that.


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