Homemade Laundry Detergent - Recipes for Making Liquid and Powdered Washing Detergents

Making your own homemade laundry detergent is relatively easy and the resulting product will only cost pennies per wash load.

Broadly speaking, you really only need three main ingredients to make homemade laundry detergent: washing soda, borax, and soap of some kind.

Washing soda helps to remove dirt and odors from laundry - the most easily obtainable is Arm & Hammer. Borax is used to whiten the laundry, and 20 Mule Team borax is the most popular.

As far as the soap to use is concerned, many people use Fels Naptha soap - which has been around for about 100 years, or Ivory soap, or Zote, which is a soap from Mexico. All of these soaps are very gentle and ideal for washing baby clothes or the clothes of people who are sensitive to commercial laundry detergents.

Here is a recipe for a homemade laundry detergent which is in liquid form.


  • 1 quart of boiling water
  • 2 cups of washing soda
  • 2 cups of borax
  • 2 cups Fels Naptha, Ivory or Zote soap, which should be very finely grated


  • First, put the finely grated soap into the water in a large pan and stir on low heat till the soap has dissolved.

  • Next, put the water and soap mixture into a big bucket (make sure that it is clean) and then add both the washing soda as well as the borax. Stir thoroughly until everything is well mixed and dissolved.

  • Add more water - about 2 gallons - and stir again until everything is thoroughly mixed. Allow to cool. The mixture will gel. Store the detergent in a covered bucket.

  • For each laundry load, you can use about 1/4 cup of the liquid detergent. Make sure to stir the homemade laundry detergent well before each use.

    Here is another recipe for a homemade liquid detergent.


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bar of Fels Naptha, Ivory or Zote soap
  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 1/2 cup of borax

    Instructions for this liquid homemade laundry detergent:

  • Take the bar of soap and grate it into fine pieces, then put the pieces into a big sauce pan with the water. Using low-medium heat, stir thoroughly till all the soap has dissolved.

  • Take a bucket of about 10-gallon capacity and use hot water to fill it to about half. Add the cups of washing soda and borax, as well as the melted soap you had earlier prepared, to the bucket of water. Stir thoroughly till everything is well mixed and dissolved.

  • Using more hot water, fill the bucket until it is almost full.

  • The detergent will gel up, so you should stir it well before using each time.

  • For each load of laundry, use about 1 cup of this homemade laundry liquid.

  • Note that you will not see a lot of suds when using this homemade laundry detergent, but your clothes will be super clean.

    You can make large buckets of the detergent at one time, or smaller quantities if you don't do a lot of laundry. Ask your friends for their empty liquid laundry detergent bottles and store your detergent in them. Make a big batch, pour into the bottles and replace the caps. Shake well before using to mix the gel.

    If you prefer a laundry powder detergent, it is very simple to make a homemade version.

    Here is a recipe:

  • 1 cup of borax
  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 2 cups of Fels Naptha, Ivory or Zote soap, very finely grated


  • Mix the ingredients together thoroughly and then store it in a plastic container with a lid - make sure the container is airtight.

  • For each load of laundry, use about 2 tablespoons of this powdered detergent.

    For a homemade laundry detergent that will make your white clothes sparkle, try the following recipe.


  • 8 cups of washing soda
  • 8 cups of baking soda
  • 12 cups of borax
  • 8 cups of finely grated soap (Fels Naptha, Ivory or Zote)


  • Mix everything together thoroughly and store in a large plastic container or pail with a lid.

  • For each load of laundry, use about 2 tablespoons of this powdered laundry detergent.

    Here is another recipe for powdered homemade laundry detergent - this one uses white vinegar instead of borax.


  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 1 cup of baking soda (sieved - this helps to prevent the formation of clumps later)
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap (this soap is made from olive oil, is very pure, and can be purchased online)

    Instructions for making this homemade laundry detergent powder:

  • First place the liquid castile soap in a large bowl, then stir in the cup of washing soda, and then the cup of baking soda, until everything is well mixed.

  • Next, add the vinegar 1/4 cup at a time, (the mixture will foam up to begin with). This mixture will originally be thick and pasty, but if you keep stirring, it will slowly become a powder. As you stir, try to break any hard clumps down.

  • Store the powdered detergent in an airtight container.

  • For each load of laundry, use about 1/2 cup of this detergent powder.

    Making homemade laundry detergent is certainly less convenient than buying it at the store, but the advantages outweigh the hassle - you know what the ingredients are, and you will save a lot of money!

    Read More: More on Homemade Laundry Soap | Cleaners and Cleaning Products | Other Home Improvement Ideas plus Homemade Solutions and Remedies | Home Page | Site Search

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