Made My Own Laundry Detergent

A few months ago I mentioned on twitter that I was interested in learning more about homesteading including: canning, and making my own detergent. A friend replied back saying that she made her own detergent all the time, and it was super duper easy. Of course this was all of the encouragement that I needed.

Supplies to make your own detergent

According to her you’ll need: ivory bar soap, a cheese grater, plastic bag/container, 1 cup of borax, and 1 cup of washing soda. The directions are super simple. Grate the bar of soap, add 1 cup of each item into the plastic bag, and mix.. To wash use 1-2 Tablespoons per load.


For my first batch I actually used a regular bar of soap, because I thought it was ivory because the box was ivory. When I grated it, it turned into a very fine powder. Also, my wrist was sore, but it only took about 5 mins or less to grate. However, when I experimented with a few loads of blankets and it seemed to work fine.

Camay grated/powdered soap

By the end of the night I’d gotten melted chocolate from a s’more onto my green and pink sweatshirt, it was time to put the detergent’s stain fighting power to the test.

Chocolate stain

The first round I placed it in the washer with about half a tablespoon of detergent since I was washing it by itself. After drying it I realized the stain was still there. Then, sprayed it with spray and wash, used 2 full tablespoons, and the stain was pretty much gone! I think if I would have used the spray and wash and more detergent first there would be no faint dark spot at all.Slight dark stain

Later, I did end up purchasing ivory soap bars to make a bigger batch.

I’d read that the ivory soap you can zap in the microwave then simply mash up with your fingers. I zapped it for about 15 seconds, and it was very mashable (which was also kind of messy). It was more difficult to get it into the smaller powder.

Microwaved Ivory soap

Crumbled Ivory soap

For the second bar I decided to use the cheese grater, since I knew this bar of soap was very soft. It grated like cheese, and easy pressed together when I grated too much on top of each other! (At least though when you’re messy with soap you’re also cleaning, right ;0) )

Cheese grated ivory bar soap

In the end, when I mixed all of the cups of materials together the earlier chunks from the microwaved ivory bar soap became very powdery like the rest of the mix. So, next time I think I’d skip the cheese grater since that also involved making a mess.

My homemade detergent

As far as saving goes. I compared the cost of this to our usual brand of laundry detergent: Xtra which according to the label will wash 166 loads and costs about $7.98.

Ivory bars (3oz each) came in a pack of three for $1.24, Borax (76 oz) is about $12.09 or $0.16/oz, Washing soda (55oz) is about $9.30 or $0.17/oz so for 3 cups of each item this batch cost approximately $9.16 and will wash 72-144 loads depending if 1 or 2 Tablespoons are used per load. However, I’ve no idea if our liquid detergent is actually washing 166 loads, you could save more by making bigger batches at once, you save in gas if you keep the materials on hand, this detergent is cleaner and potentially better for young children with sensitive skin, and I’ve seen other recipes where only 1/2 of borax or washing soda is used per 1 cup of ivory bar soap.

Update!! I’ve recently learned that you can purchase these items in large quantities from places like Amazon. If you subscribe to have regular deliveries of said item every 2-6 months you can save even more. The price of 16 bars of ivory soap is $3.79 this way!!

Anyways, now I know how to make my own detergent, you know if case of zombie Apocalypse, Derechos, Snow, or Hurricanes. ;0)

Feel free to post any questions or tips!

For more frugal tips check out this blog hop!

7 thoughts on “Made My Own Laundry Detergent

  1. Tip: I was given a old food processor, I would never use, so I use it to grind my Fels Naptha Bar. I also prepare several batches at once and store in a zip-lock baggies, for quick refills. And I do not have to worry about washing out the food processor because that is all I use it for.

  2. I use the Duggars recipe. Liquid detergent: 4C Water, 1 Bar of Fels Naptha ($1.99) , 1 Cup A$H Washing Soda, 1/2 C Borax. Disolve on stove, Add to half filled 5 gal bucket, Top off bucket. Disgusting to look at but works well. Dilute 50% as needed in dispensing container you use, or just use 1/8 cup per load.Makes 10 Gal. Average cost per batch is $3.03 ( I have a front loader, so this lasts me about 9 months( married with 3 kids). Have saved a fortune since making my own. Powder detergent is same recipe minus water.

    • Great tip and thanks for posting your recipe. I may have to try either the liquid recipe, or it as a dry detergent recipe sometime. Using only 1/2 a cup of borax per everything else would reduce how much it costs to make! I think its neat to see how far this goes with the amount of members in your family.

  3. I’ve heard about that, and done it sometimes myself. I got out of the practice because it was hard to find Borax in the stores sometimes and that is one of the key ingredients. Also, I stopped using powder detergents in general because of the way my washer functions- or perhaps dysfunctions- it would leave residue on the clothes after the cycle finished. I’ve seen videos and webpages online that adapt this basic recipe and convert it into a liquid detergent by essentially cooking it on the stovetop a little. I’ve never tried that- in part mostly laziness because it seems a bit labor intensive, though also because of not having the right ingredients at the time when I’m considering trying it again. However, maybe it’s time I gave it a whirl…:P 🙂

    • Yeah, looking at the recipes for liquid detergent seemed like waaaaay too much work. I’ve heard that before, about powder leaving residue on clothing, so far I haven’t run into that issue, I hope I don’t. I’m really enjoying using this powder mix, it is much less messy than the store brand liquid that we use. Keep me posted if you make the liquid detergent :0).

    • Do you make it the same method that I did, or a different recipe? Thanks for the post. This is super easy to do so I plan on continuing!

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