Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thrifty Thoughts- Homemade Laundry Detergent

*Just an update: I would definitely not encourage anyone to make this detergent.
I was less than impressed after using it a few weeks.
My review is here.*
I've been wanting to make my own laundry detergent for quite awhile.
My friend Katie sent me the recipe she had found and used... it's actually the Duggar's recipe.
I used their recipe and then tweaked it a bit.

Here's how I made it.

Ingredients and Supplies
1 Cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (3.25 at Walmart)
1/2 Cup Borax (3.50 at Walmart)
1 Bar of Fels Naptha Soap (1.00 at Walmart)
1 Cup Downy Unstopables (6.97 from Walmart)
5 Gallon Pail with Lid (3.00 from Walmart)
Funnel (2.50 from Walmart)


The only thing I will need to purchase the next time I make detergent will be a bar of Fels Naptha.
So $1!
I'm pretty sure I will have enough of everything to get two more batches out of everything.
So add on two extra bars of Fels Naptha to the 20.22 and that's 22.00 for three HUGE batches of detergent.
Roughly 7.50 for a bajillion loads of laundry.
I'm keeping track of how many loads I am able to do with one batch.
I'll let ya know!

Grate your bar of Fels Naptha.
I couldn't find my grater so I just chopped it up fine and thin with a knife.
It worked fine... just took it a little bit longer to melt down.

Add the grated Fels Naptha to a saucepan that has 4 cups of water.
I also added in my 1 cup of Downy Unscentables.

Stir on low heat until your Soap and Unscentables are melted.
I'll be honest, I became impatient and didn't let all of my soap melt completely.
But it still turned out alright ;)

Fill your 5 gallon bucket half full with hot water.
Add your melted soap, Borax and Washing Soda.
Stir it thoroughly.
I used a spatula from my kitchen.
WHICH....I suggest NOT doing.
It scented my spatula and I didn't realize it.
I made macaroni and cheese the next day using the same spatula and it scented our food ;)
So have a utensil specifically for your laundry detergent making...
especially if you're adding the Downy Unscentables.

Once everything is blended fill the bucket up the rest of the way with hot water.
Cover it and let it sit overnight to thicken.

The next day give it a good stir.
Mine looked super gloppy.
My friend Katie said hers did too... "like egg drop soup" is what she said... and that's exactly what mine looked like.

Take an old, clean laundry soap bottle and fill it halfway with your soap mixture.
Then fill the other half with hot water.
Give it a good shake and you're good to go!

I've been using a little more than half a cup for a full load of laundry.
I am doing the same routine that I normally do with my loads.
I always spray my stains with Shout and add a little scoop of Oxi Clean to every load.
And with my towels I always throw in a little bleach.
So... with that said I feel like it really is getting my clothes as clean as the Gain that I was using.
And it smells wonderful since I added the Downy Unscentables.

The only thing I'm not loving is the consistency of it.
It's obviously watered down more than the store bought liquid detergent.
But I guess that's the name of the game.

I'd love to hear your homemade laundry detergent stories!
Have you made this particular recipe?
Have you ever added in the Unscentables?
Fill me in!

Have a great Tuesday!


  1. I made my own powder laundry soap for a long time!! Until I blew up my blender I used for it...as in it was literally smoking. Oops. But I did really love it, and LOVED the savings! And great idea with using the unscentables!!
    I put a link to the recipe I used!
    Happy Tuesday!

  2. Thanks for posting this! I want to try!

  3. This sounds very similar to the recipe I have, but I haven't made it yet. I am waiting until I use up what I have here. I love how you added the unscentables to give it a scent. That's one thing I knew I wasn't going to like, because I LOVE the smell of a great detergent!

    Can't wait to hear how you like this!

  4. I like you unscentables idea. I use essential oils if I scent it. I really like the clean smell of the fels naptha. I use a slightly different recipe, and I did a cost breakdown and I came up with that is costs me .90 cents per batch I make of laundry soap with is approx. 2 gallons of detergent. Which at 1/2 cup is 64 loads so .014 cents per load! YAY! I also make homemade dishwasher detergent and the recipe I use calls for washing soda and borax as well so I it is nice to have it on hand for more uses. Glad you like your soap! ---Marcia from Ohio

  5. that is AWESOME! I am SO going to do this :) Is it gentle enough for newborn bums you think?

  6. nice!!! question do you know if it's safe for HE machines?

  7. Ok, you have me excited to try this! I'm glad that you said it smells good because that's what I would be most concerned about. :)

  8. @ Kelly... I have read that because the homemade laundry soaps are low sudsy they are safe, but i would check with manufactor if under a warranty. @ Trisha... I would say if you do not scent it it would be for sure. My kids have sensitive skin and no issues here. Plus my jusband works hard and his work clothes get very dirty, and it cleans them great!!!

  9. i love that you made it into liquid! i have some that I made but its the powder and I just love liquid so much better (for no reason at all really)! love it!

  10. Is the scentables stuff all natural? I don't use dryer sheets because of the harmful chemicals in those. I use what the amish do.....a great big plate sized piece of tinfoil all wadded up. I use the same one for weeks and it works. We had an author who learned frugality from interviewing the amish come in to our church and give a talk about all natural tips and money saving tips. It's so hard to find good scented stuff that's affordable and isn't harmful.

  11. Ashley, visiting from Sugar & Dots, and yes I have made my own too. I used the same ingredients except the Scentables. The consistency is not as perfectly blended as it would be if it was store-bought, but so far it's doing such a great job that I will continue to make it. This time however I will be using your recipe! Now following you, please visit and follow back when you have time :)

    Hugs, Tanya

  12. I make my own too but I like the powdered best. Here is the link to what I make. http://www.howdoesshe.com/cheaper-and-better-diy-laundry-detergent
    And it makes a HALF of a 5 gal. bucket & I only use 1-2 T. per load so it makes enough for my mom AND my sister ! GREAT STUFF ! After this runs out (NEXT year sometime ! LOL )I might try the liquid. A tip for the Fels Naptha: cut it in large chucnks and heat it in the microwave for 3 minutes then whirl in your food processor...it becomes a VERY fine powder & mixes ALOt better than just grating it. ;o)

  13. Could you use.the attachment on a drill that contractors use to mix spackling compound?

  14. I use a recipe similar to this, but I put the mixture into 2-1 quart canning jars, and I don't use the unstoppable, then fill with water just to shoulders, place the lid on and flip upside down for about 4-5 hours it will separate! Then I put it all into a processor and whip. Looks like mayo, and I use 1 tbs per load. Have had no issues with clothes looking dingy, also for whites I use clorox fabric care bleach (the thicker kind). I also use a fabric softener. Clothes always smell fresh and clean and look good. It even takes the smells from my husbands work out of his uniforms!

  15. I make a concentrated laundry detergent from the same ingredients, except I don't use the unstoppables. I grate the bar on finest side of a cheese grater, melt in 4 cups of water, remove from heat and add borax and washing soda till completely dissolved. Then I pour it into 2-1 quart canning jars, adding water just to shoulders of jars, place the lids on tightly and then upside down for 4-5 hours as the ingredients separate and crystals form. After the 4-5 hours I put all ingredients into a blender and whip them together adding more water if needed. Comes out looking like whipped frosting, I place back in jars and seal. Use 1 tablespoon per load. We've had no problems with dingy clothes or clothes fading. I use it with clorox fabric care bleach(the thicker kind) for whites and a liquid fabric softener. Hope this helps.