Homemade Laundry Detergent

The best homemade laundry detergent recipe with Borax, Washing Soda and Ivory Soap.

How much money do you spend on laundry detergent at the grocery store?

Where I live, it’s anywhere from 5-15 dollars per jug.  Tide and Sunlight and other well known name brands are quite pricey, but even the less expensive brands really add up when you’re buying a jug or two every month.  Factor in your fabric softener, and you’re probably paying anywhere from a hundred to several hundred dollars per year in laundry products.

What if I said you could reduce your laundry costs to less than 10.00 per year?

Would you even believe it?

Well, my Lovelies…

Believe it!

I’ve been using this recipe for homemade laundry soap  for over 4 years now, and I truly love it.

It’s a liquid laundry detergent, and it’s fantastic for he washers AND regular washing machines!

It’s super-easy to make, and it can literally save you hundreds of dollars per year!

Homemade Laundry Detergent with Borax, Washing Soda and Ivory Soap

You may have seen this recipe on my site before.  This post is an update to make the directions more clear and concise. Same recipe, just more to-the-point.  I’ll also address some frequently asked questions at the bottom of this post.

homemade laundry detergent in a 5 gallon bucket

This laundry soap gets our clothes clean, it’s free of the toxic chemicals that your commercial detergents are full of, and it’s super-easy to make.  Best of all, I get over a year’s worth of detergent (and that’s for a family of 4 and a busy home daycare), for somewhere between 10 and 15 bucks.

Homemade laundry detergent recipe:


borax, washing soda and ivory soap to make homemade laundry detergent

For your convenience, I’ve added affiliate links to this post.  When you shop through these links, I receive a small commission from any purchases you make.  Thank you, I appreciate your support!

Prepare your bucket:

5 gallon bucket for homemade laundry detergent

If your bucket isn’t marked, use a permanent marker to make a line at the 5-gallon point.  If you think you’ll make your detergent a half-batch at a time, mark the 2.5 gallon point.  Use a large measuring cup and water to do this. You may need google’s help converting cups to gallons.

How to make your laundry detergent:

Homemade Laundry Detergent ingredients

This recipe makes 5 gallons of concentrated soap, but yields 10 gallons of detergent.

  1. Grate soap, and add to pot with 4 cups hot water.  Stir over med heat until dissolved.
  2. Pour into bucket and add Borax and Washing Soda.
  3. Stir well until powders have completely dissolved.
  4. Fill bucket to the 5 gallon mark with with warm water.  **see tip below
  5. Stir, cover, and let it “set” for 24 hours.
  6. Whisk or stir well to break up any lumps
  7. Half-fill an empty laundry container or juice jug with your detergent and fill the rest of the way with water.

**BUCKET-FILLING TIP:  If you have a retractable hose/nozzle at your kitchen sink, simply place your bucket on the floor in front of the sink, and stretch the hose over and fill.

Homemade Laundry Detergent in a juice jug

Using your detergent:

SHAKE WELL  before each use as detergent ingredients can settle and separate.

For front-loading/HE machines: 1/4 cup detergent per load.

For top-loading, regular machines: 1/2 cup detergent per load.

Consider switching to vinegar as a fabric softener:

To cut laundry costs even more, try white vinegar as a fabric softener and rinse agent.  I’ve been using it for 3 years due to allergies in our home.  It’s a fraction of the cost of commercial softeners, it’s chemical free, and it cleans my machine as it softens my clothes. And no, our clothes do not smell like vinegar. :)

ingredients for homemade laundry detergent: borax, washing soda, grated ivory soap

FAQS – Answer to questions commonly asked about my homemade laundry detergent:

  • Yes, this homemade detergent cleans as well as commercial laundry detergents.
  • Yes, it is ideal for HE machines, but it works well in regular machines too.
  • No, you do not use the entire contents of the box to make the detergent.  1 CUP of each powder plus a bar of soap makes one 5 gallon bucket-full. Those boxes will make many, many 5 gallon pails of detergent in the year to come.
  • Yes, your detergent may look different every time you use it.  Sometimes mine is watery and pulpy looking.  Sometimes it’s thicker with blobs of gel throughout.  Other times, it sets up with a thick layer of gel on top.  Don’t worry about what it looks like.  The key ingredients are in there.  It will work.
  • Yes, the detergent and ingredients will keep indefinitely.
  • Yes, you can make homemade powdered detergent as well but this version is more economical.
  • Yes, you may miss the smell of your old detergent.  That smell wasn’t really “mountain fresh” anyway.  It was chemicals pretending to be “mountain fresh”.
  • You can add essential oils to scent your detergent if you like.  I haven’t tried it, so I can’t recommend how much you would actually add.
  • No, you will not see sudsing. This is very low sudsing detergent.  “Suds” don’t actually clean your clothes.  They’re just a nice touch added by the industry to make you feel good about the product.
  • Yes, a bar of Fels Naptha can be substituted for the Ivory.  As far as any other brands, I’ve heard you can use any mild bar soap, but I’ve not tried any brand but Ivory.
  • I’m sorry, but I don’t know where to get these ingredients if you are in the UK, you can use a product called Borax Substitute.  In Australia, Borax and washing soda are available, they are known by different brand names though.  Google can probably help you with that.
  • You can also read this tutorial for turning baking soda into washing soda.
  • Borax and Washing Soda are powerful cleaners and deodorizers.  If you have a particularly grimy load, throw a half cup of each into your washer as a laundry booster.
  • Yes this is a great detergent for those with allergies and sensitivities.

Re: using vinegar as a fabric softener.  When I did some reading about fabric softeners, I was shocked to learn that they are the most toxic product designed for household use.  It horrifies me to think that our babies and children are breathing in these chemicals day and night.  Please do some reading.  Google “fabric softeners toxic”, or read a couple of articles like this one from Thank your Body or this one from Healthy Living How To.  If you’d rather not use vinegar as a rinse agent, try skipping the softener altogether or using one of these natural alternatives.

If you truly miss the scent of commercial detergents and softeners, there are many natural essential oils on the market today.  These can be added to your homemade detergent.

I hope you love this laundry detergent alternative as much as I do!  It makes me actually LIKE doing laundry!

Now, I’m going to make some of these awesome storage containers for my laundry room, and I may just LOVE laundry day!

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy:

How to Wash Hockey Equipment in the Washing Machine

Homemade Giant Bubble Mix

Repurposed Denim Aprons (repurposing a denim pant leg)

Repurposed Denim Bibs (repurposing a denim pant leg and old tee-shirt)

Giant, Reversible Flannel Receiving Blankets – the Ultimate Baby Gift


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  1. says

    Thanks for sharing Jackie, I’ll have to pin & give this version a try. I use a similar break down of ingredients but don’t cook & dilute them, it only lasts 2-3 weeks with one scoop per wash. For me this is because of my own skin allergies and possibly the diluted version will be even better for that. FYI you can buy borax and washing soda in the laundry detergent aisle at most Australian supermarkets (but the packaging and brand names are different). Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Linda. White vinegar – the same as you’d use for cooking or cleaning, and I just fill my rinse compartment to the “fill” line. It’s probably about 1/4 cup.

  2. Shirin says

    Thanks, Jackie. I like when natural living ideas are discussed widely by different blogs. And thanks for this post, I meant to switch from our natural options to a homemade one for a while. Maybe it is a sign I finally should. :)

  3. Wendy says

    Just wondering whether adding a couple drops of an essential oil would have an adverse effect on the mixture. Thanks

  4. a_kaminska@rogers.com says

    I read somewhere that Borax can cause cancer. Is this true? I used this wonderful recipe in the past and made some detergent but, after I read about the Borax I sadly stopped making it.

    • happyhooligans says

      You’d want to do some digging and researching. Here’s an article from Crunchy Betty to get you started. http://www.crunchybetty.com/getting-to-the-bottom-of-borax-is-it-safe-or-not. I do not believe it to be harmful. Schools are permitted to use it in science experiments, while many are not allowed to use shaving cream for play. One thing I do know for sure, is that I trust Borax (which, on a side note, is not the same as boric acid) a naturally occurring mineral, to be much safer than most of the chemicals found in commercial detergent and softeners. That’s just my personal opinion though.

    • says

      I did also hear it said (read it somewhere on the BrambleBerry – a soapmaking supply store – website) that the studies that supposedly link Borax to cancer are from Borax that was directly applied…not just exposed…to the skin. Because this is laundry soap and is never directly applied I would have to see some concrete proof of the harm of a naturally occuring mineral before I stopped using it. Just my opinion!

      • Cheyenne says

        I have used a similar recipe for awhile and I love it. Though as a geologist I’d like to address something…remember that arsenic is also a naturally occuring substance. Natural does not always mean safe and chemical does not always mean dangerous (even water is a chemical…don’t knock the wonderful science of chemistry! It’s not all doom and gloom!). And now…I’m off to have my morning coffee and make a new batch of laundry detergent! Cheers! :)

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Monica, sorry, are you asking “what” can you add to get the scent natually? You can use essential oils (citrus, herb, fruit etc). They’re available in most health food stores.

    • Kelli says

      If you don’t want to grate the ivory cut it in quarter size pierce and put it in the microwave! It’s expands and turns in to crumbs after you play with it! My kids love it!

      • happyhooligans says

        Yes! I have a post about the expanding Ivory experiment on my blog, Kelli! We LOVE doing that! Isn’t it amazing? It doesn’t matter how time we watch that bar of soap expand – it impresses me every time!

  5. says

    Love this…don’t you just wish everyone knew how simple, inexpensive & fantastic homemade laundry detergent is!? I never had much luck with the liquid/gel version but have been happy with my powdered variety for years. Just started adding citric acid and making my own bar soap scented with essential oils to grate into the mixture.

    Stopping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop! :-)


  6. Sue says

    I’m in Australia and make this so can help with where to get ingredients. I use Sards Wonder Soap from the laundry aisle in the supermarket. I get it at Coles but have seen it at Woolworths as well. Borax and Lectric Soda Crystals (the washing soda) is around the same place. The washing soda is in crystal form so I dissolve it n the saucepan while it is still on the stove, doesn’t take long. I use it as a concentrate so leave it in a bucket with a lid and just scoop out about a third of a cup per full load. Hope that helps :)

      • happyhooligans says

        Nope. Not sure where you saw Woolworth’s mentioned. I haven’t seen one of those stores in several decades. I remember thinking they were pretty cool when I was a kid.

      • Laura says

        Woolworths in Victoria was known as Safeway up until a few years ago. Maybe that is where the confusion lays? Sadly we have a duopoly over here in Australia in relation to supermarkets. Aldi has made some impact, but not as much as we would like. But I digress.
        Thankyou Sue, I was wondering about using the Sard. I will try to get everything for this this week while I am shopping and create some to use when I have finished up my current lot of powder

      • Mel says

        The Australian Woolworths is a separate company to the Woolworths that Americans would be familiar with. It opened in the twenties and is still one of the (two) largest supermarket chains in Australia. I believe that they were originally called Wallworths Bazaar, but deliberately took on the ‘Woolworths’ name to cash in on the existing popularity of the overseas chain. Just in case you were interested… :)

    • happyhooligans says

      No, you cannot, but there’s a link in the post which takes you to a site that shows you how you can turn baking soda into washing soda.

  7. Debbie F says

    This is the second batch I have made. It worked great and we live in a rural area so there is always dirt. It lasted for 10 months for my family of 3 and that is AFTER I gave away a bunch to friends.

    one side note, I did use my immersion blender on the concentrated batch to make it a little more consistent in texture.

  8. says

    Wondering if anyone with very hard water has tried this out? Our water is so tough on our appliances. I have to to vinegar runs in the washing machine (just vinegar, no clothes) a couple times a year and we still get tough build up. Curious to see if people with the hard rural water (and no water softener or UV machines) have tried it!

    • Jorjann says

      I have hard water…well water and I have made my own laundry soap for several years. It works wonderfully!

    • happyhooligans says

      Unless your baby has a sensitivity to any of the three ingredients, yes, it’s much safer as there are no chemicals in this detergent like there are in commercial brands.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’ve heard those that say yes, and those that say now, Sarah. I can’t say one way or the other, as I’ve never used it for diapers.

    • Lynda Holley says

      I use a powdered version of this recipe on my modern cloth nappies with no ill effect. I also don’t have to strip wash as often as friends that use commercially prepared powders.

  9. says

    Do you know if there is an effectiveness difference between Ivory and Fels Naptha? I LOVE this idea and have used your recipe (with Fels) for a few weeks now. I do feel like the clothes don’t quite come as clean, so I upped the detergent-to-water ratio when I mix in my jug to 63%/35% to make it more concentrated, but it still feels like the clothes aren’t coming quite as clean. Any suggestions?

    (Side note, I think the laundry comes out with this really light fresh clean smell, and it is wonderful– I also use vinegar as a softener and not smell additives, so it’s all from this recipe mix. =) )

    • happyhooligans says

      Hmmm, what’s making it “feel” like your clothes aren’t coming clean, Stacy? Do they *look* clean? If you scroll through the comment thread, you’ll see that yours is not a concern I’ve heard before. I’m not really sure what to suggest. If your clothes look clean and smell clean, it’s hard to determine what might be causing you to feel that they’re actually not. I’ve never used Fels Naptha as we can’t get it here, but many people love using that. I’ve also hear that you can use Sunlight bar soap instead of the Ivory.

      • says

        It’s the look. It doesn’t quite get it all the way clean Sometimes we have to run the load twice to get all the dirt out, that kind of thing. They smell great. =) I’ll just keep working with it.

      • happyhooligans says

        Interesting. Like I said – this is a concern that I’ve not heard before. When you say “dirt” do you mean mud and actual dirt? Or are you talking about food stains? Paint and marker stains? How “dirty” are the clothes to begin with. If they’re very soiled, you might add an extra half cup of the washing soda as a laundry booster. I do that from time to time if I have something that’s quite soiled i.e. someone spills spaghetti or coffee on a shirt, but quite honestly, when it comes to regular laundry, I’ve never had a problem getting my clothes clean with this detergent. Hopefully it all works out for you. :)

  10. Nel says

    I will try this. At the moment I use a commercial brand detergent and I add vinegar and soda at the same time. The vinegar is also supposed to help remove any detergent left also it cleans the washing machine every was so no build up.

  11. Barb says

    I have an HE front load machine with soap dispenser on top. Where do you suggest I add the soap w this recipe?

    • happyhooligans says

      It’s a liquid, Barb, so wherever you’d normally add your liquid detergent – likely in the dispenser that you mention.

  12. Anne Eastham says

    @Stacy! I’ve been using this several months, I have a little goalie and dives into mud puddles, This stuff is brilliant for all this mud.
    Could it be your overloading your machine? This is the only thing I can think of that could help x

  13. Lisa Thompson says

    Hi, I’m in Australia and have been making my own laundry soap for years too. The ingredients are readily available in any Coles supermarket. For the soap I was using Lux flakes but have switched to Sunlight soap (grated) for a change. Both work well.
    As for the vinegar, I dilute my white vinegar in water 1:3. Lasts ages and still works as a softener. In Australia 2L of white vinegar cost $1.09. This gives me 8L fabric softener. I will never buy washing soap and softener again!

    • happyhooligans says

      Thanks for the tip about diluting the vinegar, Lisa. I use it full strength. I’ve never thought to dilute it. Tomorrow is laundry day, so I’ll give it a try!

    • happyhooligans says

      You would want to check with your municipality about that, SLB. Sorry I can’t help, but I’m not on a system like that.

  14. Suzanne Manser says

    Hi folks, for UK use, both the borax and soda stuff are available just dif brand names. Soap wise, I’d go with something fairly unperfumed and no moisturisers in so avoid dove types but a standard supermarket bath soap should work. You can do translation of american cups online or more effectively, you can get American cup measure in most supermarkets or online for reuse. It looks fab.

  15. Angie says

    @suzanne manser- do you know the brand names forum? I’d love to try this as my first homemade/Eco venture but am a little nervous.
    As for soaps, could we use a standard baby soap eg johnsons (I love the smell). Tia :)

      • Erin Krumenacker says

        Actually, Fels naptha and soaps that are specifically made to use on clothing are the only bar soaps that should be used when making homemade detergent. Other bar soaps leave a film on clothing. Bath soap won’t work.

      • happyhooligans says

        Interesting, Erin. I’ve been making mine with Ivory, which is a bath bar, for 3 years now, and it’s never left a film on any of our clothing.

  16. Sarah T says

    Check your cloth diaper manufacturers recommendations.
    It may void the warranty if you use something other than what they recommend.
    I’ve used this or similar on my cotton ones and it’s lovely!!
    But I never tried it on key microfiber BC it said not to on their site.
    Best recommendation I saw was to wash covers in with other laundry not the inserts to save washing then so much.
    I can’t wait to make my own. I just bought a big bucket of Claudia’s Choice and it will be a while before I need to but I’m not hugely happy with it and it’s sooo expensive!!!!

  17. Marlena says

    Do you know if Borax Substitute will work this same way?. Cas I think U cannot get Borax in UK.

    • happyhooligans says

      It doesn’t really matter, Chantal because you’re just filling that jug to be a convenient working supply, so whatever container you have on hand is fine. I use an old laundry jug or vinegar jug or juice jug – whatever I have. The main supply of the detergent is kept in a 5 gallon pail, but I just fill the jug 50% of that detergent in the pail and 50% water to have a working supply handy at beside my washing machine.

  18. Tina Moore says

    I have been making the powdered version for some time now. It doesn’t last as long but I also add oxy clean to mix. Works great on kids and electricians dirty clothes.

    • says

      How much oxy clean do you add to your powdered mix? And how much of the powder do you put in each load (I have a front loader). I though I was being space saving by making it powdered then realized I don’t know how to use it that way!

      • happyhooligans says

        I don’t use oxy-clean, Catherine. My recipe is just borax and washing soda along with the Ivory soap and water. I’m only familiar with the liquid recipe. I’ve never used a homemade powder recipe, but I’m sure if you google it, you’ll be able to find powder recipes which tell you how much to use.

      • Cheyanne says

        This is from awhile back so I doubt you need the info anymore, but in case someone is like me and browses the comments and has the same question I will pipe chime in. I don’t -KNOW- exactly as I have not made this as a powder (I dislike powders) but I have seen a TON of other recipes, all pretty much the same, I also use a laundry “sauce” recipe I found online that can be used as a powder. Pretty much everything i have read said that 1 Tablespoon of the powder (or sauce) works. I can personally say that 1 TBSP of the sauce is enough so I would assume the TBSP would at least be close 😀 You can always adjust if need be!

  19. Jessica O. says

    I was wondering for Essential oils, which I use daily for almost everything at this point. What would be your recommendation on how many drops to add? Would you say to add it to the individual jugs each time or add the oils to the 5 gallon bucket?

  20. Leslie says

    Hi there!! Just wondering if it would be ok to half the recipe (yielding 2.5 concentrated gallons) and go ahead and fill with water to the 5 gallon line so I don’t have to add water every time I refill my laundry jug?? Thank you!!

  21. Shazia Amjad says

    Hello there, I couldn’t find borax. I live in Edmonton, Alberta ca. From where I can buy it? Thanks.

    • happyhooligans says

      Usually in grocery stores, in the laundry aisle, Shazia. I just saw some at our Metro store yesterday. I also buy it at No Frills and Independent Grocer (both owned by Lowblaws). Walmart and Canadian Tire, and possibly even Home Hardware may carry it as well.

  22. Jen says

    Help!!! I made this detergent but used fels-naptha instead. My colored ckothes are coming out with blue spots. My whites are good so far. The blue spots happened on 2 different loads.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’ve never heard of this happening, Jen. I’ve never used Fels Naptha, but I’ve heard from dozens of people who love the recipe, and dozens who use feels naphtha instead of the Ivory. I’m sorry that I can’t offer any explanation, but in 3+ years, I’ve honestly never had a single problem with my homemade detergent. Did you try googling your issue to see if it might be related to something else?

      • Jen says

        I have but can’t figure it out. I’d hate to waste it. Mine is lumpy though annd very watery. I gear people say there’s is gel like.

  23. Jen says

    I still want to make myvoen laundry soap because my kids have sensitive skin. I might try a powder recipe. I been reading up and says fels-naptha and borax are not good to use because its unatural and can be harmful to the body.

    • happyhooligans says

      For the record, the tropicana jug was for photo purposes. The state of my old, used laundry detergent container is less than desirable for a blog post. I’m not sure how a detergent bottle would be any safer though. They’re not child-safe. And, as you can see, Alex, your comment was not deleted. It was simply waiting in moderation for me to approve it. I’ve been out to yoga and the soccer field, and have come home to a number of comments to approve and publish. :)

      • Alex Blaine says

        I’m a fan of your blog and expected you to accept my point. But instead you feel like you need to be snarky and justify your decision. Where I live in the UK it’s taught to never decant ANYTHING to a container which a child might confuse for a soft drink etc. As I say, I am a fan and I expected you to be more responsible in your reply.

  24. Cindy Peters says

    At one time, I made my own liquid detergent, loved the cost! However, I started seeing my whites and white washcloths e-specially all turning yellow. Have you heard had this happen or heard of it happening? If so, what rectified the situation? I would love to make my own again. And by the way, I LOVE your ideas and blog, thank you SO much!!!

    • happyhooligans says

      The clothes dryer is often the culprit when it comes to yellowing, Cindy. It’s the high heat. Chlorine bleach will also yellow your whites over time. I suppose there might be something in a commercial detergent that offsets this? Probably a blueing agent. Blueing agents add a tinge of blue to your whites, which offsets yellowing. And when you think about it, laundry detergent that you get in the store is almost always blue, so that’s my guess. Because I line-dry 3 seasons of the year, it hasn’t been an issue here. Sunlight bleaches them bright white, but if you could always use a non-chlorine bleach, don’t use the hottest setting of your dryer (heat=yellowing), and if need be, you could toss in an extra 1/2 cup of the washing soda from time to time, Cindy. It’s a whitener. If you can line-dry outdoors that’s the best for getting your whites the whitest, but that may not be an option for you. Glad you’re loving my blog! x

  25. Cindy Peters says

    Thanks for your comment above Jackie. It totally makes sense to me, so this time around I will be sure not to use chlorine bleach and I will throw in a 1/2 cup of washing soda from time to time. I’ll also watch the heat on my dryer. I’ll let you know how it goes. I am excited to try it. Thank you!!

  26. Alfonso says

    Bello. Thanks forma sharing. Do you know, if using liquid ivory, how muchos should one use forma this receipe?

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m not sure that it would work with Ivory liquid, Alfonso. I think that would cause much more sudsing than the bar soap. I personally would only recommend using the bar soap.

  27. Alfonso says

    Another question: I did, today, half of the recipe, meaning, half of every ingredient: correct? 2.5 gallons. How should the consistency be? Shouldn’t be thick?

    • happyhooligans says

      Not necessarily, Alfonso. I mention in the post that the consistency is different for me every time I make it. Sometimes it’s thick, sometimes it’s watery. As long as all the ingredients are in there, it will work just the same.

      • Alfonso says

        Thanks for your kind response. Will wait till tomorrow to try my first homemade laundry detergent, I’ll let you know how it went. Thanks.

      • Alfonso says

        Well, I did it and it really worked well. Thanks for sharing these things. Still missing the bubbles from the old detergent but certainly is a ‘mental’ thing, this home madre detergentes really works. Thanks a lot.

  28. Kathryn says

    Found the UK equivalent ingredients, but don’t know what your cup measurement equals? 5 gallon bucket is 20L, all ingredients are sold in grammes so any rough guide would be helpful. Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      There are lots of online conversion sites, Kathryn. You’ll find them if you do some googling. Then you can enter exactly he amount and type of measurement you’re looking to convert.

  29. Crystal says

    I got this recipe somewhere else, and I have been using it for about a year now. I love it. I love not having to buy laundry soap at the store. Its so easy to make. I make a half batch and still have enough to share with other family members. The only thing I have found is it takes a lot less per load in my washer than was it says to use. If I use a much as it says, it leaves a residue on my clothes.

  30. Fay says

    I am needing to try something like this for serious health reasons for myself, and also for my Navy son. My problem is we live in an apt building and share laundry facilities (he front loaders) with everyone else in a communal area. Would I be cleaning the machine and putting everyone else’s laundry scum on our clothes if I use this laundry detergent and the vinegar softener?
    Thank you so much for this posting. I am hoping so much to be able to go completely organic and safe in every area of my/our lives.

    • happyhooligans says

      Good question, Fay. I think the build up occurs more in the tubing that leads away from the machine – the drum of the machine is probably quite clean. Think about your kitchen or bathroom sink. The sink itself stays clean because of all the action it gets – friction, agitation, cloths wiping it etc. But the pipes leading away from the sink develop that gunky build up because there’s no friction or agitation in there – just the water running through. That’s my thought anyway – not sure if I’m right or wrong. lol

  31. Barbara Jones says

    Hi, from Australia I think we would use Sunlight bar soap if still available. Have borax & washing soda, different brands but should do the same. Any help would be appreciated.

    • happyhooligans says

      Sunlight would likely be a great bar soap to try, Barbara. And as long as you have the Borax and Washing Soda, even if they’re different brands, it sounds like you’re good to go.

  32. Amanda says

    Easier and faster than grating, you can microwave the ivory soap for a minute or so. It expands and gets fluffy. After it cools you can squish it and it will be nice and powdery. So much easier and less effort than grating. As for microwave time, I don’t remember exactly how long. Just keep going until it stops expanding. Maybe a minute and a half?

    • happyhooligans says

      Yep! It’s a minute and a half. We often do that experiment here, Amanda. I’ve used the results to make my detergent that way too!

    • Barbara Jones says

      Thanks for details but have not had a chance to make it yet, sick husband pensioners in older age bracket.

  33. Kristy says

    I am going to try this recipe…thanks for posting. Do you have a recipe for homemade powder laundry detergent? Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      Hi Kristy, I’m sorry, but the liquid detergent is the only recipe that I have. I know there are powder recipes out there though if you do some googling.

    • happyhooligans says

      The detergent alone won’t brighten your whites, but Arm and Hammer washing soda is known to brighten and whiten, so you can add an extra half cup to your white load to help. If I find my whites are looking less white than usual, I add an extra 1/2 cup of the washing soda and an extra 1/2 of borax to my white load, a little eco-friendly bleach, and I line-dry the load on a sunny day. There’s nothing like the power of the sun to bleach out your whites. I generally do this once or twice a year to give my whites a boost.

      • happyhooligans says

        I should add, that the biggest culprits when it comes to dingey whites are chlorine bleach in your wash and using an electric dryer. Both will quickly affect the whiteness of your clothing.

  34. Mel Bruzzano says

    Thanks for the recipe.. I made the full recipe (5 gallons) but put it in a half sized bucket (2.5gallon) What would be the correct amount to put into the wash please?
    Or would I benefit from putting the liquid in a 5 gallon bucket and add the extra water?
    I hope this question makes sense
    Thanks Mel.

    • happyhooligans says

      I think it would be easiest to transfer it into a 5 gallon pail, and top up to the 5 gallon mark with water. Then you’d fill a laundry jug with half of that detergent and half water.

  35. Kerry says

    Hi there, great recipe, I made my 1st batch yesterday and tried it out today, my batch did not turn into a gel like some, but has a watery white blob consistency, i’m not fussed as you have said it does not matter, i made 6 pints instead of 5 gallons due to lack of space, it works a treat, i also added essential oils of Lavender and Bergamot and use the white vinegar rinse, my washing came out clean and smells clean and not chemically fragranced as before.

    For those in the UK as i am, you can buy Dri-Pak Soda Crystals for around 75p – £1, Tesco’s sell them, Borax is no longer available in the UK but Dri-Pak Borax Substitute is available from most hardware stores for around £1.75 and so far i have used Doctor Bronner’s soap bar available from most health shops, i also used the Dri-Pak Laundry Boost 1/2 scoop with my whites which is around £1.75.

    Thanks again for the great recipe, next is to have a go at making some make-up :D!

  36. chris says

    Thanks for sharing and I’m going to use it but I really think you should be putting a health warning up re: Borax usage. It’s not readily absorbed through the skin but it IS readily absorbed over a mucous membrane eg nasal passageways and lungs. Borax is a known teratogenic ie: causes birth defects. Know8ng this I would be taking precautions when pouring it out, especially if pregnant.

  37. Phaedra Pippin says

    How much essential oils would you add to the recipe? Or would it be better to add to the “jug” amount? Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      I’ve never added any myself, Phaedra, so I’m not really sure. I think I’d be more likely to add a few drops to the jug though, rather than the big bucket.

  38. Karin Abernathy says

    Hi! First of all, thanks for all of your hooligan happiness!

    I found this thread through your article about microwaving Ivory soap for kids. Can I microwave my Ivory soap and crumble it instead of grating a solid bar? Will it grate more easily after it’s microwaved? Will its cleaning properties be retained after microwaving?

    • happyhooligans says

      Yes, I’ve done that before, Karin. The cleaning properties didn’t appear to be affected in any way. After microwaving, it will crumble easily – no need to grate it at all. :)

  39. lynne cenerizio says

    I am an old Grandmother!!! Back when there were no disposable diapers and everyone used cloth diapers, we kept a bucket of Borax water to pre soak the diapers in before washing them!!! So to answer the question if Borax is safe for cloth diapers…Yes it is and works great!!!

  40. Sharon says

    I’ve been using this recipe basicallly for over 2 years, except in a smaller batch – 1 gallon at a time….looking forward to making this…just need to find a 5 gallon pail. My smaller batch recipe is 3 tablespoons each of Borax, Washing Soda and Dawn dish detergent. Mix together and add water. I use a milk jug. Easy to store and use. The yearly savings are comparable to yours. My only question is, since it’s a gel, how do you get it into a jug with a small opening?

    • happyhooligans says

      It’s actually a liquid, Sharon. Sometimes it’s a thick liquid, and sometimes it’s very liquid with gel-like blobs in it. I just give it a stir (with a whisk if it’s a thick batch), and pour it through a funnel into the jug.

  41. lyannp says

    Came across this post in the wee hours of the night feeding my 2-month-old and am excited to give this detergent a go since we’ve started looking for safer products and ways to stretch the budget. Thank you for sharing this recipe! Curious if it’s rough on colors from a fading perspective or if it’s gentler on them and preserves them longer? Or does the vinegar help with that, as I believe I’ve read somewhere that it does?

    • happyhooligans says

      Our colours are as bright as they always were, Lyann. None of the ingredients contain any bleach, and I’ve never heard anyone suggest that their clothes fade with the detergent.

  42. 张娜 anna says

    I love it but the one I made come out more like clear water, I m just wondering is it right? Or I did something wrong. What color it should be?

    • happyhooligans says

      As long as you used all the ingredients listed, it will be fine, Anna. Mine turns out different every time. Sometimes, it’s quite clear and pulpy, other times it’s thick and white. I think it depends on how long you cook the soap for and how long it takes to cool. No matter how it turns out, if all the ingredients are in there, it will work the same.

  43. Cheryl says

    Hello, Iv’e been making my own laundry detergent for almost 40 yrs. an what a savings it is ..It works well, my hubbie used to be a cable splicer an his clothes get dirty with cresote an it always came out…Something iv’e done when I didn’t have the bar soap your using is iv’e used all those hotel bar soaps that seem to pile up everywhere..Even better they don’t cost a thing !! Just thought i’d share that….

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m not sure, Shazia, as I’m unfamiliar with what warming oil is. I actually have never used essential oils with my detergent, although I know others have commented saying they like to add some for the scent. Hopefully someone will pop in and let you know how much they’d recommend.

    • Sharon says

      Warming oils should work as well as essential oils, as that appears to be their base as well. Remember the purpose of essential oils in the laundry is the great smell, so any good smelling oils should work. Only a few drops would be required though. Sounds like it might be time to experiment! :)

  44. says

    I love following your blog!!! I also started using home made laundry detergent. We cloth diaper and it really does an amazing job. My version is powder (4c borax, 4c washing soda, 1 grated fals naphtha bar and 1 bar mild soap I used toms lavender) I love that you have exact measurements (we use 2T/load). There’s no waste or guessing. And the best part no clumping or residue!!!

  45. Julie says

    Easier than grating the Ivory: slice bar in half; place on papertowel in microwave & cook for 20-30 seconds until it expands. Carefully remove from microwave & allow to cool; once cool, hold over bowl or bucket or whatever you are using & carefully crumble into it…much easier & quicker than grating.

  46. buddwena bean says

    I have been doing this since Christmas and I have had to make 2 batches so far but was putting them in mason jars your way sounds more easier.

  47. Juicy Lucy says

    I may be shunned for asking, hey I’m blonde (ok,ok so some greys are visible)
    But can you still use laundry bleach w/ your detergent recipe?
    ★Please know that I do know NOT to mix bleach & vinegar though★ lol

  48. Tracy says

    Thank you for posting this! I made the concentrate the other night and have one question. Was it supposed to thicken up at all or is this just a liquid consistency? Thanks.

    • happyhooligans says

      It’s different every time, Tracy. As I mention in the post, sometimes it’s very liquid-y for me, and other times, it’s quite thick.

  49. Shelley says

    Just a question…if using the homemade vinegar fabric softener in the washing machine…are the clothes full of static when removed from the dryer? Static is why I have always used the dryer sheets. I love this detergent recipe. Can’t wait to make it this weekend. My husband has lost his job after 26 years and with 3 kids at home and 1 in college we are trying to save everywhere possible. Thank you!!!

    • happyhooligans says

      Not at all. The only time I get any static is when I throw something acrylic in the dryer, which doesn’t happen often.

    • happyhooligans says

      You can probably find recipes on the net for homemade detergents without Borax, Sonija. I’m not in the loop about those though. A google search should turn something up.

  50. says

    I used 2 cups each of Borax and washing soda and 1 bar of Fels ( finely grated) and use it as a powdered soap. use 2 tablespoons only per load, but we have soft water system. I walk around the house in my white soxes and they come clean and white. I have a small apt and no room for 5 gallon bucket.. Gallon jar works great. might have to use more for hard water. love this soap. I don’t have to use any vinegar or anything. I add the soap first and then add some hot water to dissolve water in wash machine. just a little bit. then switch to cold water. I have used this soap for 2 years and love it.

  51. andrea luna says

    Been using this ingredients for a while now I absolutely love it only substitution is I use the fels neptha only cause my skin is sensitive to the ivory soap otherwise 99 cents every so often for the bar soap to refill my detergent is amazing my clothes come out clean and fresh never tried powder form but im gonna try some tonight saves me money

  52. Dawnelle says

    I’ve been filling my downy ball with distilled white vinegar for over a year and my clothes always smell like vinegar, which I don’t really mind but i only do my whites for that reason. It would be nice to do all my clothes and not smell do strong. Suggestions?

    • happyhooligans says

      I would definitely mind if my clothes smelled like vinegar. There should not be any trace of vinegar odour when you take them out of the washing machine, Dawnelle. Is your machine old? I’m wondering if it’s not rinsing your clothes thoroughly. Regardless, vinegar doesn’t smell once it’s evaporated, so when your clothes are dry, there shouldn’t be any noticeable smell.

      • Dawnelle says

        Ok I’m definitely doing something wrong then. My whites smell like vinegar for almost a week after they are washed and dried in an electric dryer. I’ll try an extra rinse cycle

      • happyhooligans says

        That is so bizarre. I’ve heard from a lot of people who use vinegar as their rinse agent, but never from anyone who’s clothes smell of vinegar afterwards. Try the extra rinse for sure. And how much are you using? I probably use about a 1/4 cup or less.

      • Dawnelle says

        That did it! I was probably using about a cup before so i cut that way back. and instead of using an extra rinse i just didn’t seal the downy ball completely so it opened sooner in the cycle. Thanks for trouble shooting with me! Love your blog btw!

  53. Lindsay says

    im curious about tryin this…but i think when ive tried ivory soap it made me break out…is irish spring to strong of a soap to use? tyvm… oh and i use vinegar to clean my washer works great :)

  54. annejacq says

    I used Borax (about a cup) with a few drops of Dawn dish soap to wash my car. No-didn’t use gloves. My car looked great but my hands swelled, broke out in a rash and really ached. DON’T DO IT! DO NOT use straight Borax on skin! It was a stupid thing to do. I believe this recipe would work great on my laundry, however, after witmessing what it did to my hands!

  55. Patricia says

    Hi there. I tried the recipe but my soap is too liquid, it does not look concentrared at all. I used a bar of 580 gr of soap. Can you please tell me the size of the soap bar you used in the recipe? I see the Amazon link points to packs of 4 oz bars, which are way smaller than the one i used… Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      I mention in the article that the consistency of my detergent is different every time I make it, Patricia. Sometimes, it’s really watery. As long as you have all of the essential ingredients in there, the actual mixture is the same regardless of the consistency. It will be fine. :)

  56. Gina says

    I always add a few drops to tea tree oil because of the antifungal and antibacterial properties and i add some sweet orange oil too!

  57. Patricia says

    Thanks, Jackie:) So just one more question: even when you get watery soap you still dilute it in the jug or you use it just like that? Thanks!

  58. DeeAnna says

    Thank you for this recipe! Do you use the same pot for cooking and melting the bar soap? Just wondering if the soap renders the pot unusable for anything else. 😀

    • happyhooligans says

      I wouldn’t recommend putting any other brand of soap into the microwave. You can do it with Ivory because of the high air content, but other brands could burn and potentially ruin your microwave, or worse yet, catch on fire.

  59. Toni Atchison says

    I’ve used the same basic recipe quite often. However, I’ve made it with scented soaps (my mom saves bars of Zest for me), and been pleased with the results. Seems to last. But I never diluted mine, just used the jelled detergent straight from the bucket at a quarter cup per load. I like using Zest for the scent, but have also used Yardley’s lavender too.

  60. Diane Lowe says

    I have done the recipe with Zest soap, and it works great. Zest is one of those soaps that rinse clean, so no residue. I grate mine up as a powder. I don’t use water until it’s time to use it, though, because I am worried that the water that is being stored in the jub might turn mildewy with time. I just put some of the powder in a small container, add boiling water, and shake it up before putting it in the machine. The clothes smell wonderful when they’re done.

    • happyhooligans says

      You may be thinking of boric acid, Kris, which is indeed toxic. Borax is a mild irritant, so keep out of eyes and airways, but some people actually ingest a small amount daily as a dietary supplement.

    • happyhooligans says

      I’m not sure how large a 90 gram bar would be compared to mine, Rachelle. Is it not the size of a regular bar of soap?

      • Rachelle says

        The 90 gram is smaller than the usual bath soaps. I found another size (113 grams) online. I guess I’ll just have to grate more than 1 bar until my weighing scale says 113g :)

  61. Nancy says

    Thanks to everyone’s comments! This really helped answer some questions! I’m going to give it a try, as I do laundry everyday !:))

  62. says

    I’m making my 3rd big bucketful right now. I LOVE using this detergent! I give bottles to my mom and she is always so grateful. I get giddy doing my laundry knowing how much I am saving. I pass by the big bottles of detergent in the grocery store and think “Ha ha!” Thanks so much for sharing.

  63. Mary Anne says

    Thank you so much for the recipe. I’m on my second bucket because I keep giving it away to convince others to use it. I’m using a cat litter bucket which is almost exactly 5 gallons and the lid seals nicely. I got a paint stirrer attachment for my drill and it worked great to mix the gel blobs.
    Can’t help but think it is much better for my septic tank too without all the suds and chemicals.

    Thanks again!

  64. Heather says

    I make mine dry. I use 1 bar of fels naptha, finely grated, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup washing soda. Mix it all together and you’re done. 1 tbsp for regular loads and 2 tbsp for larger or dirtier loads. Takes about 10 minutes to make. The longest part is grating the soap.

  65. Sheila says

    Hi, we don’t use a washing machine but hand wash our clothes. Can I still use this? I mean, would it be safe for my hands? Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      I think so. The soda and soap would be fine. Borax is a mild irritant, but it’s diluted in a lot of water with this recipe.

  66. Celeste says

    I was going to try your recipe as soon as I found a pail with a lid, but then I had a couple friends tell me they’ve had problems in the past with homemade liquid detergent clogging their pipes and gumming up their machines. We all have hard water. Has anyone else had problems like this? Is using vinegar as a rinsing agent enough to keep things from clogging up?

    • happyhooligans says

      I’ve never had any problems in all the years I’ve been using it, Celeste, and I’ve heard from 100’s of followers, both here on my blog, and on my fb page who have used it for years, and love it as well.

  67. Heather says

    I’ve used these items individually, I am definitely going to try this out. My little ones have sensitive skin, if this works it is going to save me a lot of money and time. Thanks for sharing.

  68. Kune says

    Hi Jillee,first of all thanks u so much for sharing ur landry detergent recipe!My question is why used particularly Ivory soap Brand?If I cld nt get Ivory soap since I live in Asia,what is the best u cld recommend or what is d criteria that I need to look for a bar of soap?Ur reply wld much appreciated,Thanks!

    • happyhooligans says

      I use Ivory because it’s mild and “pure” (as far as soaps go), and I like the scent. In the US, they often use Fels Naphtha. Any laundry bar soap (do you have SUNLIGHT brand?) should work. I’ve also heard people say they use Castile’s brand. You want a mild, pure soap, or one designed for laundry purposes so there’s no residue. Also, you wouldn’t want to use one with aloe or lotion in it, as that maybe oily.

      • Tanya says

        We have no ivory brand here, but we do have the sunlight laundry soap, the yellow one, will that work also?

    • happyhooligans says

      Many have said that they do, but some have said that you can’t. I personally can’t say one way or the other, as I’ve never tried, Chelsie. Sorry!

  69. says

    Great article! Homemade detergent cleans as well as commercial laundry detergents. My husband insists to use only homemade things. I am so proud that I have found your post. I am going to show it to him. Best regards!

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