How to make homemade laundry detergent with Borax, Washing Soda and Ivory Soap. This homemade liquid detergent makes about 10 gallons and a year’s supply of laundry soap. It’s a gentle detergent that’s great for those with sensitive skin or allergies or allergies. Our easy, 3-ingredient recipe will get your clothes clean and fragrance-free for a fraction of the cost of store-bought detergents.
Making homemade laundry detergent is easy and quick to do. This 3-ingredient laundry detergent recipe makes the best homemade laundry soap and will get you through an entire year of laundry for 10 dollars.
Yep, you heard me correctly. TEN dollars. I know it’s crazy to think you could save that much money on your laundry in a year, right? Think about it though…
How much do you spend on your brand laundry detergent right now? Probably at least 10 dollars a month, right? And if you have a large family, you’re probably spending more. Add in the cost of dryer sheets or fabric softener, and you’re likely spending hundreds of dollars every year on your laundry products.
Note: I have an inexpensive, natural alternative for fabric softener further down in this post too.
Slash your laundry costs to $10 per year.
Now, some people insist that this laundry detergent is not actually detergent but laundry soap.
If you want to know what the technical difference is between detergent and soap, you can read about it here.
Honestly, you can call it whatever you like. I won’t be offended. And neither will your laundry. But you know what your laundry will be?
Clean and fresh and free of the synthetic toxins that can negatively impact our health, our environment, and our pocketbooks.
Will it get your clothes clean?
This is the most common question I get (more FAQs below) and the answer is: You bet it does. I’ve been using this recipe for more than 5 years, and I absolutely love it. I also supply several daycare families with the stuff, and they’ve been using it for years as well.
Clothes washed in this homemade detergent come out just as clean as when they’re washed with brand name detergent. They’re actually softer! And they smell fresh too.
So fresh, in fact, that I actually use this detergent to wash my sons’ hockey equipment, and it takes the stink right out of it.
When I say our clothes smell “fresh”, I mean they smell clean and fragrance-free. They’re not coated in chemicals designed to make our laundry smell like a “mountain spring” or a “summer breeze”.
The factory-made scents that brand detergents contain have nothing to do with the cleaning power of the detergent. Those scents are made from a concoction of chemicals, and they are used to mask the powerful odour of the toxic chemicals in the detergent.
Why on earth would would we expose ourselves and our children to those chemicals 24 hours a day?
As parents, we are so careful to avoid substances and materials that can potentially harm our children, and yet:
Consider the the fact that you and your children are clothed almost every minute of the day.
All night long, your babies (and you) inhale the scent of your sheets and pillow cases.
If you use brand detergents and softeners, this means that you and your family inhale their residual toxins and chemicals 24 hours a day. In addition, your skin is constantly in contact with and absorbing them.
It’s alarming considering many of these toxins have been linked to cancer, nerve damage and organ damage. The damage that they cause is devastating as well.
You can learn more about the harmful toxins in your laundry products here.
How to make Homemade Laundry Detergent:
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
- 1 bar of Ivory Soap (original)
- 5-gallon bucket with lid
- medium pot & long handled spoon
- empty, pre-used jug (a laundry detergent or juice jug works well)
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Prepare your bucket:
Because this recipe makes a LOT of liquid laundry detergent, youll need a 5-gallon bucket to store it in. You can these buckets at most bulk food stores or hardware stores.
If the capacity isn’t marked on your bucket, use a permanent marker to make a line at the 5-gallon point.
If you ‘re making a half batch at a time, mark the 2.5 gallon point.
To find these points on the bucket, use a large measuring cup to transfer water into the bucket, taking note how many cups of water it takes to reach the desired point on the bucket.
3-Ingredient Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe:
One batch = 5 gallons of concentrated laundry detergent which you’ll convert to 10 gallons of full strength detergent.
For one batch of detergent:
- Grate soap, and add to a large pot with 4 cups hot water. Stir over med heat until dissolved.
- Transfer melted soap and water to bucket and add Borax and Washing Soda.
- Stir well until powders have completely dissolved.
- Fill bucket to the 5 gallon mark with with warm water. **see tip below
- Stir, cover, and let it “set” for 24 hours.
- Whisk or stir well to break up any lumps
- 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 out to fill the bucket.
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.
Vinegar: a safe, inexpensive and effective alternative to fabric softener:
To cut laundry costs even more, try white vinegar as a fabric softener and rinse agent.
Fabric softeners are one of the most toxic household products in your home.
I’ve been using vinegar to soften my clothes for 3 years. I switched from liquid softeners and dryer sheets vinegar because the heavily scented store-bought products were causing some major allergy problems for me (headaches, throat irritation etc.) No real surprise when you do a little reading about the toxicity of fabric softeners.
An inexpensive, safe, chemical-free alternative to fabric softener:
I LOVE using vinegar as a rinse agent because it softens clothes beautifully, it’s a fraction of the cost of commercial softeners, and it’s chemical free. It also removes/prevents build up of soap or detergent in my washing machine and on our clothing.
Using vinegar as a fabric softener will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar as the odour disappears once dry. Think about when you wash your windows, countertops and floors with vinegar. The smell dissipates once the vinegar evaporates.
FAQ (Frequently asked questions):
- Does homemade laundry soap clean as well as store brands? Yes, this homemade detergent cleans as well as commercial laundry detergents.
- Can I use it in my HE washing machine? Yes, you can use this homemade laundry soap in all washing machines.
- Where do I find Borax and Washing Soda? Both can be found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store. You can make your washing soda with this easy tutorial: How to turn baking soda into washing soda.
- I can’t get Borax in the UK. In the UK, you can buy Borax online here. In Australia, Borax and washing soda are known by different brand names. I believe they are available at Cole’s.
- Isn’t Borax highly toxic? No, you are likely confusing it with Boric Acid. Learn more about Borax here.
- Do I use an entire box of Borax and Washing Soda to make the detergent? No, you use 1 CUP of each powder plus a bar of soap to make one 5-gallon batch of concentrated detergent. Those boxes will make many 5 gallon batches of detergent in the year to come.
- My detergent looks too lumpy/solid/watery. That’s ok. Your detergent may look different every time make 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.
- Does this detergent keep well/go bad? The detergent and ingredients will keep indefinitely.
- Can I make homemade laundry detergent in a powdered form? Yes, you can make homemade powdered laundry detergent, but this version is more economical.
- I like the smell that brand name detergent gives my clothes. You may miss the smell of your old detergent but that smell wasn’t exactly “mountain fresh”. It was a toxic, chemical concoction pretending to be “mountain fresh”. *see next question
- Can I add essential oils to scent this detergent? Yes, but I haven’t tried it, so I can’t recommend how much you would add.
- I don’t see sudsing. How can this detergent be cleaning my clothes? This is very low sudsing detergent. “Suds” don’t actually clean your clothes. They’re the result of a bunch of chemicals added to your store-brand detergent to make you feel good about the product.
- What other kind of bar soap works for homemade laundry detergent? A bar of Fels Naptha or Castile bar soap can be substituted. I’ve also heard that you can use any mild bar soap.
- Will this detergent work on a really grimy/dirty load of laundry? Yes, just as you would with a commercial detergent, for a very grimy load of laundry, you can boost the cleaning power of your homemade detergent by adding a half cup of Borax and/or washing soda to the load.
- Will this detergent work if we have allergies and sensitive skin? Yes, unless you are allergic to Ivory soap, this detergent is excellent for those with allergies/sensitivities.
- Will making this ruin or transfer a soapy taste to my cooking pot and utensils? No, it’s soap. You wash and soak your pots and utensils in dish soap all the time, right? 🙂
I hope you love this homemade laundry detergent recipe as much as I do! Making my own laundry soap makes me feel good about what I’m doing for the earth and for my family, and it saves me big bucks too.
Believe it or not, using my own detergent makes doing laundry a little more enjoyable for me.
Now, I need to make some of these awesome storage containers for my laundry room, and I may just LOVE laundry day!
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.