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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
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  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
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  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Check out these recipes for homemade laundry detergent.

We have looked at how to save on store bought laundry detergents and what a good price is. Y’all always surprise me with how resourceful you are and many of you prefer to make your own!

This is pretty new territory for me so I’ve been researching the various options and recipes you guys shared.

Honestly, it only seems like a great deal if you can find these products locally. The Amazon prices seem to be very inflated on these items. I found the washing soda for $3.49 in the Harris Teeter online look up system, but Amazon carries it for around $9. Ouch!

Also, I’m more of a cost-savings kind of girl than an “all natural” products person, but you get the advantage of both with these if you do them right.

You can do either a powdered laundry detergent or a liquid version. There are pros and cons to both:. The powdered detergent takes up less space in your laundry room, but it may not dissolve as easily if you are a cold-water washer. This means you end up using more ingredients to get the same level of clean. Both recipes are fine to use with HE washers although you may be able to reduce the amount needed.

Powdered Laundry Detergent

(Yields 3 cups = 40 loads)

1 Fels-Naptha Soap Bar (you can also use Ivory, Dr. Bronner’s Bars or another soap you like)
1 c. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 c. 20 Mule Team Borax

Grate the bar of soap with a small cheese grater or put it in an old food processor until powdered. Combine the three ingredients into a large container. You can get creative with a pretty glass jar like the one above or just reuse an old plastic container. For a small or un-soiled load, use approximately 1 tablespoon of your soap. For heavy or very dirty laundry, use 2-3 tablespoons.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

(Yields 2 gallons = 64 loads)

1/3 bar Fels-Naptha Soap Bar (you can also use Ivory, Dr. Bronners Bars or another soap you like)
1/2 c. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 c. 20 Mule Team Borax
A bucket or storage container

Grate the bar of soap and place it in a large stockpot with 6 cups of water. Pour in the washing soda and borax and stir until everything is completely dissolved in the water. Remove from heat and stir in an additional 2 c. of hot water.  Pour into the container of choice an add an additional 1.5 gallons of water. Allow the soap to sit and gel for 1 day. Shake well and use 1/2 c. per load of laundry.

Cost of Homemade Laundry Detergent

I headed to my local Publix to get prices for these items and was happy to find them available in the laundry section:

Fels-Naptha Soap Bar, $1.19 (~1 cup)
20 Mule Team Borax, 76 oz, $4.39 (~9.5 cups) = 46¢ per cup
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, 55 oz, $3.19 (~7 cups) = 45¢ per cup

To calculate the per load price, I just added up the cost of the ingredients and divided by the number of loads.

Powdered Detergent: 5.26¢ per load

Liquid Detergent: 1.32¢ per load

Depending what you choose, the cost is between 1 and 5¢ per load! As we have seen, store bought detergent prices ranges from 4¢-20¢ per load with coupons & sales.

Keep in mind that because we all have different preferences, sensitives, water hardnesses and laundry routines there will be some trial and error involved to decide what works for you. If you already make your own detergent or decide to, I’d love for you to share your experience, frustrations and victories with homemade laundry detergent in the comments!

    • The liquid recipe that you have listed above is basically what I use, but I also add white vinegar to mine. I have found that the liquid version removes stains as well as or nearly as well as Tide or other leading detergents. The only stains it seems to have a hard time with are grease stains but a good pre-treater works well. It is great for our whole family as we have sensitive skin and I have never had a problem with a reaction to my home made stuff.

      • Chelle

        How much vinegar do you add to the recipe? I use vinegar in our laundry a lot, so I’d want to add it in to this, too. Thanks!

    • Kathryn

      I make a HUGE batch of liquid detergent (the Duggar family recipe) and LOVE it. I only use a 1/2 cup per load on average and it definitely cleans well. I also added lavender essential oil to mine. Initially I spent some $ to get it going….buying the washing soda, borax, a 5 gallon bucket, and fels-naptha soap. BUT this batch should last for 6-8 months before I need to make more. And to make more, I ONLY need to buy a $1 fels-naptha bar b/c I already have the WS and Borax on hand (only used 1 cup of each to start with). It’s a great cost saving method and you know the ingredients in it, whereas we don’t have a clue with store-bought, conventional brands Go ahead, try it!!

      • Amanda A

        That’s how I do it, too! No worries about buying detergent when it’s on sale. It’s SO cheap, and that huge bucket lasts so long, I almost feel like it might as well be free!

    • I have been using this liquid recipe for a couple years, and I LOVE it! It is super easy and saves $$$

    • I have made both the liquid and the powders! The powders is much easier for me to deal with cause I wash clothes at the laundry mat. I did have to use a little more of the powder than I did the liquid. They both have cleaned our clothes. I also use vinegar instead of fabric softener.

    • Sharon

      Those measurements on the liquid, will not get your clothes clean. You need more of the borax and washing soda to get them clean.

      Through a lengthy experiment, we have found better measurements, but the powdered gets you the same measurements without all the mixing and special steps.

      For best results, start you washer on hot water, then once the detergent is dissolved, switch to cold.

      • april

        Sharon – what measurements do you use?

    • Jenni P.

      Just a quick note that Borax should NOT be used on cloth diapers with a water-proofed fabric in them. It will break down the lining. If not for that, this is probably what we would do! Since we DO cloth diaper, I’ve found Country Save to be among the cheapest that is safe for cloth diapering.

    • miranda

      I used to make my own, but I didn’t feel like it was getting the clothes clean.

    • Amanda A

      I’ve been making my own for a couple of years now. We are a family of 5 and my 3 kids can get DIRTY. This stuff gets the clothes clean. One has sensitive skin and has no issues with it–we use the Fels Naptha. The actual bar of Fels Naptha makes you think the detergent will leave a strong smell on your laundry–but it doesn’t leave a smell at all. I’ve read of people that add essential oils to give it a fragrance. I usually make a liquid batch that make up a 5 gallon bucket that’s concentrated by half, so I use an empty laundry detergent bottle and fill it half with the detergent and half with water and use a cap full of detergent a load. A little more for the really dirty stuff. Works great!

    • gmcouponer

      I have used the Fels Naphta for years as a pre treater on my clothes. motor oil, greased, etc. I get the area of the stain wet and take the bar and rub it in very. Let it stand on the stain over night and wash it with the other items. It has never let me down, works great. I also use a Emerson blender to break down the gelled liquid into a more usable liquid.

    • bhinson

      I have been making my own for over a year and I add an additional bar of soap, like Ivory, and either Oxy Clean or Biz. Works like a charm and its cheap!cheap!cheap!

    • I use the basic powdered recipe, but instead of Fels-Naptha I use Clearly Natural unscented glycerine soap. I also use 1/2 cup white vinegar fabric softener per load. Our clothes come out clean and my son’s eczema has improved greatly!

      • gmcouponer

        I used to make this for a lady who’s son also benefited from this he also had a sever case of eczema. Also a lady who’s son was a paraplegic her sons sheets got washed in it and she loved the way it had no allergic reaction to his skin.

    • julie

      I used the liquid of this recipe and it left my clothes sour smelling. But I recently tried again with a liquid recipe using dawn dish washing detergent from onegoodthingbyjillee. I use the concentrated version which takes up very little space. I am also using the vinegar and baking soda fabric softener from her site. Love it. Nosour smell and no powerful head ache inducing detergent smell. If you are interested in making your own products, Che k out her site.

    • julie

      FYI: if you decide to try the dawn laundry detergent you cannot mix with bleach.

    • Lady K

      1 bar fels naptha soap (grated fine)

      2 cups each borax and washing soda

      and 3 gallons boiling hot water

      mix until soap is melted completely then bottle…for use on extra greasy clothing I add a few drops of dawn dish detergent…

      i can do 160 loads (about 5 bottles of liquid detergent) there is low suds but it removes dirt, odors and grease…

      i buy 3 bars of soap 1 box each of borax and soda at walmart costs me
      about 8.50 can make at least 3 turns so thats 480 loads equals 0.01 cent per load

      and you can use any kind of bar soap I have a friend that uses irish spring cause he gets it at dollar tree for 3 for $1 cuts his price per 3 turns to 6.50

    • Kim

      I assume these recipes are safe to wash baby clothes in? that has been my only concern with making my own detergent, I have an infant and currently use the ALL Free and Clear and get it for $2-3 a bottle on sale.

      • Stephanie

        Yes, I washed all my daughter’s clothes in homemade detergent from the time she was born. I use the powdered kind.

    • carolyn

      I’ve been using the liquid recipe for about a year, too and I love it. I haven’t been able to get a nice smooth consistency, so my kids think it’s weird, but it cleans great and I feel good about not carting all those plastic jugs to recycling all of the time!

      • gmcouponer

        If you are making the liquid version, before you pour it into the bottles use the immersion blender to mix it well. I do it every time and it keeps the liquid very nicely mixed for a long time. first I take my hands and bread up the gelled mixture first and then break it up well with the blender. It really does the trick!!!

    • Love the liquid homemade stuff! One thing she didn’t mention is once you buy the Borax and Washing Soda, they should last through many many batches, so the 2nd time you make the recipe it should only cost as much as a Fels Naptha bar.
      Also, it is the consistency of snot in water. Don’t be freaked out. Shake the container EVERY time and it will make it a bit better.

    • Lauri

      I absolutely LOVE the homemade laundry detergent! I have used the liquid and the powder form and prefer the liquid. My daughter has skin allergies and never had a reaction. (Our previous soap of choice was the A&H sensitive skin). I now live alone and I can get through a whole year with just one recipe. YAY and thank you for sharing!

    • I use: 2 c borax, 2 c washing soda, 2 c grated fels-naptha or ivory soap into 2 quarts boiling water until fairly smooth and add it to two additional gallons of water (mix in a five gallon bucket). Use 1/4-1/2 cup per load.

      I also add either downy unstoppables or purex crystals to give mine a scent and I usually double the recipe to not have to make it as often. Be prepared that it is not super smooth like Tide, but it works great and saves me a fortune! (Especially cloth diapering) :) We also purchased a paint mixer attachment for our drill for just a few dollars at Lowe’s and use it to stir up the mixture in the five gallon bucket, as it does separate over time. I then just scoop some into a lemonade jug so I can shake it up before each wash. Then use the mixer again and scoop into the jug as it is used up.

    • Leafy

      I made the liquid version about a month ago and I LOVE it. I use it with the vinegar “softner” and it’s the best thing EVER. My clothes have never been softer! I also add a few drops of scented or essential oils to the wash and it’s amazing. I washed my pillows a month ago, and still get a waft of white tea scent every time my head hits them. I spiked my roommate’s laundry with leather scent and he’s never been happier lol

    • stelz1g

      i have been making and using my own detergent for almost 2 years now and have loved the benifits of it. its a plus that it is all natural so it is safe for my babies clothes but i have also shared my recipe with many friends of mine and they have enjoyed the benifits of saving money on something you use 3-4 times a week. my liquid detergent usually lasts 6-7 months and that is with a newborn baby my husband and i and a college student too. love saving money anywhere i can. thanks

    • jennifer

      i work at dollar general, and someone actually came in last night and bought some ingredients. she said she was gunna try it, i guess her friend inspired her. she was telling me her friend said her clothes come out cleaner than ever!. i kinda wanna try it too now. also, if i do try this, i want to be able to use it on my kids clothes. my oldest has exema and not even the free and clear detergents calm it down. i mean im not looking for a cure but i want something that wont make it flare. will this soap be harsh to his skin?

      • Stephanie

        My son had a mild case of eczema and all my family has sensitive skin. I’ve been making the powdered version for several years and won’t go back. I don’t know if it’s something that he’s grown out of, but he doesn’t have issues with it anymore.

    • camerahandi

      I have very sensitive skin and have made and used the liquid version for 2+ years with no problems. I use my food processor to grate the soap. The detergent does gel up some, but one good shake of the bottle before pouring fixes it. I buy all the ingredients at both Kroger and/or Wal-mart. Even emailed the manufacturers and they mailed me some coupons! :-) I usually add some essential oils OR dissolve Downy fragrance beads and mix in with the detergent or my vinegar softener recipe. I have a friend who uses a detergent recipe that calls for liquid Dawn and she loves it. I’m trying it next. Here’s that recipe http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/02/no-grate-homemade-laundry-soap.html

    • BD

      For those who don’t want to make their own, I found a great product called Soap Nuts from a very good company, Green Virgin Products. One bag of soap nuts has lasted me for a year (and with a family of 5, we do a LOT of laundry). It may not be as cheap as making your own, but it’s healthier than commercial detergents and much cheaper. Our clothes are clean and soft.

    • Shandee

      I’ve linked this post to my blog. I can’t wait to try the powdered recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    • Allison

      I would like to say thank you to Stephanie. I have two children with asthma and the other one has very sensitive skin,so they are all sensitive to smell. Someone in Walmart in the pharmacy told me about the recipe, but I didn’t want to ruin a pot for this. Then, I worried that it might not suit my sensitive son. So I’m going to try the dry version. Thanx Jenny. You are in my prayers for this great resource!

    • Allison

      There’s also a *concentrated* liquid version that would take up way less space. I haven’t personally tried it yet (I still have a HUGE box of powder that I got from Sears for pocket change on clearance). Here’s a link to the recipe:

      http://www.budget101.com/myo-household-items/whipped-cream-super-laundry-soap-3993.html

      • Tracy

        I’ve just finished the Mom’s Laundry sauce and now am looking for something else.. I found that mine came out a little grainy (followed instructions very well) and had to “dissolve” it in another canning jar with water before putting in my laundry because I would get that white filmish stuff on my clothes. I figured now that I have to make more, I should either make powdered or just go liquid instead of “dissolving” it into a liquid each load.. I also used a sunlight bar of laundry soap instead of the Fels (couldn’t find it) and I think this time I’m making my soap with Dr. Bronners magic all for one soap. It’s basically a castile based soap with some essential oils.. it’s more natural than the rest of the soaps..

    • kcreviews

      My daughter has sensitive skin. We currently use and are happy with All Free and Sensitive and Arm& Hammer Free liquid detergents. Will both of the recipes above be okay for those with skin allergies or sensitive skin?

      • kcreviews

        Never mind. I’ve read through the posts now and it doesn’t seem like it will be a problem. Still not sure about trying it out though.

        • Cris

          We use Kirk’s Castile soap, because it’s sensitive skin friendly (and vegetarian, too – the other brands mentioned contain lard), My sensitive-skinned partner is fine with the homemade, and does better than she does with fragranced store-bought detergents.

    • Autumn Klepper

      I used the same recipe listed above for about 6-9 mons., and our clothes did *not* hold up well. The whites faded to a greyish color. My husband finally asked me to please go back to buying store-bought detergent. Just be on the look out w/your clothes as you use this….

      • Jenny

        I also used the liquid recipe and my whites were so dingy I went back to store bought.

      • lj

        This is what happened to me with the liquid. I found a powdered recipe that so far I really like. And my whites so far a brighter. I posted my recipe in another comment. Maybe you want to try the powder?…

    • Emily

      Has anyone experienced any fading of their clothes with homemade detergents?

      I’ve always wanted to try homemade detergents and softeners but have often heard about colors fading.
      Thoughts? Experiences?

      • gmcouponer

        I have made it for years and have not experienced any fading. But there is less chemicals in it so I have slacked off on the bleach and fabric softener also. I also noticed right off the bat that there was way less lint in my dryer than before.

    • Momof2wifeof1

      The liquid recipe I use is 1 bar of my favorite soap(grated), 1/2 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda. Bring 4 cups of water to boil and put the grated soap in it. In a 5 gallon bucket put the borax and washing soda with 3 gallons of warm water. Stir well and then add the dissolved soap and stir well. Cover and wait 24 hours.

      • Marcia

        How much do you use per load?

    • Abageal

      I’ve been making my own for about a year and will never go back to store bought. It dosnt fade clothes at all it actually boosts the color. I washed some of my 6 yr olds baby clothes in it to consign it it took out stains that had been set in for over 4+ years. My family clothes have never looked better. I do the powder and zip it through the food processor to make it dissolve better.

    • ShaRee

      Try using Zote Bar instead of the Fels-Naptha Soap Bar. Clothes smell nicer and they seem to come out cleaner. :o)

    • Tara

      I like the idea of making my own, saving money, and using something that’s safer for my family’s laundry. I have always made the liquid, and have been using it for about 2.5 years. However, I’ve noticed that quite often it leaves a white powdery residue on certain items, especially jeans. Any thoughts?

    • lj

      My recipe is 3 bars of Fels Naptha, 1 large box of Washing Soda, 1 large box of Baking Soda, 1 large box of borax, and 2 small containers of Oxi clean. All this can be found in the laundry isle at Walmart. I personally like the powdered better than the liquid and I’ve tried both. For my recipe, it costs a little under 20.00. If you average 8 loads a week, this should last 8-9 months. I’m still on my first batch and I’ve given some away, and I also use this to pre treat stains. I put a tablespoon in a bucket of hot water and add the clothes and let them set a day or two till I do laundry again.

      Side note: I’ve just recently discovered a “green” way to clean those marks on your smooth top range. Just sprinkle with baking soda and scrub a little with your kitchen rag. They rub right off. No more expensive smooth top range cleaner for this girl! I’ll take the .59 box of baking soda :)

      • How much do you put on the clothes?

        • lj

          1 tablespoon. A formula scoop works great.

      • Laurie

        I made the same detergent and I love it! My clothes come out of my HE washer smelling fresh and it get my clothes so clean. It dissolves great in cold water as well. My only suggestion is to mix it outside and wear a mask because it is very dusty at first and mix as you go because it gets very thick. I actually used my hands at one point because it was easier.

    • shesqueeks

      I have never tried your version of recipes for homemade laundry, but I might. Years ago, I made and used another type. We raised hogs and I fried out the fat from fatback, bacon,sausage etc. This you cleaned several times in boiling water. When cool, the fat rises to the top. When I saved enough this was mixed with a can of lye(diluted in water( or water drained thru wood ashes. When mixed up this heats up, and I poured into pans. When cool, it was cut into squares. I usually let it age for 6 months. The longer the better. It gets whiter and better with age. I loved lye soap for laundry. But that was then-Now we don’t eat bacon, sausage, ham and all that good stuff anymore. I have enjoyed reading all your posts and thought maybe you would like to see how us oldtimers used to do it.

    • Bee

      I became sensitive to several liquid laundry detergents after riding bikes too much (so much for working out:). The Fels soap also bothered me but now the dry recipe with Ivory works fine. I’m not a real clean fanatic so don’t know about the quality but I like the cost and “greenness.”

    • hazybuck

      Honestly, I’ve tried the home made (my mom’s recipe similar to one’s shared here), as well as store bought. I stumbled upon Norwex detergent that’s $20.99 per powdered bag. For that bag, I get over 100 loads in my HE front loader. Not only does it clean my clothes really well, it’s natural and filler free.

    • Bangel

      Does any one know if you add the vinegar for softner to the mixture or just add to the each load and how much would you use?

    • sage117

      Can you use the liquid detergent in a he unit without sudding the unit up.

    • Suzanne

      lj, with your recipe, how much use per load?

      • lj

        1 tablespoon

    • Audrey Ruth

      Washing Soda is hard to find in my area. Friends who buy it in other regions of the country say it fades non-white laundry, especially darks. Borax and OxiClean can do that too, especially if used in warm or hot water. I use OxiClean when washing white clothes and towels because it whitens so well.

      • Audrey Ruth

        Correction: I meant to say, “friends who have bought washing soda in other regions ot the country to make homemade laundry detergent say it fades non-white laundry…”

    • hamiwas

      I also make my own powder laundry soap and prefer another gem of a laundry bar: Octagon. I have only found it at Food Lion but it’s 79 cents and works just as well as Fels Naptha. The other thing about Octagon soap is that it does not have a strong odor in the soap, like Fels Naptha. I shave down the soap but keep about 1/10 of the bar in tact and use that part to pre-treat stains. Works like a charm

    • M

      My husband’s family makes their own detergent using this recipie but with Ivory. Their clothes always come out smelling dingy. Their clean clothes smell worse than my dirty clothes! I use Mrs. Meyers (or Tide Free & Clear when I can’t find Mrs. Meyers) and it took a couple washes but now all of hubby’s clothes smell fresh again. I love Mrs. Meyers and based on the smell of my in-laws laundry, I don’t think I’ll ever use homemade detergent. Maybe one day I’ll try the powdered version but it seems like a lot of work when I’m already satisfied with what I’m using now.

      Did any of you who use homemade detergent switch for reasons other than cost or chemical concerns/allergies?

    • Maria

      Please be careful with borax. It is toxic if ingested, even a small amount is lethal for young children. I looked into making my own detergent several years ago, but decided I could not risk having borax hanging around.

      • Daryl Ann Guy

        So is tide….

    • Rikki-Dianne Travis

      I have a liquid detergent using Dawn instead of bar soap…Ill post a soon as I get home! I LOVE my laundry soap! Husband is greasy from being a shop with greasy motors and things and dawn breaks it down easily!

    • Ingrid

      I also make homemade laundry soap. The Fels Naptha and the Colgate Octagon soaps both have petro chemicals…I’ll probably be going back to making my own vegetable based soaps over the summer, but until then I pick up a pack of Kirk’s Natural Coco Castile soap. I’ve found this at Publix, along with the borax and washing soda. If you can’t find washing soda locally, you can make it at home yourself -http://www.pennilessparenting.com/2011/01/homemade-washing-soda.html Also, here’s the link to where to find washing soda in stores -http://www.armandhammer.com/Products/WhereToBuy.aspx?ItemFinderCode=FC_Soda&CategoryId=be1d719f-c2ff-463c-b31c-65174c8e3728 . I also use white vinegar in the rinse cycle, just fill up the fabric softener cup. Instead of dryer sheets, I use wool dryer balls. Hopes someone finds this useful.:)

    • JaydeMarie

      Melt the Fels Naptha first, remove from heat, then add washing soda and borax. You eliminate the potential for a boil-over from sudsing if you do it this way. I also use less water initially so I can easily split it between two 1-gallon containers. (About 4 cups). After it gels, I add the rest of the water (boiling) and shake to mix.