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DIY Laundry Soap – Save Money Right Now!

By Stephanie Dayle - this is a post I originally wrote for The American Preppers Network and have now brought over to my own site.

There are different versions of this recipe all over the internet.  If you don’t like mine, just search for “homemade laundry soap” and you will see many others.  I have tried a few other recipes.  They were either too strong or too weak for my taste, and some of them use unnecessary ingredients that wastes money.  This is what works the best for me.  Here is what you need, try to get all these ingredients as cheaply as possible, price shop and keep a note who carries them at the lowest prices:

  • A bucket to mix all your ingredients in I use a 5 gallon bucket as I double batch it, but for a single batch a 2 gallon bucket will work fine.
  • 1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap (you can also Ivory)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT to be confused with Baking Soda – Super Washing Soda is DIFFERENT)
  • A cheese grater (Want to make this process faster? Use the grater on your food processor, clean up is easy cause IT’S SOAP so it just washes away).
  • A little stock pot for your stove.  Don’t worry about clean up, again it’s soap – so it will just wash away leaving you with a clean pot.

Using your grater, grate your bar of soap.  Put the rest of the bar in a ziplock for next time.
Put your grated soap in your pot plus 6 cups of water on low heat to melt the soap – stir frequently – do not boil.

Once the soap is melted, add your Borax, and Super Washing Soda.  Stir until dissolved, keep stirring until mixture thickens.  If you are the impatient type like me, you can bust out your stick blender and hit the mixture with that for a few seconds and you will be all set to go.

Pour 4-5 cups of hot tap water in your bucket, add your warm soap mixture from your pot to it.  At this point, you could add your essential oil to it – add nothing and your clothes will simply smell clean.  Stir well for a few moments.

Then add a gallon PLUS 6 more cups of hot water to the mixture.  Give it another few minutes of stirring and let it sit overnight.  The mixture will gel up by morning.  Stir it again to break up the gel and break down the clumps.  If small clumps bother you – break out your stick blender again and give it a few more quick buzzes.  The small clumps don’t bother me so I seldom do this, but they bug some folks as it reminds them of snot.

For this mixture, I use 1/2 cup per full load of laundry.  We hardly ever run less than a full load, but if I did I would just decrease the half cup accordingly. 1/4 = half a washer load, and so forth.
I keep the measuring scoop by the bucket and if I want to brighten my whites I turn to good old fashioned bleach or fancy Oxyclean to boost the power of my homemade detergent.  Works just fine in cold water.  PLEASE NOTE: this recipe does not bubble up hardly at all – but you do not need bubbles for soap to work.  Soap makers have known for centuries that bubbles are usually just for show, they do not indicate cleaning action, your clothes will still come out perfectly clean.

This is all over the internet and does it really save you money?  Yes.  It Does.  Costs will vary but mine comes in at just over a penny per load of laundry.  Try to get all of the ingredients on sale.  This would make Costco’s cheapest detergent 7 times more expensive per load.

Does it work in the new high capacity washers?  Yes it does, my friend uses this in hers with no problems for over a year. Clean clothes – no problems with washer.

Will it work for hand washing clothes?  I have had no problems using it for hand washing either, in fact, its easier on my hands.

This seems like more trouble than its worth, how long does it take?  I make a double batch, this process takes 20 minutes for me, start to finish and that includes grating the bar of soap and measuring the water.  The end product lasts me nearly a year, so I figure spending 20 minutes of my time once a year is not that bad and not worth stressing over.

Can I add essential oil?  You have to add a very small amount so the oil does not interfere with the cleaning action of your homemade detergent (like 10 drops at the most). The fragrance of any essential oil you add will most likely wear off your clothes before you wear them, remember your adding oil (something soap breaks up) to laundry detergent.  Personally, I don’t add it – its a waste of money and the detergent you end up with does have a nice soapy smell to it.  Just be happy with your clothes smelling clean.  The fact your clothes don’t “smell” can be a good thing especially if you are a hunter.

Should I prep (stock up on) the ingredients so I can make more if I can’t get to the store?  In my never humble opinion, no.  If there is an emergency you aren’t going to want to put everything on hold to make laundry soap.  I would prep either regular store bought laundry soap or just make do with bars of Fels-Naptha or Ivory (which will get the job done by themselves), but of course its up to you.

Is homemade laundry soap really better for you? Yes. It lacks many of the chemicals, dyes, and artificial fragrances that other commercial detergents use.  The ingredients are simple, straight forward and they all have multiple uses. Here is the nerdy stuff:
  • Borax: Also known as sodium borate or sodium tetraborate, occurs naturally and is mined in the Mojave Desert (Boron, California), other US states, in Chile and Tibet.  It can also be created synthetically from other boron compounds.  Not all but most commercial laundry Borax is now only synthetic, which is probably better for the places being mined, and the end product is still non-toxic.  It will whiten your whites, soften hard water, remove soap residue from your clothing, aid in disinfecting clothing and it increases the stain removal ability of your detergent.  It can also be used as an insect repellant in the yard and garden, household cleanser, and to make other materials flame retardant.
  • Washing Soda:  Also known as sodium carbonate – is the end product of baking soda if you let it sit around and do not store it properly for long enough.  It’s function in laundry is as a water softener.  It competes with the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water and prevents them from bonding with the detergent being used.  Without using washing soda, additional detergent is needed to soak up the magnesium and calcium ions.  It effectively removes oil, grease, and alcohol stains and can be used as a descaling agent to clean coffee pots.
  • Fels-Naptha: Is a brand of bar laundry soap commonly used for pre-treating stains on clothing and as a home remedy for exposure to poison ivy and other skin irritants.  It is made by the Dial Corporation.  If you can’t find Fels-Naptha, Ivory Soap, will work in its place only you would want to use 2/3 of a bar instead of a third.  All natural homemade soap will also work if it has NOT been super fattened.
Making your own laundry soap doesn’t go along with our “instant” “just in time” “commercialized” mainstream society so don’t be surprised if you get weird looks or thoughtless comments from your friends and family.  Just tell them how much money you’re saving, how easy it is, and how much better it is for you.  If all you have is good stuff to say about it, trust me, a few of them will come around.
Be proud of your efforts! Don’t hide them – post a picture of your finished product of laundry soap on Facebook, and see who messages you for the recipe!

Please Note:  There are many laundry soap recipes out there on the internet, almost all of them use the same basic ingredients (because those ingredients are time proven) any similarities are merely coincidental. 



  1. We make a variation of this. We use one bar Fels-Naptha, one cup washing soda and one cup Borax. We chop up the Fels-Naptha in our blender then mix all three together. We use it dry, one tablespoon for an extra large load. It saves money and my wife with allergy issues is happy again!

  2. I couldn't agree more - I have allergies too! Everything else make me breakout in hives, but this recipe doesn't bother me at all...


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