homemade laundry soap recipe

When we bought our house way back in 2006 I never really thought about saving money.  We had no kids, and both had good jobs.  However, once we moved into the house, and then had to pay for oil and all the other maintenance costs of owning a home…well I decided I better start finding ways to save a bit of money!  Making my own laundry soap was a good one.

At the time Matt was working for his dad’s construction business, so I was doing a lot of laundry.  A lot of really dirty laundry.  My mom had always used borax when we were growing up for soaking diapers and adding to the wash if there were serious stains.  Since that was one of the main ingredients in most of the recipes I had seen online, I decided to give it a go.

Overall, I think that it has worked out really well for us.  It is definitely cheaper to use than the tide free that I used to use.  Both of my babes have very sensitive skin (as do I), so making sure it was gentle and not irritating was really important.  And obviously making sure that it got our clothes clean was very important.  It has done its job.  I use it to clean the diapers and wipes, as well as all of our clothes.  If I have a seriously dirty load of laundry (like when my husband was working construction) I would throw in an extra spoonful of the soap.  I hope you try it!

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Laundry Soap Recipe

2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1 bar grated Dr. Bronner’s pure castile bar soap – I use peppermint (or you can use fels naptha)
10 drops Tea Tree Oil (or other essential oil)

Mix all ingredients in a container.  Use 1-2 spoonfuls per load.  I use my KitchenAid mixer to grate the soap, it takes a lot less time than grating with a box grater by hand 🙂  This usually lasts me quite a while.  I use cold water for my washing, and so I typically scoop it into a ball jar and fill with hot water, then shake it up until it starts to dissolve.

If you have a HE washing machine, you may want to make a liquid variety – same ingredients, but you melt the soap with hot water first and then mix in a large bucket.  You can find a recipe for that here.

Have you tried making your own laundry soap?  Do you like it?  Or do you prefer something else?  It took a little while for my husband to accept it, since our laundry didn’t have a scent after it was dried.  Although, it has taken a while to understand that “clean” doesn’t mean “scented” in all of our cleaning.  But, I think that he is happier with it now that we have kids; and he doesn’t let me use any kind of chemicals in cleaning because he doesn’t want the kids to smell it.  Not sure what that says about how he felt about me sans kids…but that is another story 🙂

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  1. I've been making my own powdered laundry detergent for several months now using pretty much the same things. I'm thinking about trying out the liquid form too because I try to wash with cold water too. The HE washer's have a disclaimer because they need low sudsing detergent and this is low sudsing. From another blog many people who use HE said that they've had no problems. You should use vinegar in the washing machine where you would put bleach or whatever to keep the stains away and soften the fabric. About 1/2 cup. Cheryl

  2. Do you happen to know how your recipe work with hard water? I am almost ready to try making my own following a similar recipe except that it would be a liquid form. Our hard water make me worried the most on how it could affect my clothes.


    1. I had never thought about hard water before I started using this soap. I'm not sure I will be much help now, but what I have read is that when you make the liquid soap it ends up being so diluted that it isn't as good for hard water. I would say try making a small amount of the liquid soap, if it doesn't work, try the dry soap recipe. I know that people use different amounts of each of three main ingredients, and it seems to be trial and error for most people. But, on the plus side, it is so much less expensive then commercial detergent, that you can experiment a bit! Good luck! Would love to hear how it works/doesn't work for you 🙂

  3. If you use this wash water as gray water on any trees or lawns do not put the borax in this recipe…it is bad for the ground and plants. Some people have instead put oxy-clean like cleaner in place of it in this recipe but I am not positive what that does to the plants and ground either. Others have just made the same recipe minus the borax and not added anything different and like the results. If in time a few things need whitening they soak those few things later in some oxy. Sarah

  4. @Dreena – I have done a little research online, and it looks like you can use this with HE washers. I would use the same amount, 1-2 spoonfuls. I think the worry is that with an HE washer it uses less water and may not get the clothes as clean, not that it will hurt your washer. If you try it, let me know how it goes!

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