Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Money Matters | Homemade Laundry Detergent

I hesitate to blog about our use of homemade laundry detergent because, well... it may be pushing the envelope for some of you on what you feel comfortable doing. : ) I was a bit skeptical myself, so if you you are thinking, "Wow! That is weird. I would never do that!", that is okay. : ) I'm not out to make a believer of you, but wanted to share in case any of you have ever thought about it, but haven't had the nerve to buy the materials and try it.

We made our first batch at the beginning of the summer and I wanted to use it for several months before reporting out on my feelings, likes, pros, cons, etc.  

Before I share anymore, let me tell you how this came about. David and I both are very "green" in many areas of our lives. We like knowing what things are made of and, if we can save money making something that works just as well, we have no problem with that. I have always wanted to try to make laundry detergent and I'm not sure why or when the idea first came to me. It may have been when I was pregnant with Harbor four years ago.

In any case, let me clarify for you that we are not making our own detergent because we can't afford to buy a name brand product. We obviously can afford to buy what we need and feel very blessed for that. For me, this is more of a fun hobby. But, that being said, you will save lots and lots of money by making your own! 

For our family of three, the batch we made this summer will last a full year for less than $10.00!

You will need: {follow the links to see more information}

1. A Fals Nepthar soap bar  They cost around $1.12 and we found ours at Wal-Mart
2. A box of borax We found this at Wal-Mart and it was less than $3.00
3. A box of washing soda Also at Wal-Mart for $5.00
4. A large bucket with lid -we bought one at Lowes for $5.00
5. An empty laundry detergent container with a spout

Here is the recipe:

Get your boxes out and ready to go!

Grate the entire Fels Naptha bar until it looks like cheese. : )

This bar smells really citrusy, like lemons and limes and adds a wonderful "Fabreze" scent to your loads.

Put the grated bar in a sauce pan on low heat, cover with water and cook until all the soap dissolves.
In the meantime, measure out 1 cup of the soda and 1/2 cup of borax and drop into the bottom of the empty, clean bucket.

{It is a family affair and I like to pretend we are the family from Little House on the Prairie. Ha!}

Keep a careful eye on your simmering soap bar!

Your house will smell like lemons and limes at this point! Love that fresh, crisp, clean smell!

Add the hot soap/water mixture to the bucket right on top of the borax and soda.

Fill the bucket up to the rim with hot water and stir.
You are almost done with a year supply of laundry detergent
{just like your great grandma would have made it!}

Once well mixed, place the lid on top and let the mixture sit overnight. This gives the chemical compounds a chance to react to one another forming a very powerful, stain fighting detergent.

The next day, use a funnel and a cup to fill your empty detergent container 1/2 way with the soap mixture. Add water to fill it the rest of the way up.
This soap is very light and resembles a gel. Don't be surprised when it doesn't resemble the usual thick, heavy goo we are all normally accustomed to.

Close the bucket back up and refill your old detergent container in equal portions with water as needed.

And there you have it!
Homemade laundry detergent that will last David, Harbor, and I a good year. All for less than $10.00

Our clothes smell fresh, clean, and stains come out just as they did with store bought brands.
Do we have to make it? No, of course not, but I love feeling like I know how.
There is just something magical to me about the lost art of homemaking.

Anyone thinking of giving it a shot?  : )
Have a good weekend!


  1. We make our own too! It is a money saver!

  2. LOVE this idea! Can you tell me where the recipe comes from?

    Also, I'm a Walmart shopper, but often wonder what aisles I'd find some of these ingredients in - your thoughts?

    De-lurking here and a Chicagoan (a sort of neighbor!) Love your blog and our guys are about the same age!

  3. Love it! I need to try it. I love tide, but that stuff is 'spensive for real!! Hope you're doing well way up in Michigan; I bet it's starting to get cold.

  4. I'd actually love to try this. I could use some extra money.

  5. Wow, this is awesome!!! Thanks for sharing. I keep seeing recipes for homemade detergent on Pinterest, but haven't thought much about trying. I might just have to try it. :)

  6. This is great! Is it safe for washers that require the "High Efficency" detergents?

  7. My M-i-l does most of my laundry but she uses SO much that I buy the cheapest stuff I can find b/c we go through it so fast (she also will buy it if I run out). This is a GREAT idea and I'm going to try it! What about the safety for infants? Do you think this is gentle enough for the new baby? Most of her tiny stuff is already washed anyway.

  8. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing!!!

  9. I see Harbor William is still the big helper,ha!!!I love seeing him in his jamers. And its great to see David being such a great husband helping you make something in the kitchen,not just food but homemaking saving money for the family kind of stuff. David's parents would love to know they raised a great husband.I know you already know that,ha!!! I need to make this just need to get a clean bucket with good lid.Can't wait to see you all at Thanksgiving. Dad & I miss & love you guys so much.MOM

  10. I am going to have to try this. I have seen several recipes over the blogs and this one seems super easy.Wonder how it is with the HE Washers?
    Thanks for sharing.

  11. I was just telling David yesterday, after we spent $11 on detergent that we needed to make our own. We just weren't sure if it was okay for HE (high efficiency) washers. Is your washer an HE? Thanks for the tutorial!

  12. The recipe is from the Duggars' first book, "20 and Counting."

    Thanks for sharing Jessica! Maybe I'll try it!


  13. Cool! Love it! Wonder if it's safe for "HE" washers??

  14. Hey! Love this idea! I have a friend local that makes her own and loves it. I have a small stockpile from couponing but once I go thru those, I would love to try this too! Seems much more gentle than all the chemicals in the 'name brand' detergents. :)

    Harbor is getting so big! Love the new blog look. :) Jennifer

  15. Just made it today and I'm sooo excited! Looking forward to laundry day, Saturday. Thanks for sharing, you explained it very well. :)

  16. Nothing that us retired generation haven't done all along . Bringing back ( or continuing ) some of these " secrets " is waaaay overdue ! By the way , adding a half cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle occaissionally will leave your clothes much softer as it removes all the soap residue and softens the fibers .

  17. I made this on Monday night and used it for the first time tonight. It's *really* thin; is that normal? It doesn't have the consistency of gel, or even a thin gel. It's like water. The load is still in the washer, so I don't know how it works, yet.