I’ve been making my own homemade laundry detergent for about two years now. In that time I’ve only gone through one box of washing soda, two boxes of borax and a few packs of Ivory soap bars (those are the only ingredients you need, as shown in the photo above). It’s so ridiculously cheap and easy to make your own laundry detergent (liquid and powdered) that the value adds up quickly and you’ll wonder why you paid so much to wash your clothes in the past.
Besides helping you save money at home, making your own laundry detergent is a good idea if you or your kids have sensitive skin (my kids do) or if you have a sensitivity to fragrances (which I do) as it’s almost completely free of chemicals and scent (I also find it’s easier on your washing machine).
Here are the recipes I use for both powdered and liquid homemade laundry detergent. I use both of these in my Samsung front-load washing machine with no issues and great results.
Powdered homemade laundry detergent recipe (for hot load cycles only)
- 2 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax
- 2 cups of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda
- 1 bar of Ivory soap finely grated
In a large bowl use a fork or whisk to mix 2 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax and 2 cups of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda together. Make sure there are no clumps and that both are mixed together well (usually about a minute or two of mixing will do).
Finely grate one bar of plain Ivory soap (I use the finest side of my cheese grater for this) into the powder and mix it together well (another minute or two of mixing).
That’s it! You now have powdered laundry detergent. Use about one tablespoon per hot load (use the liquid homemade recipe below for cold cycles as the powdered one will not dissolve properly).
Liquid homemade laundry detergent recipe (for hot or cold cycles)
- 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
- 1 cup of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda
- 1 bar of Ivory soap finely grated
- 1 5-gallon bucket with lid
- Lots of water
Finely grate the bar of Ivory soap into a large pot on the stove and add six cups of water. Heat on medium, frequently stirring with a large metal spoon until the Ivory soap is completely dissolved (it’s best not to use a wooden spoon for this as the wood can absorb the taste of the soap).
While the Ivory soap is dissolving on the stove mix the cup of 20 Mule Team Borax and cup of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda in the 5-gallon bucket. Make sure the 5-gallon bucket is clean and empty beforehand!
Add 40 cups of hot tap water to the borax and washing soda in the 5-gallon bucket and stir together until it’s thoroughly dissolved. Again, a large metal spoon is best for this (you can use the same one you used to stir the Ivory soap with).
Pour the pot of dissolved Ivory soap into the 5-gallon bucket and stir it well for a minute or two. At this point your concoction will look very watery.
Put the lid on the bucket and let it sit until the next day.
When you open the bucket the next day you will notice the mixture has become slightly solidified. Give it a good mix with a large metal spoon and it’s ready to use!
Add your homemade liquid laundry detergent to any used laundry detergent bottles you may have (remember reusing is better than recycling – I’ve collected many bottles from friends and family for this as well). Give it a shake before each use. If you prefer to use it straight from the 5-gallon bucket you will want to give it a stir before each use (and be warned it can get a bit messy this way).
Use about a ¼ of a cup (or half a detergent bottle cap) per regular load (more can be used for really dirty laundry).
Buying the ingredients
Some people have had trouble finding the two main ingredients needed to make homemade laundry detergent in Canada. Walmart sells a 2kg box of 20 Mule Team Borax for around $6. A 3kg box of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda can be found at Home Hardware and No Frills for between $6 – $8. A 10-pack of Ivory soap bars can sometimes be found on sale for $2.99 at Metro or Loblaws. Walmart usually has the best regular price on them though.
Have questions or tips on making your own homemade laundry detergent? Share them in the comments below.