Making Laundry Detergent

It’s super-easy to make laundry soap at home and you can get all the supplies at the grocery store. I got everything at Raley’s and it works out to 10 cents a load. It would be even cheaper at a different store with coupons!

The players:

1 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
Essential oil (optional, not pictured. Learn about the premium essential oils I recommend.)

The first step is to grate the soap. I ran it through the food processor and wound up with pieces that were too big to dissolve easily in the washer.

Then I used the chopping blade to make a finer powder.

Next, I put the soap into a bowl and add the washing soda and borax.

I added 10 drops of orange essential oil, and mixed everything up carefully. Citrus is great for cutting grease, which is why lemon and grapefruit are often used in dishwasher soap.

Finally, it goes into a recycled container for storage. Like it? I had been keeping fruit in it, but Brown Thumb Papa said that putting fruit in an ice cream container was false advertising.

Here’s what the laundry soap was up against.

It only takes 2 tablespoons to wash a full load and everything came out fresh and clean. If it can beat Jackjack dirt, it can beat anything!

Don't Miss a Thing!

Natural living tips, gardening advice, recipes, giveaways, and DIY awesomeness delivered right to your inbox!

No spam. Ever.


  1. says

    I just made this recipe and it turned out great! The only difference is that I used a bar of Dr. Bronner’s lavendar bar soap. Not only was I a little weary of the Fels Naptha but it’s hard to find and expensive ($5/per bar). I think it turned out just as well. The only downsize was that my new food processor hasn’t come yet so I had to grate the bar of soap by hand (such a bummer).

      • Julie says

        I use homemade detergent in my HE washer. Only needs about a tablespoon for a regularly soiled load. However, I use castile soap instead of Fels Naptha to make mine. Fels Naptha is a petroleum based product so the castile soap feels more planet friendly to me. Also, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap has choices that include essential oils already (tea tree, citrus, lavender, and eucalyptus bars) if you want them.

  2. Shawna C. says

    I’ve made this and used for an HE washer, but the Fels Naptha Laundry Soap stained my yellow/gold shirts. I hand to scrub/hand wash out the soap. I didn’t like the results. My whites also weren’t very bright anymore.

    Had no problem using in the HE washer though.

  3. Aisha says

    Do you find that using homemade laundry detergent with soap that you get a “ring around the tub” (soap scum) and have to clean the washer more regularly?

  4. SueO says

    Thanks for this article and recipe. You do an excellent job!

    Fels Naptha is a special laundry soap which has been on the market for over 100 years. It is known as an excellent stain remover; women rubbed it on stains before washing—the first laundry pretreatment! The mother nature network website has done some good articles on Fels as well as 20 Mule Team Borax, another product we use now in homemade laundry detergent that has been around over 100 years. (

  5. says

    I think in another location they use dish washing soap in their recipe for LD. I believe it is Borax and baking soda and dish washing detergent.

    3 tablespoons Borax (such as Twenty Mule Team)
    3 tablespoons Washing Soda (such as Arm & Hammer)
    2 tablespoons Liquid Dish Soap (such as Dawn)
    8 cups water – preferably filtered

    I think her cost is around 1 1/2 cents per load.

  6. Melissa says

    I’ve heard that the soap bar doesn’t thoroughly clean our clothes and leaves a greasy residue. What are your thoughts on that? Do you know of any homemade detergents (not soaps)?

Leave a Reply