Homemade Laundry Soap Revisited


I thought I would revisit my recent post about making your own laundry soap…because a few people have had some questions about it…and because now that I’ve made it several times..I have made a few tweaks that might be helpful to pass on.  I also took some pictures. Which isn’t easy when you’re trying to stir or pour with one hand! :-)

I started out my D.I.Y. laundry soap journey with this recipe from The Rachel Berry Blog.   Since that time I have read dozens of different “recipes” for the stuff…and they all contain the same basic ingredients. Borax, Washing Soda and Fels Naptha Soap.

The first recipe called for mixing it up in a 5 gallon bucket…which is OK I guess…but not all that convenient. So I looked for a recipe that made a smaller batch that I could make in one big pan on the stove.  That’s when I tried this recipe at Why Not Sew?  I still follow this…but with a few tweaks of my own.

This is the Jillee’s Homemade Laundry Soap tutorial: 

  • Grate 1 bar Fels Naptha soap or whatever soap you like. (For those who are having issues with the detergent becoming TOO THICK…try 1/2 a bar of soap).

homemade laundry detergent

  • Put soap in large pot and add approximately 8 cups of hot water.
  • Bring to a slow boil and “cook” until the soap is dissolved.
  • Then add 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda.


homemade laundry detergent

  • Bring to a boil again, then take off heat.
  • At this point I use a measuring cup and a funnel to pour the soap into 2 large containers.  (Mine are 1 gallon Minute Maid O.J. bottles).

homemade laundry detergent

  • Divide the mixture evenly into the two bottles (I just eyeball it like Rachael Ray)

homemade laundry detergent

  • Then add water to just a few inches from the top of the bottle.

homemade laundry detergent

  • Put cap on bottle and shake!

homemade laundry detergent

Overnight the stuff will thicken quite a bit!Don’t be alarmed…that’s just the nature of the stuff.  As I use it…sometimes I will add more water…sometimes not.  I usually use about 1/2 cup per load.

When I do white loads…I almost always add some of my homemade “oxi-kleen”. :-)  Which is just 1/2 a cup of hydrogen peroxide (that stuff in the brown plastic bottle you buy in the pharmacy by the contact solution) and a 1/2 cup of washing soda.  I find it works best if I let the load agitate then leave the lid open on the washer (mine’s a top loader) and let soak for awhile.  I have used it on colored clothes too with success and no fading.  Just not as often as whites.

So, there it is.  My homemade laundry detergent revisited. Hopefully it will encourage some of you to give it a try.  I think you’ll like it! :-)  I am completely sold on the concept.  I’m usually the one who says….”never say never”….but I can say with some certainty…I will never buy laundry soap again. (at least not on a regular basis.  How’s that for leaving myself an out? lol).




Update:  Don’t like grating soap? You might want to considered this post:  Super Fast and Easy Homemade Laundry Soap

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  1. Jill Nystul says

    charity….congrats! I hope you love it as much as I do. keep me posted and feel free to ask questions if they come up. :-)

  2. charity says

    My husband just finished our 1st batch! We are putting in mason jars for easy storage. Not sure how it will work out but will let u know. Also thought the jars could make cool little gifts:)

  3. Jill Nystul says

    Thank you Stephanie! I appreciate the input on the HE washers since I don't have one.
    Ms. Owl…In the next couple of days I am going to post more pictures I took of that will hopefully give you a little better idea of how mine looks at least. I'm sure everyone's is a little different…and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Whatever works for you! :-) As far as lumps…I just give mine a good shake before I use it each time (sometimes I even add a little more water) and eventually almost all the lumps are gone.

  4. Stephanie Newton says

    Ms. Owl, I don't have a top load HE washer, but I put my homemade laundry detergent in the dispenser in my HE washer. It's lumpy, but it dissolves when the water runs through it. I have used two gallons now and just made my second batch. I haven't had any trouble with it clogging.

    For sensitive skin, I use Dr. Bronner's castile soap for babies. It's very mild and perfume-free. Hope that helps!

  5. Ms. Owl says

    I am trying this today for the first time. SO far it is easy and I am pretty sure I will do it again because it is not too difficult… but, I have a couple of questions:

    1. I have a top load HE washer. It has a hooper to put liquid detergent and one for dry. So I could use either one. However, the homemade liquid detergent got lumpy when I added the water. Granted, it has not sat over night yet. IF the lumps are not resolved, has anyone used the homemade liquid detergent in a hopper style washer? And does it, over time, clog?

    2. Will the lumps resolve themselves overtime as the mixture sits?

    Thanks for any information regarding lumpiness. I am so excited to be able to save money and be more green!! SO I really want this to work!

    • Louise says

      This recipe should causally make 10 gallons of detergent…I use an emulsion blender to get the gel lumps out before I put it into bottles

    • Hollie says

      I made her other recipe which requires dividing it into 3 bottles (more diluted). Also, I used a glycerin soap bar instead of the opaque stuff like everyone else. It turned out VERY watery which is great for us front loaders with the hopper feed. I still want to make a batch with Fels Naptha just to see if there’s any difference. Glycerin soap is great because it literally melts into a liquid and stays that way. The clothes washed just fine and felt quite soft as well. I use white vinegar in the fabric softener hopper (doesn’t clog things up and keeps the machine smelling nice). I recommend keeping the door of the washer open when not in use to keep mold out. Unless your water inlet valve goes bad, there is no harm in leaving the door open. My machine’s valve went out causing the machine to leak about a gallon of water on the floor. It was an easy fix though, did it myself with help from online pictures!

  6. Anonymous says

    My friends and I just made this and the "fumes" caused us to all have headaches, throat irritation, coughing, etc. Has anyone ever had this happen? I think we'll "cook" this outside nextime :(

      • Brook says

        The Fels Naptha made me have a headache, but the Ivory soap did not. Maybe give that a try?

  7. vpl says

    Sonia, it isn't a stupid question. I read on a website that you can make washing soda from baking soda by baking it in the oven. Don't remember where I saw it but you could google it I'm sure.

    Sheryl, I use a very pure soap for my daughter's sensitive skin. I would use whatever she uses in the bath. Just be aware that it might be more runny than what is described here (or more solid) based on the ingredients in the soap. You could make a small batch and try it. I also use vinegar in the rinse. It seems to "release" the remaining soap and she does not have any problems. Good luck.

  8. Sheryl Clark Productions says

    Does anyone know whether this is ok for sensitive skin… I assume you need to makensure the soap,you use is non perfume and hypo.

    • Louise says

      Great for sensitive skin…gels naphtha has a very light smell, this laundry soap has never bothered my kiddos skin, this tripe should cut ally make 10 gallons with 1/2 cup used in top load and 1/4 cup in fron load washers

  9. Sonia says

    I love your posts! And have a stupid question…What is the difference between washing soda and baking soda? If I have a huge (from Sams) think of baking soda, will it work with your recipes?

    • Sarah says

      @ Sonia – I don’t know exactly what but there is definitely a difference between washing soda and baking soda. I had a hard time initially finding washing soda but now I pick it up an my local Ace Hardware. I have since seen it also at Wal-Mart and sometimes at Target. If you want to make it yourself check out this blog I found with directions – http://naturesnurtureblog.com/2012/05/08/ttt-turn-baking-soda-into-washing-soda/

      I have not tried to make it yet but plan to do so when I run out of my current supply.

    • StephanieB says

      You can make baking soda into washing soda… You bake it. I’m totally not kidding, it works.


  1. […] So I gave some home made laundry soap a try.  A friend of mine does the dry laundry soap, and you can see her tutorial here. She swears by the stuff, but I decided to do the liquid variety instead because I had the container to hold the liquid soap and wouldn’t have to make a dollar store trip for a different container with a tired four year old in tow. Seriously. That’s my reason for my choice between liquid and dry.  I used this site for the recipe. […]