No-Grate Homemade Laundry Soap


Despite all the enthusiasm over making homemade laundry detergent recently…I continue to hear murmurings from those who just can’t bring themselves to grate soap and cook it on the stove.

It apparently just isn’t going to happen. :-)

I’m not naming any names…but my older sister would probably freely admit she didn’t decide to even attempt making her own laundry detergent UNTIL I told her about this “new” recipe I was testing out.

(I know it seems like I’m always “picking on” her…but she called me a “brat” on her blog recently…so she pretty much deserves it. lol).

Once again I have to credit the incredible readers of this blog for my inspiration.


Tiffanie posted this on February 4th….
A close friend of mine has been making laundry soap like this one for years, until just recently she found an easier one to make and passed it on to us.

3 Tablespoons Borax
3 Tablespoons Washing Soda
2 Tablespoons Dawn Dish soap

Put these ingredients in a one gallon jug. Pour 4 cups boiling water into the jug. Swirl until ingredients are dissolved in the liquid. Let liquid cool. Then fill almost to the top with cold water. The bubbles will overflow out of the bottle.
I love this because you can pick an awesome scent with the Dawn dish soap. This dish soap works the best because it gets grease out. :o)

February 4, 2012 8:59 PM

homemade laundry detergent

homemade laundry detergent

As FOND as I am of the soap I’ve been using for over 8 months now…I felt I needed to at least give this version a fair shake. Sooo…I made up a gallon of it and have been using it for almost a week. I’ve used almost the entire gallon and despite my initial skepticism…I have not noticed any difference in it’s ability to get my clothes clean from my current recipe. I use approximately 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s pretty thin and since it’s SO easy and inexpensive to make, it doesn’t bother me.

Of course there are still those items of clothing that will need an extra boost with some Homemade Shout or Homemade Oxi-Clean….but overall I honestly haven’t noticed any difference in it’s cleaning ability.

For those of you concerned with HE washers…I haven’t noticed any more soap suds with this “recipe” either. On a small load I will notice some sudsing…but on a large load…it appears to me to be as low-suds as my previous version.


homemade laundry detergent

So….today I offer up this “new” version of homemade laundry detergent to those who have to this point been reluctant or unwilling to try making their own. A couple of things that might convince you to try…no grating of soap…no cooking…and you can make one gallon at a time in just a few minutes.

If you DO decide to try it…I would love to know what you think. :-)



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  1. Lisa says

    I started my homemade laundry soap quest when I started researching cloth diapers for our future family. Though we don't have and reason to wash diapers now I'm curious if this is "cloth diaper safe" anybody know?

    • Sarah says

      It depends on what diapers you use. Borax is too abrasive for PLU diaper covers ad will wear them out and cause them to leak. It’s perfectly safe for inserts, liners or prefolds. I cloth diaper and have used RockinGreen detergent. It’s the only thing that got my diapers smelling good. I tried several homemade detergent recipes without borax but they just didn’t work for me. I LOVE homemade detergent for our family’s clothes, though :)

      • says

        I have done cloth and occasionally had to “strip” them due to build up. The methods of stripping that I found on the internet all called for Dawn dish soap! I never had a problem with the pul breaking down, in any of mine, but I also didn’t cd for four years straight using the same diapers…that being said, the only diapers that fell apart on me were the Kushies brand. The flannel on the outside wore thin to the point of holes. The inside of the dipe was vinyl! NOT pul. I was very disappointed by that. good luck!

    • Heather says

      I have never had a problem with using it on my diapers as far as build up, but my 4th son is more prone to diaper rash with it, so my diapers get All free, and the rest the clothes get homemade.

  2. Jamie and Shane says

    I'll bet you are getting a slew of followers through Pinterest….that's how I found you! Love your blog, btw. Your "voice" is very friendly and you seem to really want to connect with your followers. That is rare these days. It seems that once somebody becomes "big", they seem to have a disconnect. Anyway, thanks for the awesome entries… I think I have pinned almost every one myself! Jamie in AZ

    • nelsonjane says

      YUP! you said it all for me Jamie & Shane. I feel same way as you do. wish there were ‘vote’ buttons or ‘like’ buttons for the comments! thumbs up here :)

  3. Carmen C. says

    I recently discovered your blog through pinterest and am just amazed at the wealth of information shared here! I HATE grating the soap so I will definitely be giving this a try:D thanks for all the wonderful tips & recipes here!!!

    • Amanda M. says

      I have been grating soap for powdered laundry detergent for 6 months & really hate grating it too. I think I will try this too before I grate any more soap!!!

      • mamavanous says

        My children beg me to let them grate the soap, not sure of the fascination of grating it, but I agree, no grate is definitely the way to go!

      • Lisa B. says

        Use a food processor……no “hand grating” and you get a perfect fine powder that mixes well with borax and washing soda. Also…..I have found the best place to look for the ingredients is an “old fashion grocery store”. Stay away from box stores….go to the little man you will haven’t w luck with the ingredients.

      • Lisa B. says

        Use a food processor……no “hand grating” and you get a perfect fine powder that mixes well with borax and washing soda. Also…..I have found the best place to look for the ingredients is an “old fashion grocery store”. Stay away from box stores….go to the little man you will have more luck with the ingredients.

      • karen b says

        one of the best ways to grate bar of soap is in the grater attachments for a kitchen aid mixer. or if you happen to have the same version in a hand turn grater. my kids “fight” over who is grating so they take turns. I usually grate & mix up about 3 recipes @ a time works great they each get to do a bar:)

      • Cathy W says

        I alternate between liquid and powder! Just Whatever the whim strikes me. And sometimes if I’m doing whites with bleach. Really like both!

        However, grating a bar of soap just plain WAS a bloody awful chore. (Literally!) Leaving a bar of soap open for a week before is a great start Then cutting it up into 2″ chunks and microwaving on a PAPER plate for a minute or two, Puffs them up like marshmallows! Let the puffy soap cool, you can crumble them up in your hands (yes, fine enough for wash). This works for Fels Naptha, Zote, Dr. Bonner’s bar soap or Kirk’s (found in bath Aisle). All are green with the exception of too much Fels. I put powder in washer (top loader) and run Hot water before adding clothes then switch over to cold water. When using bleach with this powder, I do a long wash with a Prolonged Soak and 2nd wash and rinse. (This to accommodate Hubby who still thinks we’re using Arm and Hammer Detergent!)

        Now back to liquid, Made in already empty Arm and Hammer container. He still hasn’t a clue! :-) ! And I use Blue Dawn because it is the best grease cutter around! If bleach isn’t used, I use on whites and colored.

        Now if the wash REALLY needs bleaching, I keep the water level lower and long wash (and soak) and hot water wash and cold water rinse. I use this for kitchen curtains, pillows etc. Those articles aren’t washed but twice a year, so concentrated liquid or powder and water is necessary.

        One thing I did notice, there are NO more Octopus suction spots on darks with Jillee’s liquid soap. What I found on Hubby’s black slacks when using commerical detergent. That’s a big HOORAY! And I’m saving money too! Been making my own soaps for 8 months now! Happy Dance!!!!
        Thanks Jillee!

      • Brandy says

        I did try a food processer. However because the soap is dry, you have to be very careful not to start a fire. That and the fumes it created was enough for me to not do it that way any longer. Glad I found this way of doing it.

      • Ken Sparrow says

        I grate my soap and it only takes me 5mmin. To use a blender are food processor to get fine particles you have to nix the Borax are washing soda with the soap. Do not put the soap in the blender are food processor by its self it will gum things up. Turn it on and you will get fine particles of soap. I have not tried chunks of soap but it you put the borax are Washing soda with it it should work fine.

    • Andi says

      I have been using Ivory soap for my dry laundry soap. I put the bar in the microwave for 90 seconds. It’s mushrooms out. From there, I rub it between my hands to powder it. Then mix it with the Borax and Washing Soda. It does send off a LOT of “dust” but it beats grating soap. It does not work with any other kind of soap.

      • Karen says

        It does work with Fels Naptha soap. I cut the bar into thirds and Microwave each piece. Make sure to watch it as it fluffs.

      • DD says

        Hi, I found that Fels Naptha dissolves better in cold water wash; whereas, the Zote particles just float on top of the water and sometimes, remain on my clothes when the load is completed washing. :/

      • Mark M says

        We do just what is recommended: Microwave your bar of soap 1 min at a time. It will dry and crust. Then throw in the food processor to make into a fine powder. There’s no grating! Ever. I won’t grate either, unless making pizza!

    • Tracey Tilson says

      Jillian wrote in her post above: “I use approximately 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load. I know that sounds like a lot, but it’s pretty thin and since it’s SO easy and inexpensive to make, it doesn’t bother me.”

    • jessica says

      I believe she mentions that it is as low suds as the other recipe, and should not hurt HE washer. =)

    • Rebecca says

      Ive been using this in my HE machine for months and it cleans the clothes well and does not create any residue in your machine like commercial detergents. Very low suds

    • Ann says

      FYI – My husband works with a former appliance salesman…he told him HE is hog wash…they feed you BS about HE so you will purchase the more expensive crap to go with them. He told my husband there is not much difference between a front or top load, like the others said, if your concerned about suds, use a little less. I hope that helps :)

      • Karen says

        except that if you don’t clean, clean, clean all the pull out filters and drawers in the front loads they will stink to high heaven. I got rid of mine and went back to a top load. I used regular detergent in mine too after I found out the HE was just a sales gimmick and it never was a problem.

      • Lee ann says

        I’ve not made any homemade laundry soap but have a lot of friends that do. I too have a front loader for about 11 years now. I can tell you that soap either he or not can affect your front loader!! I used regular soap when we got because honestly I don’t recall knowing about HE. Well if you use too much soap, you will create Build up on door and behind rubber seal, also if u don’t let door stay open after wash, you will have mildew grow behind that seal. Oh so nasty! I use less soap and switched to he and knock on wood no more issues!! Also you can run hottest cycle with bleach in soap dispenser to clean your machine. Top or front loader.

      • Alicia says

        I have been using this recipe for over 6 months. Before I started using homemade laundry detergent, I did give the washer a good cleaning, as there was mildew and a horrible smell coming from it. Once a week or so, I wipe down the seals and run a HOT bleach wash to clean the insides. I haven’t had any issues with mildew and smells since!

      • Laurie says

        You can run a wash with vinegar to cut most if not all of the soap scum. Also keep a spray bottle of vinegar to clean seals and sides. Works as well as bleach even better. Healthier for you too.

        I use 2-4 Cups of white in hot water. Cleans and freshens your washer.
        White vinegar for exterior cleaning and cider vinegar for internal health is my rule.

      • Ash says

        If you do not leave the door open after washing with an HE front loader, then you get the smell. The washer needs to air out, the door is watertight so breeds mold if you leave it closed.

    • Erin F says

      I use this exact soap in my He machine and it works great! No problems whatsoever :-) Yes it has a sudsy soap but you cut it with so much water it works and doesn’t over suds.

  4. Dawn P. says

    Only the original "blue" Dawn has the best grease dissolving formula. I've tried the other colors but discovered they didn't work as well as the original blue. Upon reading the labels I discovered that only the blue says "dish soap" while all of the other colors say "hand soap". I'm sure it won't make much difference in this recipe (which I will be trying this week).

    Just thought I would share a bit of knowledge that I have recently discovered. Needless to say I only buy blue now.

    • krystina Bibb says

      I tried the purple dawn cause it “smelled” good. Ya it didn’t bring my husbands filthy work pants clean. they were covered in dirt and grease. I will have to try the blue and see if that works better!!

      • mamavanous says

        Yes, I agree about the grease dissolving abilities of the different varieties of Dawn. The blue definitely works the best, even for the kitchen. I will be trying this version of laundry soap ASAP!!!

    • says

      As a massage therapist, I attest that the BLUE Dawn is the only one that lifts oil from fabric effectively. I’ve used it to wash my table sheets for years.

    • Shannon says

      While it’s true most of the Dawns are hand soap the blue is not the only dish soap. There’s the clear Dawn essentials and also a Hawaiian Pineapple variety. I imagine there are others and what’s available will depend on the store. Just read the label and make sure it says dish soap nit hand soap. For so.e reason they keep them together at the store (at least at mine) so if you aren’t paying attention you’ ‘ll end up with the wrong thing.

    • sheepy says

      All of them say dishsoap on the label, but the others also say hand soap. I am going to use the blue because that is the only one used by animal conservationists to get the grease off wildlife, but I use the green in my soap dispenser next to the sink because it is also an antibacterial.

      • macwoof says

        Antibacterial soaps are horrific for the environment. Does big damage down the line to fishes and other water creatures.

        Same with medications that get flushed.. bring em to your pharmacy where they will dispose of them properly.

  5. Harpa J says

    Sounds great! First attempt to buy Borax and washing soda in Iceland failed (the American Store didn't carry it) – but I haven't given up yet!

      • Courtney says

        I have made my own washing soda by baking baking soda in the oven. Works Fantastic!

      • Joan says

        Washing Soda > Sodium carbonate (also known as sal soda or soda ash), Na2CO3 is a sodium salt of carbonic acid. They used to label it as Sal Soda. Maybe a feed store has it, although it would be a big bag.

        Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid

      • Karen says

        Walmart is the only place that I have found Washing Soda….none at target. Target and Walmart both have borax.

      • Jennifer says

        I have been making the laundry soap that you have to grate a bar of soap for a long time now and it really does get annoying. If I am not feeling up to grating soap then I will buy a cheap bottle at the Dollar Tree to get me by until I decide I am ready again. I REALLY love the smell of Gain detergent and have a hard time not wanting to buy it, but this homemade stuff is sooo cheap, it’s hard to resist. I have found both Borax and Washing Soda at our Brookshires, but I understand not everyone has one of those around. I haven’t had to buy any in a long time cause it lasts a while so I dont remember the cost. I am thinking the Borax is closer to $7 or $8, but it will last a while.

      • Cathy Rock says

        I got a great and EASY way to break up your bar soap instead of grating it. Slice the soap into about 1 inch pieces. Then put a couple at a time on a paper towel and put in microwave oven. Microwave about 30 or 40 sec. Soap will fluff up ( it will fluff like a cloud or cotton candy) after it cools for a few mins it will be so easy to crumble it up to melt in hot water. :)

      • tabitha says

        Really? I’ve microwaved Ivory to entertain the kids but didnt try that with laundry soap. gotta try it out. Thanks. if that fails, I love this liquid recipe. works great and is so easy to make.

      • Dawn B. says

        I cut my fels-naptha bar in pieces and put in a gallon or quart size freezer bag and put in 2 cups of water cold or hot does not matter and just let it sit for a few days. every once in awhile squash it around to help break it down. i do this a few days before i know i will need to make another batch that way when i am ready to make it, it will be ready. i use washing soda and borax i can get both at my grocery store and i get the fels-naptha bars at walmart because they are cheaper then at my grocery store

      • JQ says

        I cut the bar in 3 or four chunks and throw it in my Ninja to grate. Crushes it to a powder if I want.

      • Felicia says

        I hate grating the soap too. I found that if I put a bar in the microwave for about 1 1/2 min I do not have to grate anything. The soap gets all big – I let it cool, cut it into about 6 pieces with a knife and crumble it with my hands.

        Super easy!

    • Jill L says

      Dear Harpa,

      I live in Bahrain and cannot find borax either. Have you had any luck? What is it called there?

      • Lugene Pitman says

        Hi Jill. I think Amazon will have what you need. I have been using this detergent and it works fine. When I think it is too thin or does not have the right scent, I remind myself that is why there are so many additives in our products today! we as consumers are used to the convenience of it being a little thicker, looking like a nice color, and smelling nice. I think the idea here is to get back to basics, don’t you? Just sayin’….Sidenote–I attended my Junior year of High School at the Bahrain American School (forget the name of it. We just called it “Bahrain School”) That was way back in the olden days, 1972-73. Is the school still there? Lugene

  6. Sarah says

    Ok so what are the results with an alternative to Dawn, if it is carcinogenic and causes formaldehyde, does Castile soap or another comparable all natural detergent do the same job? Because I love this recipe. It works very well to soak the whites in hot water for a few hours too, very impressed. I added some essential oils rose, lavender etc and it smelled much better too.

  7. Lyn says

    @Sarah – I see its been awhile since you posted but I will answer anyway in case you still are following posts .. I personally use Dr Bonners liquid soap (I don’t like using a detergent either) – not dish detergent… and it works great AND it comes in all kinds of scents which is great !! (they suggest using 1/4 cp per load but I find a you don’t have to use that much unless your clothes are really really dirty so I use 2 or 3 tbsp per load with washing soda (yes I am even too lazy to pre mix into a gallon jug I just squirt it in washer add a bit of washing soda and 1/2 cp peroxide into the wash) and you can use it (the Dr Bonners) for everything including brushing your teeth (but I will add it does taste like yukky soap lol even the peppermint scented soap bar one lol but if going backpacking it has multiple uses so it saves room and weight in a pack) I have also grated up the Dr Bonners soap bar and used that also again works great for the grated “cooked” laundry soap recipes…I love all the different smells of soap they make – BUT DON’T use the tea tree oil scented one or everything will smell medicinal (I used it once cause it was all I had and WOW yuk lol) I like the tea tree oil one for washing up boo boos since it has some antibacterial properties..but never do laundry with it lol…..that smell was hard to hard to get out too.. lol

  8. says

    I used formula exact and it did work however i am unhappy with the suds or lack of after reading more from other people who posted here and am going to add an additional tblsp of dawn to see if it give the desired effect for me (maybe it all in my mind about the suds ) I will re post later