Super Fast and Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent!

My initial attempt at making my own homemade laundry detergent started back in July of last year.  I have to laugh at my first post about it because I was so “up in arms” about the high cost, etc. that I finally said “enough is enough” and haven’t ever gone back!

I HAVE however made some tweaks to my system along the way and have shared them as well.

On August 20th, 2011 I revisited my first post with a few more insights into the process because at that point I’m pretty sure I felt like I was an “expert”. ;-)

Then in January of THIS year I posted a Step-by-Step-by-Step-by-Step Photo Tutorial of exactly how I made my detergent for those who seemed to be confused about the process.

And JUST when everyone was finally figuring it all out….the next month I threw you all a curve ball and changed up the whole recipe to a No-Grate method. Honestly, at that point I wasn’t intending to use this recipe exclusively. I was just offering it as an alternative to those who I knew for a fact wouldn’t grate soap…like my sisters. ;-)  Little did I know at the time that this would become my “laundry detergent of choice”….at least for now.  One never knows when something even better will come along. :-)

Which brings us to TODAY! The reason I am bringing up all this homemade laundry soap history is that today was soap-making day and since I was making my usual 3 gallon batch…I thought I would take a few pictures and show you how easy it is!

And just so you know….I have NOTHING against the original recipe I posted. It’s good stuff! It’s just that PERSONALLY this is SO much faster for me to make and my soap-making time is SO limited as of late! It would make much more sense for me to just go back to buying it at the store…but I honestly don’t think I can make myself do that. I am a complete convert to the homemade stuff. :-)

So this is what I do now…and I offer it merely as an idea/alternative for whomever thinks it might be something that would work for them as well.

Jillee’s Super Fast & Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent

(recipe amounts are for one gallon and I make 3 recipes/gallons at a time.)

3 Tablespoons Borax
3 Tablespoons Washing Soda
2 Tablespoons Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid

I like to line up my (3) one gallon jugs (old Minute Maid O.J. bottles) and then add the ingredients assembly line style. I use a small plastic funnel for this and it helps to make it all go much faster and with much fewer spills.

Once all three jugs have the 3 ingredients inside, I pour 4 cups of VERY HOT water into each one. I just use water from the kitchen faucet, it doesn’t need to be boiling. Swirl each bottle until all the ingredients are dissolved in the liquid. Then fill almost to the top with cold water. (Bubbles will overflow out of the bottle a little.)




It is NOT a THICK liquid detergent. It’s quite thin in fact. But it works JUST AS WELL! It has little to no suds (just like the grated soap kind) and it is fine to use in HE washers for that reason. VERY low to no suds.

BECAUSE it is thin….I end up using more of it than the thicker “cooked” version…usually AROUND a cup. Sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more. But I am fine with that because it is SO inexpensive (and easy) to make! (I’d try and figure out the actual cost…but my brain is WAY too tired right now. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe one of you math whizzes out there will take pity on me and figure it out FOR me! :-)

UPDATE: Lisa took pity on me!! :-)  Thank you Lisa!!

Lisa April 30, 2012 at 7:35 am
Jillee, I love your blog with such useful tips, I figured all the good tips you give me, I’d do the math I’m no mathematic genius but here it goes .. I paid 3.83 for borax at Walmart , 1.99 for washing soda, and $ 2.00 for dawn. Ok I rounded up to nearest whole dollar so 1 box of borax is 76 ounces so it makes 50 gallons of detergent equaling =0.08 per gallon. One box washing soda is 55 ounces which will make 48 gallons of detergent=0.05/load. The dawn was 48 ounces so it will make 36 gallons of detergent =0.04 per gallon. So my educated guess is each gallon cost is $0.17 !! Now that’s one good thing!!!! P. S. I love your cafe rio sweet pork recipe!!!!


I also use this along with the other “weapons” in my laundry arsenal: homemade “Shout”, homemade “OxiClean“, and homemade fabric softener.

I have been VERY pleased with this “system” for my family….of course I’m always willing to learn new tricks! :-)   Let the commenting begin…….

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  1. KK says

    My elderly mother lives with me and it’s hard for her to lift a gallon jug. When I made this for the first time, we just left it concentrated and use 1/4th as much. Also, if you put the hot water in first it’s easier to swirl the water around to dissolve the dry ingredients. We love using this and will never go back!

    • Glenna Riess says

      That is exactly what I was thinking, in fact I was going to post the concentrated formula. You beat me to it.

      • piper says

        No, I think she meant that she makes the recipe as outline by Jillee with the original measurements, but then she stops after adding 4 cups of hot water. So instead of filling the gallon jug up the rest of the way with water, she just uses 1/4 cup of the ‘concentrated’ mixture instead of 1 cup of the version with extra water.

    • Kathy says

      OK, just read some comments regarding making a more concentrated recipe, so to use 1/4 cup of detergent, make 1 gallon of concentrate:

      Pour hot water into a gallon container, less 2 cups or so (leaving room for ingredients)

      3/4 Cup Borax
      3/4 Cup Washing Soda
      1/2 Cup dishwashing soap ( liquid)

      Mix til all is dissolved. Can add hot water to fill to top if wished.

    • Megan says

      i was thinking about making this since i have all the stuff. My thought though, is that instead of using 3, 3, and 2 tbsp i’d make use 3/4c (12 tbsp), 3/4 cup, and 1/2 cup (8 tbsp) and then just add all hot water. Making it a full gallon of concentrated. and just use a quarter cup. :)

  2. Helen Forbes says

    I think I will use my old laundry detergent bottles. They are smaller and easier to handle. I love the homemade fabric softner. I make my own dryer sheets with it and can’t wait to try this laundry detergent. Love the blog. Your ideas have really been fun to try. HElen

  3. Sandy says

    LOVE all your homemade ideas!!! I’m waiting for a homemade alternative to Endust. This is my favorite blog and I can’t wait each day to see what the ONE GOOD THING will be. Keep it up!

    • Amanda says

      Brooke- I bought a huge bottle of lavender scented dish soap from dollar tree a few months ago because I loved the smell. Tried it on my dishes and couldn’t get it to completely rinse off so it stayed under my cabinet for two months. Last month I needed more laundry soap so I pulled it out to try it and it worked!

      Granted, it didn’t work as well so I’m using a bit more of it but my clothes are really soft without using fabric softener and they smell great. So yes, you can use other scents. Even other brands! (But nothing seems to work as well as original blue dawn.)

      • Shannon says

        I have used Dollar Store dish soap before and was very disappointed. I didn’t think it worked well at all (for dishes). I’m curious to try the laundry detergent. I have some Palmolive stuff that’s “gentle on hands” and wondering if that will work for laundry?

  4. Audra says

    Every time I see an awesome pin on Pinterest it seems to be yours! I get to your site and say, “I should’ve known it was Jillee!” Thank you for sharing all your wonderful ideas. I’ll have to try this recipe. I use a powder one right now, but I’m thinking about switching. It works great, but I’ve heard that powders are bad for the machine. (My recipe – 2 c washing soda, 2 cups borax, 2 cups oxyclean, 2 cups Clorox2 and 2 bars Fels Naptha grated. I have a large capacity washer, so I use 3 TBSP’s per load)

    • crazywoman says

      Audra, the powder you are using shouldn’t be harmful to your washer. It is the commercial versions which have so much fillers in them that are harmful. Yours sounds perfectly fine as far as not harming your washer goes.

  5. kim says

    I definitely need to try this. I’m curious as to why you don’t make it more concentrated and use less.

  6. Amanda Collins says

    Did you ever come up with a bleach alternative that would be safe with ammonia? I wash a lot of whites for work, which requires the use of bleach for an antibacterial. And antimicrobial.

    • says

      In place of bleach I use hydrogen peroxide. It works just as well, if not better, and is better for the environment.

      • Laura says

        How much hydrogen peroxide do you use per load and are you talking about in addition to detergent, I presume?

    • EcoMama says

      Amanda, have you tried using vinegar in your rinse cycle, for antimicrobial? It’s way kinder to the environment than bleach.

      • IMO says

        I have been using vinegar in my rinse water for 36 years! To think of the money I’ve saved by not buying fabric softener puts a huge smile on my wallet!
        Here is my thinking on this. My baby used cotton diapers. Cotton is very soft. So why would it be stiff when it’s washed? Answer: Soap residue. So I could either rinse the diapers twice or put vinegar in the rinse water to cut the soap. I chose the vinegar. I just pour it in the fabric dispenser cup in my washer. It worked perfectly. No vinegar smell. Clothes soft and fresh smelling. Freshness remained (sometimes for months!). Worked the same whether I dried clothes in the dryer or on line outside. My dryer doesn’t have the gunky coating from the fabric softener. It also keeps my dark clothes dark and strangely eliminates the ‘lint’ problem. Vinegar is an amazing product!

      • Melissa J says

        I have tried Vinegar, but it seems to never cut down on lint and it also seems like my clothes are still static-y when they come out of the dryer. I have tried Vinegar with the Downy ball, and have also tried it inside my fabric softener dispenser in my machine. What’s going wrong here?

      • Sharei says

        Try putting a ball of aluminum foil in the dryer or tennis balls to bounce around with the clothes. Seems to work for me.

      • Sierra says

        Just to clear things up =P
        What type of vinegar did you use and how much did you put in the fabric dispenser cup?

  7. Gennyfer o says

    Would this work in an HE machine? I make my own powdered because it is easier for my visually impaired spouse to measure with the tablespoon, but, the ease of making this and the lower cost is tempting. If I can find a simple way for him to measure it I may switch.

    • Sheila says

      Lol she stated just after the recipe that since it is really low sudsing that it is perfectly fine in an HE washer..

    • Charlene says

      If you have a pool supply store nearby, they probably have a 3 oz scoop for sale. I would imagine if a top loader takes about a cup, I’d start with 3 oz or less of soap, and see how clean your clothes get. Or just use your 1/4 cup or 1/3 cup measuring cups, or even those small scoops from hot chocolate mixes. I’m sure there’s lots of small containers you could find that would work!

      • Nechelle says

        Me also! I use a red, plastic, Folgers coffee container (several for the powered version) and a scoop from Muscle Milk Protein powder, which is very slightly less than 1/3 cup (for the powdered version I use half a scoop for lg load and approx. a quarter of the scoop for smaller loads), that I leave in the Coffee container. I can also use a black sharpie to label it.

  8. Amanda says

    I’m going to give this one a try after my last batch is done. I got my recipe from another blog and it’s been working well, but lately it seems like just isn’t removing stains as well.

    • says

      I think any liquid dish soap would work. I’m just partial to Blue Dawn. But I know there are many who don’t like to use it and use an alternative. See Mama T’s post below. She used Gain. :-)