Homemade Laundry Detergent – Trial Size Version

trial size homemade detergent

I think today’s post was simply meant to be! About a week ago I was thinking about homemade laundry detergent and how more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon to make it! Which I think it fantastic! I would love to see the whole world making it! :-) It’s really just one of those things that until you’ve tried it, you just won’t know how great it is!

I won’t bore you with all the reasons I LOVE making my own laundry detergent. You can read all about that HERE, HERE, and HERE if you’re so inclined.

OK…I’m getting off track, as usual. The reason I think this post was meant to be is because while I was pondering all these people making their own detergent I realized that not everyone will have need for a HUGE batch. Families with kids…sure. But for singles, young couples, empty-nesters, etc….that’s a whole lotta soap!

At the same time I got a comment on my post about making a year’s worth of laundry detergent from Sarah who asked if I could come up with a “trial size” version of the recipe so she could try it out before committing to making “the big batch”. I can respect that sentiment!

So that’s what I’ve been up to…scaling back the “big batch” to a more manageable amount. It’s roughly 1/3 the original recipe and the thing I really like about it is that you can throw it all in a large jar and shake it up! Can’t do that with the “big batch”! :-)

Homemade Laundry Detergent – Trial Sized Version

  • 1 bar grated Fels Naptha soap
  • 3 cups Borax
  • 2 cups washing soda
  • 3/4 cup baking soda
  • 4 1/2 cups oxygen bleach
  • 1 cup (heaping) fabric softener crystals – store-bought or Homemade (optional)

trial size homemade detergent

Grate your bar of Fels Naptha either with the small holes on your cheese grater, in your food processor, or, if you have a powerful enough blender, use that! I have to say, this is the first time I have tried using my Blendtec for soap-grating and I was astonished at how well it worked! I thought I liked my Blendtec BEFORE…now I’m convinced it’s worth its’ weight in gold! ;-)

trial size homemade detergent

Then add all the ingredients in a large container, preferably one with a lid so you can shake it all up.

trial size homemade detergent

Like I said, this was one of the unexpected perks I discovered of making this size batch…being able to mix all the ingredients without having to resort to the trash bag method.

trial size homemade detergent

This amounts to roughly 100 ounces of laundry detergent and using 1/2 cup per load you should be able to get approximately 25 loads of clothes clean with it! I’d say that’s a pretty good “trial period”. :-)

Update: 2 Tablespoons per load is actually recommended.

trial size homemade detergent

Thank you Sarah for the inspiration for today’s post…I really hope you, and others, will find this helpful!


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    • JamieLee says

      It is fine for HE, but i would only use about 2 Tbs. If you use oxi clean the little blue scoop that comes with it is 2 Tbs so it makes it a little easier for you to measure it out. My clothes always come out nice and clean and smell great.

    • says

      Hey! This does work in HE’s. I have an HE. :)

      The recommended amount for a NON-he washer is 2 tbs. You need to chop that in half and use ONE (1) tbs.


      Good luck and LMK how you make out with your soap!!

      • Laurie says

        for some reason, I found that after the cycle was complete in my HE washer, I had a detergent dispenser quite full of water — not just a little – a lot! Had to use a big thirsty washcloth to soak up all the leftover water! Experimented with different quantities, but more or less – the same result. Ran out of the homemade and bought some liquid at the store, and now – very little water in that dispenser! Any ideas what may have caused this? (I have not made the homemade liquid detergent but may give that a try to see if it works better than the homemade powder)

      • Jo says

        I don’t know what caused this at all! I have an HE and this has never happened. I just add my homemade laundry powder (this recipe minus the oxyclean and fabric softener crystals) to the drum. I don’t put it in the dispenser. I add vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. That seems to clean away any residue. I also use Ivory for the soap in this recipe. It dissolves very well. I’ve had no experience with Fels Naptha as I can’t get it here where I live. I have also made the liquid. It’s great too!

      • says

        I have found Fels Naptha at Wal Mart and various small chain budget/dollar type stores in my area (Gulf Coast). It costs about a dollar a bar. My grandma used to have a cheap aluminum pan that she would melt and keep the FP soap in to pour on stained collars, etc… She would just heat it on laundry day.

      • Nicole Curtis says

        i have an HE and i also just put it in the drum, one thing about this detergent is how well it rinses, I make the liquid (pretty much the same stuff) and to it just takes a quick rinse to clean out the bucket. No residue at all. Keep trying i think you will like it

      • Rebecca says

        Put the homemade soap directly in the barrel of the HE washer. I been making this soap for about 6 moths now and love it. And everyone I gift it to loves it as well. I myself use 1/4 cup in my HE directly into the barrel.

      • wendy says


        Make sure you are not putting powder in the liquid dispensor cup. Mine is an insert that you lift out to use powder detergent.
        Hope this helps

      • Dawn says

        Do not put a powder in the dispenser of an HE machine put it straight into the drum. I would never put powder in the dispenser I’ve always used liquid in that with my HE.

  1. says

    Awesome. I’m definitely one of those single people who was wondering if I could make a small batch. I realize I have all the measurements wrong as I just did one cup of each thing and one bar of soap. WHOOPS! Also, I noticed you said use a half cup per load…I thought it was two tablespoons!! I’ve been using 4 tbsp for big loads which I guess is a half cup anyway…

    • Susie says

      I tried to comment before, but I don’t think it worked! Anyway, I thought it was 2 Tbsp., too! Maybe that was the HE version? Well, I just wanted to let you know that 4 Tbsp. is only 1/4 cup, so if you wanted to use the full 1/2 cup measure, you would need to use 8 Tbsp! :)

      I bought all of the ingredients to make this laundry detergent a few months back, but have been putting it off for just this reason — I didn’t want such a big batch! This trial size will be PERFECT!! I can’t wait to make it! Maybe later today…

      THANK YOU!

    • Gianna says

      I’ve got a recipe that also calls for 1 bar of soap to 1 Cup each of Borax & Washing Powder. I’ve been using two coffee scoops per load & my clothes come out clean & fresh. I think if that’s the way you’ve been doing it & haven’t had any problems, you’re fine.

      • Linda says

        This is the same recipe that I’ve been using for over a year now. I only add baking soda, oxyclean or Purex crystals as needed to loads that need that something extra. I’ve also used Zote & Ivory bars. It all works great! Love it & the money I’m saving

      • Mandy says

        Thanks Linda!! I was going to ask if Zote would work. I can only find the flakes in the store. What amount do you use? Jillee’s “recipe” calls for one bar of Fels Naptha….

      • Linda says

        I’ve never used the flakes so I don’t know that amount. I do 1 bar of soap (grated), 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda. Per load I use 2 tbsp. I only add the other items as needed.

      • Nicole says

        The other thing is that Zote is double the size of Fels Naptha. I just used half the bar. Using the whole bar would throw off the washing soda/Borax ratio. I just wonder if the soap has the same effectiveness as Fels Naptha? I personally haven’t noticed a difference yet…

      • Barabara says

        I use pink Zote and it has a very nice clean scent. Much nicer than Fels Naptha.

      • katy says

        This is also the recipe I use – 1 bar soap (I use castile soap, simply because it’s under $1/bar at my grocery), 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup Borax. Easy to remember. Might try cutting the baking soda back to 1/2 cup. I use approximately 2 tbsp (1 coffee scoop) per load in a non-HE washer.

    • CTY says

      La Toya– for years I had a “chest sheet ” of measurement equivalents on my refrigerator. Jillee made a beautiful cheat sheet for this–for now here is a basic reference.
      3 tsp = 1 TB 2 TB= 1/8 C 4 TB=1/4C roughly 5TB= 1/3 C 6 TB fpr 3/8 C 8 TB= 1/2 C 10 TB= 5/8 C nearly 11 TB= 2/3 C 12 TB=3/4 C 14 TB =7/8 C and 16 TB=1 C
      These days I have this memorized–but now I have a new “cheat sheet” with metric. Maybe Jillee can make a cute one for the metric. I really do like metric better–the measurements are much more precise and make it super easy to halve & double a recipe. Jillee–I could also use a metric temperature “cheat sheet” now that I get sooo many recipes on line. You are so good at making pretty ones.

    • Rita says

      Hi: Actually there is a recipe out there using one cup of each ingredient and half a bar of soap. That’s the one I use. Shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t use the crystals so that might be a different amount.

    • Nicole says

      This is Jillee’s latest version. I still use the first dry recipe which was a cup of Borax, a cup of super washing soda and a grated bar of soap. Maybe that’s what you’ve been using? And actually 4 TB is a quarter cup and 8 TB is a half a cup so you’re not going way overboard. So getting back to the recipe above, could anyone tell me if they notice a big difference when adding the oxygen bleach and baking soda compared to the simplified version I’m still using?

  2. JamieLee says

    My homemade detergent is a lot like this one but i refuse to use Fels Naptha soap. I use Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps instead. I have read that Fels Naptha contains stoddard solvent which is a mixture of multiple chemicals made from petroleum. Repeated or prolonged exposure to high concentrations has resulted in upper respiratory tract irritation, central and peripheral nervous system effects, and possibly hematopoetic, liver and kidney effects. Of course it has also been used for at least 100 years so i guess you can use at your own risk.
    Btw i love your site! It is on my tool bar and i visit it at least once a day!

    • mdoe37 says

      Stoddard solvent is not in the listed ingredients on the website. It contained it at one time, but not now. This keeps being perpetuated every time its mentioned in a recipe. I would be less concerned about the tiny miniscule of residue left on my clothing after washing and rinsing than what is in the air of the last breath I took. Let’s say there is a 1/2 teaspoon of this in the load of wash diluted by X gallons of water……..its not like you are soaking and not rinsing clothes in full strength soap.

    • Shannon says

      Where do you find Dr. Bronner’s Soaps? I don’t know where to find the soaps & oxygen bleach & such.

      • Julie says

        Don’t have any clue where you are located, but in the Southeastern US I see it in the skin care isle at Walgreens, the health food section with the skin care in Kroger, in the health & beauty area in Target or Publix. Hope that gives you some idea of where to check locally.

      • Judy Ann says

        Deanna, I buy my Dr Bonners soap at a health food store.
        I like the almond one, but now they have a baby fresh in the liquid – don’t know about htebars tho. Good Luck..(Also on Amazon.com – 5.99 a bar)

    • Debra says

      It’s also incredibly easy to make your own laundry bar soap. I’ve been doing that and it makes the homemade laundry detergent even cheaper and it works great as a stain stick too!

      • Debra says

        The recipe for the laundry soap bar is:

        16 oz lard
        16 oz coconut oil
        12.16 oz water
        5.3 oz lye

        There are some great tutorials on how to make soap in the crock pot, I believe Jillie recently posted one as well. Very important that you run a recipe through a lye calculator to make sure that your lye and water amounts are accurate for the amount of oil that you’re using. Soapcalc is a great one.

      • says

        thank you for posting your recipe! I have been wanting to make my own soaps for ages…and a laundry bar would be very useful and great for gift giving too!!! If you wanted to add scents to it, how would you go about doing so? I know that it’s all by weight to what weight would you add the EO’s too, the fat/oil portion or the water?

    • Trixie F says

      Hi Jamielee,

      Just a head’s up that Fels-Naptha was “re-invented” a few years back without all the petroleum based chemicals, probably due to consumer demand. Check it out :)

    • Stephanie says

      Jamielee – I won’t use the Fels Naptha either. The first time I went to buy the ingredients to make my very first batch of laundry soap, I read the information on the wrapper, as I always do. When I got to the point where they very strongly emphasized users to not to let this stuff get on your skin, I put it right back on the shelf. I use castile soap or Ivory instead. I don’t know if it works as well as Fels Naptha or not but I don’t want my family using that stuff. I mean that label was so strongly worded that it kinda scared me. I love being able to make my own laundry products. I am so thankful to have found Jillee’s site. Thanks, Jillee!

      • anna b. says

        i use ivory mostly, but have used fels-naptha in the past. i think the ivory works better and more efficiently. you have to soften the FN to get it to dissolve completely in less than scalding water. ivory dissolves with less heat and agitation (i have a top loader) and my clothes (and my 3 kids and construction working husband) are clean and smell lovely. i love the smell of ivory…we use it in the bath too. FN is difficult to find in our area and costs the same amount as 4 bars of ivory.

    • Elizabeth says

      I also won’t use Fels Naptha because it contains Formaldehyde. If I am making things homemade, I am not going to trade one set of bad chemicals for another.

      I bought some Dr. Brommers at Target (it was in the natural products like Burt’s Bees) but Kroger also sells it. I don’t really care for it though.

      I just made my first batch of cold process castille soap which was super easy and in 48 hours (after it neutralizes) you can take the bars dissolve them in water and get liquid soap out of it to use right away. I imagine that after the bars harden up in 6 weeks, I could use that as a substitute for the Fels Naptha. Much like you are doing with the Dr. Brommers.

    • Buddy says

      My experience with laundry detergent recipes using Fels Naptha soap has not been a good one. I found that my towels (bath and kitchen) no longer soaked up water with extended use. They also had a very “greasy” feel to them. It was almost like someone smeared vaseline on them and dried them to haites and back. Now I understand why. Thank you for posting!

  3. Zoquara says

    I don’t use anything except Fels Naptha, Borax, and Washing Soda in mine. I think it’s something like 1 bar FN to 2 cups each borax and washing soda, and I only use 1-2 tsp. (I keep a recipe card in my “excess bucket” for when I need to make more.) If I have something that has a smell that needs extra “oomph”, I add about 1/4-1/3 cup baking soda to the wash. I wash in straight cold water, and it dissolves fine. I don’t feel the need for any extra scent added to my laundry… I use a dryer bar in my dryer (Yes, I’ve thought about making my own fabric softener and sheets… the dryer bar is easier to remember!) and that’s enough for me. Then again, I’ve stopped using cleaners that are heavily scented and chemically, so now I’m super sensitive to things that DO smell!

  4. Mary D. says

    I’ve been using this for almost a year now. I have been using 2 t. But my washing repairman said 1 t. Is better. He also said too much detergent is the #1 cause of washers needing repair. So I have been doing 1t. For a few weeks now, works great.

    • Denise says

      I have found that if i put 3-5 drops of my doTERRA essential oils in the load, then I don’t need a fabric softener. :)

    • Gwyn says

      One teaspoon (t)? I thought Tablespoons (T) had been mentioned. Are you getting away with only using a teaspoon in a regular top load washer? I have also heard that too much soap is the cause of dingy clothes…

      • Trixie F says

        I use a 1/8 cup coffee scoop (from Dollar Tree) to measure my detergent. I have a top load, HE washer and it gets my clothes SUPER clean! 1/8 c is approximately equivalent to 2 Tablespoons.

    • Melissa says

      I know that with Allen’s (natural soap suggested with cloth diapering) they say use 2 teaspoons (1/4 scoop) for HE Machines (which would be 8 tea, or 1 scoop for regular machines).

      With our laundry ministry, where we are using homemade soap, we tell the ladies to use 1/4-1/2 Cup of soap with their loads (regular, top loading machines), depending on how much and how dirty the loads are. In most cases, the 1/2 Cups of soap seems to be what works best for their heavily soiled loads.

    • CTY says

      1 Tb will work fabulously without the crystals but if you are adding the Scent Crystals–you need 2 TB other wise you are splitting the washing power with crystals power–Make sense?

  5. says

    This is so great! Detergent is so expensove nowadays, this is a great alternative, and thanks for posting this trial size version!

  6. says

    I’ve been using this recipe for a while now, and love it. My only difference is that I use my own homemade soap instead of the store bought. I also don’t add the fabric softener part because I use my own homemade dryer balls.

    I’m still using my first batch, which was much larger than I thought it would be. So, I sent some to my daughters to use, who also love it. :)

  7. Cheryl S. says

    Both my daughter and I have very sensitive sk\in. Can we use this? I would love to be able to make my own detergent!

  8. Angela says

    Is it important to use Fels Naptha? I know some like it for it’s natural aspects, but I would like to use Ivory. Will that work too?

  9. Susie E says

    How does this compare to your “no grate” laundry soap? I’ve been using that for almost a year, but I have noticed that my whites seem to be getting dinghy, especially the menfolks undershirts. Which one do you think works best?

    PS Love having your blog delivered to my reader. I love being able to go green, save green and be healthy, all at the same time!

    • Michele Glatt says

      I would also like to know this answer. I’ve been using the No Grate recipe for months now. So far, whites are staying white but I notice more talk about the dry laundry soap. Is there a favorite?

      • says

        To be honest, I like both! The only advantage to the powdered I can think of is that you don’t have to make it as often. But the no-grate is so easy to make…that I think it’s sort of a wash. ;-) I know this isn’t very helpful….lol.

    • Calliope says

      My guess is that you dont airdry your clothes. Hence the dingy whites.
      Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice in the wash and then airdry in the sun for sometimes and your whites will turn white again.
      I’ve been using my own homemade detergent for almost 7 years now and the whites are never dingy or yellow

      • Gwyn says

        Not all of us live in climates that make air drying outside in the sun possible year round (lucky you that you do)…though when warm dry weather does hit I find using the lemon juice/sun method works well, it also is just so nice to have laundry that has had fresh air!

    • Trixie F says

      I had trouble with other laundry soap recipes turning my clothes grey and leaving spots on them, but I have not had any problems with this stuff. I wash all of my clothes in cold, except whites and I do them at the hottest setting on my washer. The other bonus about this soap vs. the no-grate is that if you want to, it is safe to use bleach with this recipe. You can’t do that with the no-grate because Dawn soap has ammonia and bleach and ammonia are BAD BAD. Another trick that I use sometimes is to pour white vinegar in the bleach cup if I think something looks a little dingy, it works great for any color. I also used Jillee’s homemade liquid fabric softener (vinegar + hair conditioner) in every load. My clothes are coming out cleaner than ever before.