The homemade laundry detergent recipes you’ll find in this post are extremely effective, easy to make, and more affordable than store bought detergents. They’re safe to use in HE machines, too (and since you’ll use less detergent per load, each batch will last even longer!) These DIY laundry soap recipes utilize ingredients like baking soda, borax, washing soda, and bars of laundry soap, all of which are great stain removers (and which you may remember from many of my best stain removal tips!)
The first recipe for homemade laundry detergent we’ll cover is an OGT classic. I’ve been using this detergent for over 10 years now, because it’s easy to make, has incredible cleaning power, and doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin like some other detergents do. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that it makes enough laundry detergent for 280 loads for around $50 in supplies (just 18 cents per load, for those keeping track at home!)
In addition to the powdered detergent recipe, this post also includes a trial-size version of that recipe, as well as how-tos for making laundry detergent tablets and a great liquid laundry soap. After all, you can never have too many options in the fight against grass stains, sweat stains, dirt, blood stains, and all the other challenges you face in the laundry room!
What Do People Love About This Homemade Laundry Detergent?
Take a look at what readers who use this recipe have had to say about my homemade powdered laundry detergent:
“I just made this laundry soap last week and I LOVE it! Not only does the recipe make a ton, but the soap smells good and works wonderfully too! I don’t usually leave comments, but I truly wanted to thank you for all the inspiration!”Michaelle T.
“This homemade laundry detergent works fabulously. It’s cheap to make, and it gets my clothes super clean. Thank you!”Karen
“This is the best smelling laundry detergent ever! It’s super easy to make and cleans wonderfully. I shared some with my mother-in-law and sister, and they both love the scent too!”S. Allen
“I LOVE all of your homemade cleaning items, especially the laundry soap. I haven’t bought from a store since the first time I made it; it’s FUN!!”Cindy R.
Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent
This recipe makes about 35 cups of detergent (around 280 standard wash loads, or 560 HE loads).
- 3 bars (15 oz) Fels-Naptha laundry soap OR 1 bar Zote OR 3 bars Castile soap
- 1 box (76 oz) borax (20 Mule Team is the most common brand)
- 1 box (55 oz) washing soda
- 2 cups baking soda
- 2 boxes (6 lbs) OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover
- 1–2 bottles (15–30 oz) Purex Crystals in-wash fragrance booster (optional, see below)
Step 1 – Grate The Soap
First, you’ll need to break down the bars of soap into fine pieces or pellets. The pieces need to be quite small in order to ensure they’ll be able to dissolve completely in your washing machine.
I usually do this by chopping the soap bars into big chunks, then adding them to the blender cup of my Blendtec with a scoop of OxiClean. Letting my blender do all the work saves me a lot of time and energy, and the OxiClean helps prevent the laundry soap pieces from sticking together and gumming up the blender.
If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you can grind up the soap in your food processor or grate it using a hand-held cheese grater. (Grating soap by hand is a bit of a workout, but it gets the job done!)
Step 2 – Mix The Ingredients
Next, gather all your detergent ingredients and grab a couple of kitchen trash bags. Pour the grated laundry soap, borax, washing soda, baking soda, OxiClean, and Purex Crystals (if using) into one trash bag, then close the bag and tie it off securely.
Place the tied bag inside the second trash bag, then close and tie off that one too. Then you’ll be able to push, tumble, and roll the bags around to mix all the ingredients together (with no mess to clean up afterward!)
Step 3 – Transfer To A Container
After mixing, cut a hole in the corner of both trash bags and empty the detergent into a large container for storage. (If you live in a humid climate, make sure the container has an airtight lid! You can also toss a few silica gel packets into the detergent to absorb moisture and prevent clumps.
How Much Powdered Detergent Should I Use Per Load?
- Use 2 tablespoons of this homemade laundry detergent per standard wash load, or 2 1/2 tablespoons for large or heavily soiled loads.
- For HE machines, use 1 tablespoon per wash load, or 1 1/2 tablespoons for large or heavily soiled loads.
Note: For best results, add the detergent directly to the wash drum of your washing machine. This will prevent any issues with the soap bits getting stuck or clogging your detergent dispenser.
BONUS: Fels Naptha, Zote & Castile Soap: What’s The Difference?
Fels-Naptha bars are made of soap and talc, and feature a light scent that only lingers on fabrics for a day or so. (You can also use it to wash off oils from poison ivy and other itch-causing plants that have gotten on your clothes and skin, so consider keeping a bar with your camping gear!)
The most common Castile bar soap is Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castile Bar Soap. It’s made from organic vegetable-derived oils, available in a variety of scents, contains no foaming agents, and is vegan and cruelty-free.
Zote is made with beef tallow, coconut oil, and citronella, which gives it a longer-lasting scent than other laundry soaps. There’s also a pink version of Zote that’s supposed to be gentler and better for sensitive skin (though I’ve personally never had issues with any of the laundry bar soaps I’ve tried!)
Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap – Trial-Size Recipe
Interested in trying this homemade powdered detergent, but aren’t ready to commit to making a full batch? This trial-size recipe is perfect for that! It’s also a great option for households that don’t need a huge amount of detergent on hand.
This version of the recipe makes just over 11 cups of detergent, (around 90 standard wash loads, or 180 HE loads).
- 1 bar Fels Naptha laundry soap
- 3 cups borax
- 2 cups washing soda
- 3/4 cup baking soda
- 4 1/2 cups OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover
- 1 cup Purex Crystals in-wash fragrance booster (optional)
Make according to the directions provided for the full-size recipe above.
Homemade Laundry Detergent Tablets
If you like store-bought detergent pods, consider using the powdered detergent described above to make your own detergent tablets! Because you won’t have to measure out detergent for each wash load, you’ll be less likely to use too much, which means fewer residue issues and less wear on your clothes.
Tablets can also make laundry simpler for teens and husbands, and they’re easier to travel with than liquid detergent — whether you’re traveling to the nearest laundromat or out of the country! Plus, they’re quick and easy to make if you already have a batch of powdered detergent on hand.
How To Make Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs
- Powdered laundry detergent*
- Spray bottle
- White vinegar
- Ice cube tray or silicone mold
Pour some white vinegar into a spray bottle, then add about 2 cups of powdered laundry detergent to a mixing bowl. Spray the detergent with vinegar until just damp enough that it forms a clump when you squeeze it in your hand.
Add one heaping tablespoon of the moistened detergent to each cavity of your mold, then press down firmly until the detergent is tightly packed and level.
How Many Laundry Detergent Tabs Should I Use?
- For HE washing machines, use 1 tab per normal-sized load of laundry.
- For standard washing machines, use 2 tabs per normal-sized load.
Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
- 1/2 cup borax
- 1/2 cup washing soda
- 1/2 cup Dawn dish soap (or liquid Castile soap)
- 4 cups hot water
Add the borax, washing soda, and soap to a gallon-sized container (an empty juice or milk carton works great), then add the hot water and shake or stir to dissolve the ingredients. Fill the remaining space in the container with cool water.
The ingredients may settle over time, so give the bottle a good shake before each use. (And since the liquid detergent doesn’t contain OxiClean like the powdered version does, feel free to add a bit of oxygen bleach to your washer along with your detergent when washing whites!)
How Much Liquid Detergent Should I Use?
- For standard washers, use 1/4 cup per normal load (or more for large or heavily-soiled loads).
- For HE washers, use 2 tablespoons per normal load (or more for large or heavily-soiled loads).
A Few Helpful Notes
- All of these detergents are safe to use in front-loading, high-efficiency washers. (The liquid detergent produces little to no suds, so it’s perfect for HE models.)
- For a vegan detergent, use Castile bar soap, rather than Fels-Naptha or Zote.
- Purex Crystals help give homemade laundry detergent a fresh, lasting scent. To avoid synthetic fragrances and chemicals, feel free to leave them out — the detergent will work just fine without them!
- Another fragrance option is to make your own natural scented crystals with essential oils. (Natural fragrances fade faster than synthetic ones do, so you may want to store and add your homemade scent crystals separately from your detergent.)
- If you’re looking for more ways to save money on laundry supplies, consider making homemade dryer sheets.
- For more homemade cleaning supplies, check out my homemade detergent for dishwashers — the ingredients and process are quite similar!
Have you ever tried to make your own laundry detergent?
Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe
- Kitchen Knife
- Storage Container
- 15 ounces Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
- 76 ounces borax
- 55 ounces washing soda
- 2 cups baking soda
- 110 ounces OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover
- 15 ounces Purex Crystals optional
- Break down the bars of Fels-Naptha in fine pellets of laundry soap. The pieces need to be small enough that they will dissolve readily in your washing machine.
- Pour the laundry soap pellets, borax, washing soda, baking soda, OxiClean, and Purex Crystals (if using) into a trash bag. Tie it off, put it in another trash bag, and tie off the second bag.
- Roll the bag around the mix, then cut a hole in the corner of both bags and pour the detergent into a big jar or container for storage.