Feeling Dirty? Make your own laundry detergent!

Caitlin guest posted before about her awesome DIY Orange Cleaner last week. It was a huge hit! I am so glad so many people are interested in using it. She also makes her own laundry detergent AND dish washer detergent. She wrote this guest post for us, and I bet, if we are really nice to her, she might help us out with dish washer detergent making some time in the future.

I am just so inspired with her simple household cleaning solutions that are green, cheap, AND simple! Thank you Caitlin! Check out her blog at Caitlin-lane.blogspot.com.


I’d like to thank Amanda for letting me guest post on her blog again! It’s always fun to hop over to other’s blogs to share a few tips and tricks.

We started cloth diapering my daughter when she was five-months-old. I had considered it before having her but my mom, who had used the old pin and rubber pants method with my older sister and brother, talked me out of it. You see, I was a Pampers baby back when cloth diapering was still (according to my mother) a huge pain in the butt. Kissing metal pins and rubber pants goodbye hadn’t been an issue for my parents.

But when we finally made that switch I was at the mercy of buying some sort of expensive laundry detergent. Yeah, yeah, I know. You don’t use that much when you wash cloth, but buying separate detergents for cloth and our clothes was beginning to add up. Plus, we were simply coating our clothes,
washer, and dryer in unneeded and unwanted chemicals. Ew. So the most logical explanation was to figure out what I could make on my own that would be best for my family. And now, no more pre-made laundry detergent laden down with chemicals and, with the aid of wool dryer balls, our clothes are
better than ever.

I need only 3 simple ingredients. Borax, washing soda, and a bar of ivory soap. I’ve heard great things about using Dr. Bronner’s soap instead and plan on giving that a go after I use up the pack of ivory soap that I have left.

Grate up your bar of soap. This is actually 2 bars as I make a double batch at a time. If you want to be a super productive person you could probably make a butt load all at once, but I kind of enjoy making it, so I keep my batches smaller.

Now, add in the borax and the washing soda.

And shake the crap out of it until it’s fully mixed. You’re done!

I keep my detergent in an old pasta container that I never really used and use and old teaspoon from an extra set of measuring spoons to dole it out. For my diapers I use 1 tablespoon of detergent and for most other loads anywhere from 2 – 3, depending on how soiled the load is.

If your first try with this detergent doesn’t work out do not, and I repeat, do not throw your hands up in the air and say “Well this sucks!”. Every washer is different. You might have hard water or your laundry might still be loaded down with a butt load of chemicals. I don’t know, I don’t do your laundry. But when making homemade detergent there’s often tweaking involved that requires you to play with the amount of the ingredients or the ingredients themselves. I can’t even begin to tell you how long it took to get my
dishwasher detergent correct. So don’t be disheartened if this doesn’t work perfectly for you. Play with the recipe a bit until you find the perfect process that works best for you.

DIY Laundry Detergent:

1 bar ivory soap
½ cup Borax
½ cup Washing Soda

-Grate soap and place in air tight container. Add borax and washing soda, shake well.
-Before use, give either a quick shake or stir.
-Use 1 tablespoon for cloth diapers, and 2 – 3 tablespoons for other loads.


Caitlin is a wife, a mom, and a lover of words, living on an Air Force base in the middle of nowhere. Since having her daughter she’s turned to the green side and has enjoyed the changes that eating and living well has brought her family. She also blogs at All About Growing up and Becoming a Famous Author (Caitlin-lane.blogspot.com).

Shared on Frugally Sustainable’s Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.


8 responses to “Feeling Dirty? Make your own laundry detergent!

  1. I did have two questions for Caitilin after she sent this to me.
    Two quick questions. How finely do you grate the soap? And what is washing soda? Where do you get it? (I guess thats 3)

    This was her response: I try to grate it pretty fine. In the picture I used that little hand held one, but you know those ones that stand up and have four sides with four different graters on them? It’d be the one that grates them the smallest if that makes sense. And because I’m not good at explaining what it is, here’s wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_carbonate. It’s basically another variant on baking soda. You can normally find borax and baking soda right next to each other on the laundry detergent aisle 🙂 BUT, they don’t put them anywhere convenient. They won’t be at eye level and will either be on the top shelf or bottom shelf, and right before or after the detergent, never in the middle of them.

  2. Does this work in the newfangled front loading high efficiency washers?

    FYI I have a friend who recently told me that instead of fabric softner, she uses white vinegar. No allergy problems and soft clothes. I haven’t tried it yet.

  3. Here is a question from my Green and Crunchy mammas group: Caitlin Blair Lane, is this ok to use for the HE washers?

    Answer: OK, from what I read HE machines really need low suds detergents since they’re low water. Awesome news, this is about as low suds as you’re gonna get. 1 – 2 tablespoons per load should do great 🙂

  4. I never really thought about my laundry detergent not being “green.” Mixing 3 ingredients seems like it might be costly, but your homemade detergent seems to go a long way. You’re awesome for the effort you make for a healthier environment!

  5. Aimee I’ve heard of white vinegar working very well for fabric softener! I made some wool dryer balls that I use in place of dryer sheets and they work pretty well at softening clothes as well.

    Oh, and Lady Gwen, it’s not more costly at all! Each ingredient is about $4 or a little less. I spend $12 total, and it lasts me about 3 months! I love that not only is it greener, but also more cost effective.

  6. Oh and Amanda you can clearly tell that I didn’t think this through as well as I should, because I forgot to add one more thing. My husband is a lover of scented clothing, so sometimes he likes me to add a few drops of tea tree oil or lavender extract to the wash. Clearly I should have a proofreader for my posts, haha.

  7. I was going to mention adding essential oils to the mix for scent too! You can also add essential oils to your dryer balls (2-3 drops) and add scent to clothes that way. I have two sets of 4, one unscented for cloth diapers, and one scented for the rest of our laundry. I will have a post about dryer balls in about a week with a give away.

  8. Pingback: Washing cloth diapers: a learning adventure | Natural Living Mamma

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