How To Make Homemade Laundry Detergent & Fabric Sheets

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Recipe:

  • 1 measuring cup of Borax
  • 1 measuring cup of Super washing soda
  • 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap OR 1 bar of Ivory soap
  • If desired 1 small bottle of fabric softener

I use 1 measuring cup of Borax 1 Cup of Super washing soda and 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap or you can use 1 bar of Ivory soap.  You can find the Fels-Naptha soap at Kroger and also Walmart but it is not in the isle where all the soap is in the laundry detergent isle.

Shred bar of soap with cheese shredder put into sauce pan covering the soap with just enough hot tap water to stir. Cook on top of stove on medium continue stirring soap until soap melts.

Fill 5 gallon bucket with hot tap water add all ingredients stir put lid on  Bucket let stand over night take off lid stir again ready to use I usually fill up one of my tide bottles using the tide lid full for each load washed shake well before each use  . You can also add 1 small bottle of fabric softener if desired .

This will make 5-7 Five gallon buckets minus the bar of soap.

I used to purchase Tide from Sam’s with a family of 8 it usually lasted us maybe 2 weeks at around $18 . I average around 4 loads of laundry per day .  I made my first 5 gallon bucket around May or June 2011 and I just made my second one the middle of October.  It works awesome and I will never buy laundry detergent again .

Breakdown of cost:

  • 1 box of borax $3.89 (at Kroger)
  • 1 box of Super washing soda  $3.69 (at Kroger)
  • 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap $1.29
  • 3 pack of Ivory soap  $1.19 (at Kroger)

Total cost $10.06 plus the investment of your buckets.

Homemade fabric sheets:

All I do with the fabric sheets is pour one bottle of fabric softener (your choice) in bucket and another bottle and ½ of water add 2-4 sponges wring out the sponges put 2 sponges in dryer and there you have reusable fabric sheets.

This post is submitted from our reader Donna Sebastian.  Donna is married to her high school sweet heart for almost 30 years she lives in Union, KY. Her hometown is in Eastern KY. She has lived here for 27 years and has 7 children. 6 boys and 1 girl and 5 of her children are adopted. She is truly Blessed.

Comments

  1. ana-maria luminare says:

    wow! i will try it when i run out of detergent :)! I just bought (or actually got for free 4 bottles of Purex from Walgreens, that should last me a while.

  2. I LOVE making my own laundry soap! I also make 100% wool dryer balls and sell them! Check out my page: We 3 Sheep on FB. They are chemical free (perfect for sensitive skin!), last for at least a year, no worries about dryer fires! I make them from organic wool. I have not looked back since I made my first set and started using them. They save SO much money! They cut down on drying time (saving you money on your power/gas bill), they are natural fabric softeners and wrinkle releasers too (saving you money on fabric sheets and softeners). They are good for the environment too! Not waste in our landfills. You should totally check them out! I sell mine for $15 for a plain set of 4. Think about all of the $ you save….$15 for 4 dryer balls VS. tons on softening products. :)

    Stock Piling Moms, if you would like to know more please feel free to email me at we3sheep@gmail.com

  3. I am not understanding the recipe I guess. It says to fill a 5 gallon bucket with warm water, then add the soap ingredients, but then at the bottom of recipe, it says it makes 5-7 5 gallon buckets. I am not understanding how it comes up with 5-7 5 gallon buckets. Help??

    • I think that it means the borax and washing soda will be enough to make 5-7 5 gallon buckets, so you’ll just need to buy another bar of soap for each batch. I was kind of confused by that too, but since it says “minus the bar of soap” that’s what I think it means.

  4. ohhh Thanks for the tips on the Fabric softener.. I already use this recipe for my laundry soap. I don’t put softener in but I do use either oil of essence to give it some scent, but recently I used the Unstoppables sample to freshen it up. (Not very cost effective but if you can find a great deal on it it would be )

  5. Where in a Walmart could you find the Fels-Naptha soap?

  6. My son and baby have exzema, is this sensitive on their skin?
    Pauline, I believebit makes (5-7) five gallon buckets because you are only using a cup each of the borax, and super washing soda ( not the entire box for one bucket ) plus a bar of soap. I had to reread it a few times to understand myself. Cant wait to try, if any one can give me any feedback on how it works for super sensitive skin let me know please!

  7. Also how well does it remove stains?

    • Overall it works well at washing/removing stains. If you have a tough stain you can try getting it out with the Fels-Naptha soap. Wet a corner of the bar and rub it on the stain before washing.

  8. Yes please fill us in on how well does it work on stains and will it be ok when washing whites and adding bleach?

  9. Can it be used in HE machines as well? Thanks

  10. Is this ok to use with high efficiency washers?

  11. It works great inHE machines that’s what I have and yes the two boxes makes 5-7 gallon it removes stains great love it enjoy

    • the box of borax and the box of super washing soday minus the soap will make you 5-7 gallons 5 gallons of laundry soap it is awesome does a great job you can use it in HE washers you can also use bleach just like you do with any other laundry soap I will never buy regular laundry soap again you can really use any kind of soap you want I have only used the Ivory and the Fels happy laundry soap making you are going to save A LOT of money yeppie I bought my bucket with lid at Home Depot for around 4 dollars but last night krogers in Union had free buckets outside giving them away the ones that Icing came in I got 2 each a smaller one for my fabric softener.

  12. How much do u use per load for a HE washer?

    • I just fill the lid full that is on top of the tide bottle I fill the old tide bottle (or any detergent bottle) almost to the top leaving enough space to shake it before i pour it in the lid just fill the detergent lid and pour in your washer works great ;-)

  13. Amanda Wade says:

    I just made mine today! I hope it works good! I used a half bottle of Gain fabric softner in mine. I averaged out the cost per 5 gallon bucket using this particular softner and its $4.56 . I was using the big jug of SUN (188 oz), and it was about $5.75 a jug.

  14. My aunt has used this recipe for about a year now, she actually thinks it cleans her clothes better than regular detergent. I have been contemplating doing the same, just haven’t found the time or memory to get the ingredients, LOL- good to know about the sponges for dryer use, my aunt uses a washcloth wrung out good and tossed in with each load, like with the sponges.

  15. Becky Williams says:

    I’ve been making my own detergent now for about a year. The savings are great!! It cleans our clothes very good and I’ve even noticed some grease stains gone from my shirts. LOL, I’m a messy eater!! I love it though! I did read somewhere not to add bleach to this so I use white vinegar in the rinse of my whites to make them white and brite! I’ll never go back to brand name detergents!

  16. I’m curious if anyone that has used this laundry soap before can tell me if there is optical brightners in the ingredients?

  17. Shanon F. says:

    I make this same recipe. It works great. The mixture tends to separate and needs to be shaken before adding to laundry machine. I re-use 1/2 gallon milk jugs. They are easy to shake. Not too heavy.

  18. I have been using this recipe for about a year and a half and it is great. I do not use fabric softner and the clothes feel so great and smell so good! Even my mother who is a a long time fan of Tide loved it when she came to visit. I do around 10 loads a week and a 5 gallon buckets lasts right around 6 months. Great stuff!

  19. My kids have eczema, and I use it on their skin, no problem. In the event your kid gets an allergic reaction(although highly unlikely) the same recipe can be used but substitute Ivory 100% PURE soap. Any other soaps will turn to powder when you try to grate it and won’t be as effective in washing the clothes. We have tried using the Duggar’s recipe(less borax and washing soda) and I wasn’t happy, so I up’d it to a cup about a year ago(as stockpile mom does), and found it to be better. I also throw in any remaining liquid body wash?shampoo that’s in a(pretty much) empty bottle for a better scent(after mixing everything together), or some of the last bits of dishsoap.. I have been using this soap for over two years, and I have to save, I have saved a TON of money this way, plus I have found a good way to use every last drop of body wash/shampoo/dishsoap! ;)

  20. Oh, I forgot to mention, you can use apple cider vinegar as a fabric softner(although I wouldn’t advise mixing it into the laundry soap mix)…very cheap, and helps retain color on clothes. Doesn’t smell up the clothes, and you can put it in your bleach dispenser..also helps clean the washing machine/washing maching pipes with each wash! :)

  21. Carol S. says:

    I use my home made olive oil soap to make my laundry soap. It is free of dyes and perfumes. It is hypoalergenic, environmentally safe and safe for use on newborn babies. One 5-gallon bucket of laundry soap lasts me 6 weeks. I use and old tide bottle and use the cap to measure out what I need to wash clothes. For each water level mark, I use one tide-cap full. I use a liquid fabric softener and I mix it 1 part fabric softener to 3 parts hot water (shake well before each use) and fill an old downy bottle with it. I use 1 downy cap-full for a full load and less, if I am washing smaller loads.

    If I have a stubborn stain to get out, I take some of my laundry soap and rub it into the stain and let it sit overnight. The next day, before washing I reapply more to the stain and let it sit another few minutes, then wash. If this fails to remove the stain, I then use a stain removal product. The last time I had to buy a stain removal product was a year ago.

    The last time I purchased laundry soap at the store was about 2 years ago.

    My clothes come out clean and I don’t have to wonder about what chemicals are in my laundry soap. I am sensitive to chemicals, so I always had to buy the expensive laundry products to stay away from the “new and improved” laundry soaps.

  22. Does the liquid work in cold water?

  23. Does the type of bar soap matter much? Ex. could you use the dove bar soap? I already use vinegar for fabric softener, it works great! No smell! I swear it make my clothes cleaner and with a family full of people with skin problems, it’s helped immensly

    • So I just finished making the soap, wow that was quite a bit of work mainly because I didn’t have the buckets ready. My Advise is to make sure you have the buckets laid out before you make it. Also, some quick clean up tips. Fill your pot that you melted the soap in with warm water and pour it into the bucket you are using to fill the gallons. This way you make sure you are getting all the soap out of the pot to use for the laundry soap and getting the soap off the pot. Also, use the cheese grater to stir the soap while it’s melting and while you are getting the soap off the pot. This way they both get clean and you have maximum amount of soap. Plus, do this on a day you are planning to wash the kitchen floor! I don’t know about you guys but there was a lot of sloshing around when making the soap and I got a bunch of water on the floor. Rather than have this as annoyance, make it a help! you already have warm water on the floor, might as well multi-task!

  24. Carol S. says:

    Mine works great in cold, warm and hot water. You may use any bar of bath bar you choose. If you buy your soap, just use the cheapest you can find. As bars you buy have additives for lots of bubbles, 2/3 of a 4 ounce bar will be enough.

    I would not use bath bars like Dove as they have an additive for moisturizing and I don’t know what they would do to your fabrics. I would recommend Ivory, if you want a national brand. If you use this brand, use a bit more than 2/3’s of a bar, but short of the entire bar. Ivory is a pure soap and the last time I checked, they don’t add any fragrance or color. As I have skin sensitivity, this is what I used before I started making my own soap.

    • Thanks so much about the advice witht he bar soap! I didn’t account for the moisturizers, probably wouldn’t be good for the clothes, part of the reason we wash them in the first place is to get our body oils off of them so they don’t break down faster.

  25. Donna Sebastian says:

    tell me more about the vinegar for fabric softner do you add it directly to the washer LOVE LOVE my homemade laundry soap and homemade dryer sheets Thanks everyone for the comments Melissa did you ever make the homemade laundry soap ??? I know you will love it

    Donna Sebastian

    • I have a fabric softener dispenser in my machine. So i just fill thatt o the line if i have a full load, a little less if not totally full. I’ve read you can even put it in the bleach dispenser but i’m not sure if that’s good advice because i’ve also read it should not be mix with bleach. Some places i’ve read put it in with the final rinse. honestly i’m not sure how much it matters, I have to rinse my daughter’s clothes twice to make sure all the soap is out because she has bad eczema. I usually do it during the first cycle prior to the extra rinse and its still soft. I also do some of my clothes seprately, which aren’t rinsed twice. Still no vinegar smell. If you use vinegar to do kitchen cleaning, you notice the smell until its dry and then no smell, I’m guessing that how it works witht he clothes too.

      • Carol S. says:

        DO NOT MIX VINEGAR WITH BLEACH. IT CREATES A POISON GAS! In addition to the poison gas, it will turn your whites to a dingy brown. I made that mistake once. Ammonia is another product not to mix with bleach, as it also creates a poison gas.

  26. Donna sebastian says:

    Thanks Liz I am going to try it thanks for the tip

  27. I placed fabric softener in a cleaned out jar ( i used a miracle whip jar) added water to it and put 3 old socks that i can’t find the mate inside. Take a sock out, ring it out n throw it in the dryer w/ clothes. U can get at least 5 drying cycles out of each sock!!

  28. I’ve found it very useful to add the 1 c washing soda and 1/2 c Borax to the melted bar soap on the stove, and stir carefully until all is dissolved. Add this mixture to your 5 gal bucket and then fill bucket to the top with hot water and place your lid on. The next morning, you will see that inside of the bucket is one huge gelatinous mass with some water surrounding it. (When i just added the powders to the 5 gal bucket, the mixture wasn’t as thick and didnt clean as well.). It’s great to get the kids in on the next part….Stick your hand/arm in the bucket and completely break up this mass. You want to break it up as best you can and incorporate it well. Then you simply fill your cleaned out laundry soap or fabric softener containers you’ve saved. In a gallon bucket, I put in equal parts of the concentrate and equal parts water. Mix well, then just add to your containers. One 5 gal bucket batch lasts 3 mo. You can buy five gal buckets & lids at Lowes for under $3, too.

  29. What did I do wrong if it isn’t thickening? 1 cup of each and a bar of soap and a T gallin bucket of water…still the consistency of water…

  30. If course that was supposed to say 5 gallon.

  31. Hi there friends, its fantastic piece of writing concerning educationand fully explained, keep it up all the time.

  32. I am thinking about trying this but want to make sure that I have all my ducks in a row first. I can make the mixture and can find all the ingredients and know hat I can add scent. I have an he washer and by what I have read is no big deal l; can I add this particular mixture to the detergent reservoir? I don’t like the idea of adding it directly to the clothes.
    I can add normal fabric softener until I feel ready to explore alternatives. One step at a time. If something is wrong I want to be able to pinpoint my mistake or alter the mixture so it fits my families needs. But first question is can I use the regular reservoir in an he washer? My immediate response is that I can because someone stated that it is a low suds soap. But it is nicer to get a clear confirmation from those who are more experienced with this stuff.
    Thank you.

  33. how large is a measuring cup?

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