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Homemade Laundry Detergent

There are three things I do far better than most women I know:  1) saving money, 2) homemade recipes, and 3) doing laundry.

Wait, no. What I meant to say is that I do them worse. Worse than most women I know.

Worse than all the women. Everywhere. And men. Also, most children over the age of 4.

Shoot, there are probably a few species of primates that could argue their superiority in those three areas as well. But I’m probably better than most primates at arguing, so it would be a very long, cyclical debate.

With lots of mud-slinging.

I have absolutely no idea where I was going with this.

Wait! Good thing I went ahead and wrote out the title of this post. See how smart that was?

[Yes, I think what we’ve all learned so far is exactly how smart you are, Katy.]

Back when we were in Georgia in early August, we ran into a good friend of ours at church who is a young bachelor. Somehow we got on the topic of clothing and laundering, and we were lamenting how expensive detergent has become in recent years. (I include sentences like this last one in case you ever have the misguided notion that I am the least bit cool.)

Seriously, detergent is so expensive that it has become a hot commodity on the black market. Kid you not.

So, I told our friend that I now make my own detergent from a recipe my mom gave me. I’m not certain of the exact numbers, but I would estimate that 1 bottle of name-brand, store-bought detergent would cost the same as a 6 month supply of my homemade detergent (based on our laundry routine of 1-2 loads per day).

Yes, I’m serious. And don’t call me Shirley.

Our friend wanted the recipe, so I promised him I would write a post with plenty of horribly-lit, amateur photographs.


The Ingredients:

Homemade Laundry Powder Ingredients

I’ve seen similar recipes out there that have up to 8 or 9 ingredients. I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t have the stamina for that.

You’ll need:

  1. A box of Borax Detergent Booster
  2. A box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (I don’t have the box it came in because I like to keep it in a plastic container with a cute, little label attached to it. Because I’m a nut.)
  3. Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
  4. A decent blender

Items 1-3 can be located in the laundry/cleaning section of your nearest grocery store. I’ve never been in one that didn’t have all 3. I don’t remember where we bought our awesome Ninja blender, but here’s a link to it on Amazon. (Note:  This is an affiliate link, so if everyone on earth buys a blender through this link, I will make enough money to send a third of one of my children to an in-state junior college.)


The Step-by-step Directions Even a Primate Could Follow

I suggest you grab yourself an old cutting board you no longer use. Because I’m not sure how tasty this soap is, but I don’t want to find out the next time I’m cooking…something.

I cook sometimes!

Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap

Now, grab a sharp knife and slice it into small pieces like this.


If you have a decent blender, it really isn’t necessary to get too tedious with the cutting part. I do it to help my blender out a bit. Because we’re buds.

Now, here’s the formula:

1 cup of Borax + 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda + 1 bar of chopped Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap = CHEAP, awesome laundry detergent

Since blenders come in all shapes and sizes, you’ll want to play around to see how much you can fit in your own blender or food processor at one time. (I was able to put 3 cups of Borax, 3 cups of Washing Soda, and 3 bars of soap in my blender. This batch will easily last me between 3-6 months.)


Then you just blend the ever loving mess out of it. Until you can see the soap pretty well mixed in with the white powders.

Homemade Laundry Powder

Just be careful not to inhale the powder fumes that float around during this process. Or you’ll be sneezing bubbles for a month.

This entire process should take no more than 3 minutes. Unless you’re easily distracted by your children who are taking turns licking the inside of the microwave, for example.

Aaaaaaaand, voilà!


You just put one drug dealer out of business. Congratulations! (Oh, if only it was that easy.)

Now, please listen closely because this is important:  ONE TABLESPOON is all you’ll need per load. Unless you’re washing a ridiculous amount of ridiculously dirty clothes, I’d stick to 1 tablespoon.


Homemade Laundry Detergent FAQ’s:

  • I am fabulously wealthy and entirely too busy to save hundreds of dollars every year in laundry detergent. Can I just have my servants buy the expensive stuff and call it a day?  Knock yourself out. No, seriously. DO IT.
  • Will this work on my HE (high efficiency) washer?  I have used it on my top load HE washer nearly two years with NO issues (no color-fading, no soap scum, etc.). When I bought our washer, I knew I wanted to use this detergent, so I talked to the guy at Sears about it. He said that as long as the detergent doesn’t suds up, then I’m free to use whatever detergent I like. No need to buy the expensive stuff.

One final thought:  I did some research, and I found that lots of reeeeeeeeally informed, passionate people argued that homemade detergents will destroy your machine and that these cheaper alternatives are the reason for such pain and suffering in this world. Now, I won’t disagree that homemade detergent might not be best for all types of water and all types of machines (and if you happen to destroy yours using this recipe, I am not responsible), but I do know that large manufacturers, politicians, etc. sometimes hire people to post biased messages on forums. That’s all I’m saying.

Congratulations, you just got a twofer. A recipe and a political post all in one!

Alright, I want to hear from you. What money-saving methods do you use at home?


Comments to "Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe"

  1. Brooke

    August 23, 2013

    I make this same detergent but add oxy clean.  I also just grate my fels naptha and mix it all together myself in a big container.  I also double the recipe from what you use I think…or I might triple it, I’m not sure…but it lasts a LONG time.  The first time I made it, it lasted 9 -10 months and I was doing laundry for our family of 5, including a new baby who peed and spit up on EVERYTHING constantly.  Plus, every time I use this stuff, I want to eat it.  It would probably taste awful, but it smells great. 🙂

  2. Alison Atkins

    August 23, 2013

    I’m going to look for these ingredients, and make mine this weekend. I’m assuming no softner is needed with this?

  3. Stephanie Arthur Malhotra

    August 23, 2013

    Apparently, my Mom & Grandma have been using this for years & never shared the secret with me. Excited to try!

  4. Elissa R

    August 23, 2013

    AA-MAH-ZING! Thank you Katy! Our blender is a jerk, so I’ll probably try to do it in our food processor to make this recipe. I’ll pin it too!

  5. Katrina

    August 23, 2013

    I laughed when I saw that it was actually called the “Ninja” blender! Must be a good one if it’s a Ninja!  Thank you for the recipe and the laughs this morning. Gonna give this a try!

  6. Jill Kemerer

    August 23, 2013

    Thanks, I’m going to try this!

  7. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    Elissa R Those blenders can really get an attitude sometimes. I think it’s an inferiority complex. You shouldn’t have a problem with the food processor, though. My mom uses that instead.

  8. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    @Stephanie Arthur Malhotra Awesome! I’d love to know how you like it!

  9. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    @Alison Atkins I don’t use any, but I’m sure you could. I’ve seen recipes that include that. I just didn’t want one more step. You could probably use additional softener as you normally would.

  10. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    @Brooke Do you use Oxy Clean instead of something or in addition to it? Do you use the same quantity? We actually have some Oxy Clean we need to use. I’ve seen folks use the grater method, but I hate grating things almost as much as I hate washing clothes. 🙂

  11. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    @Katrina I take it you’re not a bit fan of infomercials. 🙂 Yeah, the Ninja is a great blender. The blades go all the way up the canister, so it mixes everything really well. Let me know how you like the detergent if you get to make it. It sure has saved us a boatload!

  12. driedonmilk

    August 23, 2013

    YUP! I’ve been using this same recipe for two years now and I’ve converted others in the process. Best laundry soap EVER! I use my magic bullet to blend it because I’m not fancy. 😉

  13. shanna_bennett

    August 23, 2013

    “Note:  This is an affiliate link, so if everyone on earth buys a blender through this link, I will make enough money to send a third of one of my children to an in-state junior college.”
    You made me snort with this one! Can’t you just send one of the kids to an in-state junior college CLASS? That’s like getting a full education (abridged)!

  14. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    driedonmilk No need to get fancy. I’m with you. The easier the better! I’m glad to know someone else loves this stuff!

  15. katyinacorner

    August 23, 2013

    shanna_bennett Ha! Thanks, Shanna. 🙂

  16. Amanda Hinton

    August 23, 2013

    I’ve done this and loved it!! A newer “recipe” calls for putting Purex crystals in it for a scent 🙂

  17. rkfarrar

    August 23, 2013

    I have been doing this for over a year and it works great. At times I add Oxi Clean and the Purex crystals. I would rather spend money on something fun than spend it on expensive detergent!

  18. imklvr

    August 24, 2013

    OK, OK!!  Sheesh!  I was going to try it anyway, just from your post, but after reading the comments I now feel like I HAVE to!  Seriously, I’ve seen these ‘recipes’ all over the ‘net, but have never been interested.  But coming from YOU, someone who I actually subscribe to, well!  I really do “have to”, don’t I?  Seriously (again…I have trouble staying there), I AM going to try it.   Thanks!  Dona

  19. Katie

    August 24, 2013

    I love your blog, and I check it every single day since I found you from My Life and Kids. I only have one problem. My eye sight is not what it used to be, and I sometimes have trouble reading your links, because the color is very light. Other than that, I love you. Keep posting. 🙂

  20. Katy’s Mama

    August 24, 2013

    Katy, I make mine in a food processor dedicated to laundry powder. I make 1 batch at a time to make sure it gets mixed well.
    I do have a warning!! If you have someone in your house that likes to walk through the kitchen & sneak a taste of what you are making warn them that Fels Naptha is soap & not cheese. Your Dad took a big bite & found out the hard way. His face was priceless !!!


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