Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’ve wanted to try making homemade laundry detergent ever since I heard my friend Joanna talk about how easy and cheap it was to do. And I finally got around to it, with a little help from the hubs. I found a recipe that looked easy enough on Wellness Mama, and set out to grab the ingredients. Even the recipe’s very specific recommendation for Dr. Bronner’s All-One bar soap, an organic and certified fair trade castile soap, was easily fulfilled at our neighborhood Kroger. We chose the lavender bar, also available online at Amazon: Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Castile Bar Soap, Lavender, 5 oz.*

Ingredients for making organic laundry detergent

Washing soda, borax, and castile soap.

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap

The castile soap, cut but not yet chunked or grated.

Once you’ve assembled the ingredients, the process is pretty straightforward. First cut up the soap bar into small pieces and grate, either by hand or with a food processor. Then, dissolve the soap in two quarts of water on the stovetop, stirring nearly constantly.

Granules of castile soup for homemade laundry detergent

Granules of castile soup. At this point the kitchen was already smelling fantastic.

The castile soup in the pan of water, ready to heat

The castile soup in the pan of water, ready to heat.

Dissolving the granules in the hot water

Dissolving the soap in the hot water

Borax and washing soda
 Meanwhile, get a cup of borax and a cup of washing soda and stir into 3.5 to 4.5 gallons of hot water. The original recipe calls for 4.5 to make the total five gallons, but we only had enough large containers to hold four gallons of detergent, so we made it slightly more concentrated. We’ll probably use a .5 cup of detergent per load, instead of 1 cup.

Then stir in the dissolved bar soap mixture until everything is thoroughly combined. Then pour into storage containers and have at it!

I’m not sure we’ve hit on the best containers for storing our homemade laundry detergent just yet… we’re currently keeping some in a reused store-bought detergent container and some a reused drinking water container with a tap. Taps are convenient, but these two containers are both so large that it is hard to shake them to keep the detergent mixed up.

The homemade laundry detergent, ready to go!

The detergent, ready to go!

So far we’ve done a couple week’s worth of laundry with our new creation, and everything seems to be going well. Hooray.

Edit: Still going well, two weeks later. The detergent can be a little snotty… for lack of a better word, but we just give it a shake or two before dispensing and everything seems fine. I don’t think the clothes really come out smelling like anything, and while I don’t want them to be overwhelming, I may experiment with adding a little essential oil in the future to boost the aroma.

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Nerd. Foodie. Gamer. Homecook. Perpetual planner. Gardener. Aspiring homesteader. Direct response graphic designer. I use too many damn commas.

2 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. I tried making this recipe yesterday and it didn’t work. It was like water…it is not thickening at all. I think it’s way too much water for this recipe. I am in the process of adding some more soap in hopes that it thickens up a little more

    • Hi Heather, sorry to hear it didn’t work well for you. We definitely have found the detergent to be soupier than typical, highly concentrated commercial detergents, but it seems to work fine for us regardless of the viscosity. Is there a particular reason you are looking to have it be thick? Maybe I can help you find another recipe that is thicker.

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