Simple Homemade Laundry Detergent

In this post we will be sharing how to make your own simple homemade laundry detergent. This is by far the cheapest way to achieve fresh, clean laundry. Once you buy your supplies, you have what you need to make up to a year’s worth of laundry soap! I have a top loading, old fashioned washer, and this soap is great to let clothes soak in overnight. I like it especially because it smells clean and not overpowering like most commercial detergents.

This homemade laundry detergent works for high efficiency washers as well! Just make sure to pour the detergent directly into the drum with the clothing rather than into the dispenser tray. Regardless of what type of washer you may have, 1/4 to 1/3 Cup of detergent should be sufficient to achieve fresh, clean laundry!

a bar of white Zote soap

Why Homemade Laundry Detergent?

There are many reasons to try making your own simple homemade laundry detergent! First of all, it is so inexpensive to make. We have calculated that making one 3 Gallon bucket of homemade laundry detergent costs about $2.80 and will last us 6 to 8 weeks, or 150-200 loads. That makes a total of about $.02 a load!

Secondly, we hate the thought of adding more plastic containers to this nation’s many landfills. According to Asheville Greenworks, about 900 million laundry detergent containers are thrown away each year in the US. That is insane! We have used the same two 3 Gallon buckets to make this laundry detergent for the past 8 years.

And last, but not least, this soap is free of all of those harsh chemicals and fragrances that are so bad for your body and nervous system. This homemade laundry detergent is just simple, clean, and fresh. It is not masking the dirt with strong perfumes- it is actually getting your clothing truly clean.

Simple Homemade Laundry Detergent

Tools You Will Need

a box grater wooden spoon whisk and measuring cups

A box grater

Large stock pot (like what you boil spaghetti in)

A whisk

Large wooden spoon

A 3 or 4 Gallon bucket with a lid

Measuring cups

6 Cup measuring pitcher

Ingredients for Simple Homemade Laundry Detergent

a box of Borax

1 bar of Zote or Fels-Naptha laundry soap (Big Lots and Wal-Mart carry these brands)

**Optional: 1/2 to 3/4 cup small pieces (nibs) of left over bath soap

2 Quarts warm water

1 Cup Borax (Dollar General/Wal-Mart)

1 Cup washing soda (Wal-Mart)

1 Cup baking soda (Aldi or any grocery store)

1 Quart warm water

1/4 cup stain remover spray (like Shout)

3 Gallons hot water

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In a mixing bowl, combine your 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of washing soda, and 1 cup of baking soda. Set aside.

With the box grater, grate up your bar of Zote soap and nibs of bathroom soap (if you have them). Next, add the grated soap to 2 quarts of warm water in a stock pot. Put this on the stove to melt the soap, keeping the flame on medium/low. Make sure to stir frequently until all the soap is dissolved. Do not allow the soap to boil, and keep a close eye on it. Once the soap is dissolved and smooth, remove it from the stove top. After that, add the Borax, washing soda, and baking soda to the liquid soap. Stir the mixture well with a whisk, until smooth. Set this aside.

In a quart of warm water, add 1/4 Cup of stain remover, like Shout.

In the stock pot with the soap mixture, add the water and Shout mixture. Mix everything together thoroughly in the stock pot.

Pour the soap mixture into a 3 or 4 Gallen bucket and stir well again with your whisk. From there, add 3 gallons of hot water while constantly stirring with the whisk. The constant stirring with the whisk will help the soap be smooth so that you don’t have chunks. Once completed, you can use the laundry detergent immediately, or allow it to cool over night until it is set up like a thick gel. If it does not set up perfectly, no worries! It will still work just fine with chunks.

Have you ever made your own homemade laundry soap? We would love to hear how it worked out for you and if you have any frugal laundry tips for us to try! ~Starla


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  1. Karla

    I make this all the time. I use a half a box of zote flakes instead of the bars of soap.

    • Starla

      Thanks for the tip, Karla! I will look into those Zote flakes next time.


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