Tuesday, January 7, 2014

DIY Laundry Detergent

If you read my 2014 Goals post (click here if you haven’t or if you just want a refresher!), you know that it is my goal to try one Pinterest-inspired DIY project a month. I ran out of laundry detergent and thought, “ Why don’t I try making my own?” After lots and lots of research and perusing Pinterest (I feel like all of these posts on this topic start the same way!), I found a recipe that I liked. I also discovered how much money this could save us! (And with a baby on the way, I figured it that couldn’t hurt!).

I found several recipes that I thought could work, but the one with the best reviews was this one from here so I went with it. I also did research on if Borax would hurt baby skin (since I don’t want to make a huge batch only to have to throw it out because it wont work for baby), and according to the sources I read, even sensitive skin is OK with Borax. Crazy, but hopefully its true!

1 4lb box of Borax
1 4 lb box of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda
1 3lb box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 3lb container of OxyClean (some recipes omit this but I chose to include it for major stain fighting power!)
2 bars of Zote or Fels Naptha soap
1-2 bottles of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener. (I originally planned to use 2, but using an entire bottle in a half recipe-which is the same as using 2 in a whole recipe-barely yielded any scent at all, so I opted not to purchase the second bottle).
My ingredients. I actually had to go back to get the 2nd bar of soap which is why it is not included in this picture.

Step One: Grate your soap. Now you can do this the old fashioned way with a cheese grater (make sure you use the finest grater possible), but I felt like this would take way too long and I just don’t have that much arm strength (pregnancy + carpal tunnel= no good!), so I did not go that route. People also had success with using a food processor, but I am not fancy enough to have one of those. So I went with the microwave. All you do is cut your soap into a bunch of pieces, place on a microwave safe plate or container, and microwave for a minute or so. (My microwave actually took a lot longer-closer to 3-4 minutes but it shouldn't take that long if you have a decent microwave.)  Then all you do is crumble it and it makes a really fine powder. I had a little difficulty achieving the right texture, so I had to do it a little differently than the original recipe called for. I crumbled each piece into a colander and reheated what didn't crumble each time. It took a few extra steps, but I eventually got the correct texture.
This is one bar of the soap. I only microwaved one half at a time.

This is what HALF of the bar looks like when you microwave it. So fluffy!!!
This is the texture you want to achieve when you are crumbling it. This makes sure the soap is fine enough to dissolve even in cold water!
Step Two: Mix it all together. Seriously. Its that easy. I went with the recommendation of other bloggers and did it in batches-I poured same amounts of each ingredient and mixed each one together. Then did again. And again. Until I had used all the ingredients. I think this was much easier than pouring it all in the huge bucket and trying to mix it all at once (once again, carpal tunnel is not my friend!)

Here is half of a recipe all mixed up.
Step Three: Do your laundry. It is really that easy! Use 1-2 tbsp of this and you are good to go. Yeah, that’s it. 2 tbsp. And if you bought the Purex Crystals like I did on the recommendation of my recipe, you don’t even need to get a special measuring scoop just for your detergent-the lid does it for you!
Cost Breakdown:
Borax: $4.39
Baking Soda: $2.48
Super Washing Soda: $3.19
OxyClean: $7.85
Zote soap: $1.94
Purex Fabric Softener:$8.96
(I used a borrowed container, but I will eventually buy one that is a little more aesthetically pleasing. I only filled up about half of this huge container!)

Total: $28.81

To give that some perspective, we typically use Gain detergent that at the moment costs about $15 at Walmart. We go through this box about every 2 months, give or take, plus the matching Gain dryer sheets for fabric softener that lasts about the same which is around $6. That comes out to around $126 for the whole year. This detergent supposedly lasts 9-12 months. So if it does in fact last us a year, we saved almost $100 by switching to a homemade detergent that took  a little more than 30 minutes to make. Crazy!

Review: So you know how to make it. You know how much it costs to make it. And now you know you know how much you can save by making it. But does it work? I haven't done a huge amount of laundry with the new detergent, but I can tell you a few things: 1. It gets the clothes clean. I have a husband who can get a little sweaty, and it gets sweat stains and odors out of the clothes. 2. I haven't needed to use the dryer sheets, so that aspect appears to be working with no static. 3. It leaves my laundry smelling clean and fresh. No, there is no discernible scent, even with using the Purex, but sometimes the fact that it just smells clean is better. 4. My sensitive skin has had no problem with the switch. I was a little afraid that I would have some sort of reaction to it, but so far it seems to be working just fine. The jury will be out for a final verdict until we wash baby clothes and see how that works, but right now I am so pleased with this detergent!

Have you ever made detergent? What did you do differently?



  1. You can also buy the zote soap to use and it comes in either the bar or the flakes. I have used the flakes for a year now and it works just as good just less work

  2. You can also buy the zote soap to use and it comes in either the bar or the flakes. I have used the flakes for a year now and it works just as good just less work

  3. Ive made this, about to make again as we are finally almost out. We made it about 1 yr ago with a family of 4. & yes, I said it was about 1 year ago! We love it! So do my friends who ive given small containers to try it! My husband is a diesel mechanic & it even gets the oil & grease stains out of his clothes! Im about to make a new batch, but this time with scentsy layers instead of purex (that's how my friend I converted makes it!) Her clothes ALWAYS smell amazing. Its a bit more expensive, but if your looking for the smell, it works great!


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