Homemade laundry soap

The possibility of building a new house and (hopefully) retirement not too far down the road, we find ourselves looking for ways to be more frugal. I keep reading about people who save a lot of money making their own laundry soap and recently I was reading that laundry detergents are not only full of chemicals but not really necessary at all. I'm not ready to start washing our clothes in pure water so I decided to try the homemade soap recipe. It has worked out well - clothes are fresh, clean and fragrance free. Since you only have to use a few tablespoons, it lasts a long time and costs a fraction of the name brand products.

The hardest part was finding the washing soda. No one had it in our area. I found it on E-bay and Amazon but the shipping prices were ridiculous. Finally, I was directed to www.greatcleaners.com where you can purchase it directly from Arm & Hammer for $3.99 per box and if you buy over $20 worth (6 boxes), they ship free. Now I have enough washing soda to last a long, long time.

Homemade Laundry Soap

1 bar soap (I used Ivory, I would use Nels Naptha if I could find it)
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda

Grate the soap (I used a kitchen box grater) and mix with the other ingredients. Store in an air tight container. Use 1-3 tablespoons per load (using 3 for larger loads).

You can also add essential oils to the mix if you would like some fragrance.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I've heard of people making their own, but never tried it for myself. I think it's great that you can save some money for yourselves. Maybe my wife will be encouraged to try it? Nah.....

  2. Hmmm, can you use this in those Energy Efficient washing machines? Our machines require you to use those laundry detergents that have the HE label.

  3. Hmmm I'm going to have to try this

  4. I have read about people doing this but have never seen the recipe. Interesting. How do your clothes feel?

  5. You can get Fels Naptha soap on Amazon with free shipping.

  6. I have the question about the HE machines as well. In general, I've found powder doesn't work well in them with cold water. I've gone to eco friendly liquid detergents. They cost more but are safer and I use just a little so I am saving. Good luck saving to retire soon!

  7. Meemsync, I'm not sure about the energy efficient machines question.

    Lisa, to me they feel the same. Sometimes I use fabric softener but I haven't bought any in a while.

  8. Brilliant idea, bookmarked the page, soon as I've got the time/money I'm going to try making a batch!

  9. Soap making recipe is a simple science meets art concept.Your article gives light to many people regarding this topic.Thanks a lot.

  10. I've been meaning to make this detergent ever since you posted it, and just never got around to it. Well my mom got a recipe from someone at an Ace Hardware store in Tenn, and she made some today. She found the Nels Naptha soap, Borax, and Arm & Hammer washing powder at Peck Ace Hardware at 7 Points in North Florence. We "cooked" ours, so that it would be a liquid detergent (you melt the Nels Naptha soap and add it with the other ingredients and some water), and our whole house smells very soapy.


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