Homemade Laundry Detergent

Sick of wondering what is in the “free and clear” detergents, I decided to try making my own. The only real expense is the bar of soap, depending on the brand. This was a quick, simple process.

We love the results – there is a wonderfully light fragrance (from the essential oils used as active ingredients in the bar soap), it is easy to use, and it does a better job of cleaning than the other two types of detergent we had in the house (a baby detergent and a free and clear detergent). In fact, this detergent got out blood stains when Baby Hippie took a header off of his train table. After we returned from getting stitches, I had planned on throwing away the white shirt BH was wearing. Somehow, the shirt made it into the hamper and through a wash cycle. I couldn’t believe that the stains disappeared. I also had a 20-year-old long underwear shirt that should have been thrown away long ago, but it was my favorite thermal shirt. However, the shirt was retaining odors like you wouldn’t believe. Bleaching it (several times) was unsuccessful. After washing it in the homemade detergent, the smells are gone. I love this stuff.

I made the powder version because it is way easier to make and to store. We have a front-loading high-efficiency washer, and I was concerned about making powder after doing some research. Some folks had found that the powder never really dissolved in their high-efficiency washing machines. We did not have that problem – maybe because our detergent goes in through a special hatch at the top of the machine, where it is mixed with water before heading into the wash basin.

I used Dr. Bronner’s baby soap. It is outstanding. It’s also a little pricey and sometimes is difficult to find. If you live in the Fox Valley, Woodman’s has it in their natural bath/body aisle. Any bar of soap should work for making detergent, but some are better than others. Dr. Bronner’s specifically mentions laundry uses in their promotional materials. Ivory is a pretty popular choice, as well.


  • 1 cup Borax laundry booster
  • 1 cup washing soda (Arm & Hammer makes it. Do not substitute baking soda – it has to be washing or laundry soda)
  • 1 bar of soap, finely grated


  1. Stir all ingredients to combine. Pour into storage container.
  2. Use 1 Tablespoon of detergent per load in an HE washer, 2 Tablespoons in a standard washer (A baby powder scoop is usually 1 Tablespoon – if you have access to a discarded scoop, you can leave it in the container of detergent to use as needed. Fancy).

5 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. Remember to use hot water with powdered soap. I wash in cold to save on electric water heat costs, so liquid is required here.

    • Thanks for the tip! I will admit, though, that I have been using the powder with my cold water washes, and it’s been fine. Knock on wood . . .

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