The No Mess No Fuss Method of Making DIY Laundry Detergent

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It seems as though the big news going around the prepping and DIY community is how to make your own laundry detergent.  As a matter of fact, enter “DIY Laundry Detergent” in your search engine and you will come up with more than 1.8 million hits.  As you start to click through the links, you will find dozens of variations on the recipe.

Well I am here to tell you that you can forget about grating bars of soap.  In addition, you can forget about making up 5 gallon buckets filled with detergent and you can forget about cooking up a laundry detergent stew in a big kettle on the stove.

Who has time for that craziness?  I sure don’t.

The Basic Recipe for Laundry Detergent

Before I launch into the recipe, I want to say a word about the ingredients.

No Muss No Fuss Laundry Detergent

With no apologies, the ingredients, while inexpensive, may or may not be considered “green”.  As a matter of fact, there is a bit of an online war as to whether one particular ingredient, borax, is safe and environmentally friendly.  The last thing I want to do is get in the middle if that argument so let us put those considerations aside for now and get on with the basic recipe.

3 tablespoons Borax (such as Twenty Mule Team)
3 tablespoons Washing Soda (such as Arm & Hammer)
2 tablespoons Liquid Dish Soap (such as Dawn)
8 cups water – preferably filtered


Find yourself a 1/2 gallon container such as a clean juice bottle that has been repurposed.  Get out a funnel and add the borax and washing soda followed by 2 cups of boiling water.  Give it all a good shake until the powdered ingredients are dissolved.

Add the liquid dish soap and swish it around until the brew is well mixed.

Once that is done, add the remaining water which will pretty much fill the jug.  Do not be surprised if there are bubbles coming out of the top – that is the dish soap doing it’s thing.

When it is time to do laundry, measure out 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of your DIY laundry detergent and wash normally.   This detergent will be thin and watery but don’t worry, it will work just fine.

See what I mean by no muss no fuss?  Depending on how much you use per load, this will produce enough laundry detergent for 16 to 32 loads of laundry and, if you are so inclined, can easily be doubled to produce a full gallon.

DIY Laundry Soap_1  DIY Laundry Soap_2 DIY Laundry Soap_3

How Clean is Clean?

All of the successful tests using my homemade laundry detergent were done with cold water and without additives such laundry boosters or bleach products.  In addition, I did not – and do not – use fabric softeners so that was not a factor.

I pre-treated nasty stains and spots by spraying plain water on the garment and rubbing the stain with a bar of Fels-Naphtha soap.  This seemed to work well but I need to keep doing this for awhile before I will know for sure that this is a workable solution for spot cleaning.

Speaking of spot cleaning, I have tried three different recipes for “homemade Shout” and all were a waste of time.  None of them worked at all and my clothes had to be re-laundered using Zout stain remover (which I prefer over Shout).  Of course this was before I tried Fels-Naphtha which does seem to work.  For those of you that are interested, my homemade Shout was made using various combinations of dish soap, ammonia, baking soda and water.

Now by way of full disclosure, we have pretty soft water where I live which helps a lot. This is probably why I do not need fabric softeners although I am told that a quarter cup of vinegar will work as a decent fabric softener.  I tried it but there was not enough of a difference to notice but again, that may be due to the water.

On the other hand, and this is important – some of my trials using a powdered version of DIY laundry detergent left mystery stains on my whites.  To get these grayish, greasy looking spots out, I had to re-wash my stuff four times in hot water and bleach.  Nothing else would remove them.

So what were these spots and where did they come from?

As it turns out, the spots are residue from un-dissolved borax settling on my clothes during the wash cycle.  I have an HE type washer and the laundry detergent is dispensed automatically via a dispenser go my best guess is that the combination of low water and low water temperature were insufficient to dissolve the powder.  So be aware and do not be surprised if this happens to you.

Dish Soap versus Castile Soap

Okay, let me be truthful. Dish soap is really a detergent and not a soap.  What is the difference?

In simplistic terms, soaps are made from natural fats and oils while detergents are made with some natural but mostly synthetic chemicals.  A hugely popular soap these days is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap which is a castile soap that is made from organic coconut and olive oils among other things.

I have my opinion about this soap – which is not cheap by the way – but would like to reserve that opinion for another time (it is not all good and not all bad).  I will tell you this:  if you use it in your homemade, DIY laundry soap, you will be disappointed.

On the other hand, dish soap, such as my beloved Dawn, is made from chemicals.  While this might not be considered very green, I would personally rather have clean clothes than a load of dingy stained items that require washing two of three times before coming clean.  With the wasted water and electricity, how green is that?

At the end of the day, however, you need to decide what works for you.  All I can do is share my experience and my opinions.  That said, I have been experimenting and testing DIY cleaning products for quite a while and stand by my recommendations.

What About the Cost

I had to get out the calculator and the scale for this one.  I paid $4.89 for 76 ounces of borax and $3.55 for 55 ounces of washing soda and $5.64 for the Dawn dish soap.  Given the minute amounts of each ingredient, I came up with 23 cents per half-gallon batch or less than 1 1/2 cents per load using a full half cup per load.

Now that is cheap.  As a comparison, the laundry detergent I purchase at Costco runs about 11.7 cents per load.  Still, I have a hint for you.  You can use 1/2 the recommended amount of commercial laundry detergent and chances are you clothes will come out clean.  That brings the cost down to a manageable 5 or 6 cents per load and that’s not bad.  Use only cold water and you will save even more money.

As far as the Fels-Naphtha, I paid $1.79 for a large bar.  I probably overpaid because I purchased it locally and later learned that a more typical price is $1.29 per bar.  Live and learn.  On the other hand, it will probably last forever if I am just using it as a spot and stain remover.

Don’t get ripped off!

You will notice that I did not include any purchase links for the DIY laundry detergent ingredients mentioned in today’s article (borax, washing soda, fels-naphtha and Dawn).  That is because you will pay double or even triple from some of the online vendors.  Don’t do it.  In my case, the borax and fels-naphtha were available locally but I paid a premium.  Try to wait until you make a trip to town and find yourself a Walmart.  They seem to have the best prices I have seen on laundry items.  Naturally, your mileage may vary.

The Final Word

Now in all fairness, I must explain that I have a small household – two adults – and I only do 3 or 4 loads of laundry a week.  That means that even if I used packaged detergent from the supermarket or Costco, my cost is not huge.  Given that, I still wanted to give the DIY version a try and now I am stuck on it.  As far as I am concerned, the packages of borax and washing soda will last me for years and I have already stockpiled a goodly amount of dish soap.

Perhaps over and above all of that, however, it just feels darn good to make it myself!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Bargain Bin: I have always had a fascination with DIY cleaning products and swear by the old standbys of vinegar and baking soda.  But laundry is a whole other matter.  Here are some products to think about not only for now but for the time when you are on your own following a disaster situation.

Mule Team Borax and Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda Variety Pack: Here are two of the three ingredients you need, packaged together with free shipping.

Dawn Ultra Original Scent Dishwashing Liquid: Dawn has to be one of the few household products I have been unable to duplicate myself.  It is worth it to get the real thing.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap:  This is one common DIY cleaning ingredient that you can safely purchase online without being ripped off price-wise.  There are lots of uses for Dr. Bronner’s and I have had good look with using a small amount mixed with water as a general use cleaning spray.  And it does smell heavenly.  hanging laundry rackI will try to remember to share my experience with Dr. Bronner’s – the good and the not so good – next month.

Laundry Drying Rack:  For even more savings, try line drying your laundry outdoors.  The sun will provide a natural bleaching action and nothing beats the fresh smell – especially on pillow cases.  I own a laundry drying rack which I keep on my deck.  And when the weather is nice, I use it.

Wonderwash Manual Washing Machine:  This is something that is on my bucket list.  I have a friend who uses one on her boat (she lives on her boat) and swears by it.  Note that it  is manually operated and does not require electricity plus it holds a 5 pound load of laundry.  Now you know why I want one.

Galvanized Washboard:  For a bit over $20 and some elbow grease, this old fashioned washboard will get you by if no machine – or electricity – is available.

Wood Clothespins:  I almost forgot to mention the clothespins.  Cheap as all get out ($8 for 100 wood clothespins) and imminently useful for lots of things.  Which reminds me that I need to write up an article on the many uses for clothespins in a survival situation!


Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials:  The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

          Emergency Essentials Potty        The Perfect Homemade Biscuit Mix from Food Storage   Backdoor Survival

Every family should have at least one Tote-able Toilet.  I have priced purchasing the bucket and toilet seat lid separately and found that it was more economical to pick up this kit (currently on sale for $14.95).  I have filled my portable potty with sanitation supplies plus, of course, plenty of TP.

I also recommend the Mobile Washer. This is hand operated washing machine. Like a plunger, it uses a technique of pushing and pulling the water through clothes to clean them well without wearing them out. It uses a minimum of water and less soap due to the agitation motion. Use in a bucket (5-gallon suggested), sink or tub. The best part is the price – only $14.95.

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The No Mess No Fuss Method of Making DIY Laundry Detergent — 77 Comments

  1. Hey – the reason that the store bought “soaps” don’t work for laundry is that the superfat (loose fats left over after saponification :the act of mixing the lye with the fats) is way too high. When you make a laundry soap at home – the bar kind – you do not leave any free-floating fats out there. That’s why the Dawn works well. Because it cuts grease because there are no added fats. For you that make soaps at home – go ahead and make bar soaps, but at 0-1% only of superfat. You will be so happy with the results. The store bought stuff is meant to be good for skin, not for laundry. Laundry soap made with the Dawn is very good. I’ve made them all – but I do not purchase store bought soaps at all – it’s just a waste of dollars all the way around. I have had to use my clothes washing system this year with the plunger washer and buckets. I used the Dawn laundry detergent because it was fast and I had wet laundry everywhere – So either use the Dawn or make your own at 1% or less superfat – You’ll be very happy with the results.

      • Hi – I have made the powdered version with Fels Naptha, Borax and Washing Soda. I also put in some Oxygen powder like OxyClean. I added liquid bleach with my white loads. After awhile my whites got dingy and gray. We do have a water softener, by the way. What could be causing the dinginess? My husband wants me to go back to
        Tide because his t-shirts look so bad. RE the vinegar – I put it in a Downy Ball and it does a good job of softening. Thanks, Jan

        • Jan,

          I have always used bleach with my whites but gave it up for this test. My laundry area is in a closet and there is a carpet in front of it. I have always worried the beach will splatter and spot my carpet. On laundry day I lay out broken down cardboard boxes in front of the washer – just in case. Since using my DIY laundry detergent, I have not used bleach at all and am happy with the results – and this is using cold water. I am so pleased.

          Anyway, my guess is that the borax is not completely dissolving and interacting with the salts and minerals in your water. I think a water softener still leaves some minerals but not 100% sure. Will Tide turn the dingy tee shirts white again or are they now toast? The reason I say that is it would be worthwhile to get them white again then go back to a DIY laundry detergent with no additives (bleach, oxyclean) just to try to isolate the problem. And for sure, I would try this liquid version since you know that the borax is dissolved.

          The alternative is to use 1/2 the recommended amount of TIDE and cold water and at least save some money that way.

          — Gaye

        • I had the same problem. It took about 8 months before we were sure it was the detergent. At first, I thought it was the fabric softener. But the buildup was all inside my washer and hubbies shirts. Gray grim!! Switching to the dawn detergent was a life saver. We noticed and immediate difference!! Now, I use that and mix vinegar and fabric softener for the rinse. Clothes are great! And I do a lot of laundry, we have 6 in this house!!!

      • I would try making up a small batch and see how it works. I have some Costco brand dish soap in my garage – I should try it and compare it to Dawn. For dishes, I prefer the Dawn since I can use a lot less to get the job done.

        It does go on sale a lot. Costco usually has $3 off coupons and I see ads for it all the time.

      • I started by using Dawn, but now I am using Gain dish soap. It smells nice. I also added 1 extra tbsp of every ingredient in my last batch, just because I found one site where they adjusted their ingredients the same way. My kids run a lot and their clothes get very sweaty, and my husband works in a factory. I think the dish soap recipe works much better than the recipes w/the grated soap. I had no luck w/those, especially the cooked version–our clothes always stunk, and whites got very dingy.

        I may actually continue to use my regular detergent for whites, but am hoping I will continue to be pleased with this new recipe for all of my other loads. I have a front loader, and everything I washed today came out fresh and clean.

        • I am going to try adding the extra tbsp. in my next batch. I don’t really have a problem now but every once in awhile, a spot will remain on my whites.

          As far as the DIY laundry soap with grated soap/Fels Naptha? That did not work well for me at all. Even the darks seemed dingy after using it and the finished load had an odd smell. I did not think that the bar of Fels rubbed over a stain did much to remove the stain either.

          I have having modest luck with hydrogen peroxide as a spot remover.

          • I had the same problems you did with the liquid Fels Naptha soap. In fact, sometimes a whole load of laundry would come out of my dryer smelling like perspiration odor. I never have/haf that problem even if I use a cheap store-bought laundry detergent.

            Try using liquid dish soap on stains or pretreat them with a 50/50 white vinegar and water spray. Both seem to help. Again, I am worried about whites getting dingy so I am sticking with regular detergent for those. I hope this homemade detergent doesn’t fade my darks either. I may use less per load or make up a weaker batch for darks.

            • So far my darks are fine – actually better than with the commercial laundry soap. My guess is that the store-bought leaves a residue. We have water on the soft side so I don’t use a vinegar rinse very often although when I first started with the DIY, I used vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser and I think that brightened up my darks.

              Or it was my imagination LOL.

  2. Thanks for this info…one of the best posts I’ve read on home made laundry detergent. I do have a question. I recently started line drying clothes outside. Prior to that, I had used a fabric softener sheet (actually half a sheet to save money) in the dryer. My washer is old enough that it doesn’t have a fabric softener dispenser. Could you tell me the mechanics of using vinegar…mainly when do you put it in the washer? It would be great if you could put it in right away rather than having to come back at some point during the cycle. Thanks again for all your info…I enjoy and appreciate your posts.

    • My washer has a dispenser so during my trial, I put the vinegar in there. I think the best thing for you to do is to add it with your laundry detergent at the beginning of the cycle and see what happens.

      The other thing is that there are some recipes on the internet for re-usable “homemade dryer sheets” made from scraps of flannel or other cloth. You might want to do some research and see if that works for you. (Maybe I should give it a try too – so that I can share the results :))

      • I have read that vinegar will neutralize the soap (acid reacting with alkaline detergent). If you don’t have a dispenser, use a Downey ball or the like.

  3. I put the vinegar in a Downey Ball, and throw it in at the beginning of the wash cycle. I do make my laundry detergent with Fels; I’ve simplified the recipe greatly. The reason I use Fels is because I can get a lot of bars in a very small space. Dish soap if fine to use, but I wouldn’t count on having it around for a long time in an extended emergency situation. You can place the bars in individual vacuum bags or zip bags and press the air out. Place them in a used plastic cat litter box and press down the lid. I have printed out the recipes for various kinds of homemade soaps and cleaners, and I keep them in a binder.

      • Gaye-Here is my scaled-down, easier recipe:

        1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap, grated
        1 cup washing soda
        1 cup borax powder
        3 tablespoons essential oil (optional)
        1 five gallon bucket
        5 (one gallon) recycled vinegar or other jugs

        Grate soap into 1 gallon of water in an old non-aluminum pot or bucket you’ve set aside just for making soap. A regular 2 gallon bucket with a lip is good for this. Stir in the washing soda, the borax, and choice of essential oil, if using. Then use an immersion blender to blend completely. Pour into a five gallon bucket. Add hot water to equal five gallons, rinsing the pot or bucket with some of the water and pouring back into the bucket. Stir well, then allow to sit, covered, for 24 hours; it will gel up and look like egg whites. Blend again if necessary and decant into 5 one-gallon vinegar jugs (set them in the sink, and use a funnel to fill). If needed, shake before each use.
        Using 1/2 cup for each load, this recipe will make about 160 loads.
        I keep a 1/2 cup measure sitting upside down on the jug I’m currently using.
        Vinegar jugs are best for this application, as they are made to stand up to corrosive stuff. I found out the hard way that milk jugs are only made for milk.
        This recipe can be cut down to make just the amount of laundry soap you would like.

        • This is the recipe I use too. As to vinegar, add to last rinse as you would fabric softener. The vinegar works any remaining soap out, so no fabric softener is needed unless you want it. Hadn’t thought of the vinegar jugs…we use those detergent containers which can sit on the shelf and has a spigot. We use less too. I’m currently experimenting with Ivory bar soap for the gentle fabrics. will let you know.

  4. This has got to be the easiest homemade detergent recipe I’ve seen. I’ve been collecting homemade detergent recipes for a while but did not want to have grate bar so and cook up a batch. And, I like Dawn dishwashing liquid-I think it really helped my homemade dishwasher detergent. I like Dr Bronner’s for other stuff but for cleaning, nothing beats Dawn. It just works so I need to add some to the stockpile. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  5. I must tell you about Sun products, made in USA, and Bowling Green is one producer here near my home.
    I needed a whitener and I do NOT like bleach.
    At the Dollar Tree and many dollar stores these products are on the shelfs.
    I put this in with my whites only one day and was amazed at the whitening ability.
    So, now I mix it in with my two crystals A & H, and Borax.
    Try it..non-chlorine, color safe…looks like this. 19 oz. for $1.

    • Oh I LOVE Dollar Tree. Next time I am in the city I will pick some up. I have seen the SUN products on the shelves but passed it by thinking is was just too cheap to be good. My bad. Thanks for the tip!


  6. I’m sorry – I lost your reply to my question about dingy whites. Also, whether a cheap dishwashing liquid would work as well, or should I stick with Dawn? Thanks!

  7. Never mind about the dingy whites – I found the reply. But still wondering whether a cheap dw would work as well as Dawn. Probably not, as it doesn’t work as well for dishes!

    • Oops, I found this reply, too. I swear they weren’t there the first time I looked. Anyway, I am definitely going to try with the Dawn. It only takes 2 tablespoons so a bottle would last a long time. Thanks.

    • Dawn (or some stores house-label equivalents) is a very good product because of its grease / oil removing capability and relative safety of use. Animal rescue organizations use Dawn to remove oil from contamination events like the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that gets on migratory birds, they can wash the bird directly with it and the bird does just fine.

    • Cost plus store-ability. Borax and washing soda are also store bought products. The difference is that a box of each plus a small bottle of dishwashing soap will make enough laundry detergent for thousands of loads of laundry. The cost will only be a penny or two per load.

      Also, storing a box of borax, a box of washing soda and a bottle of Dawn (or other dishwashing soap) takes up very little space.

  8. I am very late commenting, but would like to add that I have discovered that 1 tablespoon of liquid Tide works well even in a top loading washer. And on my husband’s VERY dirty work clothes. I put it in a pump bottle and know how many pumps to use. It still wouldn’t be as economical as making your own, but makes a bottle last a very, very long time.

    I am looking very forward to trying this recipe. I have previously made the kind in a 5 gallon bucket—didn’t like having to stir it each time or take up all that space with the bucket.

    Good to know about the American made Sun products. I usually feel guilty about buying at Dollar Tree because of everything coming from China.

    Another tip: Wet a Fels naptha bar and rub it on poison oak. I am VERY allergic and this is the most effective treatment yet!!! And CHEAP!!! Do it several times throughout the day if you have blisters. I’m also sure it would be as good as the expensive products about stripping the oils off your body if you suspect you have had contact.

    • You are so right about using a much smaller amount of commercial laundry detergent than the manufacturer’s recommendation. Since starting my tests, I have also used cold water exclusively and logic notwithstanding, see no difference at all.

      • Hi! Jumping in 🙂 Thanks for the recipie, Ive been looking around alot and finally found one I think I might try 🙂 As a Mom of 4, I love the no muss no fuss idea 🙂

        As far as the water temops, I have NEVER used anything but cold water…hot isnt even hooked up to my washer! LOL!

  9. Re Stain removal:
    I use regular 3% Hydrogen Peroxide from the drug store. Apply to stain, let dry. Keep doing this until the stain is gone, then put in laundry. It even works with turmeric, though takes 10 or more applications.
    Hope this helps.

    • Hydrogen peroxide is a miracle remover for blood stains. As a nurse, I’ve used it a good bit. May take several applications, but it will usually bubble it away. Take care not to let it soak in your clothing too long, however. I rescued an injured chicken in my favorite white cotton blend shirt. It was badly stained, so I left in in the peroxide overnight. Had holes in it the next day! >:(

      Also, I’ve found that using straight Dawn with a toothbrush on stains, especially “ring around the collar” really works well!

      Thanks for the recipe and all the hints, y’all!!

  10. I have been using the Fels-Naphtha, Borax and washing soda laundry soap for almost 2 years now. After finding this ‘recipe’ last week, I gave it a try. Not only can I make a 1/2 gallon of this in minutes, my jeans also seemed much softer coming out of the dryer.

    I still have to do the math on cost, since I believe the Fels-Naphtha version cost me around 22 cents a gallon. With your recipe, I used Walmart’s brand of “Dawn”, which BTW, was also ultra concentrated. I imagine if I used the regular dish soap, I could save even more.

    Thanks for this, Gaye!

    • I believe I mentioned that I have been using this DIY laundry detergent in cold water only for additional savings. I am working on some other DIY cleaners so be sure to check back.

      Also, I have some Costco/Kirkland brand dish soap that I set aside because I do not care for it but since it is so much cheaper than Dawn – and I already have some – I want to see how it works in this laundry recipe. Stay tuned 🙂

  11. hi Gaye, great article on DIY laundry detergent. something you might try as an additional ingredient when you have really greasy, nasty clothes to clean up is tri-sodium phosphate. this is what used to be in all laundry detergents until the government in all it’s wisdom made the manufacturers take it out. you can find it in the paint section of Home Depot with a big TSP on the box. i haven’t actually mixed it up with your recipe but when i’m cleaning up kitchen cabinets coated with grease or tobacco smoke or both there is nothing that works as well. you don’t need much and i’ve found nothing that cuts grease and dirt quite as well. always enjoy your blog, james

  12. Enjoyed the article – my lovely daughter-in-law is interested in learning to make her own laundry detergent because she is expecting TWINS in June (my first grandbabies) and wants to keep their costs down as well as limit chemicals in the babies’ clothes. I sent her your recipe but she asks if it will work okay in their new high-efficiency washing machine? Have you or any of your readers given it a try?

    Thanks for all the good info you post!

  13. No one has mentioned dryer balls. They work without harsh chemicals. They are cheap and last forever. I use 3. I guess the norm is 2 since they come in pairs. I wouldn’t use anything else. No toxins (poisons) in my laundry or home. I won’t use Dawn since it is toxic. Instead I use my organic non-toxic laundry detergent in place of Dawn to make my DIY laundry detergent and Dirt Cheap hand soap. I’m going to get some Fels-Naphtha bars to try. I used coconut bars and it worked well. Using filtered water to make the DIY laundry liquid is kind of an oxymoron since the water used in our washers come from our taps. However, it’s necessary in the hand soap…love all these DIY recipes. I’m for saving money and my health.

    • @Vicki – Funny that you mention dryer balls. I just pulled a “recipe” for making dryer balls off of Pinterest and was planning make some up with the lavender in my yard later this summer. The dryer balls were made from old socks and dried flowers.

  14. I make my laundry detergent using the bar soaps with good results. If I’m washing my husband’s really filthy work clothes I throw in an extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup of washing soda. I make my own “Oxi-clean” with boiling water, washing soda and hydrogen peroxide. It works well on organic stains but can bleach dark clothes. For a while I was making my own dishwasher detergent with one part borax and one part washing soda then adding vinegar to the rinse cup. I quit using it because I found it etched my glassware and flatware. The borax makes the BEST toilet cleaner. It leaves the bowl sparkling without the use of caustic bowl cleaners!

    • Leah, I know this is a rather late reply to your post, but still had to add my 2 cents worth!

      … You can save money on your *homemade oxy-cleaner*… 2 ways to save— 1. If you use the generic Oxy-cleaner (available from Dollar tree, or the Sun brand) and add water to that, you will end up with the same product in the end. . . . The Oxy-cleaners are made up of the same ingredients, — Washing soda and peroxide… . . . 2nd way to save— Dollar Tree Also has a product called *Oxy Power*, it is a liquid, white, 1/2 gal. bottle for $1.00— I love it, works as well as name brand (Clorox brand Oxy-cleaner is about $4.00 for a 24oz spray bottle).


    • Two things that perhaps were not clear. Only add 2 cups of boiling water to “shake” and dissolve the powders. In addition, do not cap the jug before shaking it up. I have never had a problem with a geyser eruption using that method.

      • When ever I make my own liquid laundry soap, I only use 1/2 the water the recipe calls for. . . then I only use about 1/4 cup per load. . . saves on storage space as well as being concentrated.

        I also make my own *stain sticks*… Since I am a soap maker, I rebatch & use up my leftover soap trims, add a little water and melt in a crockpot. I use about 1 to 2 pounds of soap, & other ingredients, mix well and scoop out into a mold. . . I wait about an hour for it to harden up and cut into 1 x 1 x 4 inch sticks. In 2 days they are super hard and ready to use. Just wet the fabric & the bar & rub.

  15. Vinegar in your laundry rinse removes soap residue from your clothes which is how it softens them. This means it has to be added to the rinse cycle somehow. So when you think your darks are “brighter” after a vinegar rinse, it’s not your imagination; it’s just there is less soap residue making your clothes look dingy.

    I’ve made homemade powdered detergent with grated soap and found that the smaller the grated soap, the better. So I use a $1 store small grater. But even still there are sometimes problems due to not dissolving completely.

    I used to use Dawn to clean cloth diapers so this recipe is very interesting to me. I’m going to have to try it out.

  16. I have never been happy with the grated soap version of DIY Laundry Soap. I keep trying new recipes and formulations that are sent to me by BDS readers but always to this version.

  17. Try diluted shampoo to pre-treat. Just rub some in and let sit a few seconds while you finish loading the washing machine. Gaye – You are the best.

    • I just made up a bottle of diluted shampoo to test. Heaven knows I have many old bottles of shampoo that I purchased and hated. I always knew I could repurpose them somehow. I will let everyone know how it goes.

  18. HI! My wonderful Mom gave me a recipe for stain and grease remover that really works and I keep it mixed up at all times. In any used liquid soap container, mix 1/3 ammonia, 1/3 Dawn dish detergent and 1/3 water. Mix by turning the closed bottle up and down – DON”T SHAKE, as it will cause the soap to foam up. Pour a little bit on a grease or other stain and use a small brush to get it into the spot, then toss into the washer. The ammonia and Dawn work together well to take out grease, which was impossible for me before having this recipe. Enjoy !!

    • Ammonia is not something I tend to use (too toxic plus it stinks). That said, I know that ammonia is a staple in many households and that it does do a great job of cleaning. I am surprised, though, that you use it for spot cleaning. Doesn’t ammonia tend to have a bleaching action on fabric that is not colorfast?

    • @Judy – If you reduce the water, simply lower the quantity used per load accordingly. I am actually testing that out myself right now with the intent of using an extra strong concentration for extra dirty/soiled items.

  19. You did overpay for the Fels-Naptha. I buy it for $.98/bar at my Walmart 🙁 I just made my first batch of detergent from another recipe, (a five gallon container of powder….2-3Tbs a load, four loads a week…it will be a while before I can try this one), but it looks sound to me 🙂

  20. I’ve heard some people suggest using less water (like half) might give a “concentrate” that would work better. Sometimes that works, sometimes that doesn’t. I heard someone say that doing this with less water produces a less effective result and clothes are dingier. I find if I make “slop” which is ramen with chili – very tasty – it works better with 1 cup water per pack but when you want ramen as soup you want the recommended 2 cups per pack. Back in the early 1990s Sears had this really powerful detergent that was not very expensive but my mother found that you must follow the instructions, if you used it as stated it did a great job on cleaning clothes, but if you used it in too strong a mix (too much powder) it actually started eating holes in clothes! Another thing, when you use antifreeze in your car, pure antifreeze is less effective and doesn’t protect to as cold a temperature as when it’s diluted by an equal amount of water.

  21. A few years ago I started using Costo’s Eco Friendly Dish Soap for almost everything, mostly because I like the way it smells. ( Dawn stinks like chemicals, castille soap is too watery.) I use it for soft soap in the bathroom, to make my own rosemary-peppermint shampoo, as a laundry spot remover (never found anything better), as a bathroom cleaner, a few drops with vinegar for cleaning windows and floors. In the event of a major crisis I know that I can reuse the grey water in my garden and this soap will not damage the soil or crops. Is it really more Eco Friendly? By the time it is made in the tropics and shipped to me–probably not. But it won’t damage the envrionment after I use it.

    • Interesting. I tried the Costco Eco Friendly Dish Soap and returned it since I felt it did not clean well. Have you tried making your own liquid castile soap? It is very thick in comparison to Dr. Bronners.

  22. Gosh, I LOVE your blog. LOVE it. Just had to got get that out there! I’ve been using the dry-with-Fels-Naptha recipe in my older top loader, with outstanding results. I did pulverize the Fels Naptha to a very fine powder in my NutriBullet, maybe that’s why I had such good results. But, I also stopped using fabric softener altogether, whether it was liquid or dryer sheets. Now I add a quarter cup of white vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser (or the bleach dispenser, both work), and no more yucky odors! Everything comes out of the washer smelling very fresh. I also bought some felted wool dryer balls (Amazon and Etsy) and I keep four of them in the dryer all the time. Once a week or so I’ll put a couple drops of lavender essential oil on one or two of the wool balls. It doesn’t leave a strong fragrance, and it’s really nice for towels and sheets.
    Today I’m trying this liquid recipe. I’m pretty sure I’ll like it enough to make it again. Thank you so much for helping us keep our money in our wallets, where it belongs!

  23. For the die-hard powder users, I put the tablespoon of the dry recipe in the washer and turned on the hot water for a minute or so to dissolve the powder before I put the clothes in. Just an after-thought 🙂

  24. Gaye-You are right about clothes pins being very useful, but I went a different direction. On advise I read about someone making high quality clothes pins from ash wood with heavier stainless steel springs that would pin nearly anything and not break or come apart. With normal use they should last for generations. I was so disgusted with what is available on the market that I invested in them and each time I use them I have to smile! He has several options: completed or kits or 2nds. They certainly are not inexpensive but I love mine. His name is Henrick Kimball from Whizbang Planet in Morovia, NY and he has been out for a long time but will have a new batch available on Dec. 1st. I think you would be impressed if you checked him out! I look forward to an article on clothes pins. Go for it!

    • Henrick appears to be quite the character. Which option did you select for purchase? And you are right; an article on clothespins and the multitude of uses is long overdue.

  25. Gaye-Being able to save a bit, I chose the kit which was fun to assemble and finish. It left me feeling that I had some part in the fineness of the finished product!

  26. i use the powder soap and put in before my clothes even thought I have a HE washer Does not leave stains and cleans well. Spray my stains with pink solution and they come out well. I have really hard water

  27. Just had to say wonderful article. By the way did you know fabric softner has wax in it? My DIL did some research into it when her daughter kept having diaper rash. She stopped using fabric softner and Grand daughter is fine. That could be why my towels feel soft but they don’t absorb as well

  28. Hi everyone! I started making the castille soap version of this recipe for my babies, who have really bad eczema breakouts with even the gentle baby detergents like Dreft or Babyganics. But I have been really unhappy with the results, no matter what I do the poo and baby food stains don’t come out. Has anybody tested the Dawn recipe with sensitive skin? Does it irritate?

    • Then the soap isn’t getting rinsed out completely if it’s irritating skin. Try experimenting with less soap, extra rinse cycle and vinegar in the rinse cycle. Hope that helps keep your baby’s skin feeling better! As far as stains, gotta pretreat those for best results. No detergent will tackle those on their own.

  29. i have tried to read thru all the comments but i was wondering if this is HE compatible? it seems the dish detergent would be too soapy. i use the felsnaptha bars mostly, but would like an alternative thats also simple.

  30. I read that some people zap Fels Naptha in the microwave oven and it turns into powder. I do not know for how long or at what power. If anyone knows, please enlighten me. Thanks!

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