How to make laundry detergent (Guest Post)

December 20, 2012 — 15 Comments
Today you get a special treat, a guest post from my friend Huy on how to make your own laundry detergent! It seems more people are starting to do it – I know my brother makes his own as well. After reading this guest post, I think I might start doing it too and save some big bucks. Enjoy!


Here’s a fact – I hate laundry. Everything associated with laundry – the soaps, the sorting, and the suds, it drives me nuts that I constantly do Tide Bear in jaillaundry during my free time while I could be doing other things like saving the United States from a fiscal cliff, joy riding with Lindsey Lohan towards a cliff, or flirting with all of the fine ladies of the OKC (Oklahoma City) not named Cliff, unless they’re really, really attractive.

Well, I’ve been asked to write a guest post by my old college friend Dan about my love/hate relationship with laundry and my latest project has been finding more fiscally responsible ways to save on doing laundry from week to week. I’ve been doing laundry since my high school days and until recently; I didn’t truly realize how much these laundry detergent companies have been soaking (pun intended) the pocket books of Americans. It’s ludicrous to realize that you’re spending $10 to $15 dollars on laundry detergent that’ll last you a month depending on the size of your family. I could find a million other uses of my money and when you think about, it’s like a monthly subscription. Not to anything fun, like Hulu, Netflix, or the local pie of the month club, but to LAUNDRY DETERGENT. Really?

As a trained engineer, I’m taught to think through how to solve problems and to come up with solutions. I’ve come up with the following solutions:

1. Buy New Clothing

Pros – You’re probably a celebrity, rapper, rich, or terrible with money. And hate Mother Nature (great rapper by the way).

Cons – Expensive.

2. Join a Nudist Colony

Pros – No clothing, no laundry, no need to buy detergent.

Cons – Not everyone looks good naked. Sunburns. Winter.

3. Visit your parents, make them do it.

Pros – Free, meal with parents, you’re great for visiting

Cons – You’ll never meet a girl and your friends will make fun of you. Or applaud you. Probably both.

4. Make your own laundry detergent

Pros – It takes 5 minutes. It’s hypoallergenic. It works in high efficiency machines. It works in old top loaders. Cost (we’ll break it down in a bit)

Cons – People will think you’re a granola hippy. You’ll have more money to blow on dumb things like insurance, food for your family, mortgages, and whatever your mind can imagine.


How do I make my own laundry detergent?

Making this dry magic laundry detergent is easy. Here is the ingredient list:

1 Cup Borax [20 Mule Team Borax, 76 Ounces] – $4.99

1 Cup Washing Soda [Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda, 55 ounces] – $3.99

1 Bar of Ivory Soap (Or Fels Napa) – [Ivory Bar Soap – 10 pack, 4.5 ounce bars] – $3.20

1 Cup OxyClean or generic OxyClean (Optional) [Oxi Clean Free, 3 lbs $7.00]

I found all of these ingredients at my local Wal-Mart and you can also check out your local dollar stores as well. You can also experiment with other types of bar soaps as well. I personally don’t like the overwhelming smells of most laundry detergent, but try your favorite soaps.

Directions to make it:

1) Find 32 ounce container.

2) Find a cheese grater. Grate the bar of soap into shredded soap goodness. Grate size should be second to smallest. Or you could use a food processor. Trust me, it won’t ruin your equipment. Low suds and it’ll won’t affect your septic tank either. Dishwasher – boom, good as new.

3) Mix all of the dry ingredients into container. Revel in your mastery of making laundry detergent, brag to your friends, and throw money in the air like a balla (optional).

Directions for use

1) Use 1 tablespoon per load. Add directly to clothing, bypass detergent tray.

2) Bonus tip – Try white vinegar, ½ cup to 1 cup per load, in the laundry or detergent tray. The smell doesn’t stay after the wash and it naturally softens your clothes and towels.

Let’s do a cost comparison:

Total Cost of homemade laundry detergent – $12.18
Maximum Number of Batches – 7 batches of laundry detergent, or 455 loads of laundry!!

Let’s do the comparison versus what we’re used to at the store:

Tide 2x Ultra High Efficiency Liquid Laundry Detergent, Original Scent, 100 fl oz [64 loads] – $13.00

Homemade Do it Yourself Laundry Soap [455 loads] – $12.18.

I’m no mathematician, but you’re getting 7 times the soap, for around the same price for ONE container of normal laundry soap.

As you can see, the process is easy, you having nothing to lose. The 32 ounces will last you around 64 loads of laundry, take you about 3-5 minutes to make, and you’ll make multiple batches with the ingredients listed above.

DIY laundry detergent isn’t for everyone and the cost multiplier depends on the size of your laundry needs. So, in the rather prolific words of Lindsay Lohan, “Life is full of risks anyway; why not take them?” She was totally talking about DIY laundry detergent and not the following: ramming cars into crowds, drugs, the bad career choices, that awful Elizabeth Taylor movie, and Charlie Sheen. You know, laundry detergent.

Credit – Big thanks to DIY natural for my original inspiration – Check them out here

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15 responses to How to make laundry detergent (Guest Post)

  1. I am totally going to do this! I have HE laundry machines so I was not sure I could make my own. Now I know I can and it will not harm the machines. Very cool….

    • Geek Girl – Low suds are the formulation of all HE soaps. This soap works great as there is very few suds, but the cleaning power is top notch! Report back and let us know how it goes!

  2. I love this too!! In fact, I have a little bit different recipe for which I bought the ingredients and they have been sitting in my basement for about two months. I need to get on this and save some money! Love the humor in your writing by the way. I wish I could just have my parents do the laundry. Ha!

    • Thanks for the comments Bethany! The trick to parents is to say that you’re coming home to spend time with them. Two birds, one stone = clean laundry.

  3. I loved this. I do enjoy new recipes and had never thought about making my own detergent until now. I will be giving this a try. Happy Holidays my friend. 🙂

    • Great stuff Susan, let me know how it goes and appreciate the read! It literally takes 5 minutes and you save a ton in the long run! Happy Holidays!

  4. I am never disappointed with anything I read on the blog. The guest posts are always entertaining and informative. I’m now going to call myself a chemist once I start making my own laundry detergent!


  5. For one who hates to do laundry, you really came up with a great plan. I am still chuckling 🙂

    • Appreciate the comments Martin – Dan has high standards in his content and I glad you enjoyed it! I hope cheap laundry soap is in your future!

  6. My first thought as I was reading this was….my time is more valuble than the time it would take to make the detergent…Until I saw the price / amount….That will make at least two years worth for our family of 3 (soon to be 2 as soon as my 24yo son moves out)… Or $0.02 per load vs $0.20 per load. So guess, I’m going to give this a try after all.

    • Jeannette,

      Good stuff, keep me updated if you end up liking the formula or not – I’ve been using for the last few months and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to trying other soap bars to grate into the batch to give it a different smell. Good luck and thanks for reading!


  7. love it, but I have a wife who does the laundry. I don’t think she would want to make her own detergent.

    • Stanley – Thanks for the read, save the project for a rainy weekend – literally takes a few minutes to make and the clothes come out great!

      Good luck!

  8. I think the nudist colony sounds like the go 🙂

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