Wednesday, November 7, 2012

MCO's Clean Diaries: Homemade Laundry Detergent

I am so sick of paying for laundry detergent. It's expensive, it's full of fillers and chemicals, and it just doesn't last that long! I've been researching and pinning various recipes for detergent for a while now, I was just waiting to get the go ahead from Mr. Hunky to try it. When it came time to buy laundry detergent the other day, I told him I was going to buy the ingredients and make it myself. Reluctantly he agreed, and later that day I was making our soap!

Here's the beauty of this DIY project. I decided to make only a half batch of this and use the rest toward my DIY Dishwashing Detergent (post will be up tomorrow). I chose to make half batches to conserve on money and to make sure this was something that was going to work on my family before we commit to full batches. 

The original recipe I used was from Being Creative although I used a different soap than that blogger did. She used Fels Napatha which you are more than welcome to use if you choose to, but my Walmart did not have it I really didn't want to run all over town to get what I needed, so I used Zote which is an alternative to Fels Napatha. I was able to find everything at Walmart, but the Zote bars came from the Dollar Tree.

Now, one thing to make note of before you try this for your own family is that I have read a LOT of feedback on the recipe I'm using and majority of people who tired this out absolutely loved it, however, there were a few who said that they were allergic to the recipe. I would make a tester sized amount if you have sensitive skin. Also, because of the baking soda, this recipes is not cloth diaper safe. Use this recipe at your own risk.

What You Will Need:

4 LB Box of Borax
3 LB 7 OZ Box of A & H Super Washing Soda
4 LB Box of A & H Baking Soda
7 OZ Bars of  Zote
1 LB 3 OZ Container of  Oxy Clean
A Cheese Grater
A Large Container to Store Soap In

The Ingredients

 I decided not to use the cheese grater that we had because I wasn't sure I wanted to mix the one I use with food with the one I used for soap! I picked this one up at the Dollar Store for $1. I'm glad I did too! When you grate the Zote Bars, it gets all over the cheese grater!

 The recipe yields approximately 8 dry ounces of laundry detergent, so knowing that I was only making a half batch, I picked up one of these 4 OZ "shoe boxes" from Walmart for $0.97. If I was making a full batch I would have either bought two or I would have looked for a larger container. I found a glass jar that I thought would be super cute, but I couldn't justify buying a $10 jar for a recipe that was hardly going to cost that much! This "shoe box" container worked out just fine!

What You'll Need To Do:

Grab your stock pot and line it with a plastic grocery bag. I did this to eliminate having to wash the stock pot after I used it as a big mixing bowl.

Next, grate both bars of Zote and put them into the stock pot. Your arm may feel like it wants to fall off by the time you are finished, but trust me, it'll be worth it! Make sure you grate your Zote on the finest grate available, this will help it break down better in your washing machine.

When all of your Zote is grated, you will then have to add the other ingredients. Remember, we are making a half batch so you will only need to do half of the box of Borax, half of the box of baking soda, and half of the box of super washing soda. You will use the entire container of Oxy Clean (if you were making a full batch, you would use two (2) containers rather than one). That's it! Combine all of the ingredients in your stock pot lined with a plastic grocery bag and use a large spoon to mix it up! Make sure you evenly distribute the Zote!

Here's a photo of the homemade laundry detergent in action! Makes nice suds!

Homemade laundry detergent displayed proudly with the extra borax and our Rockin Green!

Why use homemade laundry detergent?

For me, I wanted to make our laundry soap because it will save us money in the long run. All of the recipes and blogs that I have found that have made their own laundry detergent said that it lasted between 9-12 months. I also really loved that the price point of making your own detergent is comparable to if not cheaper than buying it from the store. 

How much did everything cost?

4 LB Box of Borax: $3.38
3 LB 7 OZ Box of A & H Super Washing Soda: $3.24
4 LB Box of A & H Baking Soda: $2.66
7 OZ Bars of  Zote: $1.20 ($.60 each)
1 LB 3 OZ container of  Oxy Clean: $3.86

Total: $14.34

Compared to $17 for a thing of Tide, I would say that this is a pretty good savings on soap that will last up to 4 times as long! 

Edit: The recipe for the batch above is for a HALF of a batch and should last between 4-8 months depending on how frequently you do laundry. You will only need approximately 1 tablespoon of detergent per load. 

Second Edit: It is 11/27/12 and I have been using this laundry detergent almost daily since I made it on November 17th and I absolutely LOVE it. It cleans the clothes so well and they smell amazing! I highly recommend this!


  1. i lololove my homeade laundry detergent! i'm needing to make more, come to think of it!

  2. What a cool recipe for detergent. I have experimented with a bunch of stuff, mostly borax and baking soda additions, but mostly free-wheelin it. I will have to give this a whirl. Thanks!

  3. My husband and I are always trying to find new ways of being self sufficient. This would be a wonderful way to not have to buy laundry soap. Thank you for the great post!

    Erin K.

  4. I bought these products and made this soap today, I just put 1 tablespoon in with a load of clothes. It smells clean, and I'm hoping the clothes will smell clean, but most importantly feel thoroughly cleaned! The soap was difficult to grate, and it keep clumping together when I mixed it into my bucket, but I just keep mixing away, and it seemed to blend well after awhile. I also added a bottle of Purex Crystal softener too. Thanks for the awesome detergent.

    Kellie F.

  5. Do you know if this detergent is HE safe?

  6. Do you know if this detergent is HE washer safe?

  7. I might have to try this sometime!

  8. I want to try making my own detergent some time but honestly it is difficult to justify when I get name brand detergents for pennies. I have a stock of about 40-50 right now. I admit that I dislike the extra chemicals. Also, not sure about this but I have heard you can't use homemade detergent on cloth diapers? I have no idea why this would be true.

  9. How much soap goes into each load?


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