6 Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes

DIY homemade laundry detergent recipes will save you a lot of money compared to buying store-bought laundry detergents. They’re easy enough to make, and you can make them in big batches that will probably last a few months to a year.

Soap being grated for homemade laundry detergent

These recipes are all about being effective and working with modern machines, including HE (high efficiency) washers.

How Do You Make Homemade Laundry Detergent?

You have the option of making a powdered or liquid laundry detergent. And you have some choice of ingredients. Either way, you’ll usually have to use a grater or food processor to break down a bar of soap.

For liquid recipes, there is some cooking as you melt the ingredients together.

Problems with Homemade Laundry Soap?

All Natural Doesn’t Mean All Clean

I didn’t include any “all natural” recipes here for two reasons: they aren’t made for modern washing machines and won’t get your clothes as clean, and they can damage your washer in some cases. Okay, three reasons: “all-natural” is sort of a BS claim that really doesn’t mean anything.

Modern laundry needs surfectants, and all of these recipes have them. Without surfectants, your clothes won’t get clean. And that’s not a good tradeoff for avoiding ingredients that irritate your household.

With these recipes, you can still eliminate a lot of the ingredients (like dye and fragrance) found in store bought detergents. And you’ll get all the cleaning power and stain removal ability of store bought detergents. And they work well in cold water and HE machines.

DIY Detergent Ingredients

You may be wondering what the ingredients in these homemade recipes are. Some of those ingredients are likely to be:

Fels Naptha Soap. This is a bar soap made for handwashing laundry. It’s especially good at removing oily stains from fibers. It’s mostly lye with tallow and oil, but it also contains fragrance.

Oxi-Clean.  This cleaner is a mixture of sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate along with some surfectants. It helps with basic cleaning and also stain removal. Fragrance free.

Borax. Hard water can block surfectants from getting clothes clean. Borax contains sodium borate, which helps the surfectants beat the hard water. It’s considered a booster in detergents, helping the overall recipe do a better job. Fragrance free.

Baking Soda. What’s it not good for? Baking soda balances pH levels to neutralize odors and soften the water in your wash. Fragrance free.

Is it Hard to Make Your Own Homemade Laundry Detergent?

It may not be the easiest DIY project you’ll ever do, but it’s not hard. Most of them involve grating a solid soap bar or putting it through a food processor.

If you choose a powdered detergent recipe, it can be as simple as pouring ingredients into a container and mixing them around. If you go with liquid, you’re likely to need to melt the grated soap in a pot on the stove. 

But hey, I actually found you a liquid detergent recipe that doesn’t need any cooking or grating!

Is it Really Cheaper than Store-Bought Laundry Detergent?

A lot of these recipe creators have done the math and found that YES, in every case it is a fraction of the cost of store-bought detergent.


6 Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes