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.
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
Homemade Laundry Detergent
This recipe is just 6 ingredients - 5 if you leave out the scent beads. Note that the Zote is scented, however, so this will not be fragrance free.
This costs about $23 and will yield a batch that's enough for about 320 loads. It comes out to around 8 cents per load, which is a lot cheaper than store bought detergent.
Best news: there’s no need for grating or a food processor.
Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent for Under $30!
This recipe features Oxy-Clean, so fans of that product should take note. It makes about a year’s worth and costs under $30. It includes scent beads, but for sensitive skin or noses, you can leave those out.
There’s no need for a food processor. It’s just six ingredients. And it will get clothes clean in cold water and HE washers.
How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent – Under 5 cents Per Load!
If you prefer a liquid homemade laundry detergent, check out this recipe. It features just five ingredients. While it takes some cooking and stirring, it’s not really that much harder to make than powdered laundry recipes.
This recipe will yield 384 oz and wash around 307 loads for you. That's a big savings compared to store bought versions.
DIY Powdered Soap Nuts Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
This recipe is fragrance free! It doesn’t have Fels-Naptha. But it does have OxiClean, Arm & Hammer washing soda, and Eco Nuts Laundry Detergent.
If you’ve never heard of this stuff, it’s little berry shells from the soapberry tree. They release a natural soap in the wash.
Their big claim to fame in the homemade detergent world is that they are cloth diaper safe. And so is the rest of this recipe.
Homemade Borax Free Laundry Detergent for Sensitive Skin
Some people’s skin doesn’t tolerate borax (almost anything irritates somebody’s skin). So there should be a recipe that’s Borax free for them.
A lot of the Borax free ones claim to be “all natural” and include essential oils which can also be very irritating for many. This one does not.
And she shows you pictures of how well it worked compared to a homemade detergent containing borax.
Easy No-Grate No Cook Liquid Laundry Detergent
You want a liquid detergent without grating or cooking? Here it is!
You will need to boil some water, but you pour that into the jug with the rest of the ingredients. Then you stir, and it becomes a liquid. Doesn’t get much easier than that.