homemaking for the modern mama: homemade laundry detergent

(Thank you for all of your concerns for me this past Friday.  I feel grateful for such friends I have found in my readers.)


Let's get the Homemaking for the Modern Mama week started off with a bang!  Here's this week's first money saving, natural approach to taking care of your home: homemade laundry detergent.

There are a few reasons for you to get excited about making your own laundry detergent:

  1. You will save a considerable amount of money.  (I'll get to that soon.)
  2. It is a satisfying process to make something my hand and then use it for your family, knowing every ingredient that will be touching your family's skin.
  3. You use very little of it per load (1-2 TBSP), so it lasts a really long time.
  4. It takes roughly 5 minutes to make.  Done and done.
  5. When you involve your children in the making process, they are excited to help with laundry.


Shall we begin?

The recipe I'm about to share is what we've been using for some time now.  It is the most basic recipe out there for homemade laundry detergent.

You'll need:

  • Borax
  • Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
  • Ivory soap (you can also use Fels-Naptha)
  • lavender essential oil (optional)
  • fine grater


  1. Grate your soap bar.



2.  Here's the ratio you want to remember:  1 to 1 to 1.  Got it?

Mix together 1 grated bar of soap to 1 cup of Borax to 1 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda.  Stir.  Or have your helpers stir.  (Even round-tummied toddler can do this!)


 3.  Stir for a good 5 minutes.  It is fine if the grated soap is a bit bigger than the two powders you added.


4. Add an essential oil to the laundry detergent.  This is optional, but adds a nice fragrance to the powder.  I used my favorite lavender, about 15 drops.  Stir again.

Can you believe it?  In about 5 minutes you just made your own laundry detergent!  I don't like to waste time so I triple the recipe whenever I make it.  I repurposed a metal pail to be our laundry detergent container.  It sits on the top rack of the laundry closet where I pull it down, do a quick stir, then I scoop out 2 TBSP of detergent for my large or heavily soiled loads.  (Remember, you can use 1-2 scoops per load.)


A few important things to consider:

  1. Homemade laundry detergent is perfect for all washers, including High Efficiency (HE) front loading washings because the detergent is a low suds detergent.
  2. This is a great alternative to store-bought chemical and dye heavy detergents.  Perfect if you have sensitive children.  (Or just want a gentler detergent for your children.)
  3. This recipe makes roughly 32 ounces of detergent.  That is enough for 64 loads and that is before doubling or tripling the recipe.
  4. This detergent works beautifully!  I haven't had any complaints whatsoever with my homemade detergent compared to the store bought stuff.  It works wonders!

Now for the money savings.

 (Things all found at the grocery store.  The Borax and Washing Soda are in the laundry section.)

Borax- $3.99

Arm and Hammer Washing Soda- $2.29

3 pack of Ivory- $.99

Ingredients total- $7.27

So that is $2.42 per batch ($7.27 divided by three) of homemade laundry detergent, about 64 loads.  Each batch should actually turn out cheaper because you still have a lot of the Borax and Washing Soda leftover that you will turn around and use the next time you make your detergent.

That means each load is 3 cents. 

Compared to the Costco detergent I used to buy (which was roughly $17 for 120 loads) it was 14 cents a load.

Now I'm saving 11 cents a load which equals $13.20 in savings per 120 loads!!!


For each family the extra money ($13.20 in my case) can really come in handy.  For our family, I've used the money we're saving to put towards changes in our food, like raw milk from a local farm/creamery.   It is something we've felt passionate about for some time but not passionate about the extra cost.  Now we've been about to buy it weekly, knowing that we've creatively moved money from one department of our homemaking to another.

What would your family do with the extra money?  Are you going to commit to trying your own laundry detergent??

the sleepy time gal