Mar 28 2012

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Homemade Laundry Soap

50bf1704a7fde88729f2dec9e9493cbe I’m pretty sure this is not the first blog post you have read on homemade laundry soap. However, I hope it is the simplest.

I’m a bit of a laundry snob.

I do a lot of laundry.

I wash a lot of cloth diapers.

Our clothes need to last long enough to hand down to the next child.

I love name brand laundry detergent. I love it.

While I believe in being a good steward of the world we have been given, I’m not over-the-top “green” either.

So my impetus to make my own laundry detergent was not out of a desire to remove chemicals from my laundry room. (I still use bleach). And, I can afford name brand laundry detergent. As a matter of fact, now that we have a top loading high efficiency washing machine (Maytag Bravos), I use a lot less laundry detergent per load. So a standard sized box of powdered Tide can last our family of eight over a month.

No, my desire to make my own laundry detergent comes down to my silly desire to live a bit more simply. Years ago (10, to be exact) I made up a big batch of some family liquid laundry soap. I hated it. I thought it was smelly, slimy, and turned my clothes grey. We did have very hard water at the time, and the smelly part could be due to my pregnancy nose, but after trying to dispose of five gallons of worthless to me goo, I wrote off homemade laundry soap.

Then I began seeing recipes for powdered homemade laundry soap, and I was intrigued, but not willing to mix up the huge batches that I saw recipes for. (There is a misconception that large families like everything in bulk, but we only buy things in bulk that we know we will really use!)

So, about a month ago, my friend Ernestine Edna posted on Facebook that she had a recipe that she loved, and it was a small recipe…so I ran with it…and tweaked it the tiniest bit!

I use this on everything…even cloth diapers! I’ve had no problems, no residue, no stinky clothes…just soft, clean clothes, with no build up!

Homemade Laundry Soap

  • 1 bar Ivory soap
  • 1 1/2 cups Borax
  • 1 1/2 cups Washing soda
  1. Grate the bar of soap. I use the smallest side of my box grater.
  2. In a one quart jar, layer by half cup measurements, each of the ingredients.
  3. Shake and shake and shake.
  4. To use in the laundry, add 2 Tbs. per load. ( I run very large loads in my top loading HE machine, for a smaller load, I’d only use 1 Tbs.
  5. Sometimes I give the jar a shake before using the soap.

This recipe makes enough soap for two weeks of Dakotapam laundry (that is a lot of laundry!). It comes to about $1 per batch! Not bad!

Chime in! Have you made homemade laundry soap? Has it worked well? How does your recipe differ from mine? I’d love to hear from you!

About the author


I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife and mom to six kids, including toddler twin girls. My life is sometimes normal, and sometimes crazy; but through it all, I know that I am blessed! Some people say that I have my hands full, I prefer to call it living life with both hands full, and I love it!

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  1. Brandi

    I’ve been curious about homemade laundry soap! Glad to hear someone has tried it and likes it. I’m nervous because my family has very sensitive skin, but hoping it won’t cause any reactions…I’m sure it would be less likely to compared to the store bought stuff 😉


    1. Dakotapam

      The Borax does cause a problem for some. We don’t have sensitive skin here, and we use Ivory soap in the bath, so it works fine for us. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Jill Burton

    YAY!!! I’m a huge fan of this laundry detergent…I’m so glad you liked it! I, too, increase the borax and soda…it’s hard to convince people that so little works so well, and people often look for suds in their wash as a sign that something is going to work (which, of course, this does very little)

    Keep on washing!! and Saving!!!

    1. Dakotapam

      I love that I can whip up a batch in less than five minutes…that takes way less time than running to Target.
      Dakotapam recently posted..Gee, My Water Tastes Great! ZeroWater Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  3. Jc Wooten

    Love the post. I have been collecting laundry soap recipes. I plan to eventually start making my own.

  4. Becky Emter

    I just made my own powder laundry soap last week! I’m still investigating whether I like it or not. The recipe I used only called for 1 cup Borax and 1 cup washing soda along with the full bar of soap (I used Fels-Naptha but I can’t say I’m super crazy about the scent). I’m trying to keep track of how many loads I get out of one batch so I can figure out how much it’s costing per load. I’m sure I’ll forget a few loads here and there!

    1. Dakotapam

      Yes, it was the Fels Naptha scent I was not crazy about. I know our grandmas used to wash soap in Ivory back in the day, so I thought I’d give it another try. I also like that I can get 10 bars of Ivory for about $3.50 (or less with a coupon). Let me know how your results go!

    2. Dakotapam

      And I have no idea of cost per load…I do so many. But I’m guessing I get close to 30 loads per batch.I’ll count this time around, since that batch was made fresh this morning.

  5. Susie Miele

    I too make my own powdered laundry soap using the same recipe as you but I also use my own handmade goat milk soap instead of store bought. I have my own little soapmaking business so after cleaning and wrapping the bars I have all the scrapes left and turn them into laundry soap!
    We love it!

    1. Dakotapam

      Oh, I bet that is awesome! I love my goat soap, but since I don’t make my own I can’t afford it for my laundry soap:)

  6. Coline

    That is interesting. I haven’t actually tried making my own laundry soap and I think will be having my first try later. Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

  7. Marie Johnson

    I just made up a batch yesterday and used it for the first time! I love it – my recipe is a little different though.
    its one part of each of 3 things –
    -Washing Soda
    and then add about 1/2 part of grated bar soap – I used Dial.

    I also made another batch without the grated soap for the Cloth Diapers.

    We will see how it goes. I will be posting about it in the near future.
    The first load was wonderful though!
    Marie Johnson recently posted..Wordless Wednesday – homemade play doughMy Profile

    1. Dakotapam

      I’ve seen the oxi clean, and may add it if I notice staining, but I don’t. The ivory seems to work fine with the diapers. No smell and no build up. I do sneak a splash of bleach in my dial load every week or so. I mostly notice how much softer my clothes seem to be.

  8. Lisa

    Only 2 Tbs per load. THAT’S impressive. Where do you buy borax? And can I buy grated ivory soap. I don’t want to use my cheese grater. TKS! SAVED for later use. Oh, and this is considered “dye free” right. Baby J as sensitive skin.

    1. Dakotapam

      Since homemade detergent is all the rage now, you can usually find Borax and Washing soda right next to ech other or close by in the laundry additives aisle…like by the oxi clean and Clorox2.

      I think you can get ivory flakes still, but I’m guessing that would not save you as much. I get 10 bars of Ivory soap for $3.50 or so.

      I know the Ivory is dye free…I’d have to check the labels on the others.

  9. Erek

    You have definitely achieved in having one of the most simple recipes and explanations on homemade laundry soap. I tried it and I have to admit that it worked surprisingly well and left the clothing with just a pure clean feel and smell. I am a fan. I enjoy finding different things online to try that are out of the ordinary and Im so glad that I found your site. Keep the interesting & informative posts coming. Thanks..;-)

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    1. Dakotapam

      Thanks Erek, I’m glad that it worked for you!

  10. Megan

    I loved the simplicity of your recipe! I just bought the ingredients and am eager to make and try my first batch. Are you using 2 Tbsp for your front loading washer? We have the standard top loading washing machine and I’m wondering if I should use double the amount you use per load…

    1. Dakotapam

      I have a top loading he machine. So, like a front loader, it uses a lot less water. BUT I also run very large loads in it. I would try 2 T fro your top loader and see how the clothes turn out and then increase if needed. There may be some trial and error. Just a heads up though: don’t look for suds to see if it works. This soap has little or no sudsing!

  11. Vestuviu Skelbimai

    Wow… I wasn’t aware that laundry soap can be made so easily at home.. This will help in cutting down monthly expenses… Thanks for sharing. Appreciated.

    1. Dakotapam

      You are most welcome! It does cut down on expenses!

  12. Anita

    Not that ivory soap is expensive but I do couponing and get that soap for free when some stores have it on sale for a dollar and you have a coupon that doubles to $1.

    1. Dakotapam

      Hey, that makes this laundry soap almost free! And I think it works better than some of the name brands.

  13. Peg

    Been making dry detergent for 3 years now. Have my daughter and three of my sisters using it. Will never go back. I have also been making my own soap and have used it in my last batch. Works great! I use equal portions of soap, borax and washing soda.

    1. Dakotapam

      I am so in love with this soap! I’m just glad others enjoy it too! I think retailers are catching on though, last I checked, Borax was an insane price at one of our grocery stores!

  14. Lisa

    I pretty much use this same recipe. I my last batch I switched form Ivory to Zote and I think it has made a difference in cleanliness and smell.

    1. Dakotapam

      That is good to know, my husband was complaining that our laundry does not smell as nice as when we used Tide, so maybe I’ll try the Zote:)

  15. 5xblsd

    SOLD! I have been reading every post out there and you simply read my mind. I was so worried about making several gallons of liquid and not liking it or my family not liking it. Then what do you do? I also am not a fan of the liquid concept. I have a large family and all of them are capable of doing their own laundry. With liquid this leaves me with a big mess. No matter what I do its always everywhere and its sticky and hard to clean. Powder you can brush off much easier. Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait to get started!

    1. Dakotapam

      Let me know how it works for you! We really do love ours!

  16. Jodi

    I have made a similar recipe that seems to be working really well. My question is do you put it in the dispenser or in the bottom of the washer before adding clothes?

    1. Dakotapam

      I put mine into the dispenser. I have a top loading he, and this seems to work well for us.
      Dakotapam recently posted..April Blizzards Bring. . .My Profile

  17. Ryan

    This….I will be reporting to the Laundry Queen.

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