How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent (for an HE!)

homemade laundry detergent powder

I’ve been making homemade laundry soap for a while now.  Well, it’s not really making it, it’s more like I assemble it.

It’s easy enough.  I used to make a liquid version, which involved cookery.  My HE front loading washer didn’t like the liquid, so now I make powder.

homemade laundry soap

Here’s how:

5-7 oz. bar of soap (1 bar Zote, Fels Naptha, Pure and Simple, Ivory.  Make sure it’s SOAP not a beauty bar or moisturizing bar. I buy a 14 oz. Zote for $1 in the laundry aisle and double the recipe.)

1 c. Borax

1 c. Washing soda (Walmart doesn’t carry it, but most local groceries, including Kroger, do.  Look on the very top or the very bottom shelf. Can’t find it? Make it in your oven with baking soda!)

1/2 c. OxiClean or other powdered oxygen cleaner.

Using a food processor or cheese grater, grate your soap.  I use the “fine” side of a box grater.  Add the borax and the washing soda and mix together.

After mixing, I process mine in my blender to break up the soap shreds, which makes homemade laundry detergent powder. I often use cold water in my wash and I think the smaller soap particles dissolve better.  It just takes a minute.   Process about 1 cup at a time, and it will go quickly. I found that overloading my blender with several cups caused it to cake and jam the blades.

Then mix in the Oxiclean.

Add the powdered oxygen bleach after you pulverize it.  The oxygen bleach is very fine and poufs up in a cloud of dust, so you don’t want to run it through machinery unless you want to choke half to death.  {Learn from my mistakes!}

Ta-da! Laundry detergent.

Use 1 tbsp. for light loads, 2 Tbsp. for heavily soiled.  2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup.

Can you really save money making your own laundry soap?

Why, yes. Yes you can save money.  I estimate it costs me about $2.50 to make 7-8 cups of detergent, more or less (doubling recipe).  Pretty much all of my loads are heavy (I do use less for towels), so let’s say 56 heavy loads (or 100 regular loads.)  That’s just 2-4¢ per load!  And it doesn’t make my husband break out, it’s safe for baby clothes, and it doesn’t make me sneeze.

Note: This recipe isn’t set in stone. You’ll find varying ratios of soap/borax/washing soda all over the internet.  This is the recipe I use that works for me.  If you have hard water, add a little more borax.  If you have really filthy clothes, use more soap.

I have a Samsung front loading HE washer, and I’ve used this detergent for over a year.

My HE washer has a spot for powdered detergent or liquid detergent. I put the homemade detergent directly in the dispenser, not in the drum.

Check out my series on saving money on the laundry here!
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I love comments. Tell me what you think!

  • Paula January 5, 2014, 12:00 am

    I made my first batch of liquid laundry soap and waited two days to stir it instead of the recommended one. It was jelly like. Did I do something wrong or is the way it is suppose to be?

  • Milehimama January 5, 2014, 2:52 pm

    well, my laundry soap is powdered not liquid so I’m not sure what recipe you were following. I have made liquid laundry soap before, and it was jelly like.

  • Tracy January 30, 2014, 8:49 am

    Hi there,
    So I have been using this type of laundry soap for about a year and about a month ago I added the oxi to it. All was good until we bought a top loading HE washer. It seems every once and a while our darks come out with what looks like a slight bleach stain on a shirt on sock. I have no idea why because in my old machine this never happened. I am using less detergent and putting it in the correct spot. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thanks so Much
    God Bless

  • Shannon February 22, 2014, 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ve made the liquid soap, and it’s too much of a gloopy mess. It also seems to leave greasy spots on some of my darks. Just a FYI, our two local Walmarts do carry washing soda, and they actually have all of the ingredients for homemade detergent together in one spot on the laundry aisle. I had to run around to two or three different stores the first time I made any, but they thankfully have seemed to catch on to the trend! I may try to order Ivory soap flakes next time. That was an option for the first recipe I tried, but apparently it’s nearly impossible to find in stores, but available online. I hated grating the Fels Naptha, and I suspected it might have something to do with the spots. And some of the sites online for all natural products are anti- Fels Naptha.

  • dominique lily June 22, 2014, 7:19 am

    This is very clever! I shall have to try it as some ordinary and shop bought detergents can make my clothes itchy or give me a slight rash!
    Domi x

  • Amy June 30, 2014, 9:54 pm

    Love this recipe! I’ve been using it for about 6 months now and it’s just great. 3 kids, the never-ending sports seasons for 2 boys and a very artsy girl… I do a lot of laundry and you’ve saved me tons of money. And the clothes are clean! Also, this really appealed to me, personally. I try to simply things as best I can in this modern world. Even in small steps, by-hand is good for the wallet, and the soul. Cheers!

  • Kay July 15, 2014, 4:24 pm

    I have been making this recipe for over a year now. There is not a chance that I would go back to store bought. It is easy to store due to the fact that you use so little. Usually I make a double recipe and it last me such a very long time. Also it cleans our clothes very well. Incredible!

  • Katrina August 14, 2014, 10:25 pm

    I found my washing soda at Wal-Mart.

  • Sonyia September 10, 2014, 8:29 pm

    Cant wait to make this. I suspect my husbands itchy arms and legs are caused by our store bought detergent. My question for you is when do you put the detergent into the drum? Before you put the clothes inside? I, too, have the Samsung HE front loading washer and absolutely HATE it! It is very high maintenance and always smells like mold. But it has a slot for powdered detergent…is it better to use that?
    Thank you!!

  • Milehimama October 6, 2014, 11:34 pm

    I put mine in the detergent holder in the top.

    If your washer smells like mold, you probably need to clean out the gasket and/or the drain, and wipe it down with bleach. Also Lemishine makes a washing machine cleaner that is good, I use it every so often.


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Desperately thrifty mom of 10, sharing my frugal tips, easy shortcuts, recipes, and thoughts on natural living and real food.

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