Homemade Laundry Detergent - Only $3.50 for 4 Gallons!

3 Materials
10 Minutes

I can’t wait to share my laundry detergent recipe with you guys but, first, we’re going to do a bit of a rewind to the exact moment I figured out that “normal” laundry detergents and fabric softeners do NOT agree with my skin at all! Over ten years ago a family friend offered to do some of my laundry when my washing machine was getting fixed. Great – very thoughtful – nice woman. Then I got my clothes back and I could not believe how badly they stunk (of course I never told her that) my clothes absolutely wreaked in the worst flowery synthetic way that I could hardly believe it! Not only must she have used an incredible amount of laundry detergent and fabric softener she also went on to starch (and only the universe knows what else) and iron every shirt, pair of jeans and even my little sleep nighties. At first I just plugged my nose and figured I would get used to it until my back broke out and I started itching in my sleep. I was blotchy, covered in bumps, it was like chicken pox all over my back kind of not-pretty. I rewashed EVERYTHING and went on the hunt for the gentlest laundry detergent I could find. (I used soap that was safe for kids and babies for a long time but it seemed SO expensive – so on to my homemade laundry detergent recipe!)

The recipe I ended up with calls for:

Half a bar of grated soap

1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

1 cup of Borax

4 – 1 Gallon Jugs

Put a big pot on the stove with about half a gallon of water in it and add all three ingredients, use a long handled spoon and DON’T boil it! If you let it get too hot you will have lots and lots of suds all over your kitchen and end up with an incredibly clean stove! Just keep stirring it around medium or lower heat until everything dissolves. Let it cool a little (If you let it cool too much it will become gelatinous) and then use a funnel and evenly distribute the laundry detergent into the four 1 gallon jugs and then carefully fill them up the rest of the way with your sink water running as hot as possible. (If you add cold water to it it will become chunky but still work.) Be careful filling them because there will be lots of suds! I usually just do a hot water trickle back and forth between them until they’re full and then you are done! Give it a shake before you use it and just add as much as you normally would any other kind of laundry detergent. Seriously: 4 gallons of laundry detergent for only $3.50!

Wonder why I have a bottle of vinegar in the pictures too? I use it as fabric softener! Anywhere on your washing machine where you would normally put in liquid fabric softener just add a tablespoon of white vinegar instead. It’s all you need! No more fabric sheets, no more buying expensive liquid fabric softener – just use a little white vinegar! Bonus: the white vinegar has the added benefit of helping keep your washing machine clean and mold free as well.

(To buy the same amount of Tide Laundry Detergent at our local grocery (4 gallons) would be nearly $50!)

Four gallons lasts around four months so, as of right now, we’re only spending $10.50 a year on laundry detergent! Vinegar is incredibly inexpensive as well and I literally have not had a break out on my back since I started using it and that’s worth so much to me! If you have skin problems or “bacne” I would really urge you to try this!

Have you checked out my recipe for dishwasher detergent? It’s only .10 a load and it absolutely beat our hard water problem. You can check it out here:

Suggested materials:
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda   (Amazon)
  • Borax   (Amazon)
  • Bar of Soap (any kind)   (Amazon)
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 34 questions
  • Pat Riddle Pat Riddle on Oct 16, 2018

    Does this work in HE front load washers?? If so I will try it..Sounds like a very great idea..And saves tons of $$$$$ thank you

  • Cheryl Karabinus Cheryl Karabinus on Aug 13, 2019

    How much soap do you use per load ?

  • Carol Carol on Apr 14, 2020

    Will the detergent suds?

Join the conversation
3 of 130 comments
  • TexasNana TexasNana on Jun 05, 2019

    Thank you 😊

  • David David on Mar 28, 2020

    I would recommend an inexpensive liquid soap instead of bar soap. I make bar soap and we used to use the bar soap as an ingredient in our liquid lanudry soap. The problem was that after awhile it congealed in the drain pipe and I had to take the washing machine apart to clean it out.