August 5, 2008

DIY Laundry Detergent. It Really Works!

When I'm not using Seventh Generation liquid detergent for SoJo's laundry, I use some of my homemade stuff that I created from a recipe that I found in the newspaper in the Everyday Cheapskate column by Mary Hunt. I enjoy reading the column and just found out you can get it delivered to your email inbox for free. Just click here to sign up. She covers all kinds of things from food to finances to health and beauty and the tips are just a sentence or two long so she won't waste all of your precious time with lots of words.

I've saved some money using the laundry detergent recipe she published. I use the powdered in a front loader and it works well, and I can get all of these things in my local grocery store The Fels-Naptha soap is great for pre-treating dirty cloth diapers too. Here's the recipe:

1 cup grated Fels-Naptha soap; 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!); 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax.
(You can also add a few drops of essential oil...lavender is a good choice!---Kathleen)

Mix, and store in airtight container or bag. For light loads, use 2 tablespoons. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons.

Big batch: To make a large batch, grate 6 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, and then add 3 cups of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 3 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax. Mix well, and store in covered container.

TIP: Homemade detergent will
not make suds in your washer, so don't be alarmed. Fels-Naptha soap is pure and typically makes little or no suds in the water. This makes it perfect for use in the new high-efficiency washers, as well as traditional washers. You also will notice the need to reduce your laundry softener; in most cases, you even can eliminate the use of softener completely. You also can use white vinegar in the last rinse (one cup is plenty) to remove all traces of detergent.

3 pints water; 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap, grated; 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!); 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax; 2-gallon bucket for mixing; 1 quart hot water. (You can also add a few drops of essential oil...lavender is a good choice!---Kathleen)

Mix Fels-Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints hot water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with additional hot water as needed (you should have about 1.5 gallons of the mixture), and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

kathleen nametag


  1. Why does Seventh Generation fabric softener smell so horrible? I took a whiff of it at target the other day and was just like NO THANKS!

  2. I actually use the exact powered detergent recipe you have listed. I started using in last fall and love it and got a few other local moms hooked on it as well. I am saving a ton by making my own and it is so easy! Glad to see someone else use this as well.

  3. What IS borax? Like what does it come from? I read once not to use it on cloth diapers because it has the same effects on them as bleach.
    This looks like a good recipe but since I read that, will borax harm your clothes?


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