Fabulously Frugal Homemade Laundry Detergent

Well, I finally took the plunge and did what was the last holdout of my Eco-Friendly-Clothesline-Loving-Cold-Water-Washing-Laundry-Goddess status:  making my own environmentally friendly detergent.  I have been meaning to do this for years but finally got a nudge, okay, a push from a thread on the eBay Clothing Discussion board.  There was a lively discussion about making homemade detergent, and since I had all the ingredients (and laundry to do) I made up a batch of the powdered detergent.

There is a liquid version and a powdered version.  I chose the powdered version because frankly, it sounded a lot less complicated.  And the liquid version makes something like 792 gallons at a time and I don’t have the storage space.  Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit on the amount, but it was a staggeringly huge amount!

The powdered version is really simple:

  • One bar of Fels Naptha soap – finely grated
  • One cup of Borax
  • One cup of Washing Soda or Baking Soda

I used the fine grate side of my grater to get the soap finely grated, kind of like Parmesan cheese.  It takes a bit of muscle but it goes pretty fast.  Then just mix the Fels Naptha in a bowl with the Borax and the Washing Soda.  Or you could mix it in a jar and shake it up (lid on, please :-)).  Now it’s ready to go and should look something like this:

Use 2 Tablespoons of powder per load.  Since 2 Tablespoons equals 1/8th cup, I found an old 1/8th measuring cup and keep it with the detergent.  If you are using warm or hot water, just add the powder to the load.  If you are using cold water to wash, you can put the powder into a little saucepan of water on the stove and heat until the soap melts, then add to your laundry load.

Today I washed a white load in warm water, and a dark load in cold water.  The detergent worked really well on both loads and the laundry came out very clean and soft.  Be aware that there are little or no suds, but it does clean amazingly!  There really is no scent either, just the very faint clean smell of the Fels Naptha, which I happen to adore.

It’s easy, it’s safe, it works, and it’s amazingly thrifty.  I haven’t done a cost analysis of this, but I’m sure it’s just pennies per load.  We don’t need a bunch of over-scented chemicals to get our laundry clean!  We can help the environment and help our pocketbook in one fell swoop.  So give it the old college try and you too, can be on the road to being a Laundry Goddess.  It’s fun! 😀

~Marilyn Huttunen



2 Responses to “Fabulously Frugal Homemade Laundry Detergent”

  1. Deb

    I use this recipe too. I ♥ it. Most commercial liquid laundry detergent is 50% water. For a name brand liquid fragrance free detergent you are paying up to $7.00 for 75 ounces of water. UGH!!!!

  2. finnfemme

    I think I’m going to make the liquid version next – wish me luck! I’m trying to collect enough containers to hold 5 gallons of the stuff (what the recipe makes). 😀 I’ll be sure to let everyone know my experience.

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