Welcome to Marmee's Pantry

Welcome to Marmee's Pantry

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Here is one of the simplest and most effective recipes for homemade laundry detergent. Our family has used this for quite some time and we love it. Once the initial purchases are made my laundry only costs about 3-5 cents per load! It's my understanding that you CAN use this in front-loading machines b/c it's a gel and not a liquid; plus it is low suds.
And you know you have something good when your almost 22 year old DD says, "One of these days, when I leave home, will you still make this for me?" lol

First, you must to collect the things you'll need to make your soap:

A large pot and a WOODEN spoon DEDICATED to ONLY making soap; I label mine w/a Sharpie marker so that no one will confuse them for cooking utensils - even though I don't actually keep them in my kitchen, you never know and you want to be safe. You also need a box of Arm & Hammer WASHING Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax, along w/a bar of Fels Naptha Soap - these items are found in the laundry isle of your grocery - and Lavender essential oil - it's antibacterial AND it smells SO good! And while you're in your kitchen, grab a hand grater and med-sized dessert-type plate.

And don't forget a container w/a good lid to keep your finished product in! This is what I use - an old popcorn bucket - so it doesn't have to be anything fancy.

Pour 16 c. of water into your pot and let it be warming on MEDIUM heat while your are preparing your other ingredients.

Grate 1/2 of the Fels Naptha bar...

Add 1/2 c. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda...

Then 1/2 c. 20 Mule Team Borax...

Mix them together a little...

And w/the wooden spoon, scoop the ingredients into the warm water...

Bring heat up to MED-HIGH and...
Add approximately 30-40 drops of Lavender essential oil, stir until soap bits are dissolved and then stir occasionally while this heats up for about 20 minutes...

After it has all dissolved and is well stirred, remove from heat and let sit for 1 hour.
You can see that after if has sat for 1 hour that it is starting to gell-up.

Then just pour the partially gelled detergent into your storage container, top w/the lid and let it finish gelling. If you made your detergent in the morning it should be ready to use by the evening, other-wise, just wait until the next morning.
Use a 1/2 c. or so in each load - if I'm doing a large load I will add a little more. I use the screw-off lid of an old detergent bottle. **DO NOT put the gelled detergent in your washer's detergent dispenser!! Simply put it in the washer w/your clothes.

This has gotten out all sorts of stains for me. If the stain is really bad - and if "someone forgot" to tell me that their favorite shirt has some sort of stain on it and it has set in - I take an old toothbrush, get a little detergent on it and brush WELL across the stain and then let it sit for an hour or so, after that I wash it as usual and the stain is generally gone.

I have never had any desire to go back to store-bought detergent. I hope you enjoy this.

Blessings from Ohio, Kim Wolf<><

**NOTE** 5/24/12 ~ I know some ladies really like to use Zote soap in their recipes instead of Fels Naptha. I thought I would try it & see which I liked better & I have to say that I will be going back to using the Fels. I was UNimpressed w/the Zote. I didn't like the sharp, industrial smell of the Zote, so I had to add more lavender essential oil & it also seems that it took longer to melt. Thought you'd like to know. **5/27/12 ~ 2nd update ~ my family so so displeased w/the detergent I made w/the Zote bar that they have asked me to throw it out & make a new batch the way I always have w/the recipe above, using a Fels Naptha bar. ~worth knowing~


  1. ok, I have to be honest, Kim. The thought of making my own laundry soap and such frightens me a tad. I've never actually made them. Would this work in a new front loading machine which has to use high efficiency soap? If i don't use one that is, it over suds and gets all backed up... does it make loads of suds?

  2. I have friends who have front-loading machines & they tell me b/c this is a low-suds formula that, YES!, you can use it. It makes a gel, so you wouldn't have to worry about it sloshing all over when you put a scoop or 2 into your load.


  3. Awesome! I've always wanted to see this being made. When storing this, does it need to be really airtight to prevent drying out, or will just being covered work?

  4. I'm so excited! I was able to get all the ingredients.. and the fels naptha and Arm and Hammer is coming thru the mail... couldn't find it locally but I will let you know how it goes next week! Thank you so much :)

  5. ok awesome, Kim! I got all my ingredients and utensils together.. the washing soda came in last night ;) I will be trying it out shortly! Hey, miss ya on the site these days. May God bless ya my friend :)

  6. I use the powder of this, I like it so much better than store bought....my towels even smell cleaner! I love the smell it gives my clothes...I found a recipe for home fabric softner and I will make that when mine is all.

  7. Can you use something other than lavendar? or do you even need a fragrance at all?

    1. You can use something other than lavender or nothing at all. I like to use lavender b/c, not only does add a great fragrance that's not too unmanly for the guys in one's family, but it's anti-bacterial, too. You can add tea tree, grapefruit, ylang-ylang. Make sure that it's a clear oil so that it won't soil your clothes, & don't add too much. Grapefruit is a very clean fragrance.

      Thanks for asking & thanks for visiting the Pantry!

      Blessings, K~

  8. Hi i will be making some laundry soap next week & i am wondering which one you like best. This one is a gel and your other recipe is more a liquid right? Do you find they both worked well? Which one is your favourite?

    1. It is truly hard to say, they both work so well. I do, however, think that the gel (this recipe) works better for very dirty clothes. If you, or anyone in your family, works hard outside or in a factory, this is the recipe you want. Thanks for asking!

  9. Where did you get the lavender oil? I got all my supplies but the lavender oil. I going to try it without it but would like to try lavender oil the next time. How many loads will your bucket do?

    1. I get my essential oils at a local heath food store, in which I work. It's where I got mine before I even started working there. If you do not have a reliable health food store in your area, I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs ( mountainroseherbs.com ) It's hard to say how many loads I get per bucket, depends upon the size of my loads. I'm estimating around 30+. Thanks for asking. Hope you love it~


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