How to make your own laundry detergent | ...powdered bliss! I've read a few articles here and there about making your own laundry detergent and dish washing detergent and I've always been intrigued, but never motivated to do it myself. However, when we moved into this house, there was this great little metal bucket for laundry detergent and it made me think that maybe it would be easy to dump a bunch of materials in and make my own. Of course, it was a passing thought and I bought the $12 box of Tide (on clearance yes, but still 12 bucks!) and it lasted a few months. Yes, you read that correctly. A massive box of laundry detergent only lasted us a few months.

Now, before you go thinking I am using too much detergent and ruining our clothes and our washing machine, let me assure you it is not the amount of detergent I'm using. In fact, based on those very same articles, I started using less detergent than the box recommended and as these articles promised, the clothing was washed just as well.  The  problem in this house is four. dirty. boys.  Yes dear, you are included in the count.  Two of those boys are still in diapers and all of them like to wrestle and roll around in dirt and mud and snow and other various dirty things.  They still sometimes wipe their noses with their sleeves and they rarely make it through a meal without something on their shirts.  (...and in defense of my husband, it is usually sticky little hands grabbing his shirt during dinner that leave the stains). 

Now normally at this point in the post, the author will show you the ginormous pile of laundry.  I didn't take a made me too sad.  Let's just say that it was to the ceiling.  After 4 days.  That's right, I took 4 days off of doing laundry instead of 2, and the pile of laundry had stacked almost 10 feet tall directly from the floor of the laundry room to the bottom of the laundry chute (on the ceiling).  It was scary.  You don't want to see a photo.

So mix the dirt and the piles and piles of laundry every week with the outrageous price of detergent and I decided to give it a go making my own.  I need to encourage you to please try this.  If you have lot and lots of laundry it is well worth it.  The only hassle is grinding the soap and we made it a family activity so it wasn't too bad.

The first thing we did was round up all of the bar soap in the house.  I had a bunch of ivory that my husband won't use (because it isn't green and doesn't make him smell super duper squeaky clean like Zest or Irish Spring) and then we had a bunch of random bars from hotels and such.  They were all different shapes and sizes, but they all worked fine.

After rounding up the soap, the first matter of business was to make castles.
Try to keep your baby from eating the soap.

Then, the most labor intensive part of the process is grinding up the soap.
This wasn't nearly as difficult as it could have been because we used our new vintage grinder thingy.
...and if you are worried about using it for household and cooking purposes...I figured that the same ingredients are making up dish washing soap,
so it's basically just giving the grinder a little cleaning :)

While grinding up the soap I learned a few things.

#1  There are different kinds of soap and they grind differently.  
The little hard soaps are like Parmesan cheese, they grind into powder.   
The soft soaps (like bars of Ivory) grind easier and into a beautiful ribbon like mix.
I told you it was pretty...

#2  If you put the hard soaps and chunks towards the bottom and lay a soft bar on top, 
the soft bar will mold down into the crevices and you grind more with every wheel  turn.

Here is the finished bowl of ground soap.    It was around 7 or 8 cups total.  Use it quickly or your family might think it is cheese and dig right in.

So after you get the soap ground, it is time for the easy work.  You basically have 3 ingredients.  

The ground soap, washing powder and borax.  
They are in the detergent aisles of grocery and big box stores usually towards the bottom of the shelf.

This is what the washing soda looks like:

Arm and Hammer WASHING SODA (3 lbs 7 oz)

This is what the Borax looks like:
BORAX (4 lbs 2 oz)

The recipe I used called for 1 cup of borax for every 1 cup of washing soda and 1 bar of soap.  
I started with the washing soda (since it had the least amount of product) and dumped in the entire box measuring it out as I went.  
It ended up being around 6.5 cups.
Then I added in 6.5 cups of borax and the bowl of soap which evened out to around 6 full sized bars of soap.  
Pour in your powders very slowly...they can pop into the air like flour.  

...and don't breathe...

...and keep your kids away...

Give the whole thing a big stir:

The finished product will look like this:

All of the ribbons of soap magically disappear (I don't know why...must be magic...) and it looks like regular old detergent.

Use it as you do normal detergent, about 1/4 to 1/8 a scoop of your basic detergent dipper thingy...or around 1/8 a cup.

I just saved you at least 10 can thank me later :)


Alison said…
It's been years since I made my own laundry detergent. Mainly because I did myself injury grating bar soap on the cheese grater. Never thought of using an old meat grinder (which I have, buried down cellar somewhere) thingy.

Thanks for the idea!

I think you should link this up to my Fridays Unfolded at Mainly, so I can easily find your recipe!


Stuff and Nonsense
jess said…
funny you should post this. i started making my own liquid soap about 2 years ago (i've only had to make TWO batches of it! That's how long it lasts), but my second batch is getting toward the bottom; SO i thought of maybe making a powder. i'll keep this recipe in mind!!

That soap swirls pic is super pretty! i'm always amazed at how you transform basic everyday stuff into works of art. :-)
Wow....I have actually never looked in this but the ribbons of soap are so enticing! I might have to find a meat grinder. :)

Gina Alfani said…
Just the other day I looked up some recipes since I was thinking about making my own laundry detergent.

Thanks for following my blog, Peace Love Happiness . . . I'm following your blog as well :)

Have a wonderful weekend . . . Gina
Cool! I am learning so much from your site. I didn't know you could make your own laundry detergent. I always just pick them up from the department store. :)
Chas said…
I have the same recipe that I was planning to make once I ran out of the my current laundry powder. Great timing on your post! Thanks!
Michelle said…
Love your blog! I used to make my own also, although I made it liquid. Came over from "Saved by Love Creations". Following now!
Peggy said…
You know I am getting low on detergent so I probably ought to make it instead of buying it. Oddly enough I have made my own laundry soap off and on for the past 10 years.... Last time we quit it was because the recipe we used just didn't seem to be cutting it. We have a house of males also... they just happen to be a few years old. Think stinky teen boys, lots of sports, HUGE dog... :) LOL yep you get the picture! Thanks for reminding to give homemade soap a try again!! :)
Margaret Lester said…
Just out of curiosity can you use this detergent in a he (high efficiency) washer??? I would love to try this..
Amy Renea said…
oh goodness Margaret -- I am not sure!? Perhaps try with a very small amount at first (at your own risk)? If it were me, I would probably try :)