Saturday, June 9, 2012

DIY Laundry Detergent

I first saw the idea for this on a nifty little blog I follow called “How Does She?” I pretty much love and want to try all of their ideas. Here is my personal experience with the DIY laundry detergent.

When I first saw the blog post about DIY laundry detergent, I vowed to try it when we ran out of our box of Tide. Why you ask? It’s simple really…I’m cheap. I would rather pay less for laundry detergent -- even if I have to make it myself. 

Alas, the day arrived when I used the last scoop of Tide and realized (gasp) we didn’t have a back up box! Then I remembered my big idea to make my own detergent. I had already purchased the necessary materials (total cost $28), so I gathered them up and began the process. You might be wondering how I saved money if I had to buy all that stuff. Just keep reading and you will see!

DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredients

*Ingredients I Used: 

1 Box Borax (4lb 12oz) 

1 Box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (3lb 7oz)

1 Container OxiClean (3lbs)

2 Bars Fels Naptha Soap

2 Boxes Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (2lbs each) 

1 Bottle Purex Crystals Fabric Softener (55oz)

*I found all the ingredients on the laundry detergent aisle at Walmart except the baking soda. It was in the baking section.

I spent the next 12 minutes grating the Fels Naptha soap which looks so much like cheese that I almost forgot it was soap. This part was definitely not my favorite. Next time I nominate the hubby to do the grating.


After the soap was grated up nicely I realized that I needed something really big so I could mix all my ingredients. A quick search concluded that my only option was the mop bucket, but it worked! I opened all the boxes and grabbed a really sturdy and BIG metal spoon. I added a layer of each of the ingredients and then mixed it up really well. Then I added another layer of each of the ingredients and mixed it up with what I had already mixed up. This process took some time because I wanted to make sure that it was mixed really well. In the end, my mop bucket was almost overflowing, and I had 20 pounds of laundry soap!!!!! I was honestly very shocked by how much this recipe made!

20 Pounds!!! Wow!!!
 From start to finish (clean empty kitchen counter to clean empty kitchen counter) the entire process took 42 minutes. (If you want to be really technical it probably only took 40 minutes because I spent at least two minutes hefting the mop bucket to the scale and gawking at the fact that it weighed 20 pounds!!!)
We have been using this DIY detergent since March 22, 2012, and we have only used about half the batch! I couldn't be more impressed! I must admit that I was skeptical at first, but it really does work, and it smells great! Even the hubby who is a brand-name-only-kind-of-fellow is happy with this new, cheap alternative.  

As for the cost savings here is what you want to know (probably more than you want to know):
A 20oz box of Tide Ultra costs about $5.59 and does 15 loads (cheapest price I could find online). That is a cost of about 37¢ per load of laundry. A batch of the DIY laundry detergent costs about $28 and does about 320 loads (there are 32 tablespoons in one pound of powder, and you need 2 tablespoons per load of laundry). That is a cost of about 9¢  per load of laundry.

So if we were to compare apples to apples it would look like this:
320 loads of Tide Ultra = about $118
320 loads of DIY Laundry Detergent = about $28

Are you inspired to try it yourself? Here are some things you might want to know:

  • Buy a 5 gallon bucket with a lid for storage – remember it makes 20 pounds!!!
  • You must have a really big and really sturdy solid metal spoon for mixing. I feel sure a plastic spoon will break.
  • Mix the ingredients outside to avoid getting detergent “dust” on everything in the kitchen and to avoid getting the detergent “dust” up your nose. It’s not very pleasant. Trust me…I know.  
  • It only takes 2 tablespoons per load of laundry!
  • Don’t be alarmed when you wash your first load of clothes and there are little to no bubbles. The detergent really doesn’t make suds like you expect to see, but it still cleans really well and leaves your clothes smelling great.
  • Save the Purex Crystals container. You can use it as the functional and pretty dispenser for your new detergent. The little dome lid has measuring lines on it, and the first one is about 2 tablespoons! 

    Repurposed Purex Crystals Bottle 


    1. This is a great idea and what a savings! Shannon and I may have to give it a try. My only concern is that I am allergic to all laundry detergent and we have to buy the clean and clear versions. Does it have a scent that would aggravate allergies?

      1. Bryant the Fels Naptha and the Purex are scented. You could leave the Purex out all together I guess, but I think the Fels Naptha is pretty essential. You may be able to find a scent free version though. Great question, but I am not too sure about what to tell you on that one!

      2. Use unscented Doctor Bronner's Pure Castile Soap bars. If you want a little bit of a scent try one bar of the lavender or rose. At least they are naturally scented with essential oils.

    2. I love it! I make my own too but got discouraged b/c mine didn't have a great smell to it. I will have to try this recipe!!! Oh and I am totally stealing the dishwasher recipe that somebody put under your facebook status:)

    3. This one smells GREAT!!! You can add two bottles of Purex crystals for even more scent!

    4. I had to smile when I saw your post. Teresa has been using the exact same DIY laundry detergent for almost a year now. By choice, we leave out the Purex crystals.

      I would like to see that dishwater recipe...

      1. Hey Mr. Bell! It's great to hear from you! Here's the dishwasher soap recipe:

        Equal parts Borax and Washing Powder
        Use white vinegar for the rinse aid.

        I haven't tried this one yet, but I have a friend who swears by it. Let me know if you like it. I'm waiting for my huge stash of dishwasher soap to run out so I can try it!

      2. Also, your wife is one smart cookie! That detergent is great and sooooo cheap! I am still using the batch I made on March 22! :)

    5. I have a question :) we put the detergent in the dispenser or just toss it into the machine. I have an HE LG front loader...Thank you!

    6. I add it to the dispenser of my HE LG front loader.