Laundry Detergent Recipe

Last year I really been noticed how much money I spend in my grocery budget on cleaning supplies. I would use coupons to help out but that stuff is still so expensive. I also can’t believe all of the junk (surely not good for you) that is in most of the cleaners. AND most of them list water as a main ingredient. Water. Seriously? I have tons of that at my fingertips. So I poked around the internet a little bit and found a few recipes for some of these products… I will be sharing them in future posts. I was beyond thrilled to find tons of recipes for homemade laundry detergent. It was my first attempt at any major homemade product. Hubby was reluctant but was pleasantly surprised. And I was so impressed that I have made several batches since (I usually split the large batch with my mom… she’s impressed too!). Here’s the recipe I ended up with… a marriage of several recipes I tried.

What you will need:

A kitchen sized (13 gallon) garbage can, large tub or barrel– you need this to mix the ingredients in bulk

Large jars or sealable 5 gallon bucket to store your finished product

1 (55 oz./3 lb 7 oz.) Box Arm & Hammer *Super Washing* Soda (Careful, this is the detergent version of baking soda, found in the detergent aisle. It is not the same thing as baking soda)

1 (4 lb) Box Baking Soda – I use store brand and it does just fine. My store only carries 2 lb boxes… just as long as it adds up to 4 lbs. Usually in both the cleaning and baking aisles at the grocery.

1 (4 lb 12 0z.) Box Borax Detergent – Also in detergent aisle, sometimes up high or down low, hard to find but it’s there!

3 Bars of Fels-Naptha soap – This is an old school laundry bar. I’ve read about people using other brands like Zote but Fels-Naptha is easiest for me to find and seems to work just fine. If you have sensitive skin or plan to use this on baby clothes this should be gentle enough.

Optional: 2 small tubs of OxiClean (3-4 lbs total). 1 tub will probably do the job (below I bought a huge one of the bargain brand but will use a little more than half the tub for this recipe), but if you have kids or just like to keep things extra bright do 2. Some people skip this ingredient all together and add either a cup of vinegar or a cup of lemon juice to each load. This is another ingredient I buy generic (the labels are IDENTICAL)

Shred the soap bars with a food processor or cheese grater (harmless to both and cleans off in the sink or dishwasher). Warning= using a cheese grater is quite a workout. I plan on buying a food processor in a couple of months for baby food making but for now I just count it as calories burned. Mix all of the boxes together in your garbage can with the soap shreds. I sift through for about 10 minutes with two huge kitchen spoons to ensure its all evenly blended.

Use 1 Tbsp per load. For heavily soiled loads and towels or sheets I use 2 Tbsp.

This detergent is “concentrated” compared to store bought, which seems to be loaded with fillers so that you feel like you are getting more. So 1 Tbsp really is all you need! Also, my husband complained that it doesn’t create suds and bubbles… bubbles are just another ploy to make you think store bought detergent works better. Homemade detergent is free of perfumes, heavy waxes, parabens, etc. Therefore, no suds. I make my detergent for less than $20 per batch (when split with my mom it lasts me about 3-4 months but with a baby I do tons of laundry). It dissolves well, gets out grime and leaves clothes fresh and clean- what more can you ask for!? Another tip: I save my Similac formula containers to store my detergent batch. The scoop is EXACTLY the size I need and I’m being a little greener by reusing them. It also helps if I split the batch with my mom or sisters. But you can use butter tubs, yogurt containers, oxiclean tubs, rubbermaid storage bins, tupperware or mason jars to store yours.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE: The total cost for your homemade detergent is $14.40. This usually lasts me a good part of the year. I used to buy my Arm & Hammer Oxiclean powdered detergent for about this price and it would last me a month or so. This is clearly a HUGE bargain!

*PLEASE note that I do not have a HE washer. I have read that this recipe and similar recipes are safe to use in HE washers, however I have not tried it myself.*

Hilda’s Housekeeper is named Hilda too

One of the things I’m trying to do around here is keep it clean. This probably seems obvious and sounds simple, but let’s remember that I’m a working mom of a not-even-three-month-old. Time, money and energy are all issues here. We can’t really afford to hire a cleaning service or house keeper on a regular basis. My husband (a neat freak) and I (a type A) seem to have differing definitions of “clean”. His is something like this: Vacuum tracks in the carpet, no clutter on counters and no dishes in the sink, but strangely can over look dirty windows, grubby countertops, dog hair riddled cushions and overflowing trash cans. Mine is more like this: Manageable (but still existing and necessary) piles of immediate to-do’s & bills, shiny windows, countertops, floor, empty trash cans and no visible laundry, nicely placed pillows. These overlap and gap in understandable ways. Recently we reach a point where the house was out of control. I felt I was doing most of the upkeep on a daily basis and he felt it wasn’t dirty until it was out of control. Both parties were frustrated. We don’t want to spend an entire weekend day de-cluttering, deep cleaning and shoulder deep in laundry, nor do we want to live with “out of control” all week until we have time for that entire day of torture. After chatting with fellow wives/mothers, a good chat with the hubby and a little googling and pinteresting we came to what we think is a manageable solution: a cleaning schedule. We sat down and discussed what needs to be done daily versus weekly and broke it up into easy to accomplish 30 minute per day tasks. We considered our schedules (coaching soccer, pilates, yoga, church group, etc) and built it for what suits us. So far it’s a work in progress but it looks like this:


-Make beds

-coats, shoes, bags (always scattered at the door or in the foyer)

-baby bottles: soak, scrub, sterilize, assemble

-dishes, dishwasher (load/unload accordingly)

-clear kitchen & bathroom counters

-pack lunches, baby bag, etc for tomorrow


-Sort laundry

-budget, meal plan

-grocery list and coupons


-Laundry wash, dry, fold, away



-floors: sweep, mop, vacuum


-kitchen and bathroom scrubdowns

-trash & recycling


-dust shelves, blinds




-sweep & vacuum



-clean out fridge, pantry or closet (rotate accordingly)

… I will post an update in a few weeks. I hope we can stick to it!