Gettin’ {un}Dirty on the Cheap

About a year ago I stumbled across a blog posting about homemade laundry detergent.  Being that I a) am crafty and love making stuff, b) have sensitive skin, so the more natural the ingredients, the better and c) am cheap, I thought I’d give it a shot.  It was easy, fun…and it works!  I’ve been using nothing but this homemade laundry detergent for the last year and I don’t see any reason to start buying commercial detergent again any time soon.


{detergent ingredients}


1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap
Optional – several drops essential oil for scent (I use lavender)

I found all three of the soaps in the laundry aisle of Meijer.  I’ve seen Borax and the Super Washing Soda in a lot of other grocery stores, but the Fels-Naptha can be a little trickier to find.

{divided fels-naptha}

Step 1 Cut Fels-Naptha.  I “draw” lines on the bar with a knife so I have a guideline for the thirds.

{grated fels-naptha}

Step 2 Grate 1/3 of the Fels-Naptha bar into a stock pot.  I used my Pampered Chef cheese grater, but any old grater will do.

{add water}

Step 3 Add 6 cups of water and heat until Fels-Naptha dissolves

{fels-naptha + borax + super washing soda}

Step 4 Add 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup super washing soda.  Heat on med-high heat for about 15 minutes.  The original recipe says that it should reach a honey-like consistency, but I have yet to accomplish that…and so far it’s worked ok 🙂

Oh…and don’t be like me and decide that 4:00 in the afternoon is a good time to finally finish getting ready and FORGET that soap is cooking on your stove at a high heat!  Oops!  Luckily I caught it just before it cascaded into a super soapy mess all over my squeaky clean {ha ha…right} stove.

{to scent or not to scent...that is the question}

Now is also a good time to add a few drops of essential oils if you’d like.  It’s certainly not necessary–this stuff smells pretty darn good all on its own!

Step 5 Now you get to add 5 1/2 quarts of water {Not so good at conversions?  That’s 22 cups} and stir until it’s mixed well.  I have a large enough stock pot that it all fits, but you may need to use a bucket.

{fill 'er up}

Step 6 Using a funnel, pour the mixture into an old detergent bottle.  This recipe makes 1 1/2 gallons so you’ll likely need more than one bottle.  I’m impulsive and don’t like to wait around once I’ve got an idea. I didn’t have big enough empty bottles so, in addition to my two smaller Tide bottles, I had to improvise and use an old {very well washed out} windshield washer fluid bottle – ha!

{yep, an old windshield washer fluid bottle--whatever works!}

For a regular sized load of laundry, use about 1/2 cup.  I typically do LARGE loads {because I’m a procrastinator and let the laundry pile up until we don’t have any clean underwear left} and I use 2 caps full {Tide bottle caps}.

I’ve been making this detergent for a year now and I–just yesterday–made my 4th batch.  I’m still on my first box of super washing soda {about 1/2way through @ $3/box) and Borax {about 1/3 of the way through @ $5-6/box}.  I just started another bar of Fels-Naptha, but at $1.39 each, it sure doesn’t break the bank 😉

Stay tuned…today I made my own deodorant.  If it works and The Hubs doesn’t force me back to my old “regular” stick, I’ll post the pics and recipe.  Gotta love ways to work on that {un}perfect budget!


2 Comments to “Gettin’ {un}Dirty on the Cheap”

  1. I just made a powder batch with a bar of grated Felthsnapa, 1 cup of Borax and one cup of washing soda. Not sure if I like it as well as the liquid, but it was much easier to make!

  2. Ohhh! Abs! I had NO idea you had a blog! I’ve seen a few of your crafty head bands and absolutely LOVE them, but I seriously love this laundry detergent idea! LOVE it! I’ve been making cleaning supplies for years for around the house and scenting them w/essential oils. Then I started a cleaning biz and custom blend my scents for my customers favorite memory, smell, something along that line… you know? The natrual stuff is GREAT! Try vinegar for a fabric softner — it won’t leave a scent, rinses right out during the cycle and is cheap, just plain white vinegar.

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