My Foray Into Food Storage

A regular gal learning about Food Storage, Home Cooking, Canning, Gardening, and more!

Am I REALLY Saving Money? Homemade Laundry Detergent



Before we begin, I have a quick reminder.  Don’t forget to check out my April Giveaway here!  And please visit my sponsor’s page.  🙂  Thanks!


When I first made my own laundry detergent and posted it on Facebook, telling all my friends how much money I saved, my husband said, “We have enough money to buy laundry detergent!”  And he’s right.  We do.  So, why in the world would I make my own?

1.  I like knowing exactly what’s in the things I use.

2.  I have a son with allergies who needs a fragrance free detergent.

3.  Every penny I save I can put toward building my food storage.


So, does it really save money to make my own detergent?  Let’s see.  We’ll start with the “recipe.”  I came up with this after reading several recipes online and took what I liked from a few of them, and I came up with this recipe.


Homemade Laundry Detergent


1 box Borax

1 box Super Washing Soda (you can make your own from baking soda)

1 3-lb box Baking Soda

1 bar Fels Naptha

2 bars Ivory soap (or castille soap)


Finely grate the soap using a box grater or a food processor.  Mix grated soap together with Borax, Washing Soda, and Baking Soda.  Store in a sealed container.  Use 1/8 cup per full-size load of laundry.  Makes 20 cups (160 loads).


Here’s my photo step-by-step.


Here are my ingredients.

Here are my ingredients.


I used a box grater and grated my soap.

I used a box grater and grated my soap.


It looks a bit like Colby Jack cheese, doesn't it?

It looks a bit like Colby Jack cheese, doesn’t it?

I got a bit lazy at the end and switched to the largest size on the box grater.

I got a bit lazy at the end and switched to the largest size on the box grater.  Again, it looks like cheese.


I added my Borax, Washing Soda, and Baking Soda and stirred everything to combine.

I added my Borax, Washing Soda, and Baking Soda and stirred everything to combine.


Then I poured it into the bucket I use for my laundry detergent.

Then I poured it into the bucket I use for my laundry detergent.


See?  I got this (for free) from the bakery at a local grocery store.  Many bakeries receive their icing in buckets which are single-use buckets.  Many stores are willing to give their customers these buckets if they ask. I did, and they did.

See? I got this (for free) from the bakery at a local grocery store. Many bakeries receive their icing in buckets which are single-use buckets. Many stores are willing to give their customers these buckets if they ask. I did, and they did.  I had to wash it well before I used it, but it is the perfect container with a lid and everything!


Pretty easy, huh?  It takes about 15 minutes total.  Grating the soap makes up most of that time.  The question remains: Is it worth it?  Does it save money?  Let’s see…


Cost of Ingredients


Borax – $3.97

Super Washing Soda – $3.24

Baking Soda – $1.53 (I buy mine in bulk at Costco.  If you buy it at Wal-mart, it’s $2.24)

Fels Naptha – $0.97

Ivory Soap – $0.80 (I bought mine in a 10 pack.  This is the cost of 2 bars.)


Total Cost – $10.51/160 loads = 6.5 cents per load



Grocery Store Prices (Powdered laundry detergents)

Tide – $18.99/102 loads = 18.6 cents per load

Store brand (fragrance/color free) – $6.99/40 loads = 17.4 cents per load

Surf – $10.99/120 loads = 9.1 cents per load

Store brand (regular)  – $9.99/120 loads = 8.3 cents per load


Warehouse Club Prices (Powdered laundry detergents)

Tide – $26.37/160 loads = 16.5 cents per load

Surf – $13.57/180 loads = 7.5 cents per load


Conclusion – I am saving between 1 cent and 12.1 cents per load, depending on where I buy my powdered laundry detergent and what brand I buy.  As Tide is one of my favorite brands, and I like this as much as Tide, I am saving a ton of money.  If I compare it to a less expensive brand, such as Surf, I am not saving quite as much.


Is it worth it to me?  You bet!  I know exactly what’s in my detergent and my allergy prone son has no problems with this.  I liked the detergent enough that I made it a second time.  Next time, I think I’ll try making liquid laundry detergent.

What about you? 

Do you think it is worth making your own laundry detergent?


Author: Laurie Nguyen

I am a happily married, stay at home mom with four sons, ages 24, 22, 18, and 14. I'm not a professional blogger, and I'm certainly not a foodie or a chef. But I like food, so I think I'm qualified to write about my own life experience with food. Want to be a little more prepared for the unexpected? Check out my Food Storage Blog, Have a question about Food Storage? Email me:

35 thoughts on “Am I REALLY Saving Money? Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. I’m with you – I love homemade detergent!
    I also add in a container of oxyclean per a double batch of detergent. With 2dirt-lovin’ boys, I need all the help I can get!


    • Adding the oxyclean to the powdered detergent is brilliant! I think the fels naptha detergent works wonderfully, but it doesn’t keep clothes “bright”. I often add oxyclean along with the detergent, anyway. Thanks for the idea!


  2. I have a friend that just made her own homemade, but it was more of a gel. It’ll be interesting, she follows this blog too (but doesn’t comment I’m sure), but I’ll have to wait and see if she tries this dry detergent!


  3. I started making laundry detergent when we got an HE Front loader. No matter how I used premade detergents, I couldn’t get rid of “the HE smell”. Using the homemade detergent with Borax took care of that problem completely. We have sensitivities to fragrances, too, but no problems with the homemade. I usually “cook” it to make liquid, which washes more loads than the powder, so even more budget friendly. The fels naptha versions also work to get out poison ivy oils and football stink better than premade detergents. Recently, I’ve been making an uncooked liquid version: This really keeps the laundry whiter, but it is more similar to premade in how it deals with poison ivy and stinky laundry. It’s not quite as “sensitive”, either. It’s sooo much easier to make, though, that it’s hard to go back to grating soap 🙂


  4. It’s a great idea and a significant savings. I will have to cost it in NYC where everything is more expensive. Thanks for this!


  5. I buy the Xtra laundry detergent 30 load/45 oz. for about $1.50 to $2. CVS and Walgreens sell it for this price every few weeks. Have found it a bit cheaper though. $2 for 30 loads comes out to $.067 per load, so wouldn’t really save me anything. Which is good to me, as I don’t want to make my own laundry detergent. 🙂 Esp. if any of the chemicals can stain my clothes. I am a bit of a sloppy person, as you can tell from watch me cook.


  6. It is definitely worth having a go at making your own laundry liquid I have made two batches this year so far that last us for months. I get similar savings to you Laurie which adds up over time. My recipe uses grated Dr Bronner Castille soap, Lectric washing soda and some drops of lavender essential oil and only takes 15 minutes to cook and bottle. So simple. The oxyclean is a great idea though I might add that too.


  7. This is so cool!! I am allergic to bio detergent (and scented products in general) so I use store bought non-bio detergent. I would love to try make my own detergent. I live in the UK so I wonder if I can find a recipe with names of things I can find over here.


  8. Wonderful idea! I used soap nuts for a while, but they can get a bit pricey. This seems like a much more economical solution. What exactly is washing soda?


  9. I had never try it, but I think is it worth. And I may try it soon.


  10. I wanted to do this for the same reasons. We can certainly afford laundry detergent (we use All now, but I liked Arm & Hammer before the fiance). He’s the one who is insistent upon the brand we buy because it is the only one that doesn’t’ bother him. He doesn’t want me to try homemade, even though I know it’ll work out better for us in the end.

    My patience can win out 🙂


  11. I have made the grated version, but never tried the liquid. After checking out the “recipe” if I ever run out of the lifetime supply I seem to have, I think I’ll make some liquid. It does look easier than grating all that fels naptha. That was too much like work.


  12. I use the same recipe minus the Ivory soap. I love it! My boys have eczema, so it prevents flare ups. I also have a homemade cloth diaper detergent (no flaming me, it has worked for over 7 mo and my diapes are clean despite what many cloth diapering folks say otherwise).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Perfect timing! I was just putting together my Tuesday’s Tips post on DIY natural cleaners! Great post, can I link back to you?


  14. I started making my homemade soap close to a year ago now. I’ve always struggled with outrageously itchy legs and the homemade soap has essentially taken a lot of that itch away. I only use fels naptha (or dr. bronner’s) washing soda and borax though. I don’t add baking soda or ivory and it works awesome. 1 tbsp per load and I throw in oxy clean if I need extra help!


  15. I love making laundry detergent. It makes my inner hippie happy plus it saves money and gets our clothes cleaner (I’m a vet tech and the beau is a mechanic … we have the smelliest, dirtiest work clothes on Earth). I make mine in gel form and only use FelsNaptha, Washing Soda and Borax.


  16. Pingback: Tuesday’s Tips – All Natural DIY Cleaners for Your Spring Cleaning. | Idyllwild Designs Blog

  17. I have been wanting to make my own laundry detergent literally for years. How pathetic is that? it is interesting to see the price breakdown. I need to get my rear in gear and do it.


  18. sad to say that my husband is still allergic to something in this laundry soap mix… not sure what it is but I made a batch with a friend to try and share and we think it is the body soap or the borax…. just hard when you want to save money and have to buy certain things due to allergy’s


    • You might want to eliminate the Ivory soap and try it. My recipe is 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda, 1 bar Fels Naptha soap. I am HIGHLY allergic to Ivory soap and Ivory snow detergent. Major rash and hives.


  19. I’ve been making my own laundry soap for some time now. It saves me money, and my clothes seem to be cleaner and brighter. I make a liquid laundry soap because the powder didn’t dissolve properly when I wash with cold water.


  20. Nice! We use something similar to this for my daughters cloth diapers. It works fantastic! And your right it is worth it especially for allergy prone or sensitive skin which is part of why I made it in the first place.


  21. I used to make home made detergent, now I say “NUTS to that!”
    Soap nuts, that is, They are awesome, and MUCH less work. Also, that borax is pretty nasty stuff. It is great to know what is going in to your detergent, but for me, the whole reason to know is to not have toxins in it.


  22. Reblogged this on My Foray Into Food Storage and commented:

    Another popular post from my “Am I really saving money?” series.


  23. I have only me to wash for and then once upon a time, only my daughter and me. I do love homemade, homegrown etc. because like you say, you know what’s in there. 🙂


  24. Oh thank you so much for sharing this! I have been wondering for awhile now on if it IS really worth it to make your own laundry soap. I think I will definitely try it now. Thank you!


  25. We use a similar recipe for ours. We love it!
    I do have a question though, does the addition of baking soda help keep your whites bright? Or should I start bleaching?


  26. I am actually in love with 20 mule team borax!


  27. I’ve been doing this for quite some time now, but I use a slightly different recipe. I’m allergic to Ivory soap, believe it or not, and that’s the MAIN reason I make my own detergent and cleaning products. I use 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Washing Soda, one bar Fels Naptha soap. I find it cleans as well as anything and we never break out from it. Plus it’s good for the septic AND I KNOW it saves me a ton of money because I have to buy all those hypoallergenic products that cost a fortune. If it works for Amish it works for me!


  28. I have a similar recipe but I just use 1 cup borax, one cup washing soda, and 1 Ivory soap bar. To be super frugal, washing soda is just baked baking soda. I have a friend who makes her own, but I’ve always been too lazy (I don’t think the price difference on that one is actually worth it!). I should try adding the Fels Naptha and baking soda for extra cleaning power! Sometimes I do add white vinegar during the first rinse, which is a good softener! (As long as you do it early enough that the vinegar has a chance to rinse away.


  29. I absolutely think it’s beneficial to know how to make my own laundry soap in case of the “zombie apocalypse” or whatever else might come up. We’ve been using the Arm and Hammer laundry detergent which is considerably cheaper than Tide. I think I’m gonna try your “recipe” this summer. My junior deerslayers and I are making a list of self-sustaining projects for this summer. This will be one of them, Thanks!


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