OK, I admit it. Some of my friends thought I had gone off the deep end when I told them I was making my own laundry detergent. But when I showed them my clothes and shared how much I saved on laundry detergent, some of them were ready to give it a try themselves! It is super simple, I would say that it took me about 10-15 minutes of active time to make the entire batch of detergent. Here is how I did it:
1 Fels Naptha detergent bar ($0.97)
1 box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (under $3, for many, many uses)
1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax (Under $3, with many, many uses)
1 5 gallon bucket (about $5 from our local hardware store)
1 funnel for filling my old detergent jug (I borrowed this from my husband’s oil changing supplies)
I grated the detergent bar with my box grater and mixed into a sauce pot with 4 cups of water. I heated it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it dissolved completely. While that was heating on the stove, I filled my 5 gallon bucket half-full with warm water. Once the soap and water was ready, I poured it into my bucket and added 1 cup of Super Washing Soda and 1/2 cup of borax. I stirred it well and then filled the rest of the way with more water. Then, I let it sit overnight.
When I pulled the lid off in the morning, it looked like a pale-yellow jello surrounded by water. I mixed it well again and then filled my old detergent jug half full (for my jug it took 6 1/2 cups of detergent to get it there) and then filled it with the same amount of water.
My cap measures out exactly 5/8 cup when I fill it to the brim, so when I want to wash a load of laundry, I just shake the jug a few times and measure it out like usual (going past all the 1, 2, and 3 load sizes in the cap) and add it to my washing machine. I have a top-loading machine; for front-loaders, they only need 1/4 cup!
You can make a dry version of this recipe using a food processor, but I have heard that it does not work as well.
Also, if you are one who prefers your clothes to have a scent, you can add around 5 drops of essential oil to your individual jug. I haven’t tried this either (I get a scent from our dryer sheets).
As a side note: After I finished this, I thought to myself how little cleaning agents are actually in laundry detergent. If this was how much water I put in mine and it worked better than all the store brands I had used previously, how much water was I paying for in theirs?
Give it a try and let me know what you think! But, be ready to share, I ended up filling multiple detergent jugs for 3 friends, my parents, my in-laws, my husband’s grandmother, my sister, and my sister-in-law. I just made my third batch since October of last year. So, I spent about $4 on laundry detergent in the past 7 months with having shared it with all of those people!