March 22, 2011


Posted by Ethne~

One of Lori’s and my fave blogs is  I was browsing her page recently and saw her post and recipe for homemade laundry detergent.  Her post talked about how it’s more natural and has no added fragrances.  And it’s CHEAPER!  She calculated it at $0.07 per load!!!!

Well, this was just the mission for me!  I like making things homemade, as you know by now.  I like the premise that this detergent is more natural for the environment (though I have not researched exactly HOW it’s better, but it does contain fewer ingredients, so that’s a start).  I like the idea that it is not highly fragranced.  And I LOVE the idea that it’s so economical per load.

I have an old-fashioned washer and dryer (not lye and washboard old, but not ‘he’ either).  I do NOT love them, but they were new when we moved into our house, so we are not in a position to buy new high efficiency machines yet.  The result, though, is that the washer does not spin out the clothes as well as it should, and so it takes two drying cycles to dry a load.  It’s really annoying.  (Thankfully Thrifty Nana is willing to do laundry for us often, and she’s got ‘he’!)

Here’s what you’ll need:

Remember what those boxes look like in case you have to search!

20 Mule Team Borax (Target - $2.99) – 2 cups
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (Rainbow Foods - $2.72) – 2 cups
Fels Naptha Soap (Cub Foods - $1.09) – 1 bar = 4 cups grated and chopped

I made a double batch so I wouldn’t have to make it as often – I got 4 cups easily out of the boxes of borax and super washing soda, with leftovers for next time.  (I did also buy a large food storage container at Walmart to store my laundry detergent – it needs to be kept airtight.)

Here’s what you do:

Step 1 – Grate (by hand or in your food processor) the bar(s) of soap.  Once grated, chop into a fine consistency either with a knife or in your food processor.  I used the food processor and it was slick.

Remember that wrapper!
Grated, but needs to be chopped into fine bits next

Step 2 – Mix the bits of Fels Naptha soap with the borax and super washing soda and store.

That's my 1 T scoop!

Step 3 – Use 2 or 3 Tablespoons per load.  Even works for ‘he’ machines.


I needed to test it out, so I’ve done that for the past couple of weeks so I could report in to you whether or not I like it.  Well guess what?  I do!

You don’t smell the borax or super washing soda, but the fels naptha soap has a strong lemony clean fragrance.  There aren’t a lot of suds when the clothes and detergent agitate in the water, but I know from first-semester chemistry at Olaf that suds aren’t necessary for a detergent to do its job.  (I found I like 3 tablespoons best.)  When the load is finished, the only thing you’ll smell is clean.  No fragrance, just clean.  Kinda like the clean smell after it rains.

Sutton Grace also suggests adding a ¼ cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle in place of fabric softener, but I don’t usually use fabric softener, so I haven’t tried this.  I DO add a squirt of blue Dawn dishsoap to every load.  That’s right.  It’s a great grease-fighter and hey, if they can use it to get oil-spill sludge off of birds, it certainly can work wonders in my laundry!

I use dryer sheets in the dryer for my loads (I’m using up the box that I have – I prefer the Bounce dryer bar) and the finished product comes out clean, soft and fluffy.  I haven’t noticed any issues with the powder causing a residue on my clothes (some of the online commentary about homemade laundry detergent is that some recipes did leave a residue), and all the dirt and such are coming out like they should.

This detergent has earned a permanent spot in my washroom!

MISSION SUCCESS!  My biggest problem was tracking down the Fels Naptha soap and Super Washing Soda.  Super Target and Walmart did not have these, so I had to go to my local grocery stores instead.  Making the detergent took no time at all.  I like how it cleans our laundry and it is SUPER THRIFTY!!!  Homemade laundry detergent is WOM-RECOMMENDED!


WOM-MOMS said...

Thrifty Nana is going to use the detergent in her 'he' washer - I'll let you all know how it works. ~Ethne

Melisa said...

I will have to try this, Ethne! Thanks for being the guinea pig. :)

Erin said...

I am so glad that the laundry detergent is working for you!

It is better for the environment because there is less packaging (and none of it plastic) and no harsh chemicals,

WOM-MOMS said...

Thanks, Erin!

WOM-MOMS said...

Hey everyone - update - I just checked with Erin from Sutton Grace (see her great comment above!) and she says she uses the detergent on all her kids' clothes, including her new baby. :) I haven't had any problems at all with KD and Easy Mac either.

WOM-MOMS said...

OK...I have to chime in....I am so going to try this too!

Thanks for the recipe Ethne via Sutton Grace.


WOM-MOMS said...

In my zeal to use my new detergent, I have washed every last dirty sock in my house and wash looking around for things to wash last night - it undoubtedly will not be a trend and I'll be behind in my laundry in a jiffy.


Unknown said...

Hi Ethne,

I am going to try this detergent - I was fortunate that my local Kroger carried all three ingredients. I do have one question- you state you doubled the ingredients so does that call for 2 bars of Fel-Naptha or 1 whole bar? Your blog rocks!

WOM-MOMS said...

J. Kellee Designs: It's 1 full bar of Fels-Naptha soap per batch, so since I doubled it that meant 2 bars. Sorry it took a few days to get back to you. If you read my post for today, I explain why! Ethne