DIY Cheaper Laundry Detergent

Two and a half years ago I came across this tutorial on Pinterest to make your own laundry detergent.  Since laundry detergent is so expensive I decided to give it a try since it claimed to be cheaper and much longer lasting.  So I went around town gathering the ingredients because I couldn’t find them all at one store.  I made the detergent and it lasted us two and a half years!  The best part was that it was only about $35!  We just ran out yesterday so I set out to make a new batch today.

(Full credit for the recipe to the blog linked above.  All photos in this post are mine.)


Here’s what you need:

1 (4 lb 12 oz) box of Borax– You can find this in the detergent aisle.  I got this from Target.

1 (3 lb 7 oz) box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda– This can also be found in the detergent aisle.  I found this at Cub Foods (local grocery store)

1 (3 lb) container of OxyClean– This is optional but really helps to get any stains out.  Can be found in the detergent aisle.  I got this at Target

2 (14.1 oz) bars of Zote Soap– This can be found in the detergent aisle.  I found these at Kmart.  The pink Zote soap smells great, especially when mixed with the lavender Purex crystals.  If you can’t find Zote soap you can also use Fels Naptha.

1 (4 lb) box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda– If you can’t find a 4 lb. box, just by two 2lb. boxes.  Can be found in the baking aisle.

1 (55 oz) bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener – This is optional but makes your clothes softer and smells great.  You could substitute any other brand of fabric softener crystals.

This makes a really big batch (a little less than 9 quarts) so make sure you have plenty of storage containers, preferably ones that have an air tight seal.  The detergent may clump up but all you need to do is break apart the clumps and it’s fine.  The most time consuming part is grating the Zote soap.


Get a large mixing bowl, set yourself in front of the TV and just go nuts grating both bars of soap.  It takes a little over an hour to fully grate both bars.



This is what the soap looks like after it is grated.  You can leave it this way or you can run the gratings through a food processor to make the soap easier to dissolve in the water, especially cold water.  This isn’t a necessary step as the soap dissolves just fine when finely grated.


Here are the gratings after being run through a food processor.  It doesn’t take very long to do this extra step.  I just have a small Ninja 16 oz. food processor so I had to do it in batches but it only takes 5-10 pulses to get it this fine.


Next step is to get a large 3-5 gallon bucket to mix the ingredients.  I used a paint stirring stick to mix everything.  Add 1/4 of each ingredient to the bucket and thoroughly mix.  Once fully mixed, repeat the process until all ingredients are in the bucket.  Give it a few final stirs and then you’re all set to fill your storage containers.


Our main container is this large glass jar.  It holds 2 quarts.  Then I put the excess in a Rubbermaid cereal container and two Ikea containers.  The Rubbermaid container holds 1.5 gallons and the two Ikea containers hold 1 quart each.

You only need to use 1-2 tablespoons per load depending on the size of the load.  It works great using just cold water and it is safe to use in HE machines.  We have a front load HE and our clothes come out clean, fresh and smelling great!

So if you’re tired of paying for expensive liquid detergents, give this a try!  I will continue to use this recipe to make laundry soap for as long as I can foresee.