Homemade Laundry Detergent - Mothering Forums
Frugality & Finances > Homemade Laundry Detergent
yasinsmama's Avatar yasinsmama 11:01 AM 08-12-2010
Does anyone make their own liquid detergent? Any tried and true recipes? Does it clean your clothes just as well as the detergent that costs way too much?

I have a HE front load washer. I'm tired of spending so much money on detergent, and am looking for an alternative. I really like the liquid detergent as opposed to powder form. Thanks for any help.

elizawill's Avatar elizawill 01:40 PM 08-12-2010
yes, i've been making my own for about 8 months.

here's what i use:

1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
1 bar fels naptha soap

grate the soap and put it in 4 cups of water over medium heat (until dissolved). pour it into a 5 gallon bucket & add washing soda and borax. fill to the top with hot water and stir well. let it set over night & it will become very thick. you'll need to re-stir it the next day (i use my hands to break up the clumps and get it smooth). add the detergent as needed to an old bottle. the recipe says to use 1/2 detergent and half water, but honestly, i usually do 3/4 detergent and the rest water. use a capful like regular detergent (but shake before each use). it can yield 10 gallons if used as instructed. i probably spend about $20 a year on detergent. as for borax, some people don't like it (but i love it), so you could simply omit it or replace it with dr. bronner's baby liquid soap. you can also replace the fels naptha with a different soap (zotes or ivory, etc).

if you want fabric softener, you can add vinegar to the rinse cycle. or you can add essential oils to a tub of water & keep sponges in there. just throw a sponge in with your clothes when placing them in the dryer. i personally buy liquid gain fabric softener. i dilute it with 1 part gain and 2 parts water and keep it in a pail with sponges & a lid. i just throw a sponge in the dryer, and my clothes smell like gain.

hth.
crunchy_mama's Avatar crunchy_mama 01:45 PM 08-12-2010
I finally just made some of my own and used a similiar method to the pp. If you look online they are all similiar. I have a HE washer and it seems to be working great and clothes seem to be coming out just as clean for a lot less money.
Casha'sMommy's Avatar Casha'sMommy 09:55 PM 08-12-2010
OP, just my

I have incredibly hard water and absolutely cannot use the recipe for liquid detergent mentioned in this thread. I have also tried soap nuts and I had a horrible build up in my washer in a very short amount of time.
I have, unfortunately, given up on using homemade detergent and have settled on spending the extra money on store bought.

GL hope the detergent works for you!
Fuamami's Avatar Fuamami 03:22 AM 08-13-2010
What kind of store-bought detergent are you currently using?

I have a front-loader HE, too, and I only have to buy two containers a year. That's with about 10 loads a week. I used the Costco brand for awhile, and am now on a box of Trader Joe's Next to Godliness. Are you putting too much in?
sunnysandiegan's Avatar sunnysandiegan 03:53 PM 08-13-2010
I made a batch of three powders and three liquids from recipes I found on tipnut (google laundry detergent tipnut). She has a list of ten recipes. I had the ingredients for six and decided to try all six in small batches (1 gallon - old vinegar bottles - for the liquid detergents and 3 cups - plastic containers given to me and we use glass - for the powder detergents). All of them work equally well!

I did not care for the mess and time #10 took to make and it is the most unusual consistency once done....too time-consuming all around for that one, for me. Otherwise, I would do any of them again. I wrote out the recipe on masking tape and put it on each container as I made them. I went through the powders faster than the liquids (lower quantity) and I haven't bothered making anymore of that. I don't care for powder detergent either, but it does work well, especially for sheets and towels. All the liquids have been awesome! I added essential oils to my recipes and it smells so much better than commercial detergents to me.

I love the self-sufficiency in making great smelling laundry detergent whenever I want. No waiting to do laundry or only doing the most important load because the detergent is running low. Whipping up a powder detergent is super fast and easy and I keep a jar of grated fels naptha ready to go. Making liquid takes a bit more effort, but is fun and satisfying.

Cost-wise, I am not sure homemade is all that much less expensive. Finding sale detergent can be faster and cheaper than finding washing soda. Even Borax was a bit challenging to find. We looked everywhere we went for 2-3 months before we found either one. Now, we know where to buy both (Ace Hardware for Washing Soda; Wal-mart for Borax) and both are special trips because we don't shop in either place regularly. Soap is more flexible and we have a local discount store that usually has a laundry soap for $1 (not always the same brand) and I generally go there once a month. If one were to stack coupons and play the grocery game, one could easily find commercial detergent for less money than retail price and possibly less than the ingredients for homemade....not to mention your time to make the detergent.

I don't think homemade is always cheaper and that isn't why I do it. I do it for the satisfaction of learning to do something "new" (to me) and for the knowledge of what is in the products I use (the assumption is it is healthier, but that is open for discussion/interpretation) and for the flexibility (I can customize things the way I would like them vs. buying what everyone else has) and I simply enjoy making things myself.

The way I look at it: You can buy lower quality for cheaper than homemade or you can pay less for a comparable product (maybe slightly better quality, depending on your criteria) if you make it yourself.
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