Homemade laundry detergent

It’s so ridiculously cheap and easy to make homemade laundry detergent (liquid and powdered) that the value adds up quickly and you’ll wonder why you paid so much to wash your clothes in the past.

Besides helping you save money at home, making your own laundry detergent is a good idea if you or your kids have sensitive skin (my kids do) or if you have a sensitivity to fragrances (which I do) as it’s almost completely free of chemicals and scent (I also find it’s easier on your washing machine).

Here are the recipes I use for both powdered and liquid homemade laundry detergent. I use both of these in my front-load washing machine with no issues and great results.

Make powdered laundry detergent (for hot load cycles only)


2 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax
2 cups of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda
1 bar of Ivory soap finely grated


In a large bowl use a fork or whisk to mix 2 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax and 2 cups of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda together. Make sure there are no clumps and that both are mixed together well (usually about a minute or two of mixing will do).

Finely grate one bar of plain Ivory soap (I use the finest side of a cheese grater for this) into the powder and mix it together well (another minute or two of mixing).

Transfer to a clean glass jar with a lid like these ones from Amazon.

That’s it! You now have powdered laundry detergent. Use about one tablespoon per hot load (use the liquid homemade recipe below for cold cycles as the powdered one will not dissolve properly).

Make liquid laundry detergent (for hot or cold cycles)


1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
1 cup of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda
1 bar of Ivory soap
1 5-gallon bucket with lid
Lots of water


Finely grate the bar of Ivory soap into a large pot on the stove and add six cups of water. Heat on medium, frequently stirring with a large metal spoon until the Ivory soap is completely dissolved (it’s best not to use a wooden spoon for this as the wood can absorb the taste of the soap).

While the Ivory soap is dissolving on the stove mix the cup of 20 Mule Team Borax and cup of Arm & Hammer So Clean! Super Washing Soda in the 5-gallon bucket (make sure the 5-gallon bucket is clean and empty beforehand).

Add 40 cups of hot tap water to the borax and washing soda in the 5-gallon bucket and stir together until it’s thoroughly dissolved. Again, a large metal spoon is best for this (you can use the same one you used to stir the Ivory soap with).

Pour the pot of dissolved Ivory soap into the 5-gallon bucket and stir it well for a minute or two. At this point your concoction will look very watery.

Put the lid on the bucket and let it sit until the next day.

When you open the bucket the next day you will notice the mixture has become slightly solidified. Give it a good mix with a large metal spoon and it’s ready to use!

Add your homemade liquid laundry detergent to any used laundry detergent bottles you may have (reusing is better than recycling and I’ve collected many bottles from friends and family for this). Give it a shake before each use. If you prefer to use it straight from the 5-gallon bucket you will want to give it a stir before each use (but be warned it can get a bit messy this way).

Use about a ¼ of a cup (or half a detergent bottle cap) per regular load (more can be used for really dirty laundry).

Have questions or tips on making your own homemade laundry detergent? Interested in other learning about other homemade cleaning products? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

By Brian McKechnie

Brian McKechnie is a writer and entrepreneur based in Ontario, Canada. He has worked for many major Canadian media outlets and is the founder of Northern Sunshine Ventures Inc.

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