As I mentioned yesterday and several times since we started our blog in October, I love to save money! It’s amazing how once you become a mom your priorities really do change. For example, I used to get excited about a new pair of heels… now I get excited about a 5 gallon bucket of laundry detergent! Yes, I’m serious. So today is a continuation from yesterday where I’m going to tell you about 2 more things that I hate to spend money on that I learned how to make at home. And they are SOOOOO easy!

I kept hearing about moms that made their own laundry detergent and I even found the recipe, but every time I was just about out of detergent I still didn’t have the necessary supplies to make my own detergent and thus, broke down and bought more Tide. I’m pretty irritated with that decision now that I see how easy detergent is to make and how much money I’m saving!  Finally I decided one weekend that I was going to make my own detergent! And I did. And it was easy. And yes, I show off my 5 gallon bucket to any visitors in my home. Yes, I’m serious. And if you’re worried if this detergent will be compatible with your HE washing machine, the products are actually less sudsy than a traditional laundry detergent so they don’t create the build up that ruins HE machines. So here’s how to do it!

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 gallon bucket with lid: I purchased mine from Home Depot in Lakeway for about $2.50, but if you already have one then just make sure to clean it out really well, because this is where you will store your solution and since it makes so much, you will be storing it for a while.
  • ½ cup of Borax: You can purchase this from just about any grocery store and it’s typically found on the laundry aisle where you buy detergent. I got mine from the HEB in Lakeway and spent $2.98
  • 1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda:Again, you can purchase this from just about any grocery store and it’s typically found on the laundry aisle where you buy detergent. I got mine from HEB in Lakeway and spent $3.24. Just make sure you get the “Washing Soda”, because anything else won’t have the same effectiveness.
  • 1 Fels Naptha Soap Bar: This was a little tricky to find, but finally I found it at the Ace Hardware in Cedar Park. I should have listened to my friend, Lizzie who told me it was there… I was just trying to avoid the drive. After getting home and doing some online research, I discovered you can also use an Ivory Soap Bar, which I know for sure can be found in any grocery store. Since the soap was in Cedar Park I went ahead and purchased 3 bars, but each bar is only $1.49. You can also purchase the soap bars online, but I was too impatient to wait.
  • 8 drops of Lavender Oil (Optional): If you decide to make your own diaper wipes from yesterday’s tutorial, then you can use this for both! Again, I found the lavender oil at HEB in Lakeway in the Natural Foods area and it was $8. BUT, IT’S OPTIONAL!

How to Make Your Laundry Detergent:

  • Grate the soap bar. It doesn’t have to be grated super fine, just fine enough for it to melt in the next step.
  • Heat 4 cups of water over medium to high heat (make sure not to boil) and dump the grated soap into the water. Stir frequently until the soap is completely melted. This was the longest part of the process and still only took about 10 minutes.
  • Fill your 5 gallon bucket up with warm water ½ way.
  • When your melted Fels Naptha or Ivory soap is completely melted with no chunks, pour the mixture into the bucket.
  • Pour the Borax and Arm and Hammer Washing Soda into the mixture and continue to mix until all the powder has dissolved.
  • Fill the bucket up to the top with more hot water
  • Stir again
  • Put the lid on the bucket and let it sit overnight
  • In the morning (or whenever if you’re like me), take the lid off and stir the mixture well. Take an old laundry detergent container or a milk carton or any other container you see fitting and get a cup or something small to scoop the mixture out. Fill your container ½ with the concentrate from your bucket (because this is just a solution, you really get 10 gallons out of this recipe). Once it’s ½ full fill the container the rest of the way with water. Drop about 8 drops of lavender oil (optional), shake, and you’re ready to do laundry!
  • Make sure you shake your container each time you do laundry, because the ingredients will separate.

When you take your lid off after letting it sit overnight it should look like this: The whole process from start to finish, minus the sitting over night, took about 15-20 minutes!  The biggest thing to know is that the detergent will have a slightly different consistency than what you are used to. It is runnier, but I’ve taken the lid off since filling my container for the first time and it seems to be getting thicker so it may coagulate better with more time sitting. Either way, I tried my first load of laundry with homemade laundry detergent on my son’s cloth diapers. I figured if it got the ammonia and poop odor out of those bad boys, then we would be set in the homemade detergent department. And it WORKED!!!! They smelled like lavender, which again, is optional. You can use different scented oil or no oil, the smell of the soap bar alone is heavenly too.

Cost Savings:

  • This detergent makes 640 loads worth if you have a front load washing machine and 180 loads if you have a top loader.
  • The materials you purchased you will reuse for future laundry detergent or other homemade solutions with the exception of the Fels Naptha Soap Bar, you need one bar each time you make detergent.
  • I spent $16.72 on everything (remember, lavender oil is optional and was ½ of my cost). The bucket will be reused with each batch so on the next batch I won’t have that expense. And I already have the Borax and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda so I won’t have to buy that either. The next batch will cost me less than $2, which is for the Fels Naptha Soap Bar.
  • Since I have a front loader I will get 640 loads from my 5 gallon batch of detergent. The cost per load with what I spent comes out to .03 cents per load. If you have a top loader it comes out to .09 cents per load. If you don’t buy the lavender oil, it comes out to .01 cents per load for a front loader and .05 cents per load for a top loader. And remember friends, that’s the cost on your 1st batch! I’m not even going to do the math on future batches, because it will definitely be less than 1 penny!!!
  • If you buy Tide, it’s about $18 for 96 loads, which is approximately .19 cents per load.
  • I do about 12 loads of laundry per week, which is 624 loads per year. If I’m saving .16 cents per load by making my own laundry detergent then I am saving our family $100 a year! Okay, so it’s not really a lot, but I just made enough detergent for a year, I can reuse the supplies to make future detergent and other cleaning supplies (which I didn’t factor in that savings to my math), I’m not polluting our earth with plastic containers, and it took me less than 20 minutes! I hate that when I have to buy laundry detergent it is still factored into my grocery budget and every 8 weeks or so I’m having to spend $18 on laundry detergent, which means $18 less on fun things like Goat Cheese, Brownies, Mascara, etc. Now I don’t have to worry about it and I don’t have to ration my laundry detergent just because I’m cheap, because I have a year’s worth!

Let us know if you try out the homemade laundry detergent recipe or if you have a different variation of your own. We’d love to hear from you! This recipe came from the Duggar Family…Thank goodness for 19 kiddos 🙂 And tune in next week for the 3rd and final part of the “I Make My Own Dishwasher Detergent, Seriously! Homemade Recipes Part 3” Mini Series.



  1. I am so doing this. This is my exact recipe, except mine was only to use two gallons… and it went as quickly as a bottle of Tide. It was too thick and goopy. Also, I use Caress because I like the smell – so you can do that in place of Fells Naptha.

    • I wonder why yours is thick and goopy if it’s the same recipe? I wonder if it’s the difference in soaps? I read somewhere that you have to use more gentle soaps, because they can get too sudsy. Glad this will help make your soap making process easier!!!!

  2. My friend Ashley makes all homemade stuff for her girls too. I think it’s great, I can use the baby wipes recipe for my poodles. I wipe their feet everytime they go out. It’s funny they expect it now

  3. I am totally going to try this when I get a chance! We need all the extra money we can get! And because it doesn’t take long to do, I’ll do it! I’m bad about using more than I need to on the concentrated laundry detergents because even if I have a half load I feel the need to put a whole cap full in (or I feel like they’re just not clean, psychological thing…lol) and so I go through the regilar detergent quicker than I should! Thanks for this great post!


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