Is it okay to use homemade laundry detergent in an HE washing machine?

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes for High Efficiency (HE) Washing Machines

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Recipe for Homemade HE Laundry Detergent

I've seen the recipe for the homemade laundry soap, how does this soap work in the new front loading washing machines that call for the "High Efficiency (HE)" detergent?

Her Favorite Detergent Recipe

I have used the recipe below for homemade detergent in my front load washer for almost a year now. It works very well and I have never added anything to it. It is from a site that is no longer active called

Powdered Laundry Detergent (My favorite)

1 cup grated Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup 20 mule team borax

Mix and store in airtight container or bag. For light or small loads, use 1 tablespoon. For normal loads, use 2 tablespoons. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons. Cost per load is about 15 cents.

To make a large batch, grate 6 bars of Fels Naptha Soap and then add 3 cups of Washing Soda and 3 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax. Mix well and store in covered container.

The above recipes will not make suds in your washer so don't be alarmed. Fels Naptha Soap is a pure soap and typically makes little or no suds in the water. This makes it perfect for use in the new HE washers as well as traditional washers. You will also notice the need to either reduce your laundry softener, or in most cases, you can even eliminate the use of softener completely.

Homemade Detergent Is Easier on Her Washer's Drain Hose

I own an HE washer and recently began to make my own powdered laundry soap, and have found it ideal for HE washers since it foams a lot less than commercial liquid soaps and it works a lot better. It takes less than 20 minutes to make and costs a lot less than super-cheap liquid detergent with materials that are inexpensive and easy to find. And it cleans better than liquid laundry detergent.

You can Google for homemade soap recipes. I make a powdered version with 1 bar of Fels Naphtha and 2 or 3 bars of deodorant soap (Walgreens® works great!), 1 to 2 cups 20 mule team borax and 1 to 2 cups baking soda. You can also add a cup of an OxiClean® if you do a lot of very dirty laundry, but for most laundry, it works great without it.

Related: Make Your Own Cleaners!

Slice the bar soap with a paring knife as you would a chunk of cheese and then put it in the food processor to chop it fine. With a damp cloth on the open edge of the feed chute, add the dry powders and process in short bursts. This makes enough soap for approximately 25 loads. Use 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of detergent per load, placing the powder in the detergent cup. Use hot or warm water to make sure the soap dissolves completely if you do not grind the soap finely in a food processor. Store airtight; an empty ice cream pail works great. If clothes are very dirty, add a little more soap. It will not create foam/suds in quantity but you will be amazed how clean your laundry will be.

I checked the drain hose from my washer before starting to use my homemade soap and was shocked to see a lot of residue from a premium brand HE detergent and liquid softener. A week after beginning to use homemade soap the drain hose was as clean as new! Sometimes I just add vinegar to the rinse cup to soften and reduce static electricity or use liquid softener for the smell since homemade laundry soap doesn't contain perfumes.

Less Detergent Needed

We just got brand new HE washers in our apartment complex laundry rooms. They are for heavy duty use by tenants and have detailed instructions on them. The instructions clearly state you can use HE detergent or just two tablespoons of regular detergent. I used the two teaspoons of regular detergent for several loads so far and they have come out great. Perhaps you can do this with your washer too?

Clean and Soft Results

I have a HE front load washer, and since the homemade laundry detergent recipe I have makes almost no suds, it's perfect! I've been using this recipe for about four months now and my clothes are very clean and soft, even when the clothes are line-dried. Just to make sure we eliminate static cling, I use plain white vinegar as my fabric softener. I just use the dispenser in my washer like normal using the homemade recipe in the soap side and the vinegar in the fabric softener side. Haven't had any problems yet!
Roben from Fresno, CA

Get Clean Clothes and Save a Little Money, Too

YES! You can use the homemade laundry detergent in your front loading machine. It works great, and you use less. Use about a 1/2 tablespoon per full load. You'll notice less buildup and cleaner clothes. Plus, it's much less expensive than the "special" HE detergent.

Reviewed March 2018

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