Saving dollars and reducing chemical exposure with homemade laundry soap

Natural Homemade Laundry Soap

by Carissa Carrington

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The popularity of making your own laundry soap has exploded. Every other blog on the web has "the best" recipe. Some want to try it to get away from the many chemicals in our cleaners. Others want a more natural product for sensitive skin or allergies. Still others want to save money.

I'm completely on board with saving money, so I thought I'd round up a few recipes to try.

The ingredients to this one can be found in the laundry aisle of your store or online. You will need a large pail or plastic container with a lid and a large pot. It makes about two gallons of liquid gel.

Liquid Laundry Soap

2 cups Borax
2 cups washing soda
2 cups baking soda
1/2 cup castile soap, Zote soap, or Ivory® soap

Grate the soap and put it in a large saucepan. Add 6 cups of water and heat it until the soap melts. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups of hot water into the bucket. Now add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. Use 1/2 cup per load. Use a little more for heavily soiled clothing. This is safe for HE washers as it has low suds, although it is generally recommended to put the soap in the tub of the washer and not the dispenser.

If that sounds like it takes too much time or effort, here is a no-grate laundry soap recipe from Jillee Nystul of She says, "So today I offer up this 'new' version of homemade laundry detergent to those who have to this point been reluctant or unwilling to try making their own. A couple of things that might convince you to try is there is no grating of soap and no cooking, and you can make one gallon at a time in just a few minutes."

No-Grate Liquid Laundry Soap

3 TBS borax
3 TBS washing soda
2 TBS Dawn® dish soap

Mix the ingredients in a gallon jug. Add 4 cups of boiling water and swirl. Let liquid cool. Fill almost to the top with cold water. (Bubbles will overflow the top a little.)

Jill further points out, "I have not noticed any difference in its ability to get my clothes clean. I use approximately 1/2 cup to 1 cup per load. I know that sounds like a lot, but it's pretty thin, and since it's so easy and inexpensive to make, it doesn't bother me."

I also rely on my trusted stain remover Shout®, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this recipe on Jill's site for a homemade version of it.

Homemade Stain Remover

2/3 cup Dawn® dish soap
2/3 cup ammonia
6 TBS baking soda
2 cups warm water

Add ingredients to a spray bottle and shake. May have to shake before each use, as ingredients tend to settle a bit.

For those of you who prefer powder laundry soap, I found this simple recipe from Matt Jabs of He says, "We thought it would be difficult and time consuming. Boy, were we wrong! It was actually incredibly fast, easy, and inexpensive."

Try Crystal Wash. 1000 loads of laundry - no detergents, no dyes, no chemicals, no perfumes.

Powdered Laundry Soap

Each batch yields approximately 32 ounces (between 32-64 loads based on how many TBS used per load).

1 bar of shaved bar soap (Ivory®, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha®)
1 cup of borax
1 cup of washing soda

Thoroughly stir together for 5 minutes and enjoy the results! That's it, folks. It seems too good to be true, but it is true indeed! This recipe is also reported safe for HE washers.

These laundry soap recipes are all worth a try, whether you are motivated to rid your home of excessive chemicals, offer a milder alternative to your family, or just to shave off a lot of excess laundry expense from your budget. Let's lighten the laundry load by going natural.

Take the Next Step:

  • For more on homemade laundry soap and other ways to save money in the laundry room, please visit The Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Never overspend for store-bought cleaners again. Use The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Homemade Cleaners to find frugal, effective recipes for keeping your entire house and laundry clean and fresh.
  • Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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