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Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes

written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 7/6/2010

You can make homemade laundry detergent with low-cost, eco-friendly ingredients. Try mixing up a batch of your own laundry detergent at home!

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    What You Will Need To Get Started

    Basic cleaning ingredients that you can find at any grocery, hardware, or drug store can be mixed together to create your own laundry detergent. When comparing ingredients in your homemade detergent to many green laundry brands found at your local grocery store or online, you'll discovery they are very similar!

    So - why not save a bunch of money and make your own eco-friendly laundry detergent at home?

    You can make both powdered or liquid detergent depending on your preference.

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    You'll need the following ingredients on hand in order to create your own detergent following the recipes below:borax 

    • Washing soda (Arm & Hammer brand is commonly available in the laundry and cleaning section of your local grocery or department store. Note - this is not the same as Arm & Hammer baking soda.)
    • Borax (20 Mule Team brand is widely available in the laundry section)
    • Basic bar soap (such as Ivory or Kirk's Castile, or you can use Fels Naptha soap made specifically for laundry)
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    How to Make Powdered Laundry Detergent

    A basic recipe for homemade laundry detergent powder is to mix 1 part washing soda, 1 part borax, and 2 parts grated soap flakes (for instance, for every cup of washing soda and borax each you will need 2 cups of grated soap flakes).

    Use a large cheese grater to grate a bar of soap for the flakes. If you use Fels Naptha soap, which is quite harsh and not recommended for use on the skin, use half the amount of soap per batch (that is, equal parts of each ingredient).

    Mix ingredients well and store in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. For large loads in a top loading washer, use 2 to 3 Tablespoons of the detergent. You can add easily add a scent to your laundry by adding just a few drops of any essential oil to the water in your washing machine each load of wash you do.

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    How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent

    You can also make a liquid version of the laundry soap above. You will need a 5-gallon bucket for mixing the soap. Store the product in the 5-gallon bucket or in a few empty laundry liquid containers.

    1. Bring 1 quart (4 cups) water to a boil on the stove in a large pan or stockpot.
    2. Add 2 cups grated bar soap flakes and stir over low heat to melt the soap completely. Let the mixture cool a bit, then add to the 5-gallon bucket.
    3. Stir in 2 cups borax and 2 cups washing soda until dissolved.
    4. Add 2 gallons of water and mix well.
    5. Let the mixture sit overnight, then it is ready for use.

    As the liquid laundry soap sits, it will likely gel and may look a little gloppy. That's okay, just stir or shake the container before each use. You will want to use 1/4 cup detergent per full load.

    There are several sites online with additional homemade laundry detergent recipes, including this great FAQ from TipNut.com.