Frugal Living

Homemade Laundry Detergent

You want to save money but you are always lacking time. You can only invest the time to make products that are going to save you the absolute most money. I completely get it.

Making our homemade laundry detergent is absolutely one of the largest ways we save money. It’s about 85-95% cheaper than store bought and it keeps me from needing to go to the store which also saves me money.

The recipe we use is a variation of the Duggar Family Liquid laundry soap recipe.


  • 4 cups of hot tap water
  • 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap bar
  • 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • ½ cup of Borax


  1. Grate the bar of soap.

  1. Add it to an old saucepan (I kept an old saucepan that I use just for soapmaking, but you can also buy a cheap one from the thrift store) with the 4 cups of water. Stir this continuously over medium-low heat until the soap dissolves and is completely melted. This step may take about 15 minutes.

  1. Fill a 5 gallon bucket (You can buy them at a hardware store like Menards or Home Depot) half-way full of hot water. Add the melted soap, washing soda, and Borax. Stir it very well until all the powder is dissolved.

  1. Fill the bucket up to the near top with more hot water. Keep on stirring it, then cover and let it sit overnight to thicken. Note: Yes, you’ll end up having it sit overnight in front of your sink because it’ll be too heavy to move once you’ve filled up the whole container with water. I recommend putting a towel underneath the container to begin with.

  1. In the morning it will be a mixture of gel, gel clumps and water. Do your best to stir it up to be even consistency but don’t worry if there’s some spots that are more gelatinous than others. Optional: Add about 30 drops of essential oil and stir again. Lavender, tea tree oil, or lemongrass are some ideas for essential oils that are nice to add.

Transfer this mixture to individual containers (old laundry containers of mason jars). Make sure you have enough space to shake the container up before each use. We prefer to put it in quart size mason jars and store near our washing machine.


Yields: 5 gallons of concentrated soap.

Top Load Machines: ¼ cup per load         (Approx. 320 loads)

Front Load Machines: 1/8 cup per load  (Approx. 640 loads)

Price Break-down

  • 1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap bar                                       $1.81
  • 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda             .82
  • ½ cup of Borax                                                                    .48

$3.11/batch of 10 gallons

I have a standard top load machine and for $3.11 I can make enough soap for 320 loads of laundry! That breaks down to just under a penny per load of laundry!

This soap is awesome! It cleans absolutely everything and we only need one type of laundry detergent! It gets mud out from our gardening clothes in the summer, is gentle enough to use for all of our baby clothes, and we even use it with our cloth diapers! We use it with cold water for all of our clothes (except cloth diapers) and that saves us even more money!

If there was only one product that I would recommend making yourself it would hands down be laundry detergent!

You can make it in about 1 hour total (Day 1: 30 minutes to grate soap, melt, and mix. Day 2: 30 minutes to transfer to jars) and is very easy to make on the weekend.

Depending on what brand you’re used to using this soap will save you between 85-95%! Although I’d argue that it’d save you even more than that because the trip to the store from buying soap almost always results in unexpected purchases that you can save if you simply avoid the store!

If you want to save money but are busy, busy, busy this is DEFINITELY one product I would recommend making yourself!

Have any questions? Are you ready to try making your own laundry detergent and save some money? Let me know below if you try it!



3 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. I absolutely agree with Rosemarie Woodbury on saving time and money on making your own laundry detergent. Ever since Rosie started making it we did too and love it! I transfer our detergent after its made into empty Arnold Palmer Iced tea gallon jugs. The only thing I do different is to pretreat stains with Oxi-Clean. Once you start making it you will love how much money you save!

  2. I like how this doesn’t use Dr. Bronner’s soap, which I see a lot, since that can fade clothing quickly. Since I have to dress professionally (suits) to work, I can’t have my clothing fade. Suits are super expensive! How does this soap stand up to fading?

    1. We use this soap for all of my husband’s dress clothes (black pants as well) and I have quite a few black shirts we use this soap on. We haven’t noticed any bad effects of fading!

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