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March 6, 2009

Homemade Laundry Soap

Living on a tight budget in LA for so long, I've trimmed basically every extraneous category from my finances. The next level possible for me will be simplifying my groceries and especially cleaning products used in my home. I've been following some eco-listservs lately, and one thing that's intrigued me is making your own laundry soap.

The main components to most recipes are washing soda, borax, and a soap such as Fels Naptha. Not knowing where to find these items in my local store, that's usually the first question asked. It's funny how much one passes by daily without really "seeing." Washing soda, for instance, is found in your regular grocery store on the same aisle as other laundry products. The washing soda comes in a box slightly smaller than borax. Here's what you're looking for:

It seemed most of the recipes I saw recommended a 1:1 ratio of washing soda and borax, but I found it simpler to pour the full box of each into a big tupperware, and add a bar of grated Fels Naptha. That's it. The end texture was somewhat like cornmeal. Here's what my finished product looked like:

I used a quarter cup per load this afternoon, and my clothes came out sparkling clean and smelling fresh. I'll let you know how it works out long term, but for now, I can survive my budget crunch with this, for pennies per load.

Here's a link to another site with ten different homemade laundry soap detergent recipes, from

What's your best money-saving cleaning strategy? Let me know in a comment below.


  1. From Katy Wolk-Stanley via email:
    I'm all out of laundry soap, so I'll be making some tonight. It's sitting on my kitchen counter. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. I've made this a dozen or so times myself, but I always use more Fels Naptha. My problem is that my clothes didn't come out smelling like anything... I need to find a good way to add the slightest bit of fragrance. I'm thinking about some sort of sachet in the dryer. Have you come up with a good alternative to dryer sheets... that also removes the static? I'm on the hunt!

  3. Lisa, I've been researching soap nuts, but haven't tried them yet. They're supposed to be an alternative to laundry soap, but they say you don't need any fabric softener with them. I still use Bounce in the dryer for the scent and feel. To get a little more life out of them, I put used Bounce sheets in my sock & undie drawers as deoderizers, and sometimes also use them to dust.

  4. I don't use the Fels Naptha but I add a product from Dr. Bronner's label: Sal Suds which is made from fir and pine and castile soap. I put about 2T per load. I don't use as much powder as you (only 2 coffee scoops). Maybe I should use more...

  5. Made laundry detergent tonight for only the second time. Since I put up this post at the beginning of March, that means I got nearly five months out of one batch. This time I used two bars of Fels Naptha, with one box each of borax and washing soda. Just didn't feel like I was using enough soap when I put it in the washer....


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