Can You Save Money Making Your Own Laundry Detergent?

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A Reader Asks, “Can You Save Money Making Your Own Laundry Detergent?” It’s easy to make homemade laundry detergent but does it actually save money?

Can You Save Money Making your Own Laundry Detergent?

Can You Save Money Making Your Own Laundry Detergent?

Janel from New Jersey asks: Do you know anything about making your own laundry detergent to save money? I have come across a recipe for Fels-Naptha or Ivory bar soap, Borax and Washing Soda. I like the idea of natural ingredients, but does it really save money and clean the clothes at the same time? Thank you…God Bless, Janel


Jill: It is a little cheaper to make your own laundry detergent, but only if you get the ingredients at a good price. It cleans as well as your average store-bought detergent. It is time consuming to make.

For the few pennies it saves you making your own laundry detergent, there are many other things you can do regarding your laundry that will save you quite a bit more money in the long run. We have a laundry detergent recipe if you would like to try it. My daughter used it for a while but, a couple of kids later, decided it was easier to just buy laundry detergent. Here’s our recipe and a link to a story we wrote recently along with some tips to give you some other ideas.


Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

Homemade Laundry Detergent Video

Demystifying The Laundry Detergent Dilemma

What is Washing Soda?



  1. Marilyn says

    I make my own laundry soap and save TONS. I make a bucket about every 3 months for a little over 1.50, taking about 15 minutes. We live on a cattle/horse/grain farm, so have LOTS of dirt. I am very pleased with the savings and value.

    Suggestion: use only in cold water. I purchase laundry soap & bleach to keep my whites white.

      • says

        Here is our recipe for Homemade laundry detergent Also check at the bottom of the article because there is a list of other articles. Usually when we make our own we don’t buy extra or special soap for the whites but use the homemade on them. Many people find the homemade gets their clothes even whiter. I use Clorox in my whites no matter what detergent I use though.

        Here is a link to our video on it

        Video on making Homemade Laundry Detergent

        • Sonya says

          After perusing some of your articles and tips, I agree wholeheartedly that in most cases there is a much bigger problem than saving a little bit on laundry soap. For a family of 6 on a pastor’s income though, every little bit counts in our house and I appreciate some of your tips. Considering the work involved in making my own laundry soap, which I do, (but with hard water I’m still perfecting the ratios)and the cost of supplies (not too much), I am curious about your daughter finding that in the end it was not cost effective. Was she calculating cost per load or the cost in the long run. We already do all the things you suggest about hanging clothes up after church, same towels and pj’s, re-wearing clothes (the “clerty” pile/chair), etc. So this is just another avenue to save just a tiny bit more (if it really is as cost effective as it seems to be for us).

          • says

            What I was talking about in cost effectiveness was it may save some a great deal and others not quite so much. You need to check out your own situation. For example at one time I was living in Idaho and the cost of things we need to make the detergent was much higher then here where we live in Kansas add to that at different times in my life I have worked at home so let’s say at the time I was making about $30 an hour. For me to take 30 minutes or more to make the soap I lost out on $15 worth of work time. The work I was doing was much easier for me to do then the making of the soap was so it was better for me to work that 30 minutes at my job, use coupons and sales to buy my detergent then to make my own. I know that isn’t always the case so add things up and see. Many people save.

            Also when I first wrote that article the cost of detergent was about 1/2 the price it is now so it may be quite a bit cheaper. Hope that helps a little.

  2. Jan C says

    I love making this laundry soap, and I mainly started making it because I was tired of carrying the heavy detergent bottles. I don’t like the fact that it doesn’t make suds, but I figured I could just toss the soap in the machine, toss the clothes in and not watch. I always use cold water, unless I am washing sheets in the winter. In the summer, I hang them out to dry and figure the sun will kill any germs. I have been using this soap now for a year, and my clothes get just as clean as before. I was leary in the beginning, because every batch I make comes out a different consistency, but I just shake it before I use it.

  3. Judy says

    I just grate the Fels Naptha and add the borax and washing soda to it dry. It is tons simpler than mixing and boiling. I use 2 T. per load, but you could probably use less. We’ve been doing this a long time and it works great. I’ve started grating the soap in my bullet-type blender. I’ve varied the proportions and it always works.

  4. nancy says

    I had to laugh, when I received a catalog in the mail, touting saving money on homemade detergent. They were advertising a “starter kit” which consisted of five bars of Fels Naptha soap, a box of washing soda, a box of Borax, a small grater, for the soap, and metal measuring cup and a five gallon plastic bucket. The price was $49.99 plus shipping!
    You can get the ingredients relatively inexpensively at the grocery store, and a five gallon plastic pail is about five dollars at the big box home stores. I have several that I have gotten free.
    I hope overly zealous spenders don’t pay over fifty dollars to make their own detergent!

  5. Genet says

    I make my own as well. The ingredients are cheap and I am VERY pleased with the result. I don’t take the time to make liquid, I use a recipe for dry powder. I throw chunks of soap and all the ingredients in my food processor and give it a spin. It takes literally 5 minutes to make a 30 load batch. I WOULD SPEND LONGER CUTTING COUPONS!
    Also, I have a Downy ball, but instead of expensive fabric softener, I fill the ball with vinegar. YOU would NOT BELIEVE how soft my clothes come out. I think the homemade is just BETTER than what I could buy. It is soo clean and soft and there is no sticky residue on the clothes. I have also heard that using the vinegar leaves your washer and dryer in better conditioner than commercial products.
    Good Luck!

    • says

      For anyone who needs more info I posted a comment on and explained why your clothes seem so soft with the vinegar and why the difference.
      It really isn’t so much the vinegar making it soft but the fact the vinegar helps to rinse the detergent out. Left behind detergent and clothes not rinsing properly is what causes clothes to be dingy, and not so soft. Hard water makes it worse too.

      I bought a special machine 15 years ago way before the HE machines were here. They had me wash my first load without detergent. I was shocked at how much soap was in that wash and had been left in my clothes. I didn’t have to use bleach, vinegar or anything and my clothes turned out whiter, brighter and softer then ever.

  6. Christina N says

    Hi Tawra And Jill..
    I just made Tawras laundry soap this weekend.. It was super cheap
    super easy, and oh boy does it get the clothes clean..
    My husband of almost 15 yrs was raised w/ Tide and prefers it… But it kills me to pay the prices..
    The batch I made (when you take into account what ALL of the ingrediants cost and divide into the amount you are using for a batch) turns out to be about .80 to $1.00. You are then going to have enough left over for 2 more batches+ more with an additional bar of gels naptha soap.
    Cheap cheap cheap !
    I then took 2 Old Tide containers and FILLED them with Tawers recepie.
    This made me even more excited because I can do 130 loads of laundry for approx
    $1.00. This is a $39 savings over the Tide Brand.. It cleans very well and best of all, my husband is impressed. My only regret is… I wish I learned of this 15 yrs ago.. Oh the savings..

    Thank you Tawra, I love your wisdom and your news letter

  7. Denise says

    I also use the fels-naptha/washing soda/borax mix dry. I’ve always used powdered detergents, so when I made my own I never tried the gel/liquid stuff. I put 1 T. per load and only use cold water. I’ve never bothered to figure out exactly how much it saves me. I started doing this the same time I started making a lot of my own cleaning products and personal care products — I was having skin issues and was trying to get all the unpronounceable chemicals out of my house. I’ve gone back to buying some things (like anti-perspirant), but still make laundry soap and hair gel because for these two in particular I found they worked MUCH better for me than anything I ever bought.

  8. rose says

    i am very excited about the liquid soap i made with tawra/jill’s recipe .. and the video helped too ..
    the clothes came out wonderfully .. and the vinegar made the clothes so soft too! ..
    granted we hung the clothes out and they were stiff but they were still soft ..

  9. rose says

    and i do agree .. the powder recipe is alot easier to make .. and faster ..
    denise .. can u share the recipe for ur hair gel? .. just curious ..
    i told my sister (again) about the laundry soap (this is the sister in fl, not the one in nj.. ) .. and she said this was a very creative idea ..
    i told her that i would be giving her a sample when we meet again in melbourne (she lives in s florida and helps take care of my mom.. i live in central fl between daytona and orlando and we meet in melbourne (central fl too but closer to the beach; this is where most of the family lives) but we all visit together in melbourne bc its just easier .. esp with mom .. ) .. so i told her when i see her again i will be having samples for her to try .. she thought that was wonderful .. 😀 …

  10. Michele Crone says

    I am looking for a homemade laundry detergent that is free of the dyes and perfumes for my son who has eczema. The Fels Naptha soap has a fragrance in it, is there a substitute I could use? I tried your recipe, with a extra rinse cycle and his skin has become worse. Before I found your site and recipe, I had been using the Arm & Hammer, dye and perfume free laundry soap and his skin was better. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • says

      Michele, you can use Ivory, Pure and Natural or Zote. I don’t have the ingredients for them in front of me but you can use those if they have the right ingredients for you. Also if those don’t work try basically any bar soap that won’t bother him.

  11. Brenda in Alaska says

    I wanted natural ingredients with my infants. I used plain baking soda to wash their clothes and blankets. I would occasionally use lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide on stains. Sometimes you could see the hydrogen peroxide dissolve the stain. I was surprised how clean and soft the clothes were, so I tried my clothes and they came out clean and soft as well. I also use baking soda to clean the bathtub and sink. I like to add a bit of peppermint soap and it works great and not hard on your skin.

  12. phoebe says

    When I figured my cost savings between making liquid detergent and buying Tide, it came out to an annual savings of around $500!!! I use an average of 4 big tide containers (5 gal) every 2 months (1/2 cup per load). That used to cost me about $90, now I spend $1.28 making my own 5 gallons. It only takes around 15-20 min to make a 5 gal. batch. So basically i get paid around $85 every time I make a batch. That may only be about $0.19 per load in savings, but it adds up the more you use. For me, that’s about $40/mo. That doesn’t even include what I save on making my own fabric softener for dryer sponges instead of using Bounce sheets. I also save making my own dishwasher detergent, glass cleaner, countertop wipes, & swiffer solution and I started reusing cotton rags instead of using paper towels! I started all this when we were going through a tough time financially and although we are doing much better now, I just can’t make myself pay more for these supplies. I haven’t added up all of the savings for everthing I make, but it is more than worth the effort and time in my opinion.

  13. Felicia says

    I just wanted to say that I have been making this for years and it works great and only takes about 15 min from start to finish. It has saved on my laundry costs so much as well as when the little ones have an accident it doesn’t phase me to round up a small load to not have wet pee clothes or sheets from a nap laying around I just wash it.

    Also, it was mentioned about it not suddsing this is great for 2 reasons it makes it safe for HE machines and for your septic fields. One of my girlfriends bought her first house and had major septic problem when she moved in and when the guy asked what she was using for laundry det. he said that was the best thing for it that Tide is one of your worst because of all the suddsing.

  14. Heidi says

    does anyone know if the dry or wet version works better in hard water? I’ve tried it(wet) in the past and was not impressed with the cleaning ability…but, we have hard well water and live on a farm. The work clothes get filthy!Any advice? I could really use the savings =)

    • Kasey says

      We have EXTREMELY hard water. I have used the homemade soap for a year now with no problems. I make the liquid version 1 bar soap, 1 cup each borax and washing soda in a 5 gallon bucket. I use vinegar as my rinse and have never had any issues. You really have to tweak the ingredients to fit your water type and dirt levels. Once you find what makes you happy let the savings commence!
      I make a pretreater with a 50/50 mix of Dawn dishsoap and peroxide! There is RARELY a stain I can’t remove!

  15. Jeanne says

    I have a friend who uses Kirk’s Castile soap which can be found at Kroger’s, Lehmann’s, and Cracker Barrel. We couldn’t use the fels naptha soap either because of eczema.

  16. apimom says

    Making my own laundry detergent now for over 5 years. 1 cup soda and 1/2 cup Borax and 2 bars of soap from the $-Store make 5 to 6 gallons. That lasts me endless. 1/3 to 1/2 cup per load for 2 loads a week – you do the math. Whoever does not save tons over commercial detergent on this is doing something wrong?

    Fabric softener is vinegar in a Sowny ball. Yes, I have a water softener as our well has suepr hard water and I like the luxury of my bathwater being soft. It is not so much the saving only. I can do a lot more fund things with the money I am not speding on comemrcial detergents, I like my creations with different soaps.

    Fels and Nafta are at the bottom of my preference. They have a weird smell – just like un-scented soap smells. I tried Dove (does not mix easily – use immersion blender), Irish spring (not my favourite), Italian soap bars I got as a gift (yes, nice smell!), Olive oil soap from France (people, keep it coming). I enjoy the creation process, just like cooking can be enjoyed. Any high end over oiled soap is less suited to the process but works well enough. There is always a batch of cheap soap bars on sale at the Supermarket. Stock up when the price is right. And that wrks on every item in a household as long as you do not overstock and use it up in a timely manner.

  17. JAMES R. says

    Ms Jill;
    I’ve been hearing about how others have made their own laundry soap for years, but could not get my lazy butt to make it….

    Well I finally made some, and OMG!!! talk about easy to make, cheap to buy & I have never seen my clothes, nor my wife’s clothes so clean!!! I should have made this eons ago.

    I thought I messed up the recipe when I made it though; I grated an entire bar of Fels Naptha soap & added it to the borax & washing soda, but our clothes came out fine & bright vivid colors/whites.

    TY Ma’am for sharing this recipe & others.
    I am, to say the least, a very happy camper. 8 )

    • says

      So glad it worked out for you James : ) You’re like me I hear about things and it takes me awhile to get around to trying them and then I keep kicking myself for not having tried it sooner. I am learning though. Anyway glad it worked so well for you.

  18. Rachel H says

    Maybe I’m just lazy, or maybe I take shortcuts due to FM, but I can’t see it being any cheaper for me to make my own. First of all, no one store in my area carries all these items to make the soap, so I would have to go to various stores to find them. I buy a large bottle of whatever det’g Save a Lot happens to have on hand when I need it. I use about half a cap full for each load, and our clothes are clean. I also occasionally do my aunt’s laundry, she is in a nursing home, plus about 8 loads of our own every week, A $5 bottle of det’g will last us for awhile.

  19. Maidmirawyn says

    I have been using the recipe from Thrift Kitchen for years (liquid), and my husband and I both love it! I live in metro Atlanta suburbs, so it’s easy to to pick up the ingredients when I’m at a store that has them.

    I will grate my soap, boil the water in my electric kettle, and then let it “cook” while I’m doing something else in the kitchen. Then I pour the cold water in, stir it, and dump it into my three-gallon bucket, then add the rest of the water. Very easy; it only takes a few minutes. We don’t have kids yet (working on it!), but we try to live debt free (only a small student loan left!).

  20. Sylvia Rowe says

    I live in UK. My daughter lives in Texas, her mother in-law showed me how she made laundry detergent whilst I was visiting this summer. Since I came home I searched online where I could obtain the items to make my own detergent. Amazon has been a good source. I found most of what I needed through them. I have made the dry version of the detergent, easier for me as in uk storage is often a problem. I have been using my own made detergent for about 2/3 months now and am very pleased with the results. I add Bio-tex in a white wash. I am now looking into other homemade cleaning methods as cleaning products cost so much here.

    • says

      Most everyone I know has had no problem with it. I think one of the things with HE washing machines is you need to use detergents that are low sudsing and homemade detergent is low sudsing.

  21. says

    I have made my own laundry detergent for many years now and I LOVE IT! It takes literally NO TIME to make, lasts forever, is super easy and SAVES TONS of MONEY. I use white vinegar for softener which I always have on hand anyway for all of the many other cleaners and such I make. It is definitely a money saver for my family.


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