I just took this picture today and I am still shocked at that price.

I took this picture today and I am still shocked at that price.

Can you think of a topic more exciting that this?  Are you thinking “She is really going out on a limb here!”  My good friends are probably laughing right now, because they know that is a regular occurrence with me.  We oranges like doing that.  It keeps life exciting.

Anyway, I’m sick of paying for laundry detergent and I don’t like wondering what crazy chemicals are in there and if I want healthy laundry detergent, it costs twice that of the stuff you get at the grocery.  I just don’t like that.  Anybody agree with me on this?

Here is the cheapest one I could find at Walmart.  Keep reading.  You won’t believe how easy and cheap the homemade version is.

Here is the cheapest one I could find at Walmart. I used a cheap brand like this for awhile, but you still have the chemical issue and we can go even cheaper.

Also, my husband and I are on the Dave Ramsey gazelle-intensity thing of paying off all debt so we can have more FREEDOM – ahhhh – my keyword again.  So I am highly motivated to find ways to cut costs and still do relatively healthy things.

But, I have been making my own laundry detergent for about 2 years now.  I researched it quite a bit on the internet and with friends.  Some people make the powder, but I’m thinking with all the water you add, the liquid has got to be more cost effective.  And something about the liquid kind  makes me think it mixes in better.  That’s just me.

So Easy.  15 Minutes.  Inexpensive.  Great Satisfaction.

Yes.  I will take all of those things!  So get yer pot out.  (I’m thinking Beverly Hillbillies here.)


Laundry Soap Recipe


1 bar of soap.  1 cup of Borax.  1 cup of Washing soda.  Stock pot.  5 gallon bucket.  Grater.  Water.

Grate 1 bar of soap.


I use this Kirk’s Castille soap that I got at my grocery store. (Jumbo for all you hometown girls.)


I’ve read people use Fels Naptha or Ivory.   The ingredients in the Castille soap are:  coconut soap, water, coconut oil, vegetable glycerin, natural fragrance.  Very good stuff.


The Beauty Of Coconut Oil

By the way, if you have not discovered coconut oil to cook with, use on your body, etc. let that be your next research project.  Here is a link to get you started.  It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal.  I think that about covers everything.

The main things I use it for are cooking and baking anything unless I particularly want olive oil for some reason, and makeup remover.  But there are many other uses.  Check it out.

Pour 12 cups of water into your stockpot and heat on hi.  Pour in your grated soap and let it dissolve as it heats up.


Add 1 cup washing soda.  (not baking soda)

Add 1 cup borax.  Get both at the grocery.


Stir til dissolved.


Usually I let it boil for a few minutes.  I’ve read where others let it heat up to right before boiling.  In the end, sometimes my soap is on the watery side and sometimes it is more gelatinous.  It doesn’t matter.  There is no difference in cleaning ability.  But it may be that letting it get to right before that boiling point makes the consistency more gelatinous.  I’m not sure.

Pull out your 5 gallon paint bucket.


You can buy a new one at Lowes or a hardware store.  I thought I  shouldn’t use one that actually had paint in it, but if you can clean it out really well, I think it would be fine.

Pour 8 cups of hot water into bucket.

Pour your cooked soap mixture into bucket.  Stir.


Pour 2 and 3/4 gallons more water in (that would be 11 quarts).  Stir.


Notice the picture above: the 5 gallon bucket is a good idea so you don’t go sloshing your soap out when you move it around.  I have also made 1/2 this amount before though.  So, do what works.

You can add essential oils at this point.  One time I added a whole bottle of lavender essential oil.  I wanted it to really smell good and for the smell to last and it did!  They say you can just add a few drops.  I don’t do that anymore and it smells just fine.  Adding essential oil also raises the price, but hey, if that’s important to you, go for it!

Let sit for 24 hours and it’s ready to use.  I usually put a top over it while it sits.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe to keep the bugs, or any other random flying particle, out.


Then I pour it into 2 old laundry detergent bottles and 1 smaller container.


The smaller one is easier for children to handle.


This recipe fills all 3 of these containers to the brim.  The large containers are 1  1/3 gallons or 175 fluid ounces and the small container is 2 quarts.


Use 1/2 cup per load.  This 1/2 cup came with the old detergent.


Wow, decent nails.  Usually they are cut down to the nub.  Function vs. Beauty.  Isn’t it all about finding the balance.

Back to soap.  I also use Shout on stains.  Our clothes are perfectly clean and fine.  Does this sound like I’m on a commercial in the 1950’s wearing a poodle skirt and heels?  Ouch.  I don’t think I’ve worn heels in decades.  Maybe once or twice.

Cost Breakdown:

UPDATE:  Earlier I had a cost breakdown from a girl on the internet from 2007, but I decided to get my hiney up and over to the store and do a current cost analysis for you.  Again, for you hometown girls, all of this is available at Jumbo.  Walmart did not have the Washing Soda.  You could use Ivory for the bar of soap and it would be even cheaper.

Borax  76oz  3.49.  This is .37 per cup.

Washing Soda  55oz  2.89.  This is .42 per cup.

Kirk’s Castille soap  4 oz bar.  $1.15

My recipe cost a total of $1.94.

Did You Catch That?

Homemade detergent = .0046 cents/oz.  That is less than 1/2 of a penny per ounce.
Cheap detergent at store = 04 cents /oz.
Expensive detergent at store = 13.4 cents /oz.
My recipe gave me 414 ounces and cost a total of $1.94.  And it’s healthy!

It All Adds Up!

Laundry Soap Recipe (for easy printing)


1 bar of soap.  1 cup of Borax.  1 cup of Washing soda.  Stock pot.  5 gallon bucket.  Grater.  Water.

Grate 1 bar of soap.  I use this Castille soap that I got at my grocery store.  I’ve read people use Fels Naptha or Ivory.

Pour 12 cups of water into your stockpot and heat on hi.  Pour in your grated soap and let it dissolve as it heats up.

Add 1 cup washing soda.

Add 1 cup borax.

Stir til dissolved.

Usually I let it boil for a few minutes.  I’ve read where others let it heat up to right before boiling.  In the end, sometimes my soap is on the watery side and sometimes it is more gelatinous.  It doesn’t matter.  There is no difference in cleaning ability.  But it may be that letting it get to right before that boiling point makes the consistency more gelatinous.  I’m not sure.

Pour 8 cups of hot water into 5 gallon bucket.

Pour your cooked soap mixture into bucket.  Stir.

Pour 2 and 3/4 gallons more hot water in (that would be 11 quarts).  Stir.

Add essential oils if you want.

Let sit for 24 hours and it’s ready to use.  I usually put a top over it while it sits.  I’m not sure why.

Then I pour it into 2 or 3 old laundry detergent bottles so it’s easy to use.

Use 1/2 cup per load.

I also use Shout on stains.

God Bless.  Have a Grand Day!


  1. Ebby says:

    OH gosh – it does make sense but…….well…maybe I will print it and try. I do hate the price of Tide. Maybe :) you should make some and sell it at our new farmers market!!!

  2. Klista says:

    Ebby, I think you have a great idea. Heck, I bet you could sell it! I think I’m going to try this too. I can’t believe how much it makes and how cheap it is.

  3. Lori says:

    I have been troubled by the high cost of detergent for a while now. I just don’t get it. Anyway, thanks for sharing this. I am going to try it. I enjoy your blog. You crack me up!

  4. Mayme says:

    I am a GRH.com addict. You have to explain to all your followers. How you came up with the blog laundry detergent. We all need to know.

  5. Allison says:

    Ebby and Klista, I think I will bow out of selling at the farmers market. Lots of heavy lugging involved! But be my guest!

    Lori, Great to hear from you. Hope it works for you.

    Mayme, You are very funny. I don’t know. It started out being a health thing. I was getting kind of anti-chemical in lots of areas. So I just searched it out on the internet. But then it became a money thing too. So….that’s just it. I’m so glad you are enjoying this blog thing. Pretty crazy how the information age has transformed life!

    UPDATE: Note that I added that you need to boil or almost boil your mixture. I added it above. Also, I started thinking that Kirk’s Castille soap is a little more than what that other girl used. But still a bargain.

  6. Jeannine says:

    Ok, this all sounds very virtuous . . . but can’t I just buy some from you instead?

  7. Tammy says:

    Allison – I am going to try this. I found myself getting really irritated last night when I bought my humongous jug of detergent at Wal-Mart. I don’t like all the chemicals in things, either, and this is a great way to get away from that, too. I’ve even looked into a no-shampoo alternative if you’re interested in hearing about that.

    I agree with the Farmer’s Market thing. I know you would sell a ton of it and then you would also be making some extra cash for that Freedom plan! :) People want this, they just won’t do it themselves.

    I am a recent convert to coconut oil, too. For people like you & I with the curls (especially in this wet weather) – it also works great on taming the frizzies.

  8. Allison says:

    UPDATE: Ladies, I did a current 2009 cost analysis above so I now have more accurate figures. Still a great deal!

    Jeannine, You are too funny. Come on. Give it a try!

    Tammy, I have tried shampoo and I wasn’t thrilled with it, but I haven’t given up. I think I just need to find the right one. I’d love to know your no shampoo alternative. Is it dreadlocks??

  9. Tammy says:

    I’m not brave enough to do dreds! Here’s the article:


  10. Allison says:

    Tammy, I read the no shampoo article. Have you tried this? I’m very, very tempted. I used to buy Burts Bees, but in my new cost-cutting measures I just cant justify it. So now it’s Dollar Tree shampoo and prayer!

  11. Tammy says:

    I haven’t done it yet. I want to try it. The thing is I don’t want to end up looking like Rosanna Rosanna Danna, which really doesn’t take much. I have a hard time scrimping on my hair. That’s one of the things I afford myself, mostly because it’s pretty unmanageable most of the time. But maybe this teamed with the coconut oil would keep it in check.

  12. […] oh, I hear you saying  “She isn’t going to stop at homemade laundry detergent.  She is going to make us do all kinds of weird, homemade things.”  Oh don’t worry.  […]

  13. Ladonna says:

    Hi Allison,

    I have been making soap for several months. The recipe called for making it liquid like yours, but one of my friends urged me to try it dry. It works well, requires less storage and so we continue using this recipe:
    4 cups borax
    4 cups super washing soda
    2-14 oz bars of Zote, grated

    I mix this in my big jelly pan and store it in a gallon (plastic) pickle jar. We use 1 Tablespoon for a regular load and 2 Tablespoons for a heavy or stinky load.

    Because I feared the dry wouldn’t dissolve and do a good job, I put it into the washer and stir it around with a stick before adding the clothes.

    I am paying $1.09 for the Zote bars here in OK, but my mom found them down in Texas at an Hispanic store for $0.59 a bar. I may buy a case or two the next time I go to Texas.

    Oh, we use Fels Naptha for stains. Just wet the spot and rub it on.

    I am enjoying my reading on your website. Blessings to you!

    • Allison says:

      Well, that sounds like a good and easy idea. I might have to try that next time for fun. I’m assuming the bar soap I use would still be ok? Thanks so much for your addition. The more info, the better!

  14. Ladonna says:

    There are numerous moms making soap in our local group. Some use Fels Naptha, some Zote, some Kirk’s, some Ivory. So, I assume any basic soap will work.

    The recipe I found online called for Zote and it was available at my local grocer for $1.09 for a 14 oz bar. My mom found the same soap in Texas at a Mexican market for .59 a bar.

    Zote is a Mexican import and says right on the bar that it is a laundry bar.

    I do keep Fels Naptha on hand to rub on stains. It is potent stuff. It costs us $1.13, ordering four cases to get a discount of the Fels and it is only 5.5 oz.

    We don’t just like our homemade soap because of the price, but we really like it best for the clean, non-perfumy clothes that result.


  15. Allison says:

    Thanks so much. I’m with you on the clean, non-perfumy clothes. It is a great thing all the way around!

  16. We’ve been using the homemade detergent for years. I’ve always used dry for convenience. (I can’t do heavy lifting.) I’d like to try to liquid version soon, though.

    Also, I’ve been poo-free for several months now. You can see my initial blog about it here: http://bit.ly/3ZcDGo. I’m planning on updating my blog soon to let everyone know how it’s going. Bottom line? It’s going fantastically! I don’t ever plan on using shampoo again! Plus, my DH is now almost poo-free (he uses a goat’s milk soap bar on his hair), and my kids are also poo-free!

    If you or any of your readers have any questions about going poo-free, feel free to e-mail me!


    • Allison says:

      Very cool on the shampoo. The longest I have gone so far is a week, but Im open to more on that! Ive been using the dry detergent lately and it is soooo easy. My recipe is 1 bar castille soap grated. 2 cups washing soda. 2 cups borax. Mix. Put in tupperware. Use 1-2 T depending on load. Love it!

  17. […] gave you a recipe for Liquid Laundry Detergent, about a year ago, but over the last 6 months or so, I have been making this powdered version […]

  18. Deann says:

    Thanks for all the great info and pictures. I did a seach on-line “what is washing soda” and actually found a link about how to make baking soda into washing soda. here is the link incase you are interested: http://naturesnurtureblog.com/2012/05/08/ttt-turn-baking-soda-into-washing-soda/

  19. Julie says:

    Hi All, I’ve been using my homemade soap for about 8 months and will never go back to commercial soap! I played with recipes a bit and found this works best for us, family of 4 with two teen sons. We work in the yard a lot and have filthy clothes going in the washer, clean coming out. My guys are sensitive to dyes and perfumes, as well as chemicals. We used to use sensitive skin brands such as All Free and Clear but found the clothes still smelling like B.O. and they may be free of dyes and perfumes but are still chock full of chemicals. The “natural” brands didn’t clean well. Follow the recipe on this site as far as melting shavings for my recipe.

    **In addition to 1 bar of Kirkland Bath Soap (Costco brand, better than Dove), I add 1/4 to 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha. You get soap easy on the skin but still a little kick for stains. Fels is a detergent, which does the deeper cleaning. So this is different than most recipes, that use an entire bar of Fels and no bath soap.

    Still add your 1 C Washing Soda. If you can’t find any, just take BAKING soda, bake it at 400 degrees for 30 min or so and it turns into Washing Soda.

    **DON’T add Borax unless you are using it for whites! That cleaning power brightener lightens some dyes in clothes. I add 1 C, (diluted first or it is clumpy) to my final gallon and label it accordingly.

    **SOFTER CLOTHES! Once the clothes have been washed about 6 or 7 times, you will suddenly see how soft they are! The chemicals from the commercial brands have been laundered away, leaving the clothes softer than you ever imagined! None of us can believe how soft T-shirts, sheets and even towels are! Do you know why you need clothes softener? Because the clothes are so full of chemicals and soap they are stiff and hard, a definite plan by the companies so that you will use softener!

    **The last few weeks we’ve noticed that we have hardly any lint in the dryer tray! So…what has the industry been putting in the laundry soap to break down our clothes?

    **This is so cheap you can hand it out for friends and family to try. I’ve given it to family, friends and neighbors. Everyone loves it! This costs me approx. $.40/gallon

  20. Julie says:

    I forgot:
    The reason there may be clumping in some folks’ soap is because you have to also heat the washing soda when you melt the bar soap and Fels Naptha, all in the same pot and I use a small pot. If you put washing soda into cold water (filling your pail) it will turn into huge clumps. All melted before you add to the 5 gallon water you won’t have clumps!

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