DIY Laundry Detergent

For the Planet

I read somewhere recently that fabric softener is environmentally one of the worst chemicals to have in your home…not because of the harm of the product, but because of how it’s made. They use a lot of terrible/harsh chemicals to produce it cheaply and then use a bunch of other chemicals to cover up the nasty smells. I used to make my own dryer sheets (sponges soaked in softener)…and since I remembered a method of using Distilled White Vinegar (for the same results but without any smell), I started “the Googleing”.

For the Budget

I found this recipe for softener. Other similar recipes add baking soda, but I’m going to try to skip that part at first. I can always add it in.

In the search, I also found this nifty little site: Being Creative to Keep My Sanity. She made laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and some other crafty goodness. The ingredients for these two overlap, so I was off on an adventure. (And, with our grocery store in a full-on renovation, what an adventure it was!)


At this moment, we have a full bottle of softener and a full bottle of dishwasher detergent. But the laundry/dish ingredients overlap, so I sought ingredients for all three.

We had these on hand:

  • baking soda (why on Earth did we already have ~7# of this stuff??)
  • Borax
  • OxiClean
  • TOTAL TO BUY THESE: ~$12, I’m guessing

I bought:

  • Pink Zote laundry bar soap (Fels-Naptha works, too, but I couldn’t find it and she likes Zote better.) – at Home Depot
  • washing soda
  • a cheese grater
  • lavender essential oil – $10 for a small bottle that will last forEVer – at WholeFoods or your local/favorite health shop
  • TOTAL SPENT: $20

If we I make all three, I’ll eventually need:

  • citric acid – wasn’t at my grocery store…going to keep looking
  • epsom salt
  • Lemi Shine rinse aid (powder) – $4
  • distilled white vinegar
  • TOTAL TO SPEND: ~$15, I’m guessing

Except where noted, all of these are at most grocery stores.

Now, if this were all me, I’d have bought all the stuff to make all of it and made a day of this. It’s a BYE week for both Miami and A&M, so what else is there to do on a beautiful Saturday when I don’t have a wedding? However, E is more than skeptical. He’s willing to try this, but has very low expectations it will work. The funny thing is that I do the laundry and dishes most of the time, and he doesn’t even like fabric softener. So, why should he care at all, right? 😉 Anyway, Ms. Creative Sanity swears these are both better and cheaper…and then there is the environmental impact, so I’m going to try.

For Blue Lime

E & I did our normal thing and compromised. (You can translate this to “she’s crazy, so he brought her down a little closer to Earth” if you’d like.) I’m only making the Laundry Detergent since that’s what we’re almost out of. I’m also making a half batch since the bars of soap were so cheap and I’d only be wasting cheap ingredients if it’s a big ol’ FAIL.

Step 0:

Organize the stuff and take a pic for the blog!

Laundry Detergent Ingredients

$2 for half the washing soda
+ $3 cheese grater
+ $4 OxiClean (in the ziplock)
+ $4 Pink Zote (for two…leftovers!)
+ $3 baking soda
+ $4 Borax
= $17 (if you don’t count the cheese grater)

Step 1

Grate the soap bars. I expected this to be difficult, but the soap is surprisingly soft. I counted grates for half a bar, ~600 on a new, medium-sized grater. So, 1800 for this batch, 3600 for a full batch.

Step 2

Because I was only using half of each box, I poured half of each into a mixing bowl.

Step 3

Mix well.

To be fair, I really did 1/3 of each product and then 2/3 of each product to help with the mixing.

I had a paint stir to mix, but it was too “slow”, so I just dug in with my hands and mixed it like meatloaf.

Make Time

~15 minutes from set up to storage

Step 4

Blogging…at least 30 minutes of time. Way longer than making the stuff, but also part of the fun!


The OxiClean scoop is 1 Tablespoon. Free scoop!

Total Time

~45 minutes. Not bad

Ta Da!

Laundry Detergent

It smells great and isn’t overpowering. I can’t wait to try it out! It’s very strong for cleaning…and only takes 1 Tablespoon per load.

If this works we won’t buy laundry detergent for a very long time!

The Ah HA! Moment

According to Google Shopping:

  • the cheapest liquid with OxiClean is $5 for 35 loads
    $0.14 per load
  • the cheapest powder with OxiClean is $11 for 95 small loads
    $0.11 per small load

Our math (yes, E helped):

  • this homemade version is $17 for 224 loads
    $0.08 per load
  • the full recipe is $27 for 448 loads
    $0.06 per load

Another Bonus!

E likes the smell and was surprised at how much cheaper it was, too. He’s already less skeptical than before!

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