Easy Homemade Laundry Soap!

Do you or your family members have sensitive skin? We do. I am highly allergic to dyes and perfumes in laundry soap. The minute I put my clothing on I would start to itch, if I sweat at all in a tank top washed in Tide I have a tidal wave of hives!
Because of my major itchy issue we had been buying the dye free/scent free eco-friendly detergent at Costco for a number of years. It seemed to be the best detergent for the best price.

At some point I got sick of all the packaging, the goopy overflow from the container, and the cost was ridiculously high. So being a lover of old wisdom, I wondered how people in the olden days washed their clothing. I started to poke around to find out how we could make our own detergent.
There are tons of recipes out there. Some add more products, but we like out bare bones version. It’s simple, works perfectly, and is extremely cost efficient. If you make a whole bunch at once you only have to do it every 6 months or so.

The bare bones recipe;
This amount lasts us about 6-8 weeks.
1 cup Washing Soda + 1 cup Borax + 1 bar Fels Naptha = 46 tblsp (46 loads)

  • Grate the Fels Naptha Bar with a cheese grater
  • Mix 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Washing Soda in a large bowl
  • Add the shredded Fels Naptha to the bowl and mix well
  • I then use my old really awesome 1984 Oster blender to grind down the powder/soap mixture into a smaller granule form
  • I grind it in 1/3 cup portions to ensure proper grindage
  • Dispense the finely ground detergent into a container with a lid I use an (ahem..free) frosting container from the donut shop.

Viola….No itching… no rash!
Low waste, no goopy mess container to recycle every month…. It’s the best thing I have ever done! (well, one of them)

But it gets better!
How could it get better you ask?
Well my wonderful husband, aka Mr. Math, did a cost analysis. We based our math upon what you would need to buy if you wanted to purchase enough of each item make it one time and use all ingredients completely up. We determined that if you used our formula you would have laundry detergent to last you 5 years!

Yup that’s right, 5 years…no joke. Check it out below.

You would purchase;
9 – 55 oz boxes washing soda = 49.5 (9.8oz) cups $4 per box (9 boxes = $36)
4 – 76 ox boxes borax = 50.4 (6oz) cups $4 per box (4 boxes = $16)
50 bars of fels naptha $1 per bar (50 bars = $50)

this will total 2300 loads of laundry
We do approximately 8 loads of laundry per week (sometimes more sometimes less)
8*52= 416 loads
At that rate it would take us 5 years to use up our detergent.

Further Cost Analysis;
$36 + $16 + $50 = $102 total
102/2300 = .04 per load
That’s an average $12.75 annually for laundry detergent!
Costco Earth Friendly Products ECOS® Liquid Laundry Detergent Magnolia & Lily 2-pack (210 loads) for $34.99 top load machine (like ours) cost is 0.16 per load 4 times more! At this rate annual laundry costs are $66.56 per year

A few tips;

  • We usually buy 2 or 3 boxes of both Washing Soda and Borax at a time.
  • We keep about 6 or 7 Fels Naptha bars on hand as well.
  • If I see my ingredients on sale I buy it! That way I always get the best price.
  • Make this in a well ventilated area, it gets pretty dusty and the smell is very strong
  • Add white vinegar to the water in place of fabric softener



  1. Tami Adams

    I love your simple, 3-ingredient recipe for laundry detergent! How much of the mixture do you use for a large load?

    1. Lisa

      Hi Tami
      I only use about 1 tablespoon per load. I get the water going, put in the soap to let it dissolve a bit, then add my clothing. It will not suds like regular detergent. Enjoy! Please let me know how it works for you.

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