How to Make Laundry Detergent and A Review

Homemade Laundry Soap Review

Well, I told you all that I would try my hand at making my own laundry soap and let y’all know what I thought. I’ve been using homemade laundry detergent since July, and I love it.

For those of you who said you’d miss the smell of your own soap, you might be surprised. This detergent has a fresh, clean smell. It has not messed up any of my clothes, even stuff in the delicate cycle.

It’s also great for people who are sensitive to most soaps. I gave some to Elizabeth (Will’s mom), and she said that all their clothes smell great, plus Austin and Will have had no reactions to it despite their usual sensitivity to laundry soaps. For about $10 a year, it’s also a great way for families to save money.

How To Make It

Here is a step-by-step photo guide of how to make this soap. There are a lot of pictures, but it’s really simple. And y’all, I was going to edit these pictures, but I changed my mind. There are a lot. And it’s soap. You don’t care if there’s a slightly blue light in some of the pictures, I’m guessing, so neither do I.

Step one is to grate one bar of Fels Naptha Bar Soap.

I forgot to take a picture of the grated soap until I had it melting over the stove, but I pulled out a spoon with some of the soap stuck to it to show you. When I first grated it, it just looked like bright-colored cheddar.

Okay, once you’ve grated the soap, you throw it into a saucepan and add four cups of hot water. Turn the heat to medium-low, and stir until all the soap is dissolved.

Let’s all take a moment to pretend my kitchen was clean and that my pots and pans don’t need to be replaced. Imaginations are wonderful things.

Okay, so once your soap is all melted (it took a while, maybe 10-15 minutes), it should look like this. And it will smell very soapy and clean.

Next, you need to measure 1 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (I found it at and a 1/2 cup of Borax powder into a 5 gallon bucket.

Then, you pour the melted soap mixture over it and stir until dissolved. You can tilt the bucket until the mixture moves and you can see the bottom in order to see if there are still undissolved bits.

I found a whisk helped.

Make sure your bosses approve. And that they know it’s not a snack.

All dissolved!

And this stuff is concentrated. You need a lot of water to fill that bucket and then more water to make it not overly strong for your clothes. You’ll see.

First, you add hot water to the soapy mixture until the bucket is full.

Then you put the lid on tight and let it sit overnight. Easy.

In my case, I found that a few hours into letting it sit, I noticed the way the light hit the bucket that it wasn’t all the way full. Turns out, there was a very thick foam on top, formed by the bubbles that were made by using the sprayer from my sink. So I grabbed a cup and started filling the bucket with more hot water.

That cup is actually rather large, but the bucket is huge. Lots of soap! The lesson is: A) Make sure you really fill it all the way to the top, and B) Don’t add water in a way that produces lots of bubbles if you can avoid it.

And, of course, I couldn’t resist touching the foam. It was super thick. Which then led to me touching the soap. Which was all gooey and looked like thick mucus. Great-smelling, thick mucus.

Of course, I’m weird like that, so I was having fun with it. Until foam and soapy water started inching it’s way along my arm and almost into my shirt. Then I decided it was time to rinse.

And look! I have a fin-shaped bit of hair on my head. I always wanted to look like a shark.

Or Not.

The lid went back on for the night.

And I went to bed. The next day, the soap is ready to be used. It was as if I had never played with it the night before.

Look, more goo! This is what it should look like; don’t worry. Is anyone else reminded of Fight Club?

Okay, so you want to stir it really well.

And you might have to get in there a bit with your hand because that bucket is deep.

Then find an empty container you want to store the soap in that you’ll be using for laundry. Check to see how much it can hold.

And then pour HALF that amount in soap into the container. That’s important.

Measure an equal amount of water, and pour that in as well.

Then put the lid on tight.

And shake the mess out of that container. Try to ignore my funky left wrist. That’s a story for another day.

It’s that easy. Most of the time it’s being formed (congealed, whatever) into a big bucketful of soap is when you’re asleep.

After shaking, it’s ready to be used. Directions say to use 5/8 cup per load for top-loading machines or 1/4 cup for front-loading machines. (I’ve just been using a cup per load in my top-loader. It’s easier.)

Just be sure to shake the container again very well before dispensing for each load so that the water and soap aren’t separated.

Look how much soap is still in the bucket! Barely made a dint.

And that’s why this lasts so long and is so cost effective. It cost under $5 to make that 5-gallon bucket full of soap.

It’s super simple and a SUPER saver of your money. Let’s just look at the average cost of Tide, Gain, and All (Small and Mighty), all in “Free and Gentle” or “Free and Clear” formulas since that’s pretty much what our soap is. I’ll look at Wal-Mart’s prices.


Gain (this is as close as they had to a “free” formula):

All Small and Mighty:

As you can see, you’d pay for one of these items and cover the cost of homemade laundry soap for a year. Homemade laundry detergent is a great way to save.

Try it out. If you don’t love it, give it away. Other people will definitely accept months worth of free laundry detergent!

Have any of you tried out the homemade laundry detergent yet? Do you plan to? I want to know how it goes for you!


11 thoughts on “How to Make Laundry Detergent and A Review”

  1. Does it really keep your clothes smelling clean? Have you washed really muddy, grimy, greasy clothes? I have tried some and after a few washings our shirts started to smell like bad BO.. Like the detergent never got the sweat stains and such out of the clothes. If you haven’t had that problem I’m gonna give it a try! $10 a year(maybe slightly more for our family) is awesome!! Maybe I’ll give a load of my boys clothes to try… 🙂

    1. It does work for us! Tom and I both work out, and our work out clothes smell fine when washed, even Tom’s, which are usually drenched in sweat before washing. Like with any time you do laundry, just be sure to move it to the dryer asap once it’s done in the wash so it doesn’t get a mildewy smell.

      I can bring you some of the detergent when I come to Covington for Dana’s shower, and you can try it on your boys’ clothes.

      By the way, I heard baby number 7 is on the way!! Congratulations! Going for a dozen? 😉

  2. Do you have to store it in a certain environment, i.e. dark and cold? Does it have an expiration date or will it pretty much keep forever? Still single here and can’t imagine how long it would take me to go through 10gallons of detergent as I don’t do laundry but once a month, maybe.

    1. Hey girl! I don’t store it anywhere special. My bucket just sits on the floor in our tiny laundry room. That room can get hot when doing laundry, cold in the winter, and it has a window. So I don’t think it really matters.

      The first one lasted me 11 months, and it never got gross at all. I’m still on the second one. Never read anything about an expiration date…My guess is that since it is a soap, as long as you keep the lid tightly on it when you aren’t using it, it should keep until you are out. Doing laundry once a month, this should last you quite a while and therefore save you a ton of money!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *