All-Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’ve been wanting to try making some of my own cleaners for quite a while now, but I’ve had so much stockpiled from my couponing days that there was no point until I used it all up.
And for the first time in more than two years I ran out of laundry soap.
It was kind of a sad day, really.
I mean, who wouldn’t love to have laundry soap stockpiled for years at a time?

On the flip side, I finally got to make my own!
It was easy.
And much more cost effective than purchasing more detergent.
In fact, it has me excited to attempt more homemade cleaners, so be on the lookout for some future projects.

All-Natural DIY Laundry Soap
(recipe found here)


What you’ll need:

Zote bar soap
Arm & Hammer washing soda
5-gallon bucket

I was able to purchase all of these items at WalMart (in the laundry detergent aisle).

First, cut off 1/3 of the Zote soap bar.

Then grate it up (1/3 bar).
I used my cheese grater.
Hey, at least I know it’s clean!

Pour grated soap into large pot and add 6 cups of water.
Stir over medium heat until soap is completely melted.

After Zote is fully melted, add in 1/2 cup each of Borax and Washing Soda.

Stir together until completely dissolved, then remove from heat.
Pour 4 cups of hot water into 5-gallon bucket, then add the soap mixture.

Stir together, then add another gallon + 6 cups water.
(Also at this point you could add some essential oil drops if you want a certain smell, but I decided not to for this batch, so it’s completely optional.)

Mix well, then cover and wait 24 hour before using.
I found it really difficult to open the lid to the bucket so I have a smaller container I keep filled up by the washer.
Plus, it’s much cuter.
Which is important, right?

Use 1/2 cup per load (more for heavily soiled clothing).
The total cost was under $8 and one batch cleans between 60-75 loads.
There is enough Zote to make two more batches (one bar is $0.99) and there’s a LOT of Borax and Washing Soda left over, so this was definitely a much more frugal way to clean our clothing.
Next up, homemade dishwasher detergent! πŸ™‚

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58 thoughts on “All-Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent”

  1. so. a few questions.
    first, lemme know how it works. are your clothes as clean as ever?
    second, how big of a container would i need to store it? i can’t tell from your picture..i know something said a 5 gallon bucket but that’s not what it looked like.
    lemme know! i’d try it…..

    1. I have it stored in a 5-gallon bucket but I have a smaller container to keep up by my washer. Plus getting the lid off of the bucket took me about twenty minutes so I only want to have to open it when absolutely necessary.
      I’ve used it on a few loads and been impressed. So far, everything seems just as clean as ever.

      1. I used a gamma lid on my 5 gallon bucket. It twists on and off so easy. I also use the gamma lids on my big bulk storage items that I need to get to frequently, like sugar. They cost a bit more, but can be used over and over. I absolutely love them!

  2. I will be trying this as soon as I run out also. Can’t wait! I have been dyin to do this. Let me know about the dishwasher soap!

  3. Yay! I’ve been planning on trying this, I just have to order the stuff so I can get it out here. I also have the recipe for the dishwasher soap, can’t wait to try that too!

    1. The Zote has a light citronella-y smell to it. I thought it would bother me but it really hasn’t so far. Plus I still use Gain fabric softener so my clothes still smell like that.
      You could add essential oil to give it a smell to your liking. I kinda like it as is, though.

  4. i have used this recipe for years and the fabric softer adds plenty if scent,i have tried essential oils but they are spendy,and dont add as much as you would imagine…the only difference in my recipe is the soap… i use Fels Naptha and it smells very fresh…other than the soap, ive only puchased ingredients once ! they last forever!

  5. I have all of these recipes saved on Pinterest and plan on using them soon. I am going to do the dishwasher soap and I just bought a HUGE thing of laundry soap at Costco so I won’t be making that anytime soon. I can’t wait to try it though. Good alternative to spending so much money buying it. LOVE your posts!!!

  6. I really want to try this. I live in England, so unfortunately I can’t purchase Zote bars. I guess our nearest is sunlight soap or blue bomber. Do you think this would be ok? or is it just trial and error?

  7. Of course cuter matters! πŸ™‚ And I have those buckets too. They are tough to open, so this is a great idea. I make my laundry soap too with this same recipe and love it! I do make my own bar soaps, though, so I have nice handcrafted soaps with essential oils to use. FUN (and they smell great).

    This is a terrific idea. I hope lots of your readers try it. It works great and is so much cheaper!!

  8. What kind of pot do you use? Does it make a difference? Also could you still use the pot to cook in? I really want to try this. Does the extra in the bucket keep well?

    1. I just used one of my regular cooking pots and have cooked in it since then with no problems (no aftertaste or anything). I haven’t stored it long enough to know if it keeps well but from everything I’ve heard, it does.

  9. Just linked to your blog from The Girl Creative and am enjoying it. As far as the homemade laundry soap, I’ve made this a few months ago and love it. I did, however, use FelsNaptha soap. I think it’s much better than commercial detergent.
    I asked a washer repairman who was working on my dryer if it was safe to use in my HE washer. He said he would be concerned about suds. I showed him a bottle of it, he shook it and said it was great (low suds). Then he asked for the recipe for his wife. So I think that’s a YES, it is safe for HP machines.

    1. Oops! guess i should have proof read my post…it should have said safe for HE machines (not HP), hehehe

  10. If I use the Ivory soap will it still be low suds for the HE machine? Also why do you need to store it in a 5 gal bucket when it doesn’t make that amount? Nancy

    1. I’m not sure! πŸ™‚ I’ve seen several recipes that do make the entire 5 gallon amount (and doubling the amount would fill it), but I preferred to try it out with the smaller batch to see if I’d like it. It would be awfully heavy if the whole bucket was full.
      If you have a smaller container I’m sure that would be fine.

    2. I’m not sure! πŸ™‚ I’ve seen several recipes that do make the entire 5 gallon amount (and doubling the amount would fill it), but I preferred to try it out with the smaller batch to see if I’d like it. It would be awfully heavy if the whole bucket was full.
      If you have a smaller container I’m sure that would be fine.

  11. That is such a great idea! Thanks for linking up to “Strut Your Stuff Saturday.” We would love to have you come back next Saturday with more great ideas. -The Sisters

  12. I’ve been looking for a recipe that contains items that are not toxic and will not harm my family. I’m a bit concerned about the use of borax. Does anyone know of a soap recipe that you can create without borax?

    1. It’s similar, but isn’t as smooth as regular detergent. The water tends to seperate a little bit.

  13. Thanks for the recipe and instructions, my daughter has been using this kind of detergent for awhile and I used while of was at her home for a few weeks recently. It was wonderful! My skin allergies didn’t even complain!

    As far as opening your 5 gallon bucket goes there are a few tips that will help.
    1. Put your knee in the middle of the bucket while you open it, this will help you a lot.
    2. Even easier go to your local food storage place (or look for one online) and purchase a bucket opener (looks like a very wide wrench)
    3. Easiest; go to said food storage place and buy a gamma lid. This makes it so you don’t have to pull off the lid every time because the middle of the lid is a twist off lid.

    Hope this helps!

  14. I went by the instructions but all the soap settles to the top eventually. It doesn’t stay mixed. Any fix for this? I really want to start making my own soap so getting frustrated isn’t a good way for me to start lol.

    1. I’ve never had this happen to me. My mother in law mixes hers up every couple of weeks, though, so maybe that would work?

      1. Mine seperates too, but all you have to do is shake the bottle a few times before you use it. It’s sooo worth the small inconvenience of shaking it up. I’ve been using this recipe for over a year now and not only have I saved a lot of money, I have cleaner, fresher smelling clothes. I hope I never have to go back to using the store bought stuff.

  15. I have made this twice and I find that it separates….which bothers me. I have it in a drink dispenser, so it doesn’t get shaken with each use. Does this happen for everyone, or did I just mess up the recipe.

    1. Yes, it does seperate but I keep mine in a bottle on top of my washer and just give it a shake before adding it to the washer. A very small price to pay for such a good inexpensive product, I think.

  16. I’m a bit confused as well. I made my batch yesterday and its quite runny, I guess I thought it would be thicker. Also my 5gallon pail is half full. Why not double the recipe or use a smaller container? Was it suppose to thicken or fill the container more?

    1. I used a bucket because I needed something that had a lid (and I didn’t have anything else big enough to hold all of the detergent). I have doubled the recipe, though, and it worked nicely.
      I don’t know why it isn’t thickening for some of you. The consistency is supposed to be somewhat runny and gelatinous.

  17. Have you used bleach with this laundry detergent?
    Have you had colors run using this detergent?

    Great idea! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I very rarely use bleach, so I doubt that I’ve tried it with this detergent, but I’ve never had any issues with colors bleeding.

  18. One more question! : )
    How much laundry soap do you use per load. I have a top loading machine..and again, I have concerns about when the bleach is added to the laundry soap mix. Has anyone had any problems?

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