June 8, 2011

Laundry Detergent Recipe

I made a batch of laundry detergent in January and haven't had to make a new batch until today!

Here's what I do:

64 oz. box of baking soda
55 oz. box of washing soda
76 oz. box Borax
3 bars Kirk's Castille soap

I grate up my bars of soap in my Cuisinart then mix the baking soda and Borax together with it in a big bowl.  I then pour my detergent through my canning funnel on top of my old pickle jar.  I use about 1 T for each load, but if it's a light load (rarely happens around here!) then I'll use a bit less.  Sometimes I'll pour in a little extra Borax if it's a really dirty batch (like dirty, sweaty outdoor work clothes), but most of the time 1 T. will do it.

I use vinegar for my fabric softener.  Less than 1/4 cup will do just fine for a regular load.  The clothes don't smell like vinegar after they've been dried, either.

I use Kirk's Castille soap because it's a natural soap and great for the sensitive skin of a few of our children. 

Total cost: less than $10 for the bar soap, the baking soda, and the Borax.  That's less than $1.70 a month for our laundry detergent!  And figuring that we usually do about 12 loads a week that's about 3 cents per load!

*I edited this to add 1 55 oz. box of washing soda.  I found it got clothes cleaner and made the recipe go further.  Those bars of Castille soap are expensive!


Kelly Howard said...

Although I have 2 less kiddos at home now, it is never too late to start saving money! I will be trying this next week and will come back and tell you the results... ;-) I am sure they will be great! I appreciate your blog SO much!

Carmen said...

Aw, thanks, Kelly! Yes, let me know how you like it! Also you can add fragrance with essential oils, too, but I'm not sure on how much?


Debbie said...

I live n SC and would love to try this recipe but I have never heard of Kirk's Castille soap? Is there another alternative that can be used?

Carmen said...

Debbie, I've heard of ladies using ivory bar soap. You can also use Zote soap or Fels Naptha, but you may want to play around with the ratio. Hope that helps. : )


Justine said...

Ive tried this soap but I feel like it doesnt clean as good as it should maybe its because I wash in cold.... do you wash in cold? we would use this and the clothes would still stink and I dont think we are excessivly stinky people lol. I wish it would have worked because lets face it its huge saving and way better for the environment.

Carmen said...

Justine...I checked the manual on my washer and the temp I usually wash at is 95 degrees...that's for colors. For whites the temp is about 150 degrees. Did you try Kirk's or Fels Naptha? I found when I used Fels Naptha the clothes sometimes didn't smell as fresh. Maybe try switching to a different bar soap with the recipe? I also add a bit more baking soda if I have a really sweaty batch...like hubby's work jeans after he's been out working in the yard. Hope that helps. : )


Kimberly said...

Every recipe I've seen specifically calls for washing soda and specifies not to use baking soda. I make mine in liquid form, using fels naphtha, washing soda and borax... To save $$'s I've been washing all loads in cold, however, I use the soaking and prewash settings, then wash cycle.

However, I have trouble with my whites. In particular socks that are soiled {mostly the boys} and getting the body order and/or anitperspirant smells out of my husbands white under shirts.... I wash the white load the same as the others {reason for not using hot water is it doesn't stay hot} except I add extra powdered borax to the soaking cycle and add blueing to the final rinse cycle. Any tips on this load type?

Anonymous said...

Do you know how many cups of the Borax and Soda you use in this recipie? I jwould like to make a batch about 1/3 of that size so I can see if this works for me and my family. Thanks so much. I really enjoy reading your blog. Keep it up!

Carmen said...


I had dingy whites when I used to make soap with fels naptha and washing soda. I'm guessing it's the fels naptha that caused the dingy whites. That's why I switched to Kirk's Castile (you can use plain Ivory soap I hear, too). I've never had a problem with using baking soda and actually I have found that it takes the stink out of the laundry. It's also a lot cheaper than washing soda and more easily found.

If you want to try using your current type of detergent that you make, maybe adding some baking soda with it (1/4 c for large) to neutralize the odors.

Hope that helps!

Carmen said...


To scale down the recipe you would need:

2 1/2 cups baking soda
3 cups Borax
1 bar Kirk's Castille soap


K said...

Hey Carmen.

I've just started making my own laundry detergent, too. I use a similar recipe to yours, but I use washing soda and I don't use borax (mostly because I can't find it here). I use Ivory soap, but I had to have my mom bring it over with her when she last came to visit! It's interesting to me that baking soda is cheaper for you...for me it's the opposite - washing soda is easily found, sold in larger containers and much cheaper! Regardless, I've only been using it for about two weeks but I love it! Just thought I'd chime in!

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