Laundry detergent – Homemade and only $3.50 for four gallons!

I can’t wait to share my laundry detergent recipe with you guys but, first, we’re going to do a bit of a rewind to the exact moment I figured out that “normal” laundry detergents and fabric softeners do NOT agree with my skin at all! Over ten years ago a family friend offered to do some of our laundry when our washing machine was getting fixed. Great – very thoughtful – nice woman. Then we got our clothes back and I could not believe how badly they stunk (of course I never told her that) my clothes absolutely wreaked in the worst flowery synthetic way that I could hardly believe it! Not only must she have used an incredible amount of laundry detergent and fabric softener she also went on to starch (and only the universe knows what else) and iron every shirt, pair of jeans and even my little sleep nighties. At first I just plugged my nose and figured I would get used to it until my back broke out and I started itching in my sleep. I was blotchy, covered in bumps, it was like chicken pox all over my back kind of not-pretty. I rewashed EVERYTHING and went on the hunt for the gentlest laundry detergent I could find. (I used soap that was safe for kids and babies for a long time but it seemed SO expensive – so on to my homemade laundry detergent recipe!)

Home made laundry detergent saving us for $700 per year. DIY Make 4 gallons for only $3.50.

The recipe I ended up with calls for:

Put a big pot on the stove with about half a gallon of water in it and add all three ingredients, use a long handled spoon and DON’T boil it! If you let it get too hot you will have lots and lots of suds all over your kitchen and end up with an incredibly clean stove! Just keep stirring it around medium or lower heat until everything dissolves. Let it cool a little (If you let it cool too much it will become gelatinous) and then use a funnel and evenly distribute the laundry detergent into the four 1 gallon jugs and then carefully fill them up the rest of the way with your sink water running as hot as possible.  (If you add cold water to it it will become chunky but still work.) Be careful filling them because there will be lots of suds! I usually just do a hot water trickle back and forth between them until they’re full and then you are done! Give it a shake before you use it and just add as much as you normally would any other kind of laundry detergent. Seriously: 4 gallons of laundry detergent for only $3.50!

Home made laundry detergent saving us for $700 per year. DIY Make 4 gallons for only $3.50.

A note about bars of soap. Right now we have a couple of extra bars of Ivory soap left over so that’s what we’ve been using. Once we run out of the Ivory I will be switching to an organic and natural soap that I plan on buying from Amazon or locally. Some soaps are A LOT easier to grate then others! Ivory is a softer soap so I can grate half a bar in just a minute or two. However I have purchased and used other bars of soap where grating them was a real work out and not something I ever want to go through again. So, if you can I would really recommend finding some soft soap!

Home made laundry detergent saving us for $700 per year. DIY Make 4 gallons for only $3.50.

Wonder why I have a bottle of vinegar in the pictures too? I use it as fabric softener! Anywhere on your washing machine where you would normally put in liquid fabric softener just add a tablespoon of white vinegar instead. It’s all you need! No more fabric sheets, no more buying expensive liquid fabric softener – just use a little white vinegar! Bonus: the white vinegar has the added benefit of helping keep your washing machine clean and mold free as well.

Home made laundry detergent saving us for $700 per year. DIY Make 4 gallons for only $3.50.

So, how do our clothes smell? I’ve seen lots of Laundry detergent recipes online and they all suggest that you can use essential oils in the recipe. I tried this and it didn’t work – yes the laundry detergent smelled great but by the time our clothes were finished you couldn’t smell it at all – probably because we use vinegar as fabric softener. Considering the cost of essential oils I opted instead to use them elsewhere. Our clothes, in the end, smell like absolutely nothing. I’m serious – they literally smell like nothing. Even with the added vinegar you can’t smell it at all in the end.

Home made laundry detergent saving us for $700 per year. DIY Make 4 gallons for only $3.50.

So, how does it work? Well, Joe and I are both very active people (I’m either working on the house or out in our horse pasture every single day) Joe is a mason and always outside so his clothes become INCREDIBLY DIRTY. Joe was skeptical when I suggested he try my new recipe (before we were married lol) but he tried it like the good boyfriend he was and he called just to tell me how he couldn’t believe it but it worked BETTER on his dirtiest clothes then the Tide he had been using. I’ve been using this recipe for over five years now and I can also attest that our colors and clothes seem to be holding up better as well.

(To buy the same amount of Tide Laundry Detergent at our local grocery (4 gallons) would be nearly $50!)

That’s it! Its so easy to make that Joe has been making it for us. (Maybe that’s fair though because I only have 1 load of laundry a week while he usually has 2 or 3 . . .) Four gallons lasts us around four months so, as of right now, we’re only spending $10.50 a year on laundry detergent! Vinegar is incredibly inexpensive as well and I literally have not had a break out on my back since I started using it and that’s worth so much to me! If you have skin problems or “bacne” I would really urge you to try this!

Have you checked out my recipe for dishwasher detergent? It’s only .10 a load and it absolutely beat our hard water problem. You can check it out here: How we beat hard water and saved money washing our dishes!

Homemade laundry detergent saving us for $700 per year. DIY Make 4 gallons for only $3.50.

As always guys, thank you so much for coming by!

UPDATE: I have heard many of you mentioning concern about using this home made detergent in your High Efficiency washing machines. I did some pretty serious research and found out that the majority of the concern is mostly just bull crap that has been blown WAY out of proportion. But there is one thing that needs to be taken seriously and that is the fact that the High Efficiency (front load or otherwise) machines need to use a soap that does not produce a lot of “suds” like regular laundry detergent does. So, good news folks! Compared to regular laundry detergents (and like most homemade soaps of every kind) this recipe produces almost no suds whatsoever. I can attest to this because we have a brand new LG front load High Efficiency washer/dryer combination machine and I do not worry at all about using this homemade recipe in it! But do your own research and make sure that your mind is at rest before trying out any new recipes!

Homemade diy do it yourself laundry soap cheap inexpensive green frugal allergy free easy

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  1. April 25, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    This is so cool! I love a recipe like this with just a few simple, recognizable ingredients. Thanks for sharing this. Gonna give it a try!

    • April 25, 2016 at 6:00 pm

      Thank you! Hope you like it as much as we do!

  2. April 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Ahhhhh! I just bought new detergent today and I have all the supplies already to make this! Thanks for sharing how easy this is. I’m definitely about the cheap and about the simplicity of ingredients.

    • April 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Next time you gotta try this! It is SO easy and so inexpensive in comparison!

  3. Brenda
    April 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Can you use this in front loaders? They require the HE detergent, so I’m wondering.

    • April 28, 2016 at 3:17 pm

      I use it in our new LG front load washer/dryer combo unit and it works great!

  4. tammy
    May 22, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    can you tell me how much you use per load for a he front load washer please thanks tammy

    • May 23, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      Hi there, about 1/4 of a cup or even a little less 🙂 Thanks!

  5. August 10, 2016 at 11:11 pm

    I’ve been wanting to try a hand at making my own detergents for a while now, Tarah. Thanks so much for the recipes–pinned! Thanks also for linking up with Vintage Charm 🙂

    • August 11, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Diana, that’s awesome! The only difference i’m going to try next time with this recipe is using half a cup of castile soap instead of grinding up a bar to save our arm lol

  6. October 2, 2016 at 7:01 am

    That is great that you make your own laundry detergent! here in Europe, there’s no Borax though, you know what I could use instead?? Thanks!

    • October 3, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      Hi Katrin, I’m told that you can use baking soda in place of borax but be carefully when you mix it because baking soda gets really fizzy! I would say try a small batch and see how it goes 🙂

  7. October 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    I think I have everything on hand – I just might give it a try! Thanks for sharing on the Pleasures of the NW’s DIY link up!

  8. October 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    I just might give this a try. I always thought about it and I would be saving so much money. If you would like to come to the homesteader hop linky party we would love to have you!

  9. October 18, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks for the recipe. Thanks for linking up to Merry Monday! Pinned! Have a great week!

  10. October 21, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Definitely giving this a try! Never even knew you could do this, thank you! #smallvictoriessundaylinkup

  11. October 24, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Great idea. Thank you for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  12. October 26, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Such a great idea!

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks:

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

  13. Jann Olson
    October 26, 2016 at 2:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your recipe with SYC. IT sounds great!

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