recipe for clean clothes (and diapers)

i've let it be known to a few people that i make our laundry detergent. i think i started right before the holidays, maybe around thanksgiving. most people's response when i say that i make the detergent is one of surprise and curiosity. more often than not they ask me for the recipe.

the recipe is no big secret. i started seeing homemade detergent popping up in blog land sometime in november. i was interested but not sure if it was for me. i didn't know if it would work with our washer (a front-loader), or really get bea's diapers clean enough, and then there was also matt's filthy work clothes (the man works hard, what can i say?). so i started looking around on the interwebs and actually found that many people do this and that most people are very pleased with the results. i found that it was a great recipe for front loading washing machines because it's virtually non-sudsing and that many people used it on their (children's) cloth diapers with no complaints. so i decided to give it a try and find out if it was for us.

laundry day

well, i can tell you that it is for us. i haven't bought detergent since i started making it. and it is crazy economical. matt says it gets his work clothes more clean than store bought detergent and i say the same for bea's diapers. her diapers actually smell good and maybe occasionally need an extra rinse. as for the rest of our attire - they're just nice and clean. and all it takes is:

2 bars of fels naptha soap, finely grated (or other recommended soaps)
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda

just mix together. that's it. i use 2 tbsp for regular loads and about 1 tbsp for small loads and diapers.

there are a lot of recipes out there and they really only vary slightly from what i have found. i got the recipe i used here. i use recipe #4, and i plan on
trying out different bars of soap to see what i like best. i just bought a lot when i first got the supplies (because it is so cheap!). you may have difficulty finding the washing soda or bar soap locally and if you do there are plenty of online retailers. my only suggestion would be to comparison shop. one of the stores here sold the bars for almost 40 cents cheaper than another location.

so if you give this a try, let me know what you think.


  1. I would love to try this, but the fel naptha soap and the washing soda ingredients might scare me away. Never heard of them. I'm going to write them down though and see if I can find them around town. I would love to make my own washing detergent!

  2. I'm glad you posted this! I've been thinking about making a similar recipe but I cannont find washing soda ANYWHERE. What is it anyway? I guess I'll have to see if i can buy it online.

  3. ooooooh, this is very intriguing.
    i am seriously going to give this a try...buying dreft for my sensitive skninned angus is so expensive. i need to save $ where i can. what does the detergent smell like? does it leave a scent on the clothes? i mean, one that would be left behind after i use a dryer sheet? what about air dried items? i have an overactive sense of smell and would be turned off if things didn't smell clean, or smelled odd. what do you think of it? i feel like whipping up a batch right now.

  4. Anonymous2/27/2009

    oooooh,I think that I may have to add this to my list of things to try out.Can you share your source for the ingredents?

  5. sure, i found all my ingredients at publix. there are also many resources online including amazon.com.
    just check your local grocery store first!
    good luck!


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