DIY Laundry Soap Recipe

As one that has had to work two jobs and pinch pennies, I always  hated the week when most of my grocery budget went to cleaners. Those weeks I had to get laundry soap, fabric softener, spray cleaners and other cleaning products were horrible. These products are always so expensive it left little of my budget to go to food. To make things even worse I always bought in bulk because I knew I would use it all in time. Buying in bulk was the most cost effective way to purchase those items, but it really sucked when it was time to buy them. What I needed was a good DIY Laundry Soap and other simple cleaners to stretch my budget dollar.

DIY Laundry SoapOver time, as I have gotten into a more simple and natural lifestyle, I started to look for  more natural options for cleaning products. Since I am a soap maker the first thing I went looking for was a way to make a DIY laundry soap. After a little searching I found a nice recipe that is not only does a good job in cleaning my clothes, it is also very inexpensive. The ingredients can be obtained at your local grocery store and a few minutes every few months gives you plenty of inexpensive soap for your laundry.

From the grocery store you want to pick up Washing Soda (Arm and Hammer brand), Borax (20 Mule Team Borax in the laundry isle) and Baking Soda. You will also need a bar of soap. Though you can use any bar of soap, we recommend one specifically designed to be used in the laundry and not on the skin, like our specially created soap HERE. You will want to avoid any soap that is a facial bar or a conditioning type of soap. Soap bars like Zote Soap or Fels Naptha are preferred and can be found in the laundry isle.

Ingredients DIY Laundry SoapIngredients:

1 cup soap shreds -We recommend our Laundry Soap

1 cup Baking Soda –  Baking soda is a great laundry additive because it has mild alkaline qualities. By adding baking soda to the laundry, dirt and grease get dissolved, while clothes are softened. Baking soda is even more beneficial in homes with hard water because it softens the water, and help to prevent the stain buildup that comes with hard water.  It also works great to remove stains, such as perspiration, it removes odors, it’s a great all-natural fabric softener, and it’s a bleaching agent that won’t harm your clothes.

1 cup Washing Soda – Not to be confused with baking soda. Washing soda is sodium carbonate or soda ash (baking soda is sodium bicarbonate).  It is a white powder.  Its purpose is to help remove dirt and orders and acts as a water softener.

1 cup Borax – Borax is a naturally occurring mineral: Sodium Borate. It’s purpose is as a laundry whitener and deodorizer.

Making your Laundry Soap

Making DIY laundry soap If you purchase your soap bars from the grocery you will want to shred them. I use my food processor to initially get the soap into shreds. They will then need to be ground down to a finer size and that is best accomplished in a blender or food processor. I have found soap a bit difficult to get ground into a fine powder because it can get a bit gummy and ball up. To avoid that I add one of my other ingredients in addition to the soap shreds, usually the baking soda, to the processor. With the soap and the baking soda in the food processor I blend/chop until the two are well blended and the soap has been reduced in size to a powder. Then you add the rest of the ingredients one at a time and blend until everything is well blended and has uniform particle size.

If you want to add fragrance you can use essential oils. Fragrance oils do have the ability to eat a finish so I recommend putting the laundry soap in another container to mix in the fragrance. I recommend a glass container or another plastic container other than your blender or processor when dealing with fragrance. As far as how much to use, you will just add drops of fragrance and with a whisk mix it in to the soap until you are happy with the result. For the most part I like mine fragrance free, though at times a splash of lemon or peppermint adds a nice touch to the laundry.


I have found in my internet research that not everyone likes Borax. If you do not like it then do not add it to your recipe. It is added as a whitener but if you feel strongly about it leave it out. The recipe cleans fine without it and other things can be added to to whiten your clothes.

There were times I added 1/2 cup of Oxi-clean to the recipe as well as the other ingredients. In water, Oxi-clean becomes peroxide and washing soda. I did not really notice a difference over all so I decided to just add that to my loads of white clothes. You can also add hydrogen peroxide to your laundry to brighten whites. I find I like to add it to those laundry loads where I cleaned up after a sick dog, cleaned up blood from meat, and anything else funky and I just want a little more cleaning power. Peroxide is a great oxidizer so I feel clothes get just a bit cleaner with it added to the wash.

To Use

Using DIY Laundry SoapTo use your new DIY Laundry Soap you will add a couple tablespoons to the wash in the bottom of the tub, then add clothes and water. If you are doing whites and want to add bleach you can add that as well as oxi-clean to the wash water. I have found this laundry soap works well in everything from cold to hot water washes. The recipe with our Laundry Soap does not produce a lot of soap suds so should be fine in the newer HE washing machines.

Once the wash it done I like to add about 1/4 cup of vinegar to my rinse water instead of the commercial fabric softeners. When my washer needed a new transmission and it was taken apart to fix, I saw all the gunk the commercial softener left all over the agitator. In addition to being expensive it looks like the commercial products are either a grease or wax based on the residue that was left. After spending a lot of time getting the parts clean I decided I was done with softeners. I then started to add the vinegar to soften my water and clothes. Over time, with the vinegar in the rinse water, the softener residue has gone away.  I also like the way my clothes come out feeling. I find my towels are soft and fluffy and have stayed absorbent. The vinegar softens the water and leaves no residue in the washer or in my clothes and I feel it is more environmentally friendly for my septic out back.

In Conclusion

The best thing about creating your own DIY Laundry Soap is you can tweak it to your own water conditions. Here in south Texas we have hard water and I have found the recipe as is works fine. But if you have softer water you can try some variations of this recipe to create the perfect soap for your area. The other nice thing about this recipe is you can purchase all the ingredients for less than a large container of laundry soap. And the purchase will give you a lot more loads of laundry than that commercial product for just pennies a load.

Would love to hear your feed back on DIY soap recipes you have created and how well you like them.


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