Friday, April 17, 2009

Frugal Friday: Homemade Laundry Detergent

About a month ago, in a burst of searching for new ways to save money, I started searching the web for recipes for laundry detergent. It seemed as though my family's favorite laundry detergent wasn't going on sale very often, and I was using about a bottle of liquid detergent every week.

What I found was this recipe, on The Frugal Shopper:

Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 Cup Grated Fels Naptha Soap
1/2 Cup Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Borax

Mix. For light load, use 1 tablespoon. For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.

You can see pictures of these ingredients at my Amazon store, but if you can find them locally, they will probably cost less. At my supermarket, all of these items are in the laundry products aisle. I use Octagon soap instead of Fels Naptha, because the unit price (at my grocery store) is lower. While the Octagon fragrance isn't terribly appealing, I've found that by the time the clothes are washed and dried, they're pretty much fragrance-free. I've read that you can add a few drops of essential oil to the mixture, or use almost any bar soap you like, but I haven't tried either.

This detergent works well for everyday laundry, but I don't think the whites are as white as when I use commercial detergent. So I'll use commercial detergent for socks and such, and homemade detergent for everything else.  (edited to add:  Vinegar as a laundry additive is also a big help!)

I estimate the cost savings at $10/month, compared to purchasing the cheapest brands of commercial detergent at their lowest sale prices. While that doesn't sound like much, I've found that being frugal is about finding many small ways to save. It really does add up!

For more Frugal Friday ideas, hop over to Life as Mom.


  1. That's funny that we both posted about Homemade Laundry detergent for Frugal Friday! I will have to try the powdered version. The liquid soap was very easy to make. I used Ivory soap, which added a nice fragrance.

  2. Hi Melissa,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I really do like using the washcloths. They do absorb better and I can rinse them out quickly for another use. I am also thrilled that I don't have to spend that much more money on paper towels!

    I also tried making the powdered laundry soap as you have mentioned. Although I used it up very quickly! I haven't made another batch since although I have lots of ingredients left!I guess with all the great sales on the other detergents, I switched back :- I should get back to that :)
    Have a great weekend!

  3. I have been making that version of laundry soap for many years. I wouldn't go back to the store-bought stuff! I love this stuff!

    I have LOTS of tips on my blog for ways to save money. Many of them are for things like body care items (deodorant, liquid hand soaps, body sugar scrubs), but also cleaners and lots of recipe mixes for things like bbq sauce, taco mix, dry onion soup, etc. I hope you stop by and take a look! I'm sure you'll find some more things to help you cut your expenses.

  4. I've been looking to make my own laundry detergent for awhile, but I've had a terrible time finding washing soda. Luckily, I have found that vinegar boosts the effectiveness of my current detergent, but I hope to try yours soon!

  5. Is this safe for newer HE top-load washing machines?

  6. i was wondering how to make this laundry soap thanks for sharing im gonna try this tide is just getting to expensive thanks


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