When it comes to saving money, there are a few things I don’t like to cut corners with (give me all the Kraft mac-n-cheese and Hidden Valley ranch dressing, please). The hard fact about DIY products is that sometimes they don’t perform nearly as well as the store-bought versions. It’s a sure bet that if I don’t like how it turns out, I won’t keep making it.
Despite my strong preference towards my usual go-to laundry detergent, Tide, I decided to give DIY laundry detergent a try. To my surprise, I have never felt like my DIY version leaves me unsatisfied. The only thing that keeps Tide in my laundry room is my cloth diapers, since the DIY version is not cloth diaper safe (and it’s still a great backup, JUST IN CASE I run out of my DIY detergent and don’t get to making another batch soon enough).
The great news is that this DIY laundry detergent is HE safe, performs great in hard water, and only costs about $20. Except for the baking soda, I purchase my products from Menards, but you can find these supplies in the laundry section of a store or order them off Amazon as well.
I keep my mixture in an old 3.5 gallon pail with a lid. You can use whatever works best for you as long as it holds around 2 gallons worth of powder. Since you’ll only be using 2-4 tablespoons per load, this mixture will last quite a while!
DIY Laundry Detergent Recipe
Ingredients you will need:
- 3 bars Fels-Naptha ($.98/each)
- 1 box Borax ($4.47)
- 1 box Super Washing Soda ($3.97)
- 1lb box baking soda ($1.35)
- 3 lbs OxiClean ($7.73)
Since I purchase my baking soda in bulk from Sam’s Club for only a couple dollars, I tend to consider this ingredient free. If you’ll need to measure it out like I do, 1 box of baking soda equals 2 cups of baking soda.
There are several kinds of OxiClean, but my preference right now is White Revive.
You could opt to add 2-4 containers of scent boosters into the mix but I find it unnecessary, costly, and unhealthy so I leave it out.
I’m aware that some might avoid Borax, since Borax is not as green as originally though, but unlike the scent boosters, I trust my machine to wash the Borax out and I store it in a container with a lid. It also really performs so DIY laundry detergent is just not the same without it. Just make sure to give your hands a quick wash after handling it.
Other items you will need:
- 1 sturdy storage container with lid
- a detergent scooper (I use a random measuring spoon in the perfect size because I know that 2-4 tbsp. equals 1/8-1/4 cup of mixture)
- a grater
- a mixing tool
Grating the Fels-Naptha can take a bit of dedication and time, but otherwise the process is really quick to dump together and mix up. I was able to complete this up in 30 minutes outside on my garden table on a nice day (any day you can get a sunburn in Minnesota is a nice day).
Sometimes I end up finishing the job intermittently because the little ones need tending to, something on the stove needs attention, or my hand cramps while grating. I’m not sure why, but some bars of Fels-Naptha are just more solid and take more energy to grate down. However, when I get to a dangerously small bit of the about-to-scrape my fingers off size – I just throw the last little chunk in the garbage. No use stressing over it that last little bit. I would not advise throwing the chunk in your laundry mix. That hunk will likely not break down in the wash. Even though I wash everything in cold water, I very rarely do find a bit of Fels-Naptha that didn’t get washed out, so I would recommend not adding that last little un-grated chunk.
When I put this together, I first like to open all the containers and dump it all inside my pail. I give it a bit of a stir to mix it some. Then, I start grating the bars of Fels-Naptha and have that added in too. I think the little cheese-looking curls are funny and enjoy seeing a pile of the shreds all together.
Finish by thoroughly mixing it all together. All done!
Throw 2-4 tbsp of this mixture in the bottom of your washer before loading and wash as normal. Easy peasy, works great, and super affordable. Don’t forget to keep it securely stored so no little ones can play in it.
I hope this DIY laundry detergent helps your family spend less!