Quick ‘n Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent: Update with Tutorial

 

I was going to begin today’s column by apologizing for yet another update on how to make homemade laundry detergent. Then it struck me. These aren’t really changes … they’re improvements. Look, if Gain and Tide can produce “New! Improved” versions of their laundry products, so can we.

But first, let’s have a quick overview:

First, and I’m talking about years ago, I gave you a liquid laundry detergent recipe that required grating, cooking, stirring and storing a thick gel-like substance in a 5-gallon bucket. I believe at one point I suggested keeping a baseball bat handy to stir the stuff before each use.

Then came the New! and Improved! powdered version where you could pretty much grate, mix and be done with it. Storage was quite simple and the results were pretty good, provided you could find the right bar soap to grate and you weren’t opposed to dedicating one cheese grater for soap only (the stuff would be nasty in mac ‘n cheese).

It was a happy day when I figured out how to make liquid detergent that requires no grating, (that means no Fels Naptha!), makes three gallons at a time and even looks pretty in a decanter. That was the version that brought traditional blue Dawn into the equation. And I used 1 to 2 cups of the final product in each load of laundry. That was such a  New! and Improved version.

But then I started thinking about this. Why add three gallons of water only to come out with a very thin product that required at least 1 cup of the stuff to wash a load of laundry? Some of you had the same thought. Couldn’t we concentrate this in some way?

And with that, I could feel a New! and Even More Improved! version about to emerge. And sure enough with a few alterations, I came up with a more concentrated version that requires only 1/4 cup of detergent per load. Fabulous, right? I thought so, but lots of mail, questions and even an angry reader here and there left me doubting.

So once again, I’ve taken all of your feedback into consideration, tweaked the process a bit more. The result? One more tutorial for the Newest! and Most Improved! version of  Quick ‘n Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent. We’re going to take this slowly and deliberately in an effort to address all of your questions and concerns:

To make one gallon of liquid laundry detergent assemble the following:

1 one-gallon container with tight-fitting lid. I used an empty Arrowhead water container.

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Twenty-Mule Team Borax. Find this, or any brand of borax, in the laundry aisle of your supermarket or a department store like Walmart or Target.

Super Washing Soda OR soda ash. Super Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) is becoming increasingly difficult to find. If you can’t find it in the laundry aisle somewhere close to the borax, consider using soda ash (sodium carbonate) instead. Soda ash is exactly the same thing as Washing Soda, and is used in swimming pools to fix the ph. It’s readily available in pool supply stores or even larger department stores that carry pool chlorine, and so forth.

Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid. There seems to be multiple versions of blue Dawn these days. I’ve seen it sold as “Original,” “Ultra Concentrated” and most recently, ” Advanced Power.” I’ve tested all of them and I can detect no difference in the final product we’re going to make here. As long as it’s blue and it is authentic Dawn—not some look-alike store or generic brand—use it.

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Notice I am using blue Dawn Advanced Power, but I could have just as easily and effectively used …

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3/4 cup measuring device. If you don’t have one that is exactly 3/4 cup, improvise. You could use a 1/2 cup with a 1/4 cup measuring device to come up with 3/4 cup. Or if you have a large measuring device with some way to measure out 3/4 cup, you’ve got what you need.

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Step 1: Measure 3/4 cup borax and 3/4 cup Super Washing Soda (or soda ash as I am using in this tutorial) and pour both into the empty one-gallon container.

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Step 2: Add about 2 or 3 cups of the hottest water you have available out of your tap. You’ll see a few bubbles form, but nothing to be concerned about.

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Step 3: Apply the lid and shake the container vigorously until the powdered ingredients appear to be dissolving. Give yourself a little workout here and shake it well so it looks incorporated and milky like this.

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Step 4: Fill the container with hot water to within about an inch of the top, more or less depending on the shape of your container. You want to leave enough room for the Dawn which is coming up.

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Keep going …

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Step 5: Pour in 3/4 cup blue Dawn dishwashing liquid.

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Slowly …. you don’t want to create a lot of suds or bubbles.

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Step 6: Once you’ve poured in all of the Dawn, fill that measuring cup with more hot water so you can top off the container and rinse out the last of the Dawn.

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If you still have room, add more water until you are about 1/2-inch from the top.

Step 7: Apply the lid. This should be quite easy because you will not be contending with suds or bubbles. Notice how the dawn is not fully mixed up. That’s fine. Just get that lid on tightly.

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Step 8: Instead of shaking it up, just lay the container on its side and roll it around a bit to get everything mixed.

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Please notice that without any kind of cleaning up at all, the counter is dry with no mess, no suds—quite clean and tidy, don’t you think? Yay! We’ve overcome the suds-to-infinity problem so many of you encountered.

Take a moment to admire your beautiful homemade product and then let’s get to the laundry room where you will need your gallon of laundry detergent (the one you just made, silly!) and a 1/4-cup measure.

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Measure out 1/4 cup detergent.

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Pour it in the way you have always added detergent to your washer. If you have a little detergent dispenser, that’s where this tidy 1/4 cup of beautiful liquid goes.

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If you’re like me, your first thought is, “Oh that cannot possibly be enough!” But it is. My washer is a top loading HE by LG with Wave Force. It’s quite possibly the best washing machine I have ever used in my life. One-quarter cup of this detergent does the trick.

If you use more than 1/4 cup per load, you can expect a couple of things to happen: Your clothes will come out of the dryer scratchy and stiff AND after a while you will notice your white items turning a lovely shade of pale grey. That’s the sign of too much detergent left in the clothes. If you just cannot bear to use only 1/4 cup of detergent, make sure you double rinse.

This detergent is absolutely low sudsing, which is what HE (both top and front loading) washers require. However, if you do not have an HE machine, this detergent is still fabulous and wonderful for your traditional washer.

Remember that I used the Advanced Power Dawn in this tutorial? Well guess what? Something new happened that did not happen with the Ultra Dawn. I’m not sure why, and it seems to not be a problem at all, but after an hour or so, the Dawn separates and floats to the top of the container. So I just give it a good shake or roll before each use. Just thought I’d mention that, as I’m nearly sure someone would send me a message of concern over this fact.

Okay, I think that about does it.

Wait. There IS one more thing.

If you are confused about the Super Washing Soda vs. soda ash, do not fret. I can no longer find this lovely product known as Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda where I live. If I could, this is what it would look like:

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If you can find it, great! But don’t feel like you need to send me a box of it when you do :)  I love my soda ash because guess what? It’s cheaper than Super Washing Soda.

This recipe and procedure for making homemade laundry detergent (for less than a nickel per load, by the way) is so good I can’t imagine future improvements, but who knows?

Post your comments, concerns, misgivings, worries, fears and joys. Really, I had no idea that laundry detergent could stir up so many emotions. It’s okay people, really it’s okay. Dawn will not void the warranty on your washing machine. Neither will borax, washing soda or soda ash.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • BellaTerra66

    Borax and Dawn are very toxic. You certainly wouldn’t want to use them on baby clothes — or on any clothes. All I ever use is A&H Super Washing Soda — the only thing that is not toxic at all. And you only need 1/4 of a cup. You can get it at WalMart.

    • Maine Fabric Designs

      @Bella Terra66, do you use the A&H Super Washing Soda by itself or do you mix it with other ingredients?

      I have to use laundry detergent that has no dyes, perfumes, etc. because of my sensitive skin.

      • BellaTerra66

        I have sensitive skin. A&H Washing Soda has not given me one itch or flareup. I think it’s just great.

    • Erin10529

      Do you have good results with just the washing soda? I, too, have been concerned about the toxic-ness of the items. Borax is often used to kill bugs so concerned for my family.

      • BellaTerra66

        I have great results. It’s all I use. Besides vinegar.

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      Borax is no more toxic or harmful than salt, which of course you wouldn’t feed to a baby in large quantities, but I find no evidence that it is toxic to babies through laundered clothes that are properly rinsed. As for Dawn being toxic, again no evidence. An inquiry to the California Poison Control System confirmed that Dawn dishwashing liquid is no more harmful than any brand of dishwashing soap. Baseless rumors have raged for years. http://www.snopes.com/medical/toxins/dawn.asp

      • BellaTerra66

        Borax is VERY toxic. We went through this the last time you posted about homemade laundry detergent. I ‘lifted’ an explanation from another site as to just how toxic it is.
        I don’t know how you can say it’s not toxic. The only ingredient in your detergent that is not toxic is A&H Baking Soda.
        Don’t take my word for it — research it yourself.

        • Cindy594

          I had a DR tell me that in order for Borax to be toxic you would have to eat about a candy bar sized chunk of it at one sitting. so I don’t think a little bit washed on your clothes and then rinsed off with vinegar is going to hurt anything. Better than Tide I am sure.

          • Krista

            Yes, but Dawn is a petroleum based product that is bad for us and the environment, as are the cleansing agents in it. Borax is the same. Go to http://www.ewg.org to find out more.

        • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

          Well … baking soda is not an ingredient. Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is not the same as baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, which may look similar but is quite different so please do not use washing soda in your muffins) also is not toxic. As for the borax, I’d love to check your sources on that because I have to disagree with you. I wonder if you might be confusing borax is boric acid. Possible?

          • BellaTerra66

            I meant washing soda. Here’s just one of my sources about Borax:

            Borax, sodium tetraborate decahydrate, is not acutely toxic.[19] Its LD50 (median lethal dose) score is tested at 2.66 g/kg in rats:[20] a significant dose of the chemical is needed to cause severe symptoms or death. The lethal dose is not necessarily the same for humans.

            Sufficient exposure to borax dust can cause respiratory and skin irritation. Ingestion may cause gastrointestinal distress including nausea, persistent vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Effects on the vascular system and brain include headaches and lethargy, but are less frequent. “In severe poisonings, a beefy red skin rash affecting palms, soles, buttocks and scrotum has been described. With severe poisoning, erythematous and exfoliative rash, unconsciousness, respiratory depression, and renal failure.”[21]

            Borax was added to the Substance of Very High Concern (SVHC) candidate list on 16 December 2010. The SVHC candidate list is part of the EU Regulations on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals 2006 (REACH), and the addition was based on the revised classification of Borax as toxic for reproduction category 1B under the CLP Regulations. Substances and mixtures imported into the EU which contain Borax are now required to be labelled with the warnings “May damage fertility” and “May damage the unborn child”.[22]

            And since nothing else is needed except Washing Soda to wash clothes — why mess with making your concoction and with all the toxic ingredients in your recipe?
            Wash a load of cotton whites in a half cup of Washing Soda (or a little more for a big load or heavily-soiled load — but I think a cup can be too much). Rinse with vinegar. Tell me your clothes aren’t clean and that you need something else. I confess — I do use Shout (or something similar) for oil stains — like salad oil stains — on t-shirts/blouses. But only then.
            I have great clean clothes. How do you know I’m wrong until you’ve tried it?

          • Heidi S.

            why didn’t you add anything about shout there might just be a minute chemical in there. They might have added it to some list somewhere did you check because I think you really should shout might be really really really bad for you or maybe only a little bad for you but you could add a whole other page about it!

  • Jane

    Mary, you forgot your own tip! I now use white vinegar with every wash load in the fabric softener dispenser, to help rinse away any residual soap and now I don’t have to double rinse my clothes and everything comes out of the dryer nice and soft. I can always tell if I forgot to add the vinegar, especially with the towels.

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      So I did. White vinegar in the last rinse helps to remove the last bits of detergent from the load.

      • http://www.facebook.com/WingHavenGirl Karen Williams

        How much vinegar?

        • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

          Depends on the size of your washer … 1/2 to 1 cup should do the trick. Experiment!

          • Karlyn

            Will the acidic Vinegar eventually harm any of the washer parts?

          • Barbara Crist-Nepp

            Nope. I’ve used vinegar for years and all is well. In fact, the washer doesn’t get all gunked up with soap deposits!!

        • http://www.facebook.com/beth.chamberlainsherrill Beth Chamberlain Sherrill

          1 cup

  • hijjo

    Where can soda ash be purchased? Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sseuring Susan Jarzombek Seuring

    Mary stated in the article: ‘Super Washing Soda OR soda ash. Super Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) is becoming increasingly difficult to find. If you can’t find it in the laundry aisle somewhere close to the borax, consider using soda ash (sodium carbonate) instead. Soda ash is exactly the same thing as Washing Soda, and is used in swimming pools to fix the ph. It’s readily available in pool supply stores or even larger department stores that carry pool chlorine, and so forth.’

  • JaMee

    Mary, I use a gallon glass beverage dispenser for my laundry soap and it sits on a shelf over the washer. I tried this concentrated recipe a while back…and mine separated too. We had to take off the lid, take it off the shelf and stir it EVERY time we used it…which was a real pain. I went back to the non-concentrated recipe. I am glad to learn that it may be the “fault” of the Dawn I used. I’m going to try again. Thank you…

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      You might recall the three gallon glass decanter I used for a while when I was making the less concentrated “Old! and Unimproved!” version. It was HEAVY for sure, but looked good. Guess I’ll clean it well and use it for iced tea this summer. My one gallon plastic container is easy to handle.

  • Vicki

    Just an FYI. I couldn’t find the Soda Wash in my area either. However, my local Ace Hardware store ordered it for me and now they keep it in stock all the time.

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      It pays to ask and let’s hear it for Ace Hardware!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lorrie.otto Lorrie Otto

    Ask your local Walmart or preferred store to stock the washing soda for you.

  • AA

    I store a 50-50 mixture of Borax and Washing Soda in a container beside my washing machine (dry mixture only). I also keep a re-purposed pump bottle of Dawn beside my washing machine. I scoop a couple of Tbsp of this dry mixture and pump a several squirts of Dawn into my washing machine as the machine fills with water. This process works well for me as it involves minimal mixing and yet still cleans our clothes.

    • BellaTerra66

      Try the Washing Soda all by itself. Same results. Not toxic at all.

  • Colleenie

    I plan to use the gallon jug the first time for measuring but transfer it to an old laundry detergent container and mark the top with a quarter cup. This will be easier to shake up

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      Great idea!

  • Donna R.

    Aarrgghhh! Just goes to prove ya cain’t please everbody alla time. I had just finally gone to Sam’s club to purchase a lovely $19.99 three-gallon plastic beverage dispenser to hold and dispense the previous recipe. I may still stick to the previous recipe though, incorporating some tips from this one on mixing to control excess sudsing. Because of nerve damage in my hands, handling a gallon container is a challenge. I’ll be sure to use the original Dawn to see if it eliminates separating. Thank you, Mary, for your relentless efforts to help us learn how to stretch a dollar!

    • Anne

      I pour mine (use a funnel) into empty Smart Water bottles. Easy to handle and not a big deal to do. I store them on a shelf above the washer. Any empty water bottle would do as long as it is strong enough, some of them are getting pretty flimsy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/marilyn.howell.73 Marilyn H

    Thank you Mary for the “new and improved” version! I make the “old stuff” in gallon milk jugs and felt like I was making it all the time. (3 kids, all in sports, laundry every day, etc…) This is great as my gallons will now last longer. Yea!

  • Glora

    I use a funnel to avoid any messy dripping.

  • Cindy

    I too had trouble finding the Borax and Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda at my local supermarket, Walmart and Target. I found it at Ace Hardware.

  • Jan Jones

    I have a question. I have apparently been using too much of the old version because my clothes ARE becoming gray. Is there a simple way to turn them all back to their original colors? should I bleach or just wash with vinegar? I am glad to know it is not that the detergent isn’t working, but that my children have been adding too much to the wash. I am REALLY glad I found this out because just yesterday I tole them to start adding a little MORE because I thought the clothes were not getting clean!!
    Oh, and one more thing, why not the generic Dawn? Has anyone had a bad experience with it, or is it just different since there are so many generics that you want to be sure to use the “Real Deal”?

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      Regarding “generic Dawn” … it’s not the same. The way I understand this, P&G has some patented formula that is exclusive to their blue Dawn product. Ask the birds in Alaska who got cleaned from the big oil spill … with blue Dawn. What you would save with generic blue stuff would be so little, it’s not worth it. Stick with the real mccoy. As for the gray clothes, yes give them a good wash with bleach now and then again later if and when necessary.

      • Jan Jones

        well, my husband wanted me to research the Blue Dawn myth (whether it was really better than the generic., because we just bought several LARGE containers of the Great Value brand.) I could not find anything saying that it is patented, and he said perhaps the Patent has run out, and the generic is now just as good? I am going to give it a try, since I have it all on hand. I did find info on a patented oil spill formula, but unless I was reading something wrong, it looks like they used a combination of Palmolive dish soap for the best results. Here is the link in case anyone is interested in reading it. http://www.patents.com/us-5385675.html

  • Miriam Kearney

    This is more of a question than a comment:
    Why Dawn, as opposed to say, Palmolive? I see references to Dawn all the time but no one says why. I’m curious. Also, Dawn isn’t easy to get where I live.

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      There’s something marvelous about the anti-grease properties of blue Dawn.

  • Shelli

    I never seem to get good results with any version of this laundry soap. We live in an area with very hard water. Could this be why?

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      Yes. And that’s the reason for borax and washing soda in this mixture. It is “water softening.” Years ago I used a product called Ivory Water Softener. It was sodium carbonate with a big price tag on it.

      • Lori Good

        I have the same problem as Shelli. So if I’m using the borax and washing soda as directed and the clothes are dirty. I’m wondering if it’s due to a 12 year old boy vs columnist? Should I change the amounts?

      • Leslie

        I always add 1/4 C baking soda to the washer w/each load of laundry to soften the water.

  • Darlene

    I’ve been doing this since you came out with the Dawn version. I did not see the point to the huge container so I made a concentrated version using 1/4 cup just as you are doing now.

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      Smarty!

      • Raised all boys

        I added 1/2 cup of NokOut to my batch, no bad odors can survive now

        • Ksmith

          Oooh, I’ll have to try that! My husband works hard and we live on a homestead with lots of animals and dirt. :-)

  • vjcj3012

    Thanks for the calification on which Dawn product I can use. I have been using the non-concentrated version, but it sounds like I can use others. Also, I love my local Tru-Value Hardware store who special ordered the Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda for me. They also stock the non-concentrated Dawn and 20 Mule Team Borax. Shout out to our local Harware Stores!

    • http://twitter.com/DebtProofLiving Mary Hunt

      Hear me shout …

  • Beth Ann Smith

    I’ve been doing the concentration thing since you first published the last recipe, but adding the blue Dawn after dissolving the powders makes great sense to me. I’m making a new batch today>

  • PJ

    Mary,
    Thank you for the laundry detergent “recipe”! I have been using the original liquid version and absolutely love it! My clothes are clean, soft and have a nice scent. In fact, I forgot to put a fabric softener dryer sheet in one load and was amazed at how soft the clothes were even without it! My husband has even noticed the difference in the towels we use.

    I have also put this detergent in a spray bottle and used it as a spot remover (spot literally disappeared before my eyes and didn’t leave a ring – better than a Tide pen), I have used it to clean the baseboard in my bathroom (cut through hairspray residue better than Windex with no scrubbing), and I have used it to clean my kitchen counters and stovetop (leaves a pretty sheen with no stickiness).
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000344903811 Rosemari Simmons

    Hi! I think it’d be WISE to also do this: whenever repurposing a container of any sort that used to hold something acceptable for human consumption (i.e., a water bottle), that will now be used for a toxic item (i.e., laundry detergent), REMOVE or COVER UP the original label. That way, there won’t be any confusion for kids, or other easily confused people. (I love kids, & want them to be safe.)

    • http://www.facebook.com/jenny.mertes Jenny Gould Gibbs Mertes

      YES to this, Rosemari. There are blue liquids that are safe for kids, like variations of Gatorade-type drinks. Put it up high, keep the kids safe.

  • amvans

    A new recipe! And I JUST made detergent last night! glad to see this new improved version of the liquid dawn old version – I thought it an awful lot to be putting in since the grate/melt gel method wasn’t using as much. I’ll have to try this new improved version! Thanks!

  • cle3310

    Hope this is really an improvement. I was very dissatisfied with the last “improvement”. The clothes just didn’t get very clean, IMHO. I’m happy to give this recipe a try.

  • Mrsslam824

    I have tried the last Dawn recipe, but I concentrated it like others. I found that after using it for several washes, our shirts seem to smell sweaty, even after being freshly laundered. I use vinegar to rinse with and I even tried to use a full Bounce drier sheet to cover the smell. Do you have any suggestions on what I can try?

  • BellaTerra66

    You’re not going to know good Washing Soda works all by itself until you try it. You’re going to be amazed at how clean your clothes are — plus, no having to mix up a formula and one that is definitely toxic.

  • Anne

    The blue Dawn label says not to add bleach. Makes me wonder about using it in the wash. I don’t use bleach often but want to be able to when I need it.

    • Bethany (23 yrs)

      Instead of using bleach, use oxy clean it works better than bleach in my opinion AND it can be used on both colors and whites!

  • Donna R.

    Mary, I wandered into the pool supply section of my local Walmart today just to see if they sold soda ash (sodium carbonate) and found a huge bag of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate – I checked!) for use in your pool! It had the same design on the bag as the boxes we have in our kitchen cabinets for baking. I’m so confusigated.

    • http://www.facebook.com/beth.chamberlainsherrill Beth Chamberlain Sherrill

      you can change sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate through heating the baking soda, check one good thing by Jilee website for how toos.

  • SunnieB

    Is anyone having trouble with this solution “bleaching” out colors? I’m noticing my towels are changing colors……

    • Guest

      It is bleaching out the colors because Dawn has bleach in it

      • Cassie

        Dawn does not contain bleach. Some kinds (not classic or ultra) contain bleach alternative, but not bleach.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenny.mertes Jenny Gould Gibbs Mertes

    What about soft water? If some of these ingredients are for softening the water, but I’m already washing in softened water, can I leave some of them out?

  • enelram

    I just mixed some laundry detergent for the first time – did 2 loads with it and it seems to be working. My question is how it works so well with the amount used, when on the washing soda box it recommends adding 1 cup to your load of laundry each time? Our water is very hard, and until I used the home-made stuff I was adding about 1/3 C. of Borax to my purchased laundry detergent. Just wondering. ???

  • deanna

    you’re a genius! Works awesome! Thanks!
    Deanna

  • Sheila

    I ordered 50# of soda ash from Amazon.com for around $35.00 + around $10 shipping, cheapest I could find it. I have read some comments on this site about the lack of a nice perfumed scent. I add about 3/4 Tablespoon of Downy “Unstoppables”, highly scented beads for laundry (appx. $8 at Walmart). Smells great, but I haven’t calculated the additional cost per load.

    • Bethany (23 yrs)

      Sheila, do you add it to the detergent and mix it in or to each separate load? Thanx!

  • Brenda

    Thanks for the new laundry recipe. I have been using your recipes on and off for the last 4 years. Really with this one I think im never going back to the old stuff. Donated the last of my laundry detergent a few days ago to use this recipe exclusively. Love the comments from other people that have been posted. Even got a couple of ideas.

  • cowpants

    Hi, will this recipe work with other kinds of Dawn, or just the blue kind? Some of the other varieties have scents like citrus and lavender. =)

  • Dona

    Don’t forget to label the stuff ESPECIALLY if your laundry room is in the kitchen, or if you have little ones in the house!

  • SusanB

    So glad you created this New! and Improved! version. I have been concentrating your previous version to a one-gallon container essentially on the fly for the last couple of months — it’s good to have some final measurements. :) Thanks.

  • Georgene

    I wonder if this laundry detergent could be used as ‘grey water’ and used on flowers? I run a hose from my washing machine to water my flowers using the borax,washing soda and Fels Naptha soap. I use the Duggers recipe for laundry detergent and it hasn’t hurt my plants at all. What do you think?

  • Jensa

    This is soooo exciting, am making my first batch here in France but am having a little difficulty getting the borax and washing soda to dissolve. Have followed the instructions to the letter but I am obviously doing something wrong.Does it dissolve completely, I still have sediment in the bottom although the liquid is quite milky?

    • Bethany (23 yrs)

      how hot is your water? this could be a problem.. Also, sometimes when creating a homogeneous mixture (the type of mixture where everything combines to the extent that you can no long differentiate the ingredients: think chocolate milk= white milk + chocolate syrup) if your ingredient overpower your solvent (in this instance, that would be the hot water), then you must adjust the amount of solvent to meet your needs. Try adding a bit more hot water OR make your water a little hotter and try to get the ingredients dissolved before the mixture cools.

  • Carolyn

    Mary,
    I love the new and improved recipe! Is it safe for washing my 5 month old’s clothes too? Thank you for mentoring women like me! Carolyn

  • Jan

    Hi Mary,

    I tried scanning all the previous comments so hope I didn’t miss this, but I might have a new challenge for you and your wonderful laundry detergent recipe. While I love the new concentrated recipe, I want to start using the “graywater” from my washer for my landscaping, and one of the things I was reading said to be sure to use a “biocompatible” detergent (different from biodegradable) because it wouldn’t have the high sodium content of most regular detergents which can cause issue for several types of plants and trees. I tried to find a way to make a “biocompatible” detergent online but haven’t been successful so far and the commercially made brand is $35 a gallon. Do you think you might be able to come up with something for us urban homesteaders trying to be more water (and money) conscious?

    • Jennifer Miano

      Maybe just buy soap nuggets…I dont really know what they are but they are from a tree I believe and you keep reusing them…they are about as natural as you can get.

  • Tricia Kendell

    If anyone is having a hard time finding the soda ash/washing soda, I found it at Home Depot in their miniscule pool “department”. It is a small-ish bottle but it’s called pHup. :-)

  • Tricia Kendell

    My question is: what about the high efficiency washers? I posted a link to this page for a new mom who is looking into doing the grated soap DIY detergent, and this is one of her questions. I couldn’t find the answer, can you help?

    • Bethany (23 yrs)

      Hi, Tricia! If you take a look at the picture above the picture of the arm and hammer soda wash box, it shows a hand with the homemade detergent and the detergent dispenser… Below that picture, take a look at the third paragraph… The blogger wrote that this recipe/tutorial is low-sudsing and that HE washers require that you use low sudsing detergent….

  • Elyse Springer

    Amazon has what they call Subscribe & Save which you can select products you would like to receive on a schedule of your choosing. You pick the day of the month, for example the 26th of every month, then about 7 days prior your chosen card will be charged, (at least for me it is) for your items to be shipped and received by the specified date. You can change and adjust your items and ship date accordingly and your items are shipped free plus you can get up to a 15% discount each month. I love this because I no longer have to send hubby to different stores to find items that are out of stock or no longer sold locally. I thought for grins and giggles I would look to see if they have the ingredients listed and they do… The only thing is that you do have to double check as many items are sold by different sources and thereby offer different prices. And then to add another tid-bit, plain regular vinegar can be added to the wash instead of bleach & or used in the rinse as a fabric softener.

    See the part – Frequently Bought Together

    http://www.amazon.com/Church-Dwight-03020-Hammer-Washing/dp/B0029XNTEU/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1370856607&sr=8-10&keywords=soda+ash

    Frequently Asked Questions – Subscribe & Save

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=sr_1_1_acs_h_1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200121950&qid=1370858916&sr=8-1-acs

  • Joanna

    I just wanted to say Thank You! It’s nice to have someone who wants to help the rest of us in our endeavors to live a frugal life style. Please keep up the great work! :)

  • Judy

    where do you get your soda ash? would it be the same as what I use in the mobile park well water to keep the PH right ?

    • Lisa Marie Gilbert

      Our local grocery store has it . HEB . However if you can not find it there are instructions for making it online.

  • Garnet

    Thanks so much for this recipe. Just bought ingredients for “powdered detergent” as I didn’t want to “cook” for the liquid. Found everything I needed for recipe at Walmart, including washing soda. Taking everything back and making your liquid recipe.

  • JP

    Cannot believe you show a picture of your laundry in the tub with a dark sock on top of light colors. Don’t you sort your laundry? That will make your whites gray eventually. Made your recipe today, will see how it works out. If the Dawn is concentrated type, you are using more Dawn than the original type. We’ll see.

  • ABC

    I’ve been using this a few weeks now and smelling the clothes afterward and am finding they still have sweaty odors under the arms. Should people who DON’T have high efficiency washers use more?

    • Tricia Kendell

      I bought some stuff that you add to the load to make it smell awesome. I tried essential oils but didn’t like it. I can’t remember the brand, but I think they’re scent pods or something in a canister the size of those stackable chips (Pringles?). Totally solves the scent issue.

  • ABC

    Why was my comment deleted?
    I asked a simple question about whether we who do not have high-efficiency washers should be using a little more of this, as I have been using it for about a month and am noticing that there is still a faint sweaty odor left under the arms of our shirts.

  • Dedra

    I made some of this yesterday and not only does my Dawn separate and float to the top (which I just shake it up and it’s fine) but some of my powder is settling on the bottom. Is shaking up right before use good enough or is it not mixed in enough? I don’t remember it happening last batch.

  • Buttons

    Thank you so much for this! for years i’ve seen recipes for detergent but never even tried: 5gal bucketsm grating etc was too much effort when I can get sales/dscounts of preferred detergents.
    THIS is a doable recpe, no mess, small amount, no grating…. huge hugs for your efforts!

  • Sarah

    I am using your recipe, and seems to work so far. My only problem is that the powders, after a couple of weeks, seem to be settling to the bottom and creating large clumps. How do I avoid this?

    • susan

      I seem to be having the same issue with my latest batch of detergent. Crystals are forming in the bottom and even when I shake it up, it doesn’t dissolve.

      • Doug

        Great stuff! Quick question about crystals forming on the bottom of the container? What is causing this and what can I/we do about it? I thought it was only me having this problem, thanks Sarah and Susan for mentioning this!

        • Janice

          I too started having this problem, and I noticed that it happens more often with powders that have been in contact with moisture and are clumping in the box. My batch from a new box didn’t do it. I now store my powders in plastic buckets. Also, there was a load that I didn’t use hot water for the entire container (as she says to) and that seemed to be a clumpy batch also. HTH

    • Tricia Kendell

      I had the same problem. I am trying a new batch today where I used hot water from a tea kettle–almost boiling. I am hoping that the hotter water fixes the problem. I have this page bookmarked so hopefully I can get back and answer this question because I’m sure we are not the only ones with this issue.

  • Deb

    Help!!!! I have a four year old son who (always) has a small urine stain
    on his white underwear. It does not come out in the laundry using
    your recipe. It does come out when I use Tide. Also, my husband was
    wearing a white t-shirt while raking the leaves. Of course the dust
    from the leaves left an icky grayish t-shirt for me to deal with, because
    this item did not come out of the washer clean either. I am now soaking
    the shirt to get it presentable again. What’s up with this homemade
    detergent?

  • Dawn Forbes

    I didn’t see this in the comments, so I did want to mention that Dawn should not be mixed with bleach.

    • ABC

      What will happen? I’ve been mixing it with bleach for months on my towels and washcloths, with seemingly no ill effects to either me or the towels.

      • Dawn Forbes

        Oops – I thought that I had come back and corrected this. Sorry! What I should have said is that Dawn contains bleach and so care should be taken when mixing it with other chemicals. So sorry about that mix-up. :)

  • Emily Weant

    That is great but I am chemically sensitive. I don’t like using regular detergent on my clothes. Would substituting Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap for the Dawn work?

    • ABC

      I’d bet it would, as the original recipe called for grated Fels Naptha laundry soap. I hated grating that stuff.

  • Monica

    Question: Can I add some Febreze liquid (Febreze Laundry Odor Eliminator, sold at K-Mart and other places) to the concoction to make it more like Tide with Febreze? If so, how much should I add to the homemade detergent?

  • Linda D

    This sounds great. I do have one question though. My Husband and I are full time RVer’s, We do not have a washer or dryer in our rig. Would this laundry detergent work in a commercial laundry machine? Most of the laundry places have washer for two or more load of laundry. Thanks ahead for your answer.
    Linda

    • ABC

      I’m not Mary, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. If the washers are made for 2 loads of laundry, just use 1/2 cup instead of 1/4.

  • Greatgrannie

    The Strongsville, OH, Walmart carries the Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda.

  • Mandy

    I would love to start making my own detergent but am concerned by the comments I see about the Dawn containing bleach, and it not being safe to use on colors. If I can’t use a detergent on colors, it is of no use to me. Is there any modification or solution to this problem?

  • Annie36

    I’ve used both versions and still like the Fels Naptha best. Grating is not a problem since I have a grater on my mixer and can do it quickly with that, run it through the dishwasher afterwards. May be it’s because my Mother used to use Fels Naptha Flakes to do the laundry when I was a kid. Am uneasy about the Dawn just because it says not to mix with bleach and the bleach in it might damage the clothes.

  • checkster2

    being military we’ve lived all over…and have been pinching pennies forever. We lived in very rural New Hampshire for four years where I couldn’t find washing soda ANYWHERE. So I found out from a local guy that if you BAKE (yes bake in the oven) baking soda at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet, you make your own washing soda! You simply keep an eye on it. stir it every once in a while to keep drying it out. you will actually see the chemical change in the baking soda. also, for those with stain or white issues, try using a soaking tub with a water bleach mixture. Actually read the label of the bleach bottle and it will tell you exactly what to do. it’s very simple and it’s safe. After going through six kids all in cloth diapers, trust me, between the bleach soak and the sun, my babies always had white diapers. :-)

  • Jane345

    Hello! Great tips, thank you!
    I do how have a question. Well with there being so many recipies out there, which most call for three or four ingredients. I am really big into the vinegar! Use it for cleaning house, my dog and laundry. I put one cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda in the wash. Here is my question:
    What if i take a gallon jug and mix half with vinegar & half with dawn dish soap. Do you think, think 2tbsp will work?