Update On My Favorite Laundry Detergent

Some of the strangest looks I get are from people who just don’t get why I would make my own laundry detergent when it is so readily available in just about any store. I’ve written about this before, but for those of you who aren’t convinced, I’d like another chance to change your mind.


Cost

You’re not surprised that this would be first on my list. In my own unscientific way, I have done exhaustive research on this. When a bottle of Tide or ALL laundry detergent promises “82 Loads” consider the fine print. Check it. Realistically, you have to cut that number of loads in half if you have a high-capacity washer. Read the instructions. They are talking about small loads of laundry.

My research has determined that on average, regularly priced laundry detergent costs from $.35 to $.50 per load of laundry. That may not sound like much to you until you consider that you can make your own detergent for about $.03 to $.05 per load.

Performance

My homemade detergent just works, and that’s saying a lot coming from a laundry stickler like myself. I know exactly what’s in it, too.

My whites come out white, colors come out bright and all my laundry is super clean. This homemade version is low-sudsing, which makes it perfect for the high-efficiency (HE) washers.

Time

There is another factor in play with anything homemade and that’s time. Admittedly, the recipes I’ve given you in the past (for both powdered and liquid versions) can be time-consuming. And a little messy. I’ll also admit that on occasion I have just not had time to make it myself, reluctantly resorting to buying it off the shelf.

As I wrote about on my blog last year, I was very excited to find a super fast and super easy homemade laundry detergent recipe at a fun blog, One Good Thing by Jillee.

The recipe uses one of DPL’s favorite products—original Blue Dawn—in place of Fels Naptha bar soap. And, this requires no cooking and is low-sudsing. I am still over the moon about this recipe because it is fast, easy and super effective. Thanks, Jillee.

Quick and Easy Laundry Detergent

 

Find a one-gallon container with a tight-fitting lid. Pour in the borax, washing soda and liquid Dawn. Add two cups of very hot water. Apply the lid and shake until the soda and borax have dissolved. Now fill the container with cold water. Reapply the lid, label and you’re done. To use: Add 1 to 2 cups to each load of laundry depending on the size and soil levels.

This recipe multiplies so well, I make three gallons using this conversion which is slightly more concentrated:

  • 3/4 cup borax
  • 3/4 cup washing soda
  • 3/4 cup original Blue Dawn

I have experimented with the amount to use in my high-efficiency, high-capacity, heavy-duty LG Wave Force washer.

I started with 2 cups for a full load (this detergent is not thick, actually it is quite thin and watery). However, I noticed that clothes were ending up slightly stiff and scratchy, a good indication that all of the soap had not been rinsed out. So, I cut back and now find that with my converted 3-gallon recipe, 1 to 1 1/2 cups works perfectly. For smaller loads, I cut back accordingly.

Question: Have you ever made your own home cleaning products? Tell us your favorite homemade solution here

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206 replies
  1. Laurel Davis
    Laurel Davis says:

    Do you pour the mixture directly into your clothes or in the compartment in the washer? So excited about this and can’t wait to try it. I have 2 daughters and do tons of laundry. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Amber White
    Amber White says:

    Does it have to be the blue dawn? I use the free and gentle. It’s dye free and made with biodegradable ingredients. Do you think it will work? The blue dawn has a few more ingredients in it that affect health. Thanks for your help!!

    Reply
  3. Barbara Lepley
    Barbara Lepley says:

    I looked at a previous recipe and you used 3/4 cup of Washing Soda, 3/4 cup of Borax and 3/4 cup of Dawn Blue Detergent and filled gallon jug up with water. You were to use 1/4 cup of mixture per wash load. Why has the recipe changed?

    Reply
      • Candie
        Candie says:

        Yes, the ingredients incresed but the amount to use should still stay the same. If you buy a 1/2 gallon of mik and use 1 cup for a recipe, you don’t increase the 1 cup in a recipe to 2 cups just because you buy a full gallon of milk.

  4. kate
    kate says:

    One thing I did not read was that with store bought detergents they put a lot of fillers in them like sand. My mom showed me years ago that if you put a small amount of dry detergent in a jar with water and shake it up you will see it doesn’t all dissolve. I’ve used liquid after that. So will be making this for sure. I love the jar you used. I also like using nice containers for my home made soaps and things.

    Reply
  5. Janet Westrup
    Janet Westrup says:

    I have made my own laundry detergent with the Fels Naptha and the Ivory bar soaps. However I would like to make a detergent without color and scent since I have reactions to some fragrances.

    Would you have a fragrance-free recipe?

    Thank you, Janet Westrup

    Reply
  6. Jan1376
    Jan1376 says:

    I only use cold water so I have deleted the Borax (as it only works in hot water) and doubled the Washing Soda. Works great!

    Reply
  7. Susan Walters Talbott
    Susan Walters Talbott says:

    A couple drops of 7th generation dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle mixed with water is the best all purpose cleaner I’ve ever used! It shines my granite countertops and shines streak free stainless steel appliances. I got this tip from an “Angies list” professional housecleaner who was willing to list his tips and tricks!

    Reply
  8. tari
    tari says:

    I use vinegar to clean everything. My floors , windows, quartz countertops, my Smoot top range carpet and laundry. It removes odors and doesn’t leave any either. I have a very old English Bulldog who starting to have accidents occasionally. For those I blot t h e area with a clean towel then I saturate the area with the following mixture
    1 cup peroxide
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 sqrt hand soap
    Mix in plastic bowl with plastic spoon
    pour over stain and cover with a clean towel when dry vacuum.
    You can use this on carpet, furniture I have never had it discolor anything also works on matressess

    Reply
  9. AM
    AM says:

    I have been making a similar recipe for a year now. My recipe calls for 1/4 cup each of the same ingredients in a gallon. Then use 1/4 cup in each load. It works great, my whites are white, my darks don’t fade, and my laundry is clean & fresh smelling. We all have sensitive skin, my kids have exzema and asthma and this is non-irritating. I use 1/2 cup vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser for almost every load. This rinses out any soap residue (which is what makes the clothes dingy) and then I don’t need dryer sheets. I buy vinegar by the gallon, and use the empty jugs to mix my laundry soap in so I don’t need to purchase special containers (tho the housewarming gift is a great idea!). The big tip is don’t use too much laundry soap for best results!

    Reply
  10. John Leipprandt
    John Leipprandt says:

    I mixed it a couple of times and decided it was too much bother to mix. Now I only mix the washing powder and borax 1/2 & 1/2, and use about 2 tablespoons + a squart of Dawn. Works just as good!

    Reply
  11. Just Pam
    Just Pam says:

    The most important thing to me about this is the fact that I am not putting a huge plastic bottle in the trash every month. I found nice reusable bottles at the “W” store. I have a HE washer & dryer, occasionally I will prop the door open with a small plastic pitcher I have, keeping the washer smelling great. I feel I save $15.00 or more a month. Not bad, and it does a great job

    Reply
  12. marysews
    marysews says:

    I’m glad I left this in my email’s in-box! My understanding is that liquid detergents are supposed to work better than dry with my front-load washer. After I use up my current liquid detergent, I will try this,.

    Reply
  13. Amby
    Amby says:

    I bought all the ingredients to make the detergent but reading the posts gave me an idea. For those of you who want to have some fragrance what about substituting your favorite detergent instead of dawn? After all this is about spending less and not about all natural.

    Reply
    • KarenA
      KarenA says:

      I use generic blue glass cleaner and have made my own “swifter” pads by cutting a microfiber towel to size. From one hand towel, you will get about 4-6 pads, which can be flipped over and the other side used. I have heard you could also slip a chenille sock over the mop head. Even better, toss them into the washer for reuse. You will be amazed at how dirty those pads get, and you thought your floors were clean!

      Reply
  14. Lana
    Lana says:

    Being a quilter/sewer, I used to buy an item called “Best Press” which is a light starch for sewing. This costs $8.95 for a 16 oz. bottle. I came upon a recipe for the same thing that costs me pennys per 24 ounce bottle. I make a batch and put it in my spray bottle by my ironing board and use it for all my ironing, clothes etc. Here is the recipe for Best Press light spray starch.

    1 tsp scented essential oils, (sold at Walmart, etc.) I use lavender
    3 oz. VODKA, yes, vodka, as it is made from potatoes and that is a startch
    24 ounces of distilled water.
    Mix together shake well and use in a spray bottle. Makes your clothes smell nice with the lavender too.

    Reply
    • kate
      kate says:

      Oh wow thanks for sharing.. I hate paying that price for “Best Press”. I have vodka and will be making myself some today. 2/5/2017 I have to bottles to fill thank you again.

      Reply
  15. hj
    hj says:

    I was having a difficult time finding Original Blue Dawn in local stores. My DH bought a bottle of Non-Concentrated Dawn thinking it might be Original. I called the company to find out. Sure enough, Non-Concentrated Dawn is the Original. Dawn Ultra, which I had used to make this laundry detergent, is more concentrated. Ultra seems to work fine, but I am anxious to try the Non-Concentrated Dawn to see if I can tell a difference. I can get Ultra at my club store in large size bottles. I love DIY laundry detergent and I’m telling everyone about it. It is so much cheaper than buying it. I have been making it since Sept 2012.

    Reply
  16. jd in st louis
    jd in st louis says:

    if you don’t need to grease cutting that Dawn is so good at, would this work with less expensive liquid dish soap? i think it would and will give it a try. i typically save quite a bit by using about half the ‘suggested’ amount of detergent per load. our clothing is not heavily soiled or smelly, so it works out well. use soap nuts for some light loads too.

    Reply
  17. Lo H
    Lo H says:

    Thank you so much for this “recipe”!! It is brilliant and our clothes have never been softer or cleaner. I am thrilled!! A while back both my husband and I were laid off from our jobs (within a week of each other) and it has been a tough road…one many people are experiencing. The savings here is huge when it means I do not have to spend $7 on laundry detergent, but I can buy food instead. The savings may not seem like a lot to some, but it is accumulative and makes a huge difference. PLUS I can control the ingredients and I can even pronounce them all, I cannot do that with name brands. You have me so inspired, I have made my own dishwashing detergent, fabric softener, and air freshener. That’s just the beginning. I am hoping to have everything cleaning and health & beauty in my home handmade. This is life changing. Thank you so very much!!

    Reply
  18. Kara M.
    Kara M. says:

    I use this recipe (thank you, Mary!), but instead of Dawn I use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds. I LOVE the way it gets our laundry clean, and our clothes lightly smell like pine. I just use a gallon milk jug and a funnel to pour the ingredients when I’m putting it together. Shake, pour and voila! Clean clothes!

    Reply
  19. labbie1
    labbie1 says:

    I tried using the 3/4 cup of each ingredient in 1 gallon of water (bottled drinking water–88 cents per gallon–because our tap water here has so many sulfates and minerals that it causes homemade products to be less effective) and I am using 1/3 to 2/3 cup per load and it is working just fine. I am wondering if I can use 1 cup of each in a gallon and then use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load. I think I will try that next. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Mimi Linda
    Mimi Linda says:

    I just need to say that I hope there are no young children in your home since your homemade detergent is in an easily accessible beverage dispenser and looks too much like blue Kool-Aid for my comfort. That said, I do plan to try your recipe as soon as I have used the 4 gallons of detergent that I just made. Yours is much easier and does not create a storage problem. Thanks!

    Reply
    • labbie1
      labbie1 says:

      It is a dry laundry additive made by Downy. It is like little pellets and is packaged in a tall round container and found next to the fabric softener in the laundry aisle. It is rather pricey at $6-$7 per bottle, but leaves a nice scent. The beauty is that you can control how much you add to each load of laundry so that you can have a hint of scent or a strong scent. Purex makes one as well. I found a homemade version using 1 c epsom salts with 10 drops essential oils, but found that it leaves just the hint of scent and I prefer a stronger scent.

      Reply
  21. Judy
    Judy says:

    I do not like to waste anything, so imagine my excitement when I found a dual purpose for the vinegar I use to clean my coffee pot. Once I have run it through the pot, the vinegar is hot. I pour that on my shower floor, let it sit for two minutes and then brush the greasy dirt away. This is the only method that has easily cut through the soap scum without sending me into anaphylaxis shock. I had never thought to heat the vinegar first, but it really works!

    Reply
  22. BellaTerra66
    BellaTerra66 says:

    The problem is that Borax is very toxic. I’ve been using ONLY Washing Soda (which is not toxic) for months now and get cleaner clothes than when I was using a commercial product. Yes, I do use a little bleach on my whites, but with the Borax and a little bleach, my whites have never been so clean and white. So, anyway, I don’t understand why the addition of Borax and Dawn of Washing Soda, since Washing Soda alone does the trick.

    Reply
    • labbie1
      labbie1 says:

      I think you may be confusing Boric Acid with Borax. Borax is a naturally mined mineral from dry lake beds. Boric Acid is a toxic mineral used to kill vermin, cockroaches, etc and is now hard if not impossible to find. Hope this helps.

      Reply
      • BellaTerra66
        BellaTerra66 says:

        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]

        Boric acid solutions used as an eye wash or on abraded skin are known to be particularly toxic to infants, especially after repeated use, because of the slow elimination rate.[22]

        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”.[23]

      • Robin Stanton
        Robin Stanton says:

        Thank you Bella for sharing this! I was considering making this recipe, but with a 6 month old grandchild in the house, I will take no chances!

      • BellaTerra66
        BellaTerra66 says:

        You are very welcome. I use just washing soda, and my clothes come out great. (I do include a little bleach on my cotton whites.)

  23. salty6850
    salty6850 says:

    I still like the original recipe even though it requires a few extra steps. Since using the homemade, I can’t tolerate the smell from commercial soaps!

    Reply
  24. anonymous
    anonymous says:

    Mary Hunt
    I make your laundry soap all the time, but I have misplaced the recipe to be used instead of bleach. Would you please print it again.

    Reply
    • labbie1
      labbie1 says:

      You can use essential oils or put some downy unstoppables in your laundry. I like the clean scent that comes with this recipe, but sometimes I like to add some essential oils like lavender to my sheets or unstoppables to my blankets.

      Reply
  25. Maria
    Maria says:

    I’ve been using Mary’s original recipe for years, but my whites were gettin dingy over time. I just made a new batch last weekend but I also added oxyclean to the recipe (the same amount as the washing soda and borax). It came out really thin/watery, not thick like the original recipe. I’ve only washed a few loads and it seems to be working, but it’s too soon to tell about how my whites will be. Has anyone ever tried adding Oxyclean to the recipe? Have you had any luck with it?

    Reply
    • Diana
      Diana says:

      I was under the impression that Oxyclean has to be exposed to the air to activate it, so mixing it with stuff would make it less effective, wouldn’t it? It is an oxygen stuff that does the cleaning,isn’t it?

      Reply
    • Denise
      Denise says:

      To make your whites whiter and your colors brighter. Add some baking soda to your wash load. I used bleach and baking soda for whites 1 cup for large loads. If I ran out of bleach I used borax power and baking soda. This works for whites and colors.

      Reply
  26. karen
    karen says:

    I use my food processor to grate my soap! Also, did any of you know you can leave out the water and make it dry? When I use Fels Naptha soap, I grate it and then grind it in my food processor, add the powders (I use 20 mule team and a water softener), then I use a scoop from an old Kool Aid mixture I had laying around (about 2 Tablespoons) per load! Takes up only a little mason jar and lasts forever!

    Reply
  27. cj
    cj says:

    I read on Pinterest about filling the handle of one of those dish washing sponge thingies with half Dawn and half vinegar. I noticed after I used it to clean my bathroom sink, the sink drained faster. My guess is it ungunked the soap build up from the bar soap I use.

    Reply
  28. doingitformykids
    doingitformykids says:

    I use 1 cup borax, 1 cup super washing soda, and a bar of ivory soap. I think it smells way better than gels naptha. I melt the ivory in boiling water then mix that in a 5 gallon bucket of hot water with the powders. let it sit for a few days, shaking regularly. I only use about 1/2 a cup at a time, and I dilute it by half. one 5 gallon bucket lasts me almost a year, we are a family of four. I havrnt bought or used detergent in 3 years. I’m still on my first box of borax and washing soda. 🙂

    Reply
  29. paula
    paula says:

    I have been using homemade detergent for 6 months now. I changed the process of making your posted recipe. This process eliminates the need to use 1 – 1 1/2 cups per load and makes waiting for the bubbles to settle unnecessary. I make it in one of those 3-quart cranberry juice bottles that has a handle and a large mouth. I put in a pint of very hot water. Add the washing soda and the borax to the hot water. I shake it until the crystals dissolve. Then I fill to almost full with water. After mixing again, I add the Dawn. Cap and invert the bottle a couple of times as I walk back to the laundry room and done. Because it is more concentrated than your recipe, I only need to use 1 cup per load in my HE machine.

    Reply
  30. Chris Childress
    Chris Childress says:

    How do you figure if using 1 cup of this is cheaper than the small amount of say liquid Tide? not counting your time

    Reply
    • Carrie
      Carrie says:

      Figure out how much money you’re spending in Tide, let’s say 1 (100-oz) bottle every two months, so $6.00/month.
      Then figure out how much this recipe costs. Let’s say you use 1/2 cup each of the washing soda and borax: using $3.00 for a 55oz box for the washing soda, and $4.00 for a 76 oz box of Borax. Calculate how much money for each ounce (3 divided by 55/ 4 divided by 76), 18 cents for the washing soda, 19 cents for the Borax. A half cup of each is approx. 4 ounces or a dollar eight for both. Plus a small amount of Dawn and your water, for the sake of argument we’ll bump up the figure to $2.00 even for the gallon of water and the Dawn soap. You could even bump that up to $2.50, depending on the cost of water in your area. That’s $2.50 cents for a gallon (128 oz) of homemade soap vs $12.00 for a little under a gallon of Tide.

      Reply
  31. Anne
    Anne says:

    I am concerned about using Dawn in my HE front loader; Also, the label says not to add bleach or use in a dishwasher (suds, no doubt, in the dishwasher. I think I will stick with the Fels Naptha. Guess I like it because my Mother used Fels Naptha Flakes in her front loader when I was growing up.

    Reply
  32. PJarmin
    PJarmin says:

    My favorite shower cleaner is white vinegar and dawn dish soap. Thats about 1 part dish soap and 10 parts white vinegar. Takes off the hard water scum and makes the fixtures shine!

    Reply
  33. Maura
    Maura says:

    I use this recipe and find there is a sediment in the bottom of the bottle after the detergent has sat for a few hours. Do I need to stir/shake that before I add the detergent to my machine?

    Reply
  34. annie56
    annie56 says:

    I’m a Jillee fan too! I mix the dry powders together with a small amount of very hot water to dissolve then fill container about 3/4 full of cold water before adding the Dawn. This helps prevent all the sudsing from overflowing the container. I have an HE machine & use no more than 1/2 cup for a large load & everything comes out great.

    Reply
    • Val
      Val says:

      I use 4 tbsp borax, 4 tbsp washing soda and 3 tbsp of Gain dish detergent per gallon. I too have an HE front loader, and my clothes come out clean and soft using 1/2 cup per load.

      Reply
  35. Julie HamlinGaming
    Julie HamlinGaming says:

    The counter tops in my apartment are so awful – management finally had someone come in and ‘resurface’ them. Yuck! Even worse. Anything you get on it leaves a stain. If you put about 1t. cream of tartar on it (yes, there IS actually a use for it lol) and then pour enough lemon juice on to make a paste – half way between stiff and runny. Let it sit for five minutes or so, give it a little bit of elbow grease, and it will wipe away. Standard disclaimer applies if you have granite, etc… but it works like a charm.

    Reply
    • Anne
      Anne says:

      Wondering why you use cream of tartar, seems expensive. I use baking soda and vinegar and get good results, even with red Kool Aid type powers/drinks.

      Reply
    • kate
      kate says:

      I just use a bit of dawn detergent usually takes it right off. I had to do this at my granddaughters this past summer, every single day they had stains on their counters.. Very old counters I will admit in the rental home where they live. But it worked every time.

      Reply
  36. Jo
    Jo says:

    Like making my on detergent. However, I have started just mixing the borax and washing soda in a bucket with a lid. Then I add a tablespoon of it and a small squirt of Dawn to each load. Seems to work for me. My clothes in my opinion come out very clean and soft.

    Reply
  37. alyssa [frugal stepmom]
    alyssa [frugal stepmom] says:

    I keep mine dry with shredded Ivory soap instead of Dawn, I just use 2 TBSP [one Tylenol Warming Liquid medicine cap {it’s pink!}] in my HE washer. I usually have a set of little hands to measure or shred when it’s time to make a new batch. I also like to use vinegar + fragrance oil [purchased on clearance at Bath and Body Works] as my softener in the washer. That cuts out about $0.75/load!
    http://frugalstepmom.com/2012/06/homemade-laundry-detergent-and-fabric-softener/

    Reply
  38. Rejena
    Rejena says:

    I use this liquid in my HE washer with no problems. Since I can’t put that much detergent in the dispenser, I double the borax, washing soda and dawn, but half the water. Never had any problems. I use a vinegar rinse, and the wool dryer balls in the dryer. Works great!! About twice a month, I bleach my whites. Since doing this, I have not had to clean my HE washer. Previously, using a name brand detergent, I had to clean it at least once a month with a pricey special cleaner. Saving money several ways, and my clothes are clean. Love it!!!

    Reply
    • Arlene
      Arlene says:

      I’m getting a new HE washer soon and they told me in the store that if I don’t use HE detergent the warranty is null and void. I’d love to use the regular Tide I’ve stocked up on but scared to do anything except follow the rules.

      Reply
      • furgalmomy
        furgalmomy says:

        I have had a Kenmore HE front loader for over 9 years now. I have NEVER bought HE detergent. We are a Tide family and for a full load I use almost up to the 1 on the cap. Adjust down for smaller loads.

      • Harlean Greathouse
        Harlean Greathouse says:

        I don’t know about your washer warranty, but I know when the computer printer people say that use of a generic ink will void your warranty, they say that the only way they can demand that you use their product is if they furnish it at no charge. For the difference of price, and considering the odds that you will have a problem with your washer, I, personally, would be willing to take that chance.

  39. Amy O'Connor
    Amy O'Connor says:

    My only two concerns with using the Dawn, is that it still contains sodium lauryl sulfate and FD&C blue. Otherwise it sounds like it works great! I recently made my own powdered laundry soap using a grated bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap, washing soda, baking soda, borax, and oxiclean. I use vinegar in the rinse cycle. I want to make some wool balls for the dryer to help with static and shorten drying time. I’ve also made my own body wash and powdered dishwasher detergent.

    Reply
      • Amy O'Connor
        Amy O'Connor says:

        Here is a link….
        http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2012/09/save-time-money-and-energy-make-your-own-wool-dryer-balls.html

        This is also an excellent site for other recipes and tips for homemade and natural cleaning…

  40. Mimi in Chicago
    Mimi in Chicago says:

    I’ve been using home made for about 10 years and love it. I use your old recipe that calls for Ivory soap and washing soda. It’s nice on my sensitive skin and very effective. The funny thing was when we moved and the movers found my jugs of laundry soap. They were pretty amused and surprised. I bet they told their wives about it that night. Thanks again for a great tip! And did I mention all the money I have saved????

    Reply
  41. Max
    Max says:

    I have been making your liquid detergent for a long time and love it. I do it a little backwords, though. I put the powders and dish soap in a container by themselves and then add the hot water to them and stir until dissolved. I fill a gallon container with the water almost to the top and then add the hot water solution, I don’t have the suds to contend with this way. Also, to my surprise, this detergent cleaned the interior of my washer and has kept it sparkling clean.

    Reply
  42. labbie1
    labbie1 says:

    I use 1/2 c original blue dawn in a 32 oz spray bottle. Fill the rest of the 32 oz bottle with white vinegar. This is a fantastic cleaning spray–even gets fingerprint powder out of the upholstery of a vehicle! Great for cleaning stainless steel without streaks and I use it for pre treating my laundry before washing with the homemade laundry detergent! Awesome stuff!

    Reply
  43. Janet
    Janet says:

    I love this soap, but have a hard time finding the Arm & Hammer Washing soda. I live in the LA area, but ended up buying it on ebay for probably too much money! Any ideas??

    Reply
    • Carrie
      Carrie says:

      She posted about this in an earlier comment. Soda Ash that helps maintain the PH balance in your pool is the same thing. You can buy it in a pool shop.

      Reply
    • amvans
      amvans says:

      Wal Mart now carries it. If you don’t see it in the laundry isle, you can order it online and have it sent to the store for free.

      Reply
    • Amy O'Connor
      Amy O'Connor says:

      From what I have read, you can make your own washing soda, simply by taking baking soda and spreading it on a baking sheet, and bake it at 400 degrees for 30-60 minutes.
      http://naturesnurtureblog.com/2012/05/08/ttt-turn-baking-soda-into-washing-soda/

      Reply
      • Guest
        Guest says:

        Well that is interesting but there is no way to turn sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) into sodium carbonate (soda ash).

    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Yes … soda ash is the identical product, just a different name. It’s cheap at a pool supply store. Both washing soda and soda ash are 100% sodium carbonate.

      Reply
    • Diana Collins
      Diana Collins says:

      Check Amazon, Walmart.com & Soaps gone by. Put Washing soda in your search engine and price compare. Be sure to include shipping cost when comparing prices.

      Reply
    • Mary S
      Mary S says:

      I get my hardware store to order it but if you have a Kroger store they carry it and Walmart dot com has it.If you order from Walmart have it shipped to the store for free and pick it up there.

      Reply
  44. MTMOM
    MTMOM says:

    I used to use the Fels Naptha but had to stop as it was not washing out of my towels and they were unable to absorb water. I experimented with the recipe to no avail. Has anyone had that problem with this recipe?

    Reply
    • alyssa [frugal stepmom]
      alyssa [frugal stepmom] says:

      Have you tried Ivory? That is what I use and we always come up clean and clear.

      http://frugalstepmom.com/2012/06/homemade-laundry-detergent-and-fabric-softener/

      Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Are you using dryer sheets? You should never use dryer sheets with towels because as you describe, they will not be as absorbent. Those sheets leave some kind of “coating” …

      Reply
    • Diana Collins
      Diana Collins says:

      be sure to use Vinegar with towels as your “fabric softener”. It helps to completely get the soap out, but doesn’t leave a vinegar odor.

      Reply
  45. Carrie
    Carrie says:

    My husband loves my homemade soap better than the store-bought. It smells clean without being overpowering. I use 1 cup of grated soap, 2 cups of washing soda, 1/2 to 1 cup of Purex Crystals, and 1 cup of Oxiclean. This batch did not have the Oxiclean because the store was out of it, but it still worked well.

    Reply
  46. amvans
    amvans says:

    I have been using my homemade detergent but my hubby complained saying his clothes don’t smell clean. He perspires and sometimes his clothes smell sour. I caved and bought a jug of my back up commercial brand but I don’t want to cave. Any ideas? I’ve even tried the vinegar rinse and homemade fabric softner. I am still using the dryer sheet and that doesn’t even help.

    Reply
  47. Tonya
    Tonya says:

    Is there any reason you can’t cut the water in half and use twice as much? Make it in a two-quart bottle and use 1/2 to 1 cup? Or a gallon bottle using 6,6,4 tablespoons and use 1/2 to 1 cup? If you’re putting 1-2 cups in each batch and it’s really watery, it seems like you can condense it down. I don’t want to keep a three-gallon container on my washer! And one gallon of the regular recipe would only last 8 batches if I use two cups…so I’d be making a new gallon every week.

    Reply
  48. LisaD in upstate NY
    LisaD in upstate NY says:

    Warning: I was using a similar homemade laundry soap and it worked well in my old washer. Then I bought a new washer. I love it since it uses less water and doesn’t agitate back and forth. I asked the delivery guy if I could continue to use my homemade, low-sudsing soap and he said it would negate the 5-year warranty contract. We rarely buy the contrat but this one was inexpensive for the 5 years.

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      LisaD … I would question this delivery guy’s response. Delivery guy? What connection does he have to the manufacture other than being paid to deliver their machines? Why don’t you call the manufacturer if you really need confirmation. I have never in my life heard of a washing machine requiring a specific brand of commercial detergent. And if it did I would be certain that the manufacturer and detergent company were in business together to promote one another’s products. Can you imagine a warranty company requiring that you prove what detergent you have been using before they will service your machine? I can’t …

      Reply
      • nolegatormom
        nolegatormom says:

        I bought a new front load HE washer several months ago and there is a reference in the manual that failing to use HE detergent can void the warranty. It does not tell how they would know, just that it is a big no no.

  49. deanna
    deanna says:

    I have been using this since you posted this new formula. I hated grating the fels-naptha soap, didn’t like the smell, and thought my whites were dingy. With this formula, my clothes look great, smell fresh, and its so easy! I use 1 to 1 1/2 c per load of the original formula. I have a front loader and I just pour the solution on the clothes. I pour a little extra directly on stains. (I do sometimes pretreat with other stuff) I love never running out of laundry detergent! It is helpful to use hot water and add the Dawn last. I try to buy Original not concentrated Dawn (Walmart) because I use it in the kitchen and the Ultra Dawn was not rinsing off some of my pans leaving a soapy taste.

    Reply
  50. Guest
    Guest says:

    How much $ have you guys been spending on commercial laundry detergent in the past? I’m trying to quantify the savings here. Would love your feedback. I’m speaking at a Moms Group on Thursday. I’m going to take my detergent making stuff to share this recipe with them. I’d love to tell them they can save enough money making their own detergent to pay for … ?? Need your input. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kim Summers Bean
      Kim Summers Bean says:

      I have spent up to $9 for “50 loads” of Tide. I figured 1 gallon of this detergent costs me 20 cents, and 1 gallon lasts me 1 week. Also, I have been using white vinegar as a fabric softener…works amazingly well. I live in the Central Valley in Calif and line dry my clothes in the summer. Yes, they are a little stiff, but putting them in the fluff cycle of the dryer softens them right up.

      Reply
  51. Lana
    Lana says:

    I have been a fan of Blue Dawn for several years. I have used it instead of Fels Naptha in my laundry soap for about a year and it has not disappointed me. I will however, increase the amount of each item that I have been using. I also use Blue dawn to wash my windows. One day I was in a restaurant and the man outside was washing the windows and I thought, there’s a professional, I’m going to ask him what he uses to clean those sparkly windows. I went out and he told me he uses Dawn along with vinegar and water. Well, guess you know I went right home, made a spray bottle with 1 tsp, concentrated dawn, 2 TBL vinegar and filled the rest of the spray bottle with water. What nice looking windows and mirrors I have, and I also use it to polish my faucets and my stainless steel appliances. There is no end to what you can clean with this formula.

    Reply
  52. Guest
    Guest says:

    I just gave a house warming gift of a decanter ike mine filled with detergent along with the recipe and the ingredients to make more. It was a HUGE hit. And no worries about giving a gift that wouldn’t be used.

    Reply
  53. Brooke Kingston
    Brooke Kingston says:

    I am confused about how much hot and cold water I should add to the larger recipe. Can anyone clarify? (Or is it time for me to invest in reader glasses?) thank you!

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Brooke … this recipe is so forgiving, You really cannot screw it up. But what I do: I put the borax and the washing soda into a jar that has a lid, like a mason jar or a cleaned-out mayonnaise jar. Then I fill it about 3/4 with the hottest water out of the tap. Attach the lid then shake the daylights out of it to get the powders to dissolve as much as possible. They won’t completely dissolve but that’s okay. Then I pour that into the big container and fill ‘er up with any temperature water. Last time I filled it with hot water just as a secondary way to get everything dissolved.

      Reply
    • Shelbarr52
      Shelbarr52 says:

      Brooke,
      I use a gallon milk jug then add the ingredients plus the 2 cups of hot water, shake well. Then fill with cold up to the top (lots of suds emerge but I clean it up by rinsing off the jug then drying). Hope this helps, Shellee

      Reply
  54. Colleen
    Colleen says:

    I’ve been using this detergent recipe ever since you first gave it to us, Mary, and I absolutely LOVE it. My married daughter now uses it, as well. Another plus is that instead of storing large boxes or bottles of pre-made detergent, these ingredients to make an entire year’s worth of your own detergent take up very little room in a storage area. The detergent works as well as (if not better) than store-bought detergent, it’s better for the environment, and best of all, it is incredibly inexpensive–for us, about $12 for an entire year’s worth of laundry detergent! What’s not to love??!! Thanks again, Mary!!!

    Reply
  55. Brenda Ostertag Taylor
    Brenda Ostertag Taylor says:

    I’m so happy to see this recipe and I can’t wait to make it, by the sounds of it, it will work great. Just wondering do any of use this & then line dry your clothes? I haven’t been able to get my clothes soft when they come off the line, mostly towels & jeans that is.

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Well … I haven’t tried it, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be awesome. It’s the detergent that gets left behind in clothes than tends to make them feel stiff and crunchy when line-dried. Give it a try and let us know!

      Reply
    • ShelBarr52
      ShelBarr52 says:

      Brenda,

      Try doing a vinegar rinse after the final spin cycle. Just turn the knob back to rinse, refil the tub and add a generous splash of vinegar. There also is no lingering vinegary smell.

      Reply
  56. Guest
    Guest says:

    Ok … someone please tell me to get back to work. I could post about detergent all day long, which it may appear I have done already 🙂

    Reply
  57. Guest
    Guest says:

    Tip: If you have trouble finding Super Washing Soda, don’t worry a bit. In fact you might want to do this anyway cuz it’s cheaper: Go to a store that sells swimming pool supplies and buy Soda Ash. That is what fixes the ph in a pool. And guess what. It is nothing more than sodium carbonate … exactly like washing soda, except a lot cheaper. I was paying about $3.50 per pound for washing soda and I got soda ash for $1.89 per pound for ten pounds.

    Reply
  58. Guest
    Guest says:

    Recently I saw the large glass decanter like the one I use at Stein Mart for $17. That’s half of what I paid for mine at Costco.

    Reply
  59. Kim Summers Bean
    Kim Summers Bean says:

    I have been using this recipe for about 6 months an I love it. As a matter of fact, I have gone all natural and chemical free with my laundry. I use white vinegar as a fabric softener and make my own bleach or whitening solution using lemon juice, water and peroxide. My clothes are cleaner than ever, I am saving soooo much money and I am not putting those chemicals in the environment or next to my family’s bodies. I will never go back to store bought.

    Reply
    • Sheryl
      Sheryl says:

      Kim that is so awesome! can you tell me how much and when you add the vinegar? also do you follow a recipe for your homemade bleach solution? thanks

      Reply
      • Kim Summers Bean
        Kim Summers Bean says:

        I determined that it takes 25 minutes for my washer to get to the final rinse, so I set the timer for that amount of time and put the measuring cup with the vinegar measured on top of the washer. I use 1/2c and that seems to work fine, but I have read up to 1 cup. My clothes really feel much better doing this. I also have used a water based body spray for fragrance in my laundry soap solution.. Here is the recipe for the “bleach”
        12c Water
        1/4c Lemon juice (if you have access to fresh lemons that is great, if not, bottled lemon juice will work)
        1c Hydrogen Peroxide
        Mix together… Store in a gal container.
        Recommended use is 2 cup per load.
        I use 1 cup and that seems to work fine.

      • velvetanne
        velvetanne says:

        my mom used to do his too in the 1960s before the shelves were filled with the expensive stuff. I use vinegar for all sorts of things.

  60. Jo
    Jo says:

    My only concern about using the homemade formula is how it would affect my BF’s skin. He has very sensitive skin (possibly plaque psoriasis), so the only laundry soap I buy now is Seventh Generation Free and Clear. Otherwise, I would start doing this to save money.

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Margaret this is the reason I love it so much. Same problems in my family. You will find this to have zero anything that will cause skin problems. TRUST ME ON THIS! Really … no perfumes, none of that stuff. This is equal to or better than your Free and Clear. I know. That’s what I was spending big money before switching. Hey my husband is even allergic to dryer sheets! I used to use white vinegar in the last rinse to soften, but I don’t even do that anymore.

      Reply
    • labbie1
      labbie1 says:

      You can use Liquid Castile Soap in place of Dawn if the Dawn causes a problem, but with the small amount of Dawn involved, it probably won’t be necessary.

      Reply
      • Guest
        Guest says:

        Dawn is so mild. Remember the pics of volunteers bathing birds in Dawn that got slimed in big oil spills? Yep … mild as can be.

  61. Debbie Slaughter
    Debbie Slaughter says:

    I like this recipe because you don’t have to boil anything. I’ve avoided making my own liquid for that very reason. However, I’ve stopped using the powder on clothes (still use it on linens and towels) because it wouldn’t dissolve all the way and it would stain my colored clothes. But 2 cups seems like a huge amount!

    Reply
  62. AB Marietta, Ga
    AB Marietta, Ga says:

    Traveling a lot and living alone, I find that saving those little shampoos the motels give are perfect for washing my duds by hand. I use couple of buckets in the bath tub at home and a dedicated small plunger designed to be my washing machine..

    By emptying them into a 4 oz. squeeze bottle, prespotting, soaking, using the plunger, not wringing out wrinkable items and hanging in the bath tub…makes them smell wonderful, the laundry is always done and with no ironing. Simple.

    Reply
  63. margaret
    margaret says:

    Once again, I ask the question, which DAWN do you use? The ultra concentrated is what we have here in our town. Is it the same stuff only ultra concentrated or is actually different? This question comes up all the time and never gets answered. Thanks
    Margaret

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Margaret … Yes I just ran to look and I am using Ultra Concentrated Original Blue Dawn. I got it at Home Depot so it’s a bigger bottle than I could get at the supermarket. So sorry that I had not seen your ?? before.

      Reply
    • Lillian Anderson Mahoney
      Lillian Anderson Mahoney says:

      Margaret, I clicked on the words Blue Dawn in the recipe and it came up with a website showing the Ultra Blue Dawn with original scent.

      Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Laura, I have a top-loading HE and I just throw it on top of the clothes in the barrel. But I have poured it into the dispenser in the past and that works for me as well.

      Reply
    • Tammy
      Tammy says:

      This is my question as well. I have a top loader HE washer and the spot for detergent is not big enough to accomodate a cup of liquid. Where do I put it??

      Reply
  64. Jdees
    Jdees says:

    I have been using the “original” detergent (with Fels Naptha) for a couple of years And I was a little sceptical when I saw your new recipe. But I trust you and so I tried it myself and I LOVE IT!! So much easier to make and my clothes are jsut as clean and no need for softener most of the time. (I do use a little in my towels.) Thank you so much for all the wonderful things you share with us! You ROCK!

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Isn’t it just the best? I feel kinda’ smug just knowing how much I am not spending on commercial detergent. And my clothes are softer and fresher smelling than ever.

      Reply
  65. Buckeye Peach
    Buckeye Peach says:

    How much of this would you use in a front loader? I’ve been making my own powdered laundry soap for several years, but still have trouble with whites. Any suggestions on getting whites clean in a front loader?

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Experiment. I have the extra capacity LG top loader and I use about 1 1/2 cups of this homemade stuff with a full load. Start with one cup and see how you like the results. You will see ZERO SUDS everyone so don’t use that as a gauge if you are using enough … or too much. Won’t happen.

      Reply
  66. Beth
    Beth says:

    How is this one with fading of clothes? My husband needs to wear a navy blue uniform that are expensive to buy. When they fade then he has to buy new ones. I have been buying soap for dark clothes but would love to go back to just having one container of soap.

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Well … the washing soda is just sodium carbonate (not BICARBONATE people, which is baking soda and that is NOT the same thing) is used to set dye in fabric. That’s all I know. But setting dye seems to me to be the opposite of fading. Why don’t you experiment a while with other clothes, not his uniforms, to see if you notice any fading.

      Reply
    • velvetanne
      velvetanne says:

      FYI – You can rinse/wash NEW clothes in vinegar to set the color. Just google “rinse/wash clothes in vinegar to set color for numerous links.

      Reply
  67. Beck
    Beck says:

    I use Dawn and vinegar mixed like Vikki it is great. Even better when I use a Mr. Clean eraser with it. I use vinegar to boil in my coffee pot to clean it too.
    Question – on your detergent recipe is it safe for septic tanks? I was told by our septic tank cleaner to use only liquid detergent in the laundry and dishwasher about 10 years ago. He said powdered detergents are not good for the bacteria that makes the septic system work. I know this ends up as a liquid but being made with 2 powders I wonder if it is okay to use?

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      I am not a septic tank expert. Sorry. All I know is that borax and sodium carbonate are both natural products that are mined from the earth. And we know they use Blue Dawn to clean up oil spills and animals that get caught in them. Google septic tank safety and get back to us!

      Reply
      • Janet
        Janet says:

        I heard years ago if you put a bit of active yeast down your drain it helps to keep the bacteria at appropriate levels. Don’t buy the little packets though, a 2 pound bag usually runs $5-7.

      • Beck
        Beck says:

        I just looked at FAQ’s on 20 Mule Team and Arm & Hammer both products are safe for the septic tank – yeah!

    • Kim Summers Bean
      Kim Summers Bean says:

      This shouldn’t affect your septic system. The worst thing for that are the antibacterial soaps, cleaners and bleaches that we use (according to my hubby who is an expert in this field) ;0

      Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Not sure Janet. All I know is you want the powder and Dawn and water to all mix together. Not sure that would happen with a different concentration. But why don’t you experiment? Don’t be afraid. Nothing will blow up. Then report back!

      Reply
      • Mary L
        Mary L says:

        It worked great. You don’t change the concentration at all. Still mix up the same amount and dissolve in 2 cups hot water like the original recipe. Instead of mixing in a gallon jar mix mix it in a quart jar. Fill the quart with water and add 1/4 cup per washload. I just used the last detergent bottle I had. The cap was exactly 1/4 cup measure

  68. JD
    JD says:

    The only blue Dawn I have been able to find locally, and the one the link to Amazon links to, is the Ultra Blue Dawn – Original Scent (concentrated). This looks different than the real original Blue Dawn which, instead of being a clear blue, was creamy light blue in appearance. So – does anyone know if this recipe works with the Blue Dawn Ultra or do we need to somehow try to track down the original, original Blue Dawn? Thank you!!

    Reply
  69. Kim
    Kim says:

    I’ve been using this laundry detergent recipe for about a month and LOVE IT! We live several miles from town and it is so convenient to make a new batch when I run out! I’d seen recipes for the Fels-Naftha kind, but never wanted to grate the bar soap! This is easy, quick, and dirt cheap! Thanks, Mary!

    Reply
  70. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Looking forward to trying this, after I use my newly made (first batch ever) naphtha-based laundry soap. Having soft water and HE washer, I generally use 1 Tb of detergent and wonder how the new soap will work…

    Reply
  71. Vikki
    Vikki says:

    I cup hot white vinegar, 1 cup dawn dish washing liquid, mix together, then pour in a spray bottle..use in the bathroom…spray on shower floors, walls and sinks and let sit for two hours, then rinse…simply amazing!!

    Reply
  72. Rhoda
    Rhoda says:

    I have made an adjustment in the amounts to 4 tablespoons of each to a gallon, borax, washing soda and Blue Dawn. This seems to do better for me and gives me just a bit more suds.

    Reply
    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Rhoda … Thanks for figuring that out. But remember … suds are what we don’t want in HE machines. Or are you talking about the suds that result when you add the water to the other ingredients in the process of making it?

      Reply
  73. Jan Jones
    Jan Jones says:

    I love this detergent!!! After trying the other version where you have to grate a bar of soap, this is a piece of cake! I can get my son to make it, and we have been making 2 gallons at a time. One tip I have that is not in the original recipe is to only add in the borax and washing soda with the hot water. As soon as it is dissolved, I add the rest of the water. Finally, I add in the Dawn and close the bottle and mix. This keeps the liquid from foaming over like it does when you add the Dawn in the beginning.

    Reply
    • Jan Jones
      Jan Jones says:

      well I just re-read your original post and see that you had already changed the recipe to add in the Dawn toward the end. I also only use about 1 cup, even for large loads.

      Reply
      • Guest
        Guest says:

        It’s great, isn’t it Jan? Do you have HE or traditional washer? I have to admit that I’m experimenting with using less and the results are just as spectacular. And my towels are softer than ever. But I have to disclose that I do have a water softener in my home. That’s because where I live our water has a hardness of 17 grains which is about as hard as nails!! You can call your water company to find out your rating.

    • Guest
      Guest says:

      Exactly right. The powders (borax and washing soda) do not like to dissolve. It’s not instant. You have to work at it a bit and hotter the water the better for that step.

      Reply

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