{DIY} Laundry Soap *New and Improved!*

Last year I started making my own laundry soap, despite the fact that I felt a little self-conscious about it. I mean, I didn’t want to be thought of as a “crunchy granola” kind of mom. Seriously! Have to protect the reputation! :D

It was all about cost for me. Home-made laundry soap is so much cheaper than store-bought laundry soap, especially the soap for HE washers.

Anyhoo, I made it and I loved it. Here is the laundry soap recipe I used.

The only thing about it was, it had no smell once it came out of the dryer. I mean, my laundry smelled fresh, and was clean and all, but it just didn’t have that flowery scent we all love.

My hubby had a hard time with that. He wants his clothes to smell like a fresh field of daisies, on a warm summer day, all wrapped up in a soft cuddly blanket, with a snuggly white teddy-bear. Don’t we all?!  :D

So, I was on my quest to find something that worked for us. Well, Pinterest came to my rescue. And I just love my new soap.

This new laundry soap recipe came from How Does She? I changed up the recipe a little and use 4 bars of soap instead of 2.

It uses Purex Crystals, and they smell heavenly. Oh my! Oh my!

Just a little bit of them go a long way.

{DIY} Laundry Soap *New and Improved* 

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax
1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean
4 (14.1 oz) Bars of Fels Naptha Soap
1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener (If you are okay with no scent in your clothes, you can omit this)

Grate the soap with a cheese grater. (I used my food processor to do this, but do so at your own risk.  I’m not sure how well my food processor will hold up to that kind of abuse over time. ;))  Mix everything in a 5 gallon bucket and store in air tight containers. (Keep the Purex bottles and the Oxy Clean container to store some of the laundry soap.) Use 1-2 Tablespoons per load.

To print this recipe click DIY Laundry Soap New and Improved .

This recipe makes a ton! It will last me at least 5 months, but probably closer to 6 months.

I did not have a five gallon bucket, so I just used two smaller buckets that I had on hand.

In the future, I will be getting a 5 gallon bucket, because it was difficult to make sure the soap was evenly mixed when using 2 smaller buckets. Also, be sure to go outside to mix this because it creates a lot of dust as you are mixing. *Cough* *Cough*

*Update* One of my readers suggested a smart way to mix up the soap. Instead of putting everything in a 5 gallon bucket, she puts everything in two large (heavy duty) trash bags. She ties up the inner bag and then ties up the outer bag, and puts it in her dryer on the (no heat) tumble setting for a few minutes. How smart is that!? Thanks, Teresa, for the great tip!  (Do so at your own risk, however.) :D

So there you have it…

Since I could not find the scent we wanted, “fresh field of daisies on a warm summer day, all wrapped up in a soft cuddly blanket, with a snuggly white teddy-bear”, we had to settle for “Lavender Blossoms”.

It’s all good. :D

Have yourselves a happy little weekend!

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{DIY} Laundry Soap *New and Improved!* — 68 Comments

  1. I’ve been making my own soap for a few years too! We used the liquid for awhile but it’s a pain to make and store and after awhile the clothes didn’t smell fresh anymore. My husband does NOT like the flowery smell – can’t stand fabric softener smells so he loves this soap. I now add powdered, original scent tide to my mix of borax, fels-naptha, and washing soda and it works great for us!

  2. I make homemade laundry soap too. I mix mine up in a large trash bag that is doubled up. I just dump everything in the bad. Tie the inside bag closed really good.Then tie up the outer bag. Tumble the bag in my dryer on the air dry (no heat) setting for a few minutes. Works like a charm.

    • Teresa, That is the smartest thing I’ve heard all year! So cool! This is what I will be doing next time. Do you notice dust in your dryer after you do this? Thanks for the clever idea! :D

      • No dust for me. I use the heavy duty trash bags. I make sure they are tied up good(with a twist tie) and like I said double bag and tie up each bag seperate. When they have mixed I untie the bags,dump the soap in the container I store it in and I reuse the bags for trash. No waste.

  3. I have not yet made my own laundry soap and the one thing holding me back was exactly that…Clean Laundry Scent…I like that, want that, definitely and NEED that…so thank you so much for sharing this tip with us today. I am going to give this a try.

  4. I use this same recipe! LOVE IT!
    I used to make the kind you had to “cook” and it made a gelatinous mess. This is so much nicer.
    I have a top loading He washer and it is working just fine in this machine! I am amazed each day how little soap I actually need to get my laundry clean.
    Love the scent of Purex crystals!
    We have a local dollar store that sells Tide in a bar soap form. It is packed for an Asian country. I grate that up and use it since it works well and the price is right.

  5. Alright, I made this yesterday (first time making my own laundry soap) and I’m very excited about it, BUT I am feeling very skeptical about the 1-2 Tablespoons. I feel that is enough to maybe wash one shirt, not a whole load. I don’t have an HE washing machine, just an old, dying one that groans when it agitates. Is 1-2 Tablespoons REALLY enough to clean a whole load?? Is this soap mix mega, ultra concentrated?

    • Bethany,
      I was like you when I started making my own soap. I couldn’t believe I only needed so little. The reason you need so little is because the Borax and the washing soda help boost soap so you need less of it. My suggestion to you would be to try it out with 1 Tablespoon and see how it smells for you when your clothes come out of the wash. If it’s not good enough, add another Tablespoon. If that still doesn’t do it for you, keep adding a little more soap (1 Tablespoon at a time) until you get the smell level that you want. Enjoy your laundry! :D

  6. Can you share why you used extra Fels Naptha? I used to make the powdered homemade laundry soap faithfully…. then we had a new baby and I found that it just wasn’t getting the stains out of clothes. He was spitter and even with pre-treating I noticed the clothes were not as “clean”. Does more Fels Naptha = more cleaning agent? I grimmage everytime I pay for the “T” named detergant at the store… but I can rest easy knowing my clothing will be clean…. Thanks!~

  7. I mixed a DIY detergent with 2 bars of Zote soap grated, 2 boxes washing soda, box of borax, 2 bottles of purex crystals, and sun brand oxiclean. It smells great and I was happy with it the first few wash loads, but now the smell doesn’t last. I noticed after I mixed all the ingredients that the bucket I mixed it in got really hot. Could that have anything to do with the fact that the smell doesn’t last like it did the first few loads in which the sheets, and clothes stayed sweet smelling for at least a week after I washed them?

  8. I have been making my laundry soap for about a year now and I use better smelling soaps, ie: Zest, etc. They work just as well and give my clothes a nice scent :)

    • Hmmm… That is a good question. I’m not sure… I will need to figure that out when I make my next batch. When I first made this I was figuring on the laundry soap lasting me about 5 months, but I’m about 2/3 of the way through this batch and it will probably last me last more than 6 months. (That’s with doing about 2 loads a day everyday except Sunday.) I look to be through with this batch mid February and I will post an update then. Hope this helps! :D

  9. Fels Naptha Soap doesn’t come in 14.1 oz bars or I have never seen them…however ZOTE does.
    When I’m mixing the ingredients together I use a Rubbermaid type container the size of an under the bed one. It’s so easy.

    • Yes, you could scale it down, but you would still have to buy all the ingredients, unless you could somehow get samples of everything. Maybe writing to the manufacturer to request samples of their product? Thanks for stopping by! :D

      • After sleeping on it my thoughts are much clearer! Could I simply half the total recipe? Thus leaving ingredients to create other recipes, like your dish washing detergent. I would like to switch all our cleaning products but want to test them first. Don’t want to buy a ton of ingredients and be stuck with them.

        • Yes, you could definitely do that. If you would want to pay about $5 for shipping, I could send you a sample of the laundry soap, enough to do a few loads of laundry. Just a thought. :D

  10. Made my first ever batch today and my first load is in. I had an old container from cat litter and used it to mix and store the detergent in. Will let you know how the detergent works for me! Now off to the store for the ingredients for dishwasher detergent!

  11. there is a recipe for DIY crystals instead of Purex brand! It’s just 4 cups epsom salts and 40 drops of your choice of essential oils!

  12. I have well water and have trouble getting my whites white. Will this help with that or would you know what I could add to help with that??

    • Jackie, I’m not sure about well water. You could Google it to see if you could find something that would help with well water. Sorry I could not be of more help. Hope you can find what you are looking for. Thanks for stopping by. :D

    • Hi Jackie, I’m assuming you have really hard water. I do too and add extra baking soda to my recipe. I use 2 parts washing soda, 1 part borax, 1 part oxy-clean, and 2 parts Baking soda. I use 2 bars of fels naptha per box of washing soda. I make big batches once a year or so and it works out like this: 3 boxes Washing soda, 1 box borax, 1 4lb(?) tub of oxy-clean substitute, 1 Big box Baking soda, 4 bars of fels. OH! And I use vinegar instead of commercial softeners. It rinses out all of the soap/detergent residues from your clothes making them whiter too.

      I hope that helps!

  13. I make our laundry detergent too with a similar recipe that works well for us. One thing I do differently though, is microwave my fels instead of grating it.

    I set the unwrapped bar in an 8+ cup GLASS measuring cup and “nuke it” for 3 minutes (turning every 30 secs because ours doesn’t rotate anymore). In there it puffs up like a giant marshmallow. Let it cool and put into a gallon zip top bag. Then crush the bar until it breaks down completely into a fine powder (little left over clumps dissolve in the washer).

  14. I have made the liquid goop and now using the powder which is definitely easier to store and share. Two things… 1) I do this not only for the savings but to try and eliminate as many toxic chemicals out of my life so I don’t use a recipe with Purex crystals(chemicals) 2) I don’t add baking soda because the washing soda is better AND maybe someone can verify for me but I use vinegar in my fabric softener spot in the washer and doesn’t vinegar counteract baking soda? I though it did so that would mean your wasting baking soda. That’s why I stay with washing soda. The liquid I made, I used the Fels napatha and added essential oil for fragrance. With the powder I make make 2 different batches. Both use 1 box Borax, I box super washing soda and for my soap, I either uses Kirk’s Castille for clean fresh scent or Dr Bronners organic Lavender Castille soap for an awesome smell. I use 3-4 bars. Those both have 100% all natural ingredients. I try to avoid other soap because it is all made with sodium tallow which is animal fat. Something about that I didn’t like but the Dr Bonners is certified organic and has tea tree oil and peppermint at my target. I stick to lavender:) it does cost a little more for the Dr Bonners but still WAY less than commercial and as I said I did it also to eliminate chemicals. Any readers that know answer about vinegar and baking soda please post. Would love to know out of curiosity!!

  15. Im looking for a new recipe for my laundry soap, but Im skittish to try again after the epic fail that was my first attempt. My husband works in the texas heat all day and fighting sweat stains are a constant battle. Store bought soap will still leave traces of the smell unless I add borax or baking soda, but the home made left behind not just the sweat smell but you could still smell his deoderant! Socks and whites came out dingy, and we wont even mention the jeans…
    The recipe was liquid, fels naptha, borax and washing powder. I would rather use cold water to save on electricty, but that wasnt an option with the home made. Your recipe calls for 2x the ingrediants, will the extras actualy solve my problems? I cant waste any more money ( or my pride) has anyone had troubles like that with other recipes that were solved with this or a similar one?? Does the dry form work better than liquid?
    Thanks for any tips you can give me!

    • Sara, I think aside from it being double the amt, her recipe has oxyclean and Purex smelly crystals. You use only a couple of Tablespoons so I don’t think the amt in the recipe makes the difference but possibly the ingredients themselves. Personally, I would Prob use hot water. I was having stinky towel issues. No matter what I washed with, they came out of dryer smelling good but when I pulled one off the shelf to dry off, they stank! I have since learned that it is probably due to 1) all the commercial detergents build up and fabric softeners leave residue that also builds up and 2) I live in New Orleans where the humidity is usually in the 90% range and even a little dampness makes mildewy smell. The dish towels were the worst! So I only use my own laundry soap and when washing towels. Hottest water I can get. I have even boiled a pot of water and added to machine so it would be extra hot, then use hottest dryer setting and make sure completely dry. I use vinegar in my rinse container of the washing machine for fabric softener. Plain white vinegar. It gets out all the built up gunk, it softens, gets rid of oders and once dry, there is no vinegar smell!! Yah! So no more stinky towels! Don’t feel like you shouldn’t try again! Just have to play with it to get it right for you. I’d prob mix up a batch quickly during day and do some test runs while everyone is at work so you don’t feel like it failed again! I put essential oils in the recipe that you made because it didn’t have much fragrance. With the dry mix, you can mix up everything but the smelly crystals and take small amts of the powder like a cup and add different things to test since your only using a few tablespoons at a time. Put the crystals in one batch, try some Dr Bronners Castille soap grated into another cup. I use the lavender scent but there is a tea tree oil scent that while doesn’t smell flowery, tea tree oil is awesome astringent and antimicrobial so that may help get rid of the sweat smell/stains instead of just covering them up with fragrance… Good Luck but definitely try again!

  16. Thank you!! I was going to make the other batch that you originally got this idea from, but I can’t find a damn bar of Zote soap anywhere!! I’ve looked in Lowes, Walmart and The Home Depot. I knew there had to be another recipe for laundry soap out there that used Fels Naptha that I do see in my Walmart. Awesome!!

    We just bought our first house yesterday and as soon as we’re moved in, I’m making this!

  17. I have a quick question – does anyone know if I can use the crystals in a front loading HE washer? I keep getting different reports saying no then yes. I know many who have used in their HE washers, but theirs is the top loading. I would love to add the crystals to ours. We use a homemade powdered detergent and have for almost a year now. I want a little fragrance now…any comments would be awesome!

      • Thank you Stephanie for your response! I’m so excited about being able to try them out! I was only hesitant because someone told me I would have to keep the crystals separate and put them directly into the drum or it would clog the washer. Thanks again!!

  18. thelatinproducts.com seems to have the cheapest bars of pink Zote soap online, they are $1.29 per bar & shipping is resonable. I am ordering a bunch right now :) Like another of the ladies said, I have looked EVERYWHERE at brick & mortar stores and cannot find Zote sold anywhere offline.

  19. Pingback: Making Laundry Soap Can Be Therapeutic | GoneHippie

  20. Our Wal-Mart does not have Zote. I found it at K-Mart yesterday. I have been making powdered laundry detergent with the Fels Naptha but wanted to try the Zote. I don’t use the Purex crystals because I like the unscented detergent much better. Most fragrance gives me a headache. I also fill my softener dispenser with vinegar. Now I have to wait for Wal-Mart to restock the Borax. Guess there are a lot of people making their own detergent.

    • Yes, I think there are a lot of people making their own detergent. I love mine. I would like to try the Zote also, but I’ve not found it around my area. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  21. When washing clothes, can the suggested 2 TBSP be put directly into the front HE loader? Also, I only have 3 bars of Fels Napta on hand; do you think that is enough for this recipe? Thanks!

    • Yes, you can just put it directly into the washer if you don’t have a dispenser. You can try the 3 bars and see how you like it. If you don’t you can add another bar later. Hope this helps! :)

      • Thank you, Stephanie! I finished up my detergent-making today..(just too many things going on around here)! :) The weight of the Fels Naptha was 5.5 oz/per bar. I ended up using about 7 bars total! First three loads came out squeaky clean and smelling oh so lovely!!!!! Thanks!

  22. Wonderful… I have used homemade liquid and powder laundry detergents for a couple of years with no problems at all. I beleive it is far better than those chemical that harm health and environment.

  23. I have an spare “yard sale” food processor I’d like to use to make this soap recipe. Should I use just the “S” blade in the bottom, or switch to the grater disk on the top?

    • Jay,
      Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.
      I use both blades at the same time. I use the grater to grate the soap into smaller pieces, and then the “S” blade to blend the soap down even smaller. After I have grated the soap all the way down, I add about 1/2 cup of the baking soda from the recipe, and then turn on the “S” blade and let it run for about 30 seconds to a minute. The baking soda helps grind up the soap really fine. Hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by! :)

  24. I am really interested in trying this, but I have one question. Does it dissolve well in cold water? I do all our laundry in cold water to try to conserve energy. Our hot water heater is electric & getting old. It costs a fortune to wash the laundry in warm or hot. Thanks for your time!

    • I use cold water also so I put my power in a jar of warm water shake put in washer then rinse jar pour in washer this dissolves the power really well

  25. I wash in cold water so I put my powered soap in jar of warm water shake then pour in washer and rinse jar and pour in washer all power disolved

  26. Quick question, which recipe is correct? When I used the link to print the recipe it states 2 bars of Fels Naptha but on this page it states 4 bars of Fels Naptha. Thanks

  27. An update: I first posted about using my own laundry soap about a year and a half ago. I have cats so I saved my big litter buckets and the size is perfect. I use the Borax, Washing Soda and instead of Fels I have made up several batches using Dr Bronners organic bar soap and grate it. I made the lavender, rose. Citrus and just a plain clean fresh smell. Lavender and rose is my favorite. It’s a subtle smell and I found if you want more smell, I use wool dryer balls and I inject about 3-5ml of essential oil into one of the balls and just like using a dryer sheet. I fully and proudly own the crunchy granola, tree hugging reputation. I am making all my household cleaners, shampoo, body wash, henna for hair color, ect. Not only do I save a ton but it makes me feel good knowing I am not adding to the chemical put into my body and home. I wash my face with honey that has crystallized and it makes a perfect exfoliater. I use honey and liquid Castile soap in my hair and rinse with ACV. I wash my hair at most 2x per week and I have long hair living in a hot humid southern climate. I moisturize with coconut oil to body, face and ends of hair. I was selling and using Rhodan & Fields skin care products but I just let all the chemicals go! Haven’t used hair shampoo in months. I think the ppl who use this without chemicals are doing it not just to save money but also our body and our environment. Yea, I’m of the hippie mindset, rarely wear makeup but do shave my pits and legs when I remember… Lol….in my head, my ultimate goal is self reliance either on an island or somewhere in Alaska. So I just tell anyone who asks, I’m practicing to be an island bum… which is more of a mindset than a place but the island would be good! I give my family and neighbors jars of laundry powder since it makes so much. Everyone who wants to try this, should make up a batch. If you hate it, your out $8.00. So whatever your reason for wanting to try, I say go for it!!

  28. I made liquid soap fist and hated the snot like texture. I just made a batch of powder from a different recipe I found online about a month ago. I just throw a tablespoon of downy fragrance beads in the load and everything smells good :) I do wash my towels on hot and will be trying the vinegar idea since i don’t use the fragrance beads on towels. I want them to be as absorbent as possible so no fabric softeners or beads go in that load. I also read somewhere that you can put a few safety pins in an old sock and place in the dryer and it will take care of static cling. I plan I trying that this winter. We do not have a lot of static in the summer in Wi :) oh – and I also have a front load HE and I just put the soap in the drum. I am little concerned about the septic comment. I thought i was doing a good thing for my septic by using less chemicals…. If anyone else finds out more on the septic and powder soap issue, I would love to know. We will have the septic pumped in November so I am going to try to remember to ask about it…. Thanks for all the tips! I gotta get back to my laundry ;0)

  29. You can now buy Zotes FLAKED, so you won’t need to grate bars of Zote (or other bar soaps if you’re using a different brand).

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