Homemade Laundry Detergent: Is it Worth it?

I thought I’d try to save some money by making my own detergent from scratch.

In my family, laundry day is just about every day. , using rags to clean up spills instead of paper towels, and , my washer gets a lot of use.

, is what I’m saying. So to save a bit of money, I thought I’d make my own laundry detergent.  

For the record, I’m no stranger to using homemade cleaners. I polish my furniture with an olive oil-lemon juice combination, and I go through vinegar like it is water. But those tend to be in small batches, so if I goof up a mixture, I can just adjust it as needed. Mixing a big concoction of laundry detergent — which totals more than three gallons — initially made me pause, because what if this stuff didn’t work?

Finding a recipe

To get started, I spent some time online researching recipes for laundry detergent and reading readers’ comments. The type of soap used in making the detergent or the amount of time spent waiting for the mixture to gel could create variations in the final product.

I finally found this recipe from The Simple Dollar, and got to work assembling my ingredients. The hardest part of creating the detergent was not, actually, making it; it was finding the washing soda. I called three stores and contacted Arm & Hammer before I finally located it at .

The good, the bad and the ugly

I mixed up the detergent and let it sit in the basement — covered — for 24 hours before I finally used it. It smelled like, well, soap when I lifted the lid, but it was a mild fragrance. But did it actually work?

  • The good: Yes, it cleans our clothes just about as well as other detergent. Once I assembled my ingredients, it took all of 20 minutes to boil the water, dissolve the soap and mix everything together. Yeah for cheaper detergent!
  • The bad: As I have a top-loading washer, I use about a cup of detergent with every load. As the recipe makes about 50 cups, I’ll probably go through this batch a lot faster than I would with purchased detergent.
  • The ugly: I’ve seen some white clumps drying on our clothes, which I think is due to my not stirring the solution sufficiently before each wash.


I actually like this detergent, and I really like that it’s easy to make. I’d make it again, and will be more careful to completely stir the mixture before each wash.


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