DIY: Homemade Laundry Detergent

DIY: Homemade Laundry Detergent

After Sister was born, my friend Christina delivered a huge box of baby clothes to us — all the clothes that her baby girl had outgrown one year earlier. I love the clothes. Love.

But guess what? I love the scent of the clothes even more. Every time I pull one of the little cotton outfits from the box, I bring it up to my nose and inhale deeply. It smells like laundry should smell. Like it was washed with love and lavender and then line-dried in crisp spring air.

You think I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.

Now get this . . . It’s homemade!

Christina has the recipe pinned to her “Secret Hippie” pin board. (Which is hilarious and awesome and one of the reasons I love her.)

Although, I can’t decide if making your own detergent is more Secret Hippie or Martha Stewart. In any case, I’m never going back.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Adapted from Laundry Essential #1 posted on the Camp Wander blog.


1 box (76 ounces) Borax

1 box (55 ounces) Washing Soda

1 bin (approx. 56 ounces) OxyClean (or the generic alternative)

1 or 2 containers (28 ounces) Purex Complete Crystals Lavender Blossom

2 bars of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Bar Soap


Gather all your ingredients. To me, this was the most intimidating part. (What is and where do I buy Borox?!) But, as it turned out, I found everything at my local grocery store. Wal-Mart is a good bet, too.

Dump everything except the bar soap into a large tub. I had Jack do this part for me (with supervision).

The bar soap is the other intimidating part of this. In order to mix it with the powdery ingredients, you need the soap to be finely grated. To do this, you can (1) grate it by hand, (2) grate it in your food processor with the grater attachment, or (3) microwave the soap in a large microwave-safe dish until it “bubbles up” completely and then use your hands to grind it into “dust.”

I tried all three.

Food Processor: I thought this was the easiest method. (Although it seems odd to be putting soap in your food processor, it isn’t much different than washing the processor with dish soap. If you’re worried about getting all the soap out, wash it by hand first and then pop it in the dishwasher after.) Here is a picture of the grated soap in the bowl of the processor. Yum, right?

Microwave: If you don’t have a food processor or don’t want to drag it out, you can do the microwave method. This method is relatively easy, too. This website, Blue Cricket Design, has a very thorough explanation. Below is a picture of what to expect as your soap bubbles. Once it is completely bubbled up, be sure to let it cool; then use your hands to crumble it into smaller granules. The only reason I did not like this method was because my kitchen and microwave smelled like cooked soap for the rest of the day. And also because I burned my hands a little.

Pour the crumbled or grated soap into the tub with the other ingredients. Using a large spoon, stir. If the tub has a lid, you can put the lid on and mix everything around my moving the box from side to side.

You can leave the mixture in the tub and scoop from there, or put a portion of it in a pretty glass container.  Use 1-2 tablespoons per wash in a standard or HE washer. The detergent will last you for a long time — saving you both money, and the hassle of lugging home a big orange plastic jug once every few weeks.

Think you might try it?

Thanks Christina for the inspiration!

UPDATE: Great news!! Since we started using this homemade detergent, my son’s eczema has significantly improved. The detergent is also gentle enough for my baby girl.


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8 Responses to DIY: Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. CCB August 20, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    LOVE IT!

    But knowing me, I’ll have to customize it to beachy-scent….

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba August 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

      OMG CCB Designs commenting on my blog! Yippee! I have plenty to share next time you’re over…

  2. [email protected] n Dishes August 24, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    Marie, this totally appeals to me; being a little tree hugger, a bit of Martha & quite frugal. Lavender is one of my favorite scents, I would love to smell lavender every time I opened my drawers.

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba August 26, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

      Hi Kari! You will totally love this then. Use two of the Purex crystals for extra scent! Was so fun following your travels in Canada! Look forward to more. Best always, Marie

  3. Ty September 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    This sounds amazing! Can you tell me where to put the detergent in an he washer? I have read with other homemade recipes to put directly in the drum???? Thanks! Can’t wait to try it!

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba September 15, 2013 at 7:19 am #

      Hi Ty! Thanks for the note! Hmm…I put the detergent in the little drawer on the washer (not directly in the drum) and it seems to work just fine. I am new to the HE washer though, so I could be wrong! Please let me know if you found out anything else! Best, Marie

  4. Cindy October 30, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Marie – you had me at eczema! My son has it, too, and this is worth a shot! Thanks.

    • Marie Saba
      Marie Saba November 4, 2013 at 11:51 am #

      Coconut oil is a great after-bathtime moisturizer too!

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