Is Making Your Own Laundry Detergent Worth the Cost?

Recently I added a Tipton Library educational program on Spring Cleaning. Some of the many tips that were compiled was making your own cleaners. I’ve been trying out several of the recipes and will be sharing them here on the blog. All of the ones I will share will be easy to make, work as well or better than store bought cleaners, and will save you money.

DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredients

This recipe claims to be a year’s worth of laundry detergent. Time will tell for our household of six if this does last us a year.

  • 1 box Borax – $3.38
  • 3 bars Fels-Naptha Soap – $0.97/each = $2.91
  • 1 box Washing Soda – $3,24
  • 2 cups Baking Soda – $0.56 (8 cup box costs $2.24)
  • 1  containers of Oxyclean  – $7.52
  • Fabric softener crystals (optional) – $5.99 on sale at Meijer

Total Cost: $23.60

Use 1 – 2 tablespoons per load of laundry. If you have a HE washing machine, put directly in with your laundry. I haven’t had any issues with my laundry or my washing machine do so.

So if I did my math correctly, this makes this laundry detergent around $0.07 per load. For comparison purposes, Amazon sells Tide with Downy powder detergent for $17.90. This makes 53 loads or $0.33 per load! If you used coupons or bought an inexpensive brand, you could save even more on your store bought detergent.

Looking at these numbers, making your own at home seems to have significant savings and it takes less than 30 minutes to make. The part that took me the longest was going to the store and finding the ingredients. Walmart seems to have everything you need. The Meijer I went to first, did not have the Fels-Naptha or Zote, which you can use in lieu of the Fels-Naptha. The Walmart I did visit only had a 5-6 bars of Fels-Naptha left even in their store.

You can hand grate the Fels-Naptha soap or you can use a food processor or a Ninja Kitchen Prep like I did. Be careful using your food processor because I’ve read that some people have ruined their food processors trying to do this. The Ninja Kitchen Prep handled it with ease, though! :)

kitchen prep

Several pulses with my Ninja and it looked like this….


Note: I rinsed with hot water several times before putting in the dish washer. It doesn’t have a soapy taste to it at all. In fact, it looked cleaner than it has for awhile! LOL

After that is done, mix all the other ingredients together in a large container or use a kitchen trash bag if you don’t have a large container.

add soap

Sof helping

add unstoppables


Then you can put it in smaller containers for your laundry room. I used a ice cream bucket that I knew I was saving for a reason.

diy laundry detergent in container


I purchased several measuring cups and spoons for $1 and I”m using the tablespoon to measure out for the detergent.


Is Making Your Own Laundry Detergent Worth the Cost?
  • 1 box Borax
  • 3 bars Fels-Naptha soap
  • 1 box washing soda
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1 container Oxyclean
  • 1-2 containers of fabric softener crystals
  1. Grate Fels-Naptha soap.
  2. Combine all the ingredients together.
  3. Use 1-2 tablespoon per load.

Find more DIY Household Cleaners and Spring Cleaning and Organizing posts.


  1. 7

    Tina Mitchell says


    1/2 cup of Washing Soda

    1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax

    1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap that has been grated.

    1. In 3 cups of water , on medium heat, melt the Fels Naptha soap. This mixture shouldn’t be boiled because it will bubble over as a result.

    2. Add the borax and the washing soda after the Fels is melted until it dissolves. It would only take 1 or two minutes to do this

    3. Put the soap mixture into a bucket , stir good and let it stand for 24 hours.

    4.After this period of time stir again and you can put the soap into another container

    5.Your own laundry soap is ready to use

  2. 8

    Tina Mitchell says

    Does anyone use the homemade laundry soap in HE washers? I have always used liquid, not sure I would like powder? I always wash in cold

  3. 10

    Gretchen says

    I have used a similar recipe that does not use the extra baking soda or downy unstoppables (but I add the unstoppables in separately). We have a family of six (kids are 9,8,7,6) and it lasts at least 4 months, sometimes 6 months (depends on the season). This is a great detergent and it’s super easy to make. Definitely recommend.

  4. 11

    Gwen says

    I made this and it did last my family for a year. The only issue I had was an occasional powdery residue on dark clothes (I have a top loader HE washer). I dad to add an extra rinse to the wash cycle which kind of defeats the HE function.

    When we had used up the batch, I decided to make this concentrated whipped version . I like it even better and was able to not having to hit the extra rinse button on the washer.

    Also I picked up a small food processor on a garage sale for $2 that makes quick work of the Fels-Naptha.

  5. 12

    Katie says

    I just use the 1st 3 ingredients (I’m trying to make a more natural detergent), and I love it! The clothes smell clean but not overly scented, and my whites get whiter. I have read Washing Soda is more potent than baking soda so it surprises me that your recipe has both. Also I have read you can make a natural homemade oxiclean with 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide. You don’t want to mix them beforehand though or it will lose its oxygenated cleaning power.

  6. 13

    Laurie says

    I’ve been making my own laundry soap for over 4 years now. I use recipe for liquid laundry detergent. It cleans just as well as other liquid detergents and only takes about a half hour to make. The recipe calls for only 3 ingredients–Fels Naptha, Washing Soda, and Borax. Using a 1/2 cup per load, it only costs .03 to .04 cents per load.

    I did splurge last week and bought a bottle of Purex (33 loads). Sale price was $2.88, used $1 CVS coupon and $1 mfg. coupon to make it .88. This still makes it about .027 per load. But this deal doesn’t come along often.

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