Make Laundry Detergent For a Penny A Load

How can a family of four have SO. MUCH. LAUNDRY??? If there is a day where I miss one load I feel like I am trying to play catch-up for weeks. On average I do two or three loads of laundry a day, which amounts to a whopping 60-90 loads a month. Most of it is comprised of little Mickey Mouse t-shirts, toddler shorts, and 3T underwear.

Yes. Potty training. But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about  feeling all crafty, crunchy, and conserving my dough. I am talking about making my own laundry detergent for use in regular AND HE machines. Want to feel all mother earth-like? Here’s what you need along with the approx cost of everything:


  • 3 Gallons of water – FREE!
  • 1 1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda – about $4.99 for a big box
  • 1 cup of Borax – the 20 Mule Team one is about $5.99
  • a bar of soap. Any bar soap. I used Ivory but I have used Dove before. As low as about $.30 for a bar
  • Aromatherapy oils if you want. I use Lemon and Lavender and paid about $6 for each bottle, but this is optional

All of these prices are retail, total is under $12 without the essential oil.

You will also need a big pot that will hold at least a gallon of water, a big 5 gallon bucket (Home Depot has them for $2.79), and a cheese grater or potato peeler. And 3 milk jugs.

Step 1: Grate the soap into the pot. Easy enough, right?

Step 2: Add 1 gallon of water. Easiest way is to fill one of the milk jugs up and dump it all in the pot.

Step 3: Simmer the soap and water until the soap is all melted. NO chunks.

Step 4: Throw 2 gallons of water into the big bucket and add the Arm & Hammer and Borax. Mix it until the powder stuff is mostly dissolved.

Step 5: Add the water/soap mixture into the bucket and stir it up. It will look cloudy like if you mix water and a little milk together.

Step 6: 10-20 drops of essential oil if you want. Or more. depends on how much you like the smell.

Step 7: Wait. It’s a full 24 hours of waiting while science happens in that orange bucket. Yeah SCIENCE!

Step 8: After 24 hours you will see that the concoction has gelled up! It’s seriously like gelatin. You won’t be able to see this but at the very bottom there is about 6 inches of water with the gel up top. Start mixing it. I prefer to use my hands since I can squeeze the clumps to break them up.

Step 9: Those 3 milk jugs? Fill those up with your fantastical new laundry soap! The first one is the easiest -push it down into the laundry detergent and allow it to fill up as much as it can. Then you can use a cup or a funnel for the rest.


Step 10: Do your laundry knowing that you just saved a ton of moolah. Use 1/2 cup per load. This means each of those jugs is about 64 loads, so you just made The stuff you buy now will make about 192 loads of laundry for $.06 per load. Actually LESS because the supplies you got will make over 1000 loads of laundry! About a PENNY a load. Heck yes! For me the supplies will last about a year.

Try it! It’s easier than you think 🙂


Tags :