Homemade Laundry Detergent (Recipe)

Most people are surprised that I am not a homeowner yet. To that, I say, generational poverty is a bitch. I’m sure there’s a more elegant way to put it, but it’s the truth. I grew up under the poverty line, and it has taken me a long time to 1) articulate what that really means, and 2) work past the obstacles that are indeed generational. I lived with my poverty identity for a long time in shame, but I have outgrown the secrecy of it. Being poor is more often than not something you’re born into and not something you deserve. It’s no wonder we stay in hiding so long! But those days are done for me. I don’t feel great about everything that’s associated with that part of my life, but it’s taught me some great lessons about moderation, minimalism, and frugality. Homemade laundry detergent is by far one of the greatest ways I have learned to save some extra cash.

So because I’m not a homeowner at present, I spend many hours at public laundromats. I mean, you have to clean your clothes. Washers and dryers are luxuries. For those of you who have never had to live the laundromat-life, it can be pricey. Depending on what you’re washing and how soiled it is, just washing a load can range anywhere from $3.00 to $6.00 followed by drying at $.25 per every 6 minutes. It’s tough to find a way to save in this area. If you buy generic soap, sometimes your clothes aren’t properly cleaned. If you don’t dry or wash properly, sometimes it can damage clothes you’ve spent good money on. Making my own laundry became my solution to that in 2012 as a single gal and it has continued into my married life.

What You Need:

  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 20 Mule Team Borax
  • Oxi-Clean
  • 1 soap bar WITHOUT moisturizers (Recommended: Ivory, Irish Spring, Zote; Not Recommended: Dove, Caress, etc.)
  • OPTIONAL fragrance/essential oilNote: When shopping for these items, almost all of them will appear in various locations of the laundry aisle. However, the fragrance/essential oils will be located near the candles and diffusers. Don’t drive yourself crazy looking for them near the Snuggles.


  1. Grate your bar of soap into a large bowl. You can use a cheese grater. These are the equivalent of soap flakes. This will take about 2-3 minutes. The soap bar surprisingly breaks down pretty easily.
  2. Add 1 cup of the Super Washing soda to your bowl.
  3. Add 1 cup of the 20 Mule Team Borax to your bowl.
  4. Add 1 cup of the Oxi-Clean to your bowl.
  5. Toss all of the ingredients in the bowl to blend the ingredients evenly. You can use a fork or your hands to toss.
  6. After you toss the ingredients, this would be the time to add about 20 drops of your fragrance oil if you choose to use one. Fork/toss the mixture again after adding the oil. Remember the oil is OPTIONAL, but this would be the part where you control the scent of your detergent. You can add more than 20 drops; scent to content.
  7. Put your mixture through a blender to grate it even more into a fine powder. I would recommend blending the mixture one cup at a time in the blender. Make sure you have a container of some sort to begin holding your laundry detergent. I used to skip this step, but over time the powder will clump up and harden more if not finely blended.


  • Safe for High-Efficiency (HE) Washers
  • Concentrated/Compact – The ingredients are quality components without filler and nonsense. Now, they will not suds up as much as “normal” detergent does, but they will absolutely get your clothes clean. Concisely, you don’t need as much and that’s why it lasts so long. Use the following as a point of reference:
    • 1 tablespoon = a regular load
    • 2 tablespoons = a large load, or a heavily soiled regular load

This is much less costly than buying your box or jug of detergent right now. I used to buy off-brand and brand-name, and even switching between liquid and powder spent more per month on laundry detergent than all of the ingredients for this cost. It will also make multiple batches of detergent. My first batch lasted a few months.

If you’re feeling ambitious you can always upcycle some random storage containers in your pantry with just a few pieces of interesting patterns or textures and a hot glue gun. I am especially a fan of doing this with drink containers because they often come with a scoop of some sort that makes them portion-friendly, such as an old sports drink, lemonade, or coffee canister.

My dream is to one day get to a place where I could visit a laundromat and “buy a round” of laundry for everyone there with decor baggies filled with detergent. Unfortunately, I would look like a controlled substance dealer and the whole random act of kindness would go awry. So until then, I share this with you digitally with my endorsement. I promise it works, and it saves money. But go ahead and #treatyoself on the fabric softeners. After all, you can’t DIY everything!