How To Make Laundry Soap Detergent


Make your own natural, non-toxic homemade laundry soap and save lots of money!

There are lots of laundry soap recipes online, many of them nearly identical with slight variations. I have found that for doing laundry, using just the following three basic ingredients will provide a good homemade recipe blend to get your clothes sparkling clean… for cheap!


We have been using this laundry detergent recipe/formula for several years, and we have been thrilled with the results (and deep cost savings compared to retail laundry detergent)!


Homemade Laundry Detergent Ingredients



…is a natural mineral, sodium borate.
Borax has many beneficial uses and is found in laundry booster, certain hand soaps and in some toothpastes. It can be found at many stores as ’20 Mule Team Borax’ (pure borax). Buried deep in the Mojave Desert is one of the biggest and richest deposits of borax on the planet located in Boron, California.

Washing Soda

…also known as sodium carbonate, or soda ash, is produced in large quantities from common salt. In domestic use, it is used as a water softener during laundry and it effectively removes oil and grease stains. It is not toxic and does not contain harmful detergents or chemicals.

Bar Soap

…is soap, your typical ‘Ivory’ bar soap, or other.
ZOTE or Fels Naptha or Octagon are purpose made bar soaps for laundry.


Homemade Laundry Detergent Powdered Soap Recipe

2 cups of shaved bar soap (Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha, Octagon)
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of (Arm & Hammer) Washing Soda

Shave the bar soap with a hand shredder/grater. Then combine all ingredients into a food processor. Mix until well blended together into powder, about 1 minute in a food processor.

It seems too good to be true, but that’s it!


Use 1 tablespoon of this homemade laundry detergent per load. Up to 2 for a heavy load.

The cost is only pennies per load!

More: How To Do Laundry & Clothes Washing Without Electricity

More: 20+ Other Uses For Soap

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  1. Thanks for the info on laundry soap….you can use white vinegar (1/4 cup) per load for softner (source: braggs apple cider vinegar book)

  2. Thank you for the really useful article.

    Also, does anyone know anything about soap nuts? They were mentioned in a conversation I had a couple of days ago, and I’m wondering if anyone had used them and were they any good, the pros and cons and can they be kept indefinitely if bought in bulk?


  3. Tip about washing soda: It’s hard to find in some areas, and the price can really vary. BUT you can make washing soda at home very simply and economically. All it is is baking soda heated. Put a cup of baking soda spread thinly on a baking sheet or pan in a hot (450) oven for about 20-30 minutes–you’ll know it is done when the texture changes to grainy instead of powdery. That’s all there is to it!

  4. I put the soap in a 4 qt sauce pan and dissolve on the stove on medium heat. When it is all melted I add the borax and washing soda. Stir until dissolved then pour into a 5 gallon bucket then fill with water. Leave overnight. It will tell. I mix it with a paint mixer attachment on a drill but you can just squish with your hands. Use half a cup per load. Put vinegar in a downy ball to make clothes soft. Works great!

  5. Make this all the time! Smells great and very cheap. Sometimes I use Dr. Bronners soap to make it. It’s a little more expensive, still alot cheaper than commercial, and the smell is amazing. I like the Fels Naptha over Zote though…

  6. We have been making our own laundry detergent for some time now. My wife uses Fels Naptha instead of the Zote. She also uses a stick blender to mix the solution. It never separates like before, when mixing bye hand.

    1. I use the Zote and only because it’s available with the Borax and Washing Sodas at Kmart.
      In our town, chinamart doesn’t carry Borax; oh, another reason I don’t shop at chinamart often!!!

  7. They make “flake and white Zote” also. I use it because it mixes without the use of my food processor and less clean up. You can also add a little vinegar during rinse and it will give your clothes a fresh smell and will help dilute any soaps left.

  8. I think this is a great idea and would love to try it. I don’t have a food processor or even a blender for that matter. Could I just stir it up every time I use it? Would I still use the same amount suggested in the article? Thanks for any advice. Btw, I love this site!

    1. The Borax and Washing Soda will mix easily by hand. It is the shaved bar soap that will be more difficult to blend into fine particles. The more powdery, the better the blend. Having said that, it will all dissolve into the laundry water regardless. It will dissolve more readily the finer it is. The formula is the same.

  9. Thanks for your reply. I had an idea though for people who don’t have a food processor. Grate the bar soap as fine as possible and lay it out on a large baking sheet to air dry. Once it’s dried you might be able to crush it into a powder. I’m going start my first batch this weekend. Don’t know how long it will take to dry but I’ll let you know it works.
    Thanks again.

  10. Thanks for the home made laundry soap instructions! Your follow up video on the survival back pack for the back of the truck included an emergency thermal blanket. Might I recommend that you consider the thermal sleeping bag instead? For all the reasons that make sense, being fully enclosed in one of those thermal sheets significantly increases you chance of getting any sleep. I really liked the canned food cooler/seat idea. And my final note is to state: NEVER FORGET THE DUCT TAPE!

    1. That’s a good suggestion re: thermal sleeping bag. If one is stuck for a dangerous period of time, it could be a life saver…

  11. I have made this with Kirk’s Castile bar soap, and also Fels-Naptha. Found out Fels-Naptha is petroleum based (mildly toxic) so I use the Kirk’s. It doesn’t “gel up” the way the Fels-Naptha did…but the clumps still clean very well! I am going to try the Zote next since a 3 pack is .97 at Walmart, where the Kirk’s Castile and the Fels-Naptha is $1 or more per bar….

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