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Homemade Cleaning Products – Part II – Laundry Detergent & Dishwasher Detergent

July 17, 2012

Making your own laundry detergent and dish detergent is the perfect starting point for anyone who’s just embarking on making home made soaps, etc.  This was where I started and I found it to be the quickest and easiest few steps ever – not to mention the instant savings!!  I remember thinking, “That’s it??”, and I double checked everything thinking that I must have missed something but I didn’t, it was that simple! 

I picked up a 3 gallon bucket at the local dollar store, along with a few measuring cups, grater and large wooden spoons.  You can use your everyday kitchen supplies but I decided since I would be doing this regularly I wanted to have designated supplies for soap making.  I still haven’t picked up a large pot from the Goodwill or Savers but every so often I check in there to see if they have one for sale.  For now, I just use my usual kitchen pot and it works just fine, cleans easily, and hasn’t done any damage to the pot (which it would take a lot to do any damage anyways).

For the ingredients you’ll need a bar of soap, Washing Soda, Borax, and water.  The bar of soap can be anything extra that you may have laying around the house, ie. Ivory or Dial.  Lots of recipes call for Fels Naptha or Zote, which are both found near the laundry detergents aisles at the store.  I have tried Fels Naptha and in my personal opinion and experience, I would shy away from using it.  The main reason is because it’s just a collection of soap scraps from the Dial factory and you never know what may be in the particular bar you’re using, thus causing the outcomes to vary.  Zote is an excellent laundry bar soap to use and it’s very economical.  My personal choice is Kirk’s Castile bar soap, which is biodegradable, hypoallergenic and has no synthetic detergents.

Here’s the ingredients for each item used within my homemade laundry detergent:

Kirks Castile Bar Soap – Coconut oil, soap of coconut, vegetable glycerin and water  ($1.08 per 4 oz. bar)

Washing Soda – Sodium carbonate  ($3.24 – 55 oz.)

Borax – Sodium, boron, oxygen and water  ($3.38 – 76 oz.)

(I found the Kirks Castile Bar soap by the other body soaps in the toiletries section and the other two ingredients within the laundry detergent department.)


1/2 bar – Kirk’s Castile Bar Soap, shredded

1/2 cup – Washing Soda

1/2 cup – Borax powder

(10-15 drops of Essential Oil – Lavender, Tea Tree, Rosemary, etc.)

1.  Grate soap and put in sauce pan.  

2.  Add 6 cups water and heat until the soap melts.

3.  Add washing soda and borax and stir until dissolved.

4.  Pour 4 cups hot water into bucket

5.  Now add soap mixture from pot to bucket and stir well

6.  Now add 1 Gallon (16 cups) plus 6 cups of water and stir well

7.  Let soap mixture sit for about 24 hours to gel.  

(The picture shown above is after about 12 hours – if it doesn’t completely “gel” after 24 hours, just stir and that should help it gel completely.  If it doesn’t gel, that’s fine too, it will still work the same!)

8.  Use 1/2 cup per load!  (I will add a little OxyClean if there’s really soiled items, this is optional though)

It’s that simple!  

Breakdown per Ounce & Per ingredient, as called for in recipe:

Kirk’s Castile Bar Soap – .27/oz –> $.54 (1/2 bar)

Washing Soda – .06/oz –> 4 oz = 1/2 c. –> $.24 

Borax – .04/oz –> 4 oz =1/2 c. –> $.16

                                     ==> $.94 – 2 Gal. ==> 64 loads

                                     ==> $.01/load (1/2 cup)

**Compare this to a 134 oz. box of Tide, 80 loads, $.28/load, $23/box!  

You couldn’t get a cheaper price than that anywhere at the store!!  Think of all the savings your family could put elsewhere just by making this one item yourself!!

The average household does about 9 loads per week * 52 weeks = A whopping 468 average loads per YEAR! (as stated here in this WSJ article.)

So, in using the figures above, that would be about $138 for Tide and $6.58 for your own detergent PER YEAR!!  Need I say more?? 🙂

Dishwasher Detergent

The second, by far easiest, homemade soap item is dishwasher detergent.  It’s as simple as measuring, stirring and you’re done – Viola!!  You’ll just need a large empty yogurt container or something of the like to store the powdered detergent in (even a Ziploc baggie will do, just watch out for possible holes).

Ingredients Needed:

2 Lemonaid packets (1/2 oz. each) – must be unsweetened lemon aid powder ($.20)

1 cup – Borax ($.32)

1 cup – Baking Soda ($.24) – 16 oz. = $1.97 ($.12/oz.) or 216 oz. = $6.50 (Costco) ($.03/oz.)

1/4 cup – table salt ($.08) – 26 oz. = $1 ($.04/oz.)

  ==> $.84/16 loads (1 Tbs./load)

  ==> $.05/load

Mix all above ingredients together, mix well and use 1 tablespoon per load.

The best part about both of these home made detergents is that their biodegradable and cause little to no harm on the environment as well as your own body!  So go pick up these few ingredients and you’ll be set with over a years worth of laundry and dish detergent!!!

If you have any further questions or comments to add please feel free to leave them below and I’ll be happy to address them as best as possible.  

Next, learn how to make your own body wash and hand soap!  Stay tuned 🙂  

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2012 3:57 PM

    Yay! Great article! I can’t wait to start doing this. Where can you buy the washing soda and borax powder at?

    • July 25, 2012 11:44 PM

      So glad your as excited as I am about making your own soap! I found the ingredients at Walmart in the laundry detergent area.

    • August 2, 2012 9:44 AM

      So glad that you’re going to give homemade cleaning products a try! You’ll be so amazed at how easy and quick it is to make! I found the washing soda and borax in the laundry detergent area at Walmart but I’m sure any major store that sells laundry detergent will have both. Let me know how it goes and if you have any other questions, I’m here to help. (sorry for such a delayed response, I’ve been unable to get to my computer recently…)


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