homemade clothes washing soap

not to be confused with the last post about making stock.  in keeping with the winter weather and a having baby, more domestic posts.

a few themes you may have already observed about out life; we like making stuff, we don’t like stuff that has all kinds of nasty chemicals in it, and we don’t like spending money.  as a result even something like washing soap for clothes fall under our scrutiny as something we can make better and more affordable at home.

making homemade clothes washing soap is really pretty easy and doesn’t take but about 15 minutes – though it is spread over the course of two days – so it’s not instant gratification.

we have tried liquid and powder, and have been happier with power, it seems to work a little better, especially with diapers, takes up less space, and works well for a high efficiency washers (which we currently don’t have, but are looking forward to having installed soon.  it will make diaper washing much, much easier, and save resources).

for powdered soap you are going to need four ingredients:

1. washing soda – the most common brand is arm and hammer

2. borax – most common brand is 20 mule team

3. oxiclean free – no fragrances or anything else like that


4. 2 bars of soap – this can be hom made, something natural like doc bronner, or cheap like ivory – the other ingredients are pretty fixed in their price, this is where you can save some money.


i picked one bar of tea tree – for it’s antimicrobial properties, and one lavender for it’s calming effect.

if you buy washing soda and borax online from someplace like amazon, it’s crazy expensive, three times the cost of buying it in a store – so don’t do it, your soap won’t be cost effective.  for my detroit people, brooks often has both, and meijer as well, i’d be surprised if busy bee doesn’t carry it, but i’ve not checked.

first step is to grate the soap.  you could do this by hand, but that would take a long time, i break out the handy food processor.grate

once it has been grated leave it over night to cool and dry out.  next day grind the soap to a fine powder, again i use my food processor.  this is why using a hard soap is important as soft soaps don’t grate and grind well.  we have tried making it with our homemade soap, but ours that we make is too soft – perhaps the next time we make soap we will try for a firmer texture.


next step is to combine everything, in a jar or pail mix the ground bars of soap, 2 cups of washing soda, 2 cups of borax, and 1 cup of oxiclean.

that’s it, yr done – add 1 tablespoon for a high efficiency washer, and 2 for standard washer.

price ends up being about 10 cents per load for high efficiency washers and 20 cents per regular.  this is cheaper or about the same price as any of the leading “natural cleaners”

still too expensive? don’t use a fancy soap like doc bronners, that should shave a few bucks off.  try leaving the oxiclean out – many folks report it works just fine without – that saves you another dollar.  or if you are really wanting to reduce the costs, you can buy bulk baking soda (which is often cheap than washing soda) and make your own washing soda.

one last note – for cloth diaper we make this same mix but leave out the soap – soap keeps the diapers from absorbing as much liquid.

what are your favorite homemade cleaning supplies to make?


6 responses to “homemade clothes washing soap

  1. You should be aware that I have nominated you for The Versatile Blogger Award. You can find instructions on how to accept the nomination on my blog http://shonufforganics.com/


    • thanks for the nomination, but i don’t think i can accept it as i’m not really familiar enough with other blogs to nominate others as is part of the acceptance. thanks for thinking of me.

  2. I have a standard large capacity washer. Do you think I need more than 2T. of this soap. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: cloth diapering | little house on the urban prairie

  4. Thank you Patrick for sharing from your experience! The people sharing the detergent recipes on the web don’t always mention the size of their machines. Since there is a big difference between the normal and large capacity, I feel better since hearing from you with continuing the 2T. per load.

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