How I Did It: Homemade Laundry Detergent (Lavender Fresh)

I've been making my own laundry detergent for a couple of years now. I don't remember exactly how or why I started - it was back in 2012. But I know I started with this recipe from the White Silk Purse. I've made a few tweaks here and there. Some people think I'm crazy, but some of you were actually interested in how I go about it. So here's my recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent - Lavender Fresh

You'll need:

  • 1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1 box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
  • 6 bars of Fels Naptha.
  • Lavender Essential Oil if desired (not pictured)
  • Bucket or tub to mix items together

You can usually find all three ingredients in the laundry detergent aisle at most big box stores, but I had a really hard time finding washing soda this month. And yes, this is washing soda, which is not the same thing as baking soda. 

Detergent Ingredients.jpg

So once you have all the ingredients, grate the Fels Naptha bars. Yes, you can use a regular cheese grater - it is just soap, after all! After I grate one bar, I run it through the food processor until it is smooth, or at least as close to powder as you can get. Do this process with all 6 bars.

Ingredients ready to mix

Now that the the Fels Naptha is a powder, mix with the entire box of Borax and the entire box of Washing Soda. It helps if you have a strong guy to help ;)

J Mixing Ingredients.jpg

After the main ingredients have been mixed, add your essential oil. I used 15-20 drops in this batch initially because I didn't want to over do it. Decide how scented you want it and go from there. You can always add more - you can't take it out! Mix it up a little more to get the oil mixed in thoroughly.

Once you've done that, pour it into your storage of choice. I used mason jars. Once each mason jar was almost full, I put two more drops of lavender oil before putting the lid on and shaking it up. Again, this part is optional. I never needed this step before, but my husband's clothes tend to need some sort of additional fragrance to them! 

Homemade Detergent: Lavender Fresh!

This batch made 5 quarts and 2 pints of detergent and took me about an hour to make. To use the detergent, simply put 2 teaspoons of the detergent into the washing machine. It's best to start the machine so water is flowing when you dump in the detergent. I also just use an average spoon instead of an exact measuring spoon - just find what works for you! This detergent is safe for high efficiency washing machines, for those of you wondering. The amount needed is the same as well. 

And that's pretty much it! This batch will probably last me the whole year, and I think it cost about $20. I also use wool dryer balls in the dryer now (DIY tutorial coming soon), so I don't have to spend money on dryer sheets either. That means that my laundry costs for 2014 will be $20 plus electricity and water. Not too shabby. Of course, there are other reasons for making my own. I'll be guest posting on another blog soon with details on why we should avoid conventional laundry detergents, so stay tuned for that!

Have you ever tried to make your own laundry detergent? What's your favorite recipe?