10 Things You Should Know Before Making Homemade Laundry Detergent

by Ivory Soap

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My homemade laundry detergent recipe completely changed after hours of research on this household chemical database!

homemade laundry detergent image

Homemade Laundry Detergent Cleaning Power

1. NO commercial detergents contain BORAX and WASHING SODA together.

It’s an either/or.  Powder is washing soda.  Liquid detergents have borax, usually with alcohol.  End of story.  My guess is that washing soda loses its poop over time in water and borax doesn’t.

This may also be why powder detergents are supposed to be more effective than liquid.  Borax only lets the cleaning pH go up so far.  Borax is most effective in hotter water, so since most people wash in cold these days, it’s not useful enough to include in commercial detergent unless it’s pre-dissolved in a liquid?

Conclusion:  Borax is fine, but if you’re having trouble getting things CLEAN (which is not the same as WHITE), replacing borax with washing soda will make your dry homemade laundry detergent more powerful.  If you want to make liquid detergent, washing soda may not be a good choice, however, I have no idea how that alcohol/borax thing works out.  Good luck.

2.  Only Purex and Seventh Generation use salt.  Nobody else does.

Purex powder is almost 50% salt.  Seventh Generation uses a tiny amount in some of their liquids.  Salt *is* a water softener, but it’s WAY weaker than washing soda.

Conclusion:  If it works for you, great.  But if you’re having problems getting things CLEAN, ditch the salt and put more washing soda in your homemade laundry detergent.

3.  NO detergents contain BAKING SODA

Not even Arm and Hammer.  Baking soda is only half as strong as washing soda for softening water and doesn’t allow the cleaning pH to go nearly as high.   And if you have a stronger product on hand, why dilute it with a weaker one?

Conclusion: Like salt, and borax, if you’re having trouble getting something clean, eliminate the baking soda and replace with washing soda.  But if you’re washing delicates, tossing in a buffer like baking soda is a good idea!

4.  ALMOST ALL commercial detergents contained some kind of SOAP or NON-SOAP detergent

Grate up that Ivory (SUPER FINE so it dissolves well) or whatever you have around.  Pure tallow or lard soap has less cleaning power than anything made from coconut oil, but coconut oil is super bubbly.  Ivory is a split between the two.  I love it.

5.  Most detergents contain enzymes. 

Enzymes eat your protein stains. You can buy Biz or another enzyme cleaner and add it in, OR you *could* make your own.  These enzymes are from cultured bacteria from three places:

  1. B. Subtilis, which is found in ropy bread (a type of spoiled) and the Japanese food, Natto.  You could culture it from that if you like.  Red Devil Drain Maintainer liquid, and Rid-X Septic System treatment Ultra Liquid are both 100% Subtilis bacteria.  If you have easy access to any of those, a tiny squirt in your wash should be AMAZING.
  2. B. Lichenformis, which is found in the chest feathers of ground dwelling birds and somehow contributes to their molting schedule.  I am totally going to swab the chicks and try to grow that for fun.
  3. B. Cereus, which is not widely used yet, but comes from un-canned fermented cabbage.  Cultured kraut juice should do the trick.  Maybe buzz and strain some of the kraut itself it for more power.

Conclusion:  It’s hard to get out many stains without an enzyme cleaner.  Buy one. (Old timers use meat tenderizer for protein enzymes.  I don’t know how it would do IN your washer, but it would work just fine in a soak!)

Now, Let’s Talk Whites

6. ONLY powdered commercial detergents use Oxiclean. 

Oxiclean becomes peroxide and washing soda once it hits liquid.  Any liquid detergent claiming to contain Oxiclean likely has peroxide in it. You can make your own Oxiclean POWDER by mixing peroxide and washing soda and dehydrating it, but there’s really no point.  It’s easier to just dump peroxide in your bleach compartment or make a solution of half peroxide half washing soda for immediate use on stains. (Home liquid versions lose their poop ~month.) Probably more frugal is a scoop of Dollar store Oxiclean.  Borax has been touted as an oxygen bleach, but it’s weak and doesn’t work in cold water at all.

7. Vinegar dissolves the salt deposits on your clothes. 

You can just put ½ cup in your rinse compartment, but it you have really hard water and a top loader, it might not be enough vinegar to make a dent. My water hardness is about 17.5ppm.  For my 40 gal top loader, I need 2 cups of store bought vinegar to do the job.

8. ONLY Tide Tablets (old product) contain CITRIC ACID. 

As you add more acid to the mix, and decrease the possibility of deposits, you are neutralizing the washing soda.   To use it with washing soda, you have to overwhelm the citric acid with washing soda to make sure there’s enough left to do it’s high pH cleaning thing.   In Tide Tablets, it’s at least a 4 parts washing soda to 1 part citric acid.  And, I’m not entirely sure that it’s not just there to make the tablets hard.  Citric acid makes great tablets.

Conclusion:  Don’t put it in your homemade laundry detergent unless you have REALLY bad deposits that have to stay suspended the whole time; use the rinse compartment instead.

9.  Whites aren’t REALLY white in the real world.  

Most whiteness is an ILLUSION.  There’s two fancy chemical families in most commercial detergents that trick your eyes into seeing WHITE.  They boil down to BLUING and FLUORESCING.

  • BLUING has been around forever.  Most white garments come from the store with BLUING in that eventually wears off.  This bluing DYE counteracts the natural yellow cast.  If you want that brilliant white back, you need to BLUE it periodically with THIS or use a combination commercial product that has that effect.
  • Another option is FLUORESCING, often tagged as “optical brighteners.”  This is in Zote Laundry Soap.  These chemicals activate in light.  So if you soak something in Zote (or any other product with brighteners) and put it in the sun….it gets REALLY bright.

But, but…. 

10.  If you really think it’s not getting clean try using T.A.C.T.

Temperature, Agitation, Chemistry, Time:

  • Increase the temperature of the wash water. Oils especially don’t want to come out in cold water.
  • Put your detergent in FIRST and less clothes in the wash so they tumble better.
  • Use more detergent and/or make sure the detergent you are using is rinsed well
  • Soak the load before you run it.

For my homemade laundry detergent, I use half washing soda and half grated Ivory or homemade lard/coconut oil soap…REALLY FINELY GRATED. The older your soap (even Ivory), the more brittle and easy to grind. 3T in the washer, 1 cup vinegar in the rinse. For lights and whites, I use hot water and 1/2 cup peroxide in the bleach compartment, unless I have the presence of mind to remember the Dollar Store Oxiclean.

Disclaimer: This post may contain a link to an affiliate.

{ 210 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Cook May 30, 2012 at 8:25 am

So….now what do I do with that box of borax now that I’ve tossed out the ‘mix with water until you get a nice gooey mix’ recipe?

Ivory Soap May 30, 2012 at 9:32 am

Dunno. I have TWO boxes. I’ll go work on it for us…

Ivory Soap May 30, 2012 at 9:40 am

TOILET cleaning. Borax is the main component in Vanish Drop ins and Toilet Duck. That’s what we can use it for….or you can make slime for party favors or Xmas gifts for every kid in the class…

Courtney May 30, 2012 at 9:43 am

Darn I just bought more borax. Guess I’ll clean the toilet with it or something.

What do you wash your cloth diapers in? I’ve heard not to use soap because it will cause buildup, or does the vinegar rinse prevent this from happening?

Angie May 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

So what recipe are you using for laundry detergent these days? I’m almost out of my detergent (which has borax, washing soda, and castille soap) and I’m curious. Now would be a great time to try a new mix. 🙂

Jessie May 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

You’re just awesome. 🙂

Ivory Soap May 30, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Courtney, I’ve never used anything special for my diapers. Just the normal stuff. Even Dreft has washing soda in it. But if there’s build up, a good vinegar soak should fix it.

Angie, The very end of the post tells my new “recipe.” 1 part washing soda and 1 part soap, not liquified. Vinegar in the rinse, peroxide in the bleach compartment for the whites. If things start getting crunchy, I’m going to use 4 parts washing soda, 4 parts soap, 1 part citric acid.

Jessie, **blushing**.

Lynnette May 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Wow, so much helpful information. Thank you! Of course I just made up a batch of powder laundry soap – Dr. Bronner’s , borax, washing soda, baking soda, oxiclean. sigh. well I’m sure we will get through it soon. Then to experiment with your information.

Ivory Soap May 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Lynnette, none of those things will HURT your laundry. Just maybe make up a batch of 1/2 washing soda- 1/2 finely grated soap with a touch of Oxiclean for soaking anything that did get clean the first time around.

Kendra | OurHomemadeHappiness May 30, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I love these 10 Things You Should Know… posts! Thanks for sharing what you found out!

Angie May 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Well, no wonder I didn’t see the new recipe! It was right in front of my face!

I swear, my brain moved out when I got pregnant and still hasn’t come back. My daughter will be a year old in a few days. Sigh. My apologies!

Bev May 31, 2012 at 4:58 am

Don’t Ivory soap and Dreft have perfume in them? Especially Dreft. If I remember right, it seemed to be very perfumey. I have chemical sensitivities and haven’t used these products in several years because they made me sick. Have they changed?

PJ May 31, 2012 at 5:48 am

Used to use bluing to whiten up the white dogs. My son was young and he gave the small dog a bath and used bluing in the rinse. He poured it on the dog. We had a very blue dog for quite a while. Be sure to dilute the bluing.

Washing soda is easily made from baking soda. bake it at 400 degrees and it chemically changes (very cheaply ) into washing soda

Robert Blackburn, Jr. May 31, 2012 at 7:01 am

How much of your washing soda / soap powder do you use per load for your washing machine (top or front loader)? Thanks!

daphne stone May 31, 2012 at 8:38 am

do you have a front loader? and if so how much do you use

Ivory Soap May 31, 2012 at 10:35 am

No, but you can use it in a front loader.

Debra Bucklen May 31, 2012 at 11:42 am

I’ve been using 2 or 3 Tablespoons in a load of my (previous) formulation. That never seems like enough, even though the clothes are “clean”. What should I be using for a LARGE load?


Robert Blackburn, Jr. May 31, 2012 at 8:15 pm

So, Ivory, how much do you use? Thanks!

Beth June 1, 2012 at 6:31 am

I get the one part washing soda to one part grated soap, but how much should those 2 parts add up to. Should it be 1/2 c like with liquid? (in a regular top loader). Thanks

Debi Bolocofsky June 1, 2012 at 6:48 am

Thank you so much for all of your research. I live the idea of using the blueing for whites. I do use washing sida and peroxide to ehiten and it works great. I mix 1/4 cup washing soda, 1/4 cup peroxide and 1/2 cup hot water, shake well and add to the presoak compartment of my front loader fir my whites. I have been afraid to use it on colors. Afraid that it may affect the colors. I found this on the One Good Thing by Jillee blog.

She did mention that Dawn origonal blue was good on diapers for breaking up the grease. I have not done any research on the chemicals yet in the Dawn. She said that the blue specifically because it can be used to get oil spills off of birds and animals.

What do you think of fel synaptha to make laundry detergent? I have been usung that. It is a recipe that i found online. It seems to work well.

Thanks for your info.
Debi Bolocofsky

Ivory Soap June 1, 2012 at 8:22 am

Fels Naptha is fine, like any other soap, just don’t pay a lot more for it. Used to, it had in it a really great greasy stain remover called stoddard solvent, but it was removed because of health or environmental concerns, so felsnaptha isn’t the same anymore. Now, it’s just mostly soap. Works just fine! Just don’t pay too much cause you think it’s *special* for stains. Not anymore. Boo.

Carol June 1, 2012 at 11:17 am

Re: Ivory soap: Ivory has NO fragrance. Our first daughter had chemical sensitivities to lots of things, including fragrance; the only soaps she could use were Ivory and Jergens.

Adica June 3, 2012 at 9:45 am

The missing Fels Naptha ingredient was a neurotoxin, IIRC.

I use borax to clean the bath tub. I squirt in some Dr. Bronner’s and sprinkle in some borax. It’s an excellent scrubber. You can also use baking soda or washing soda, but I want to use up my borax because I find I’m using it less. I also found directions to use it to make crystal snowflake decorations that I want to try.

Wordsmythe June 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Firstly, I really like the way you break things down and explain the whys and hows about each point. Thank you.

Like others, I just recently made some homemade powdered laundry detergent using borax, washing soda, and Fels Naptha. I first tried it in cold water in my top loader and found it did not dissolve completely during the wash, so I added water to the powder to make it into a liquid (gel?) and have been using it that way. The results appear to be acceptable, but I wanted to research this further and that is how I came upon this article.

I will likely use up the detergent I just made, but I’m looking for a better recipe for the next batch… and I would prefer to use a powder since it stores more easily, but it must also dissolve in cold water. (Not that the cold water is all THAT cold here in south Florida… nothing like it was when I lived in Michigan.)

One question that does not seem to be answered though is: “How much of your new laundry detergent do you use?” Should we assume the usual 1-2 tablespoons?

Secondly, I like the simplistic approach to your new recipe, but how about possibly making a “whites” version for whites and/or light colors. This version might replace half of the ivory with Zote and add a little Oxiclean (or the generic equivalent) for a little more whitening power. Any thoughts, ideas, suggestions?

Erin June 16, 2012 at 8:19 am

Thanks for the update!
You may want to check though, in a couple places you mentioned things losing their “poop.” I think you meant “pop.” : )

Ivory Soap June 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

Oh…I’m just THAT tacky. Where I’m from we totally say “lose their poop.” Actually, the converse phrase is “it’s got enough poop to pop.” So, if I say it’s lost it’s poop, that implies the pop can’t happen. HA!

Karen Isaacson June 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Bev, if you look for ‘Basic’ hand soap, that might do the trick for you as that’s what we use because we are scent sensitive. Comes three bars to a package, usually about $1.75 in the Pac NW, but I’ve seen it on sale for $1.

Bev June 22, 2012 at 1:45 pm


Thanks for your reply. I’ve seen that brand, but, never tried it. Guess I will, now. Thanks again.

Heather June 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm

I have a frontloader. How much of your powdered soap do I use? One tablespoon seems like not enough, but I’ll do whatever you say! 😉 Thanks for all the research!

Ivory Soap July 3, 2012 at 6:18 am

the recommendations I’ve seen say 1-1.5 TBSP for an HEfront loader. I would try it out on some towels and see what you need to get clean towels with no musty smell. No fragrance allowed for this experiment. Run a load of your worst towels with 1 TBSP and sniff them. That will tell you for sure.

Gwen July 18, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I use borax as a rug powder to kill fleas. (Mix with lavender oil. Sprinkle. Wait 20 min. Vacuum.)

Jeanne B July 18, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I have been using homemade powdered laundry soap with grated Fels Naptha soap in it, with fairly good results. After reading the dialogue about it, I think I will switch to Ivory or Olay. However, I miss the yummy “fresh laundry smell” that comes with commercial brands. Any recommendations to add scent to my laundry soap?

Ivory Soap July 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

Essential oils, Jeanne. After you establish with an unscented version of a DIY soap that there is no musty smell, toss in anything you like. Peppermint, tea tree, lavender, all that!

Andrea July 24, 2012 at 4:47 am

Our water is subject to periodic injections of random rust. The village usually tells us when they are flushing hydrants in our area, but main breaks are common and-again- random, in the summer especially, and they can ruin a load of wash.
My husband’s shirts for work are white-why they put police officers wearing 50+ lbs of gear in the summer with no A/C in the cars, in white polyester shirts is beyond me, but he has a job so I’m not complaining.
Our village gives out a rust raise like product, but those cannnot be used by people with a sulfa allergy, which we have in our family. Even the fumes can be dangerous. Do you have any suggestions?

Ivory Soap July 24, 2012 at 9:51 am

I looked up the ingredients of commercial rust remover. It’s just a REALLY strong acid. Unfortunately for you, they usually contain sulfamic acid. However, there are lots of heavy acid products on the market (toilet bowl cleaners especially) that don’t have it. I just don’t exactly know how you would apply it. Here’s a link of lots of products for rust and you can check which ones have sulfamic acid in them. http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/household/searchall

Chemical Percent
Hydroxyacetic acid 0-5
Sulfamic acid 0-5
Hydrochloric acid 0-5

Nancy July 26, 2012 at 7:41 pm

I guess I am the only one confused by all this? I made a batch of washer soap and I felt it did not clean that well. I have very nasty water here with a white film that stays on my dishes after every wash. Thankfully I am moving to a new house with a different well tomorrow. I am not sure what the water will be like there but it is well water once again. Any suggestions of what works well with well water,guess one would have to know if the water is hard or not? I have a front loader and I also had trouble with the homemade soap breaking down in the water.

Ivory Soap July 28, 2012 at 7:05 am

I think it’s CRAZY hard water. Homemade soap recipes do not work well in really hard water. They naturally pull the hardness out, and while this can easily be washed away if the water isn’t very hard, it’s a big problem with the level of sediment you are talking about. Your water is why synthetic detergents were invented.

Kelly Hebb August 1, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Hi! Seems like I read somewhere on here that you buy all your cleaning stuff at one time. I was wondering do you buy baking soda online or at the store? All I could find in our town is the small boxes like you would put in a fridge.
Thanks 🙂

Lynnette August 3, 2012 at 9:42 am

Just wanted to pop in again to say I’m making a fresh batch of soap and using your recommendations. Thank you again!

Ivory Soap August 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm

I get mine at Costco. But even walmart sells the 12 lb bags now.

Heather August 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I’m confused! Your powdered laundry soap recipe calls for BOTH Borax and washing soda, but in #1 above you say that we don’t need to use both – just use washing soda. ??? So is your recipe still: 2 cups soap, 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda? Thanks!!

Tanya August 8, 2012 at 11:50 am

Thanks for this article! I like knowing the “why” behind things. Maybe I’ve missed it in here somewhere, but I’m wondering how much of the mix to use in a regular old top loader? Thanks!

Ivory Soap August 11, 2012 at 10:40 am

I use about 3 T.

Ivory Soap August 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

yes, that old recipe is traditional. At the bottom of this post I tell you what I do now. Just half and half soap and soda. 3T. People are so in love with borax, that even though I disparage it, I keep the old recipe up.

Tina August 22, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Silly question, is 3T tablespoons or teaspoons?

Ivory Soap August 23, 2012 at 7:05 am

Tablespoons, sorry.

Patricia August 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

So first let me say Thanks!! for the time and effort put into the research here,
I have a small farm and recently made the Borax,washing soda, and Fels Naptha We get our cloths really muddy dirty etc. Ive always used Tide. It gets out everything. I am wanting to save money/better care for septic by making my own soap, i made the liquid soap and feel that it doesnt clean the cloths even the non muddy ones? So after readding this Iam wondering is it becouse of the hard water,the well water, or becouse Iam washing in cold? Thanks

Jenny September 1, 2012 at 9:41 am

how did the kraut go? i might try that if u had luck

Daisy September 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Jenny–I am kraut-impaired. Too chicken to try it again just yet. One day!

Laura September 3, 2012 at 11:08 am

Hi there,
I really like your recipe because its so simple…I doubt Caroline Ingles used more than 2 ingredients in her LD. I’ve see recipies with 2 boxes baking soda, 1 box borax, 1 box Washing Soda & 2 bars of Zote. I was tempted to use that recipe but thought it was all most pointless to use so many ingredients. Then I found your very informative website.

I used 1 box Washing Soda, 1/2 a box (3 1/2C) Zote flakes. Are my ratios right? I think I might need more Washing soda, please advise me on that.

I am also wondering about adding Purex Crystals to the mix for scent & added Fabric Softener. I do already use Vinager in my wash so I know I’m good as far as FS is concerned. On the bottle it says 87% natural. Ingredients are as follows: Sodium Chloride, Peg Distearate, Bentonite, Sodium Silicate, Fragrance, Silica, Liquitint Red St & Blue HP.

1 box of Zote flakes =2 bars of Zote. I measured it out & it = 7 cups.

I don’t have a bleach compartment, how would I add peroxide for my whites?

Thanks you for your extensive research!

elizabeth September 10, 2012 at 2:32 am

I want to comment to you about the purex crystals and Laundry soap.
if you have a front loading, HE washer, i personally caution against mixing the Purex Crystals or similar, with the POWDER version of HOME MADE Laundry soap.
I have mixed up borax, washing soda, fels naptha, and even added in some baking soda for good measure. this was working well for me. i believe there was even some of the zote in there too.
then i came across the idea of adding the Purex Crystals to it.
i got out my Ninja, added crystals to the soap and chopped it all together to make sure it was well mixed.
I have about a gallon of this concoction that i don’t know what i’m going to use it for, but it won’t be in my front loader ever again.
after not too many loads, the rubber seal in the front of my machine has all but completely collapsed and is covered in cement chunks all the way around it.
i’ve tried to scrub them off, but they don’t budge. and there’s a grime that i’ve never had before.
my machine is the Maytag Neptune front load HE (digital) model. i’ve loved it from day one, for ten years now, and i hate to think i may have ruined my machine and i’m hoping i didn’t damage the drain pipe.
i don’t know if i can even replace the rubber seal as this machine isn’t made anymore.
if you have a top loader, i would think this might be safe to use.
surely, don’t use it a couple of times, think you like it, and decide to make a large batch of it, like i did.

I will add, that i have now switched back to name brand laundry soap and am using lemon vinegar in the rinse, hoping to knock out whatever that concoction has done to my machine.
i hope this helps you.

Joel September 19, 2012 at 1:04 am

Impressive work.

Worth noting that borate (the ionic form of borax) is a buffer. It maintains the pH between ~8 and 9. On the other hand, sodium carbonate is also a buffer, buffering at even higher pH, as you indicated, but the carbonate ion is unstable in water. This is why it is used in dry detergents and not liquid ones.

You could use sodium bicarbonate as well, being the other redox state of sodium carbonate, but it is lower pH and less effective.

No idea about the citrate in Tide however, probably just a counter ion?

Busy Mommy September 29, 2012 at 2:48 am

I LOVE the science of all of this homemade laundry soap thing!! More science! Man, I wish I was a chemist…or the brain to understand it all. 🙂 I loved Joel’s comments…it backs up your research. Ok, so no where have I seen it suggested that borax and washing soda not be used together. This really intrigues me! Hmm…so you recommend just the washing soda and soap, huh? How long have you been using that mixture? And you like it the best?

Natalie September 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I am wondering if you have any clue why in the world when I use hydrogen peroxide or oxyclean in my laundry, it would come out stinky, and so does the batch after. I clean my front loader HE regularly, but I do not like this washer at all because it has caused many issue of stinkiness and I have to do an extra wash and rinse on every single batch of laundry even with this homemade stuff, which does work well otherwise and I think causes less problems than commercial stuff. Anyway – hydrogen peroxide – I am wondering if it is cleaning off some residue that I still might have left in the washer after all this. Any ideas?

Mary September 29, 2012 at 9:21 pm

I have heard many people complain that their HE washer stinks. From the research that I did, it seems that you need to leave the door ajar when not in use so that it can dry out in there around the front rubber seal. Apparently, it is the gunk that grows around that rubber seal that is the stinky culprit. What a pain in the drain! I like my cheap old top loader and it works just fine even if it doesn’t look as cool. 😀

jen October 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm

So, i am wondering how it is that it does not require very much of the borax,or soda ash when making homemade detergent. I was wondering this because some people add these to their wash load in addition to some form of store bought detergent. If you follow the directions on the boxes, they say to add way more than 2/3 tablespoons(sorry dont have any boxes o refer to to get the exact amount). So to me it seems like 2/3 tablespoons of homemade detergent just would not be enough to work.

Ivory Soap October 12, 2012 at 6:52 am

It does seem that way jen, but straight washing soda is powerful stuff. 2T-3T is more than enough to change the pH. Most other detergents contain fillers…lots of fillers, precisely because it doesn’t feel like ENOUGH. Super concentrate detergents like Amway and Shaklee sell measure like ours. But something like Purex is almost 1/2 salt! And liquid detergents are mostly water. As a booster, borax and washing soda perform the same basic function, with borax providing a slight oxygen bleach action in really hot water. It shouldn’t do much to help out a well formulated dry detergent, but most commercial liquid detergents aren’t near as strong as the dry and the extra pH boost can really help.

Sharalee October 14, 2012 at 7:35 pm

So, I’ve spent a bunch of time recently researching homemade detergent and I have a couple questions for you… after, that is, letting you know I’m so thankful I stumbled across this post!!

Why do all the homemade detergent recipes call for Washing Soda AND Borax? Maybe to be more “natural” and not use oxiclean?

Do you not include an enzyme cleaner in your regular mix? Could I just mix biz in with my recipe?

What do you think about Charlie’s Soap? (http://www.charliesoap.com/pressroom/powder.html)

I have used Charlies on my diapers, and just recently realized they sell large tubs of detergent… which seems to not be much more expensive than homemade…

Let me know your thoughts, please!

Isadora October 23, 2012 at 8:53 am

Natalie the reason your washer stink is because you need to neutralize the mixture of washing soda and peroxide otherwise the deposit leftover will make your clothe stink. Use vinegar or citric acid as indicate above to neutralize it.
Jen, most of liquid detergents have a high percentage of water, as you are making your own you are using little or non water. Its become really concentrated.

Teretta October 23, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I mixed a DIY detergent with 2 bars of Zote soap grated, 2 boxes washing soda, box of borax, 2 bottles of purex crystals, and sun brand oxiclean. It smells great and I was happy with it the first few wash loads, but now the smell doesn’t last. I noticed after I mixed all the ingredients that the bucket I mixed it in got really hot. Could that have anything to do with the fact that the smell doesn’t last like it did the first few loads in which the sheets, and clothes stayed sweet smelling for at least a week after I washed them?

Busy Mommy November 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

From what you said about temperature needing to activate the borax and oxiclean I’m thinking it may be better to make 2 different batches of soap…one for warm or hot water washes and one for cold. What do you think? A powder form for the warmer washes containing the bar soap, washing soda, borax and oxiclean and then possibly a liquid form for the cold…but can’t seem to shake your comments about the liquid being weaker and losing it’s power over time. About washing soda…doesn’t it need to be used in warmer temperatures to work properly as well? Trying to figure out the ideal recipe for cold water washes.

Busy Mommy November 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Hey “Ms. Ivory Soap”,

Thank you for this site! I’m still waiting for your answers on the post I wrote on Novemeber 1, 2012. I’m really interested in getting your input.

1. I’m thinking it would probably be ideal to make a dry laundry soap for warm/hot water washes and a liquid one for the cold water washes. Seems like it would be the only way to really address the water temperature issues. What are your thoughts on that?

2. You mentioned that the Borax, Oxiclean need warmer water to work properly. What about washing soda? Doesn’t it need the warmer water too? What is the BEST recipe for cold water washes?

3. How long does it take the liquid form to lose it’s poop? (lol) Do you know?

Busy Mommy November 19, 2012 at 1:12 am

Deanna? Deanna? Wherefore art thou Deanna?

Busy Mommy December 14, 2012 at 1:50 am

Still waiting for your reply Deanna. I hope you are ok.

Ivory Soap December 14, 2012 at 9:43 am

Huh, What? i’ll go check. Daisy has been in charge for a while. I be so sick and busy with homeschool. I’ll go look.

Ivory Soap December 14, 2012 at 10:04 am

Okay. Almost all products work better in hot water, however, borax doesn’t work much at all until it’s in hot water. And once it’s there, there’s not enough of a contribution, in my opinion, to merit it’s presence…ever. (Wait, I do use it exclusively if there wash got icky, cause someone forgot it. I haven’t verified that it’s the BEST method, but it’s the one I’ve used so long that it’s ingrained. But I should find another solution as my baby stuck a ball of leftover borax in her mouth after the most recent usage. TOXIC.)

I don’t know how long it takes for the liquid to lose it’s power. It’s all about air exposure. If it’s air-tight, it lasts much longer. I guess you would have to use pH strips and test it to see when the pH starts to come back up.

So what’s your idea about the cold and hot? Is it a concern about dissolving? A really fine grind should take care of that for you. Talk to me.

Emily December 26, 2012 at 9:09 am

My big question that I can’t seem to find the answer to is if I make fruit enzyme from citrus peels and I make my own liquid laundry detergent (a fels naptha/borax/washing soda/water mix), can I or even should I add my enzyme to my laundry detergent when I’m making a batch? Although I’ll look into the Dollar Store oxiclean idea. I hadn’t thought of that. I currently pretreat stains with Dreft spray, but that’s not very frugal of me. But it works! Any ideas?

Ivory Soap January 9, 2013 at 10:43 am

The enzyme that you make from pineapple is bromelain, also found in meat tenderizer. You can just sprinkle or pour it in, but not in super hot water (kills the enzyme) and remember that it’s different from other enzyme cleaners in detergent that also digest other things: starch or in the case of ZOUT, fats. “Enzyme cleaners” made from other citrus do not, as far as I can tell, have that enzyme. It’s like cleaning with alcohol.

Sherree January 20, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I have owned a front loading HE “Frigidare” clothes washing machine for 2 years. I wipe the rubber ring at the bottom where the water collects and I leave the door ajar til the next day & have not had a stink problem. I use a store bought liquid soap fragrance/dye free & that is for septic systems. I’ve not made the powdered soap for it yet but plan to this year. I have my container now. I want to use the most simple receipe of 3 items. The liquid soap will not work for the two of us due to the fact it makes a large amount & the soap will lose its washing power. I use cold water wash cycle most of the time. Thank you for taking the time to research the soaps.

Marie06 January 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Hi, I am trying to understand your recipe. I am trying to make a bucket to last a really long time….. I really loved Nellies Natural laundry detergent- but it’s around $120 a 5 gal bucket. So the recipe section says 1/2 washing soda- are you saying 1/2 box of washing soda- which size???????? 3 lbs or 4lbs? and 1/2 bar of Nel’s or Ivory- I used 2 Nel’s and 1 bar Kirk’s Castille….I have it all grated and added 1 1/2 boxes Arm and Hammer Washing Soda 3 lb size. (then I realized that I might be off ) Please let me know asap. I checked all of Busy Mommy’s notes and the responses but still not understanding your ratio.

Natalie January 31, 2013 at 8:00 am

Marie06 – I believe she means for any amount of detergent you want to make, you use 1/2 washing soda and 1/2 soap. So, if you want say 6 cups of detergent, you would use 3 C. washing soda and 3 C. soap.

Brian January 31, 2013 at 8:27 am

When I made mine, I took those recipes to be ratios. So when it says 1/2 washing soda, it means 1/2 of the total ingredients should be washing soda and the rest is powdered bar soap.

That said I shredded my bar soap in the food processor (1 bar of Zote and 2 bars of Fels Naptha), then let it sit in an 9×12 cake pan to dry further for a few days. (It smells wonderful.) Then I took the shredded bar soap and put about 1.5 cups at a time into a blender and ground it up finer. (It ended up a fine power.)

When finished, I measured the soap and found I had about nine cups of powdered soap from those three bars. I then mixed those nine cups of powdered soap with nine cups of washing soda (almost an entire 3.5 pound box) so my end mix follows the 1/2 soap powder and 1/2 washing soda ratio.

My end quantity was 18 cups of ready to use soap powder (just over a gallon) and I store it in an airtight storage container to prevent clumping. I scoop out a couple of cups at a time and keep it in a smaller airtight container near the washer for dispensing. (Prevents the big old “vat” from being opened repeatedly.)

If you wanted to make approximately a five gallon bucket using this method then you would need to quadruple all the above ingredients. (4 bars Zote, 8 bars Fels Naptha, 4 boxes of washing soda-3.5 pound size) This would make about 4.5 gallons of finished laundry soap.

Side note: Plan ahead a little, buy your bar soap well before you need to use it. Unwrap the bars and stash them in drawers and closets to further dry out. The smell is wonderful and the shredding and grinding works even better. (Just don’t be like the squirrel and forget where you stashed them! 🙂

Hope this helps.

Heidi February 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Hello! So… I think I may have been overwhelmed with all the information presented here. -I’m very impressed by the way. This is the most informative site I have found regarding diy laundry soap. I have tried the liquid ivory/washing soda/borax soap, and it was a disaster… first off, my poor baby has excema, and the clothes he wore after using that soap caused a terrible rash on his back. I’m guessing it was the borax. Secondly, the liquid soap gelled and is a nasty mess to use. so, i want to try a powder, borax free version. We also have hard water, and wash all clothes in cold water. what recipe would you suggest using?

Amanda February 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I am trying to wrap my head around all this info. So can you tell me if what I am using is working together well, or not?

1 bar Bronners soap, grated
1 c. washing soda
1/2 c. baking soda
1/2 c. citric acid
1/4 c. salt


Ivory Soap February 14, 2013 at 8:25 am

Heidi, I’m so sorry about your baby. I have another post about skin issues and laundry, but I’ll just sum up. Before you try too many more recipes, put a vinegar rinse in the laundry. Professional laundry companies “sour” their loads with an acid after washing because alkaline clothing is irritating to the skin.

Amanda, unfortunately, your citric acid is completely neutralizing your washing soda and baking soda. Unless you have really hard water, I would eliminate it from your recipe. The baking soda and salt are more fillers than anything, but they won’t hurt your recipe like too much citric acid. The ratio of washing soda to citric needs to be 4 to 1. Or for baking soda, 8/1.

Morticia February 14, 2013 at 11:08 am

This is in response to Elizabeth’s comment on using Purex Crystals in the recipe and her front-loading washer problem. I don’t understand how it can be the Purex Crystals, as they are simply sugar, bentonite clay, fragrance and colorant. I use them in my homemade powder recipe and have no issues, however, I do have a top-loading washer and that may be key. Front-loaders are way finicky about what you can and cannot use in them. Just one of many reasons I will never own one. I hope you found a use for your powder and hope you got th “cement” off of your washer. good luck!

Amanda February 15, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Thanks. I had stumbled on the recipe, and so far my laundry has been coming out clean, but if it can come out cleaner and cost me less I’m all for that.

Ann February 19, 2013 at 10:29 am

My daughter sent me the link to this info. It’s very – well, interesting, but most of it goes over my head! I’d seen pins on Pinterest about home-made laundry detergents, found a ‘recipe’, and bought the ingredients (Borax, Washing Soda, Fels Naptha, and Purex Crystals). I’m a retired grandma in a small apartment without laundry facilities so I do my undies in my bathroom sink and take the rest to my daughter’s house. She has three little boys, and probably does a couple of loads a day! So I thought this detergent would save both of us money. But now, after reading your information and the comments, I think the whole project is just too overwhelming for me, and may or may not produce the results we want, so I’m probably going to return the unopened products. I’m glad I found you before I opened all those boxes!

Kim Stone February 24, 2013 at 10:55 am

Thanks so much for posting this article! I have been experimenting with making my own detergent, and found your article. Now I want to try changing things up, leaving out the borax (I’m trying the powdered version this time). I love the cleaning power of tide detergent but just can’t afford it. After looking at the database that you linked to, I noticed one of the ingredients in the powdered tide is a feldspar. I use Bon Ami powder (which contains feldspar and limestone) for a lot of cleaning, and I was wondering if I should try including some of it in my detergent recipe, and if you have any thoughts about it? Thanks!

Jennifer February 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm

I have a front load hE washer. You need to remove clothes as soon as they are done and leave the door open. Front loads are “air tight” and get stinky if you close the door between washes. Also I use tea tree oil to clean my washer. Just a few drops on inside of rubber seal and run a “basket clean” cycle.
I’m curious about making a liquid detergent with washing soda, grated soap, a few drops of tea tree oil and an essential oil, very small amount, for scented purposes.

amber March 3, 2013 at 1:56 am

To jennifer- I’m not sure if you are aware of wool dryer balls, but I use them to toss my laundry around and dry a bit quicker. I dont use anything on mine, but lots of people use a few drops of whatever oil they like on them and the scent lasts for many many loads. This way there’s no film all over your clothes, but they still smell nice. Also, you wouldn’t have to figure out making a liquid detergent and the powder’s going to work better anyway.

Brittyspice March 7, 2013 at 10:37 am

can naphtha be used in the preparation on of color safe bleach, i’ll be so grateful if i’m given a reply because i’m writing a project on it. Thank you

Angela March 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Do you think that your detegent recipe 1/2 ivory, 1/2 washing soda would be safe for cloth diapers?

Ivory Soap March 14, 2013 at 8:22 am

yes, especially if you *sour* them in the rinse with vinegar. Baby skin is sensitive to residual high pH, likely more so than additives and whatnot.

Catmama March 18, 2013 at 8:39 am

Anyone else heard bad things about Borax being an endocrine disruptor? The Environmental Working Group website list it as a very hazardous toxin.

Ashley March 22, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Hi, so I’m sitting here with soda wash, baking soda, and sodium percarbonate I have a baby in cloth diapers so I need a detergent that won’t leave a residue on his diapers causing leaking. I have front loader HE washer. Any idea if these three ingredients will make a good detergent?? It seems like I’m reading the baking soda is unnecessary. Is there something else I should add? Can you use to much soda wash? I was originally thinking a 3:1 soda wash to sodium percarbonate. But Im unsure. Any help greatly appreciated.

CP March 22, 2013 at 8:37 pm

There are lots of generic, powdered, oxygen bleaches that work just like Oxyclean but are a lot cheaper. I use half washing soda and half generic oxygen bleach.

I learned a lot from my cloth diapering days, like that the brighteners and softeners can reduce absorbency of diapers (especially softeners) and from my own experience I know that some soaps can leave a residue on clothes that both reduce absorbency and attract mildew to grow on them. I also know that enzymes and borax, if not completely washed away, can cause problems with some baby skin (my daughter never had a reaction to them, but every baby is different).

My mom swears by borax to treat old mildewy fabrics. She dissolves the borax in HOT water and lets the fabric soak in it overnight. She says borax works better on mildew than anything else. Maybe borax is particularly antifungal. I keep a box of borax around for mildew and fungus infections, but don’t use it for much else.

CP March 22, 2013 at 8:42 pm

If I were to add a cleanser to my homemade recipe, I’d use a non-soap cleanser, because the last time I used a real soap on my clothes (bronners), I had horrible horrible residue problems. Most commercial detergents that I’ve looked at use a non-soap cleanser, not real soap.

Sandra March 24, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Bless your heart! I have to give it to all you DIY’ers. You all have gumption – especially you. I have read so many of these “make your own detergent” blogs – yours was the most informative. Thanks for the information. Your information helped make up my mind. Stay with the cheapest detergent on the market and make sure to double rinse.

Laura March 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

You don’t have to grind up your bar of Ivory soap! Put it in the microwave and watch it puff up, then when you take it out it falls to granules in your hands very easily. This isn’t my video but it gives you the idea, it really works! This is how I do it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lAOOwMNodA

Vickie March 25, 2013 at 12:25 pm

We have a family of eight, so we do a LOT of laundry. I have used homemade detergent for a while using borax, washing soda, baking soda, oxiclean, purex crystals, and Fels Naptha soap. This dry powder cleans so much better than a liquid kind I made in the past. However, it became evident very quickly that my home-made powder detergent was fading my colored clothes very quickly. My mom told me that borax, as well as baking soda, could make clothes fade. I teach, so I need my “work clothes” to stay nice as long as possible, and with having a large family, I want my kids’ clothes to look nice when they are passed down. I compromised by continuing to use liquid Tide for my colored clothes, and I use my home-made powder for whites, towels, and linens. Even though we still use store bought for the colored clothes, I haven’t had to buy liquid detergent since Christmas.

heidi March 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm

My question is about cloth diapering. Ivory (or any kind of soap) cannot be used due to build-up and repelling issues. I cannot use borax as my son is sensitive to it. We wash in hot wash cold rinse conditions. I found a recipe calling for equal parts washing soda, baking soda, and sun oxygen cleaner. I would prefer to use a powder detergent, but I’m not sure where to start, and what would actually work to get the diapers clean. Thoughts? Thank you!

heidi March 25, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Oh, and I should add, we had really hard water.

Barb March 28, 2013 at 10:27 am

Hi I use 2 cups of castle soap (ground up), 1 cup borax, and 1 cup of washing soda with 2 gallons of water. Is this right?

Thank You

Ashley March 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Are there any powder soaps you can use instead of grating your own?

Galina March 29, 2013 at 1:00 am

So I’ve thought of one possible alternative answer for why companies don’t include both soda and borax at the same time:

If as was mentioned above they both perform the same or similar actions, then it would be more profitable for the company to only use one and buy the other in bulk therefore saving money. (called ‘economies of scale’)

Ivory Soap March 29, 2013 at 7:19 am

I don’t know. I would think so.

Ivory Soap March 29, 2013 at 7:24 am

Okay, you *can* just wash in washing soda, but you may want a soap in there. The soda is unnecessary, and I don’t think the sodium percarbonate is straight up oxyclean, so I think’s it’s a T per load, so that would a have and half mix of soda wash and percarbonate if you are using 2T per load. If you add soap, I would do a 1:1:1 and then use 3 T per load. however, the most important thing about residue is going to be any hard water deposits or residual high pH on the diapers which can really irritate baby’s skin. So be sure to put vinegar in the rinse.

Mark March 30, 2013 at 6:42 am

I use Borax, Washing Soda, and 1tb of Pine Sol in each wash and have sensitive skin but have none of the problems with my clothes making me itchy like with the store bought soaps. The pine sol helps with any grease and the low amount of it doesn’t leave a residue or scent.

The biggest thing that I can recommend is do small loads. When you do a large load the clothes can’t move around much. Another tip for stained clothing is to start the washer till it fills up and agitates some then turn off the washer and let it sit for a half hour, then start it again and let it finish.

For those having skin issues with the soaps, do what a doctor would do, put a very tiny amount of each ingredient in water and place a drop on your skin, let it sit a few minutes then wipe off. Really the only way to determine what it is that is causing the issue.

Chief Laundry Soap Maker March 31, 2013 at 10:50 am

@ Elizabeth:
I, too, have a maytag Neptune. It had problems with the front seal almost immediately. I did some research and found out that Consumer Reports estimated that 25% of all new neptunes had MAJOR problems. There also was a class action lawsuit against Maytag over the Neptune that surrounded around problems with the rubber seal (called the boot). There are recipes online for cleaning your Neptune’s boot. I suggest that you try those. If you can’t get it right, expect to pay ~$50 for the part, and another $150-200 for labor. Sorry to bring you bad news. =(

Loren Amelang April 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I was out looking for what is really in “New Age Biodegradeable Household Cleaner”, which has been my “soap” source for many years. The label says “water, coconut oil, lemon oil, wetting agents, citric acid”, but I always thought you needed lye to turn oil into soap. Or a fancy reactor and heat and hydrogen… And I thought “wetting agents” was another term for detergent. But it seems to work well and has only a slight lemony scent that doesn’t stick to things.

Interesting to see this discussion of washing soda and borax! I use roughly equal proportions for laundry in my ancient front-loader with _very_ hard water. Agitate the powders in the water first, to deal with the hardness, and then add enough New Age to just barely foam, and then the clothes. The EWG “Guide to Healthy Cleaning” says borax is nasty, but it seems if I don’t use it the gooey hard water residue coats my clothes.

For the people mentioning sodium percarbonate, supposedly OxyBoost is at least 80-90% sodium percarbonate, while Oxiclean contains about 50-60%. You can buy the 100% stuff in bulk several places on the web. Search eBay for “Koi Pond & Waterfall Cleaner”, where I just bought 10 pounds delivered for $27. Yes, it is amazing for killing string algae and brightening wood decks, as well as laundry. But if you’re using more than is required to oxidize your stains, it becomes just an expensive form of washing soda.

Amanda April 5, 2013 at 9:59 am

thanks for all your research!!!

Tess April 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Hi there,

I’m in the UK and TOTALLY love this post… I am trying to justify making my own detergent but all the ingredients seem to come in smaller, more expensive versions here…. Can anyone tell me what would be a good source for the biological enzymes other than just buying a super cheap bio powder to add to my mix? Thanks!

Dawn maness April 30, 2013 at 10:34 am

I have had Borax ruin clothing so I’m curious when people use it. ..Do you put in washer then turn on water then add clothes.

Sommer May 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for about a year now. it consists of fells naptha, Arm and Hammer washing soda and borax. with a cup of each and a bar of the soap I get 5 gallons of detergent. I’ve never had a problem with any of our clothes ruining. Maybe for those who have had issues with borax, it could be that there was too much of it used. Or maybe I should knock on wood and be greatful I haven’t.

Vicki May 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

Very helpful article. It’s almost time for me to make another batch of detergent. I think I’ll tinker with the recipe some more. With my last batch, I switched from Fels Naptha to Ivory, and now I’d love to ditch the Borax. I am going to look for some Zote, also. Thanks for all your research.

Deanna May 16, 2013 at 10:15 am

I really found this post helpful when I was figuring out how to make my own laundry detergent and linked to it when I made my own post. So thank you for sharing!

Teresa Kwon May 21, 2013 at 2:58 pm

To clarify…
When you said, “… 3T in the washer, 1/2 cup vinegar in the rinse. For lights and whites, I use hot water, 1/2 cup peroxide in the bleach compartment..” Do you add the peroxide with the 3T (of your homemade laundry soap) + 1/2 c vinegar or does the peroxide replace something?

And do you have any thoughts on soda ash (for example: look below), not Arm & Hammer washing soda? If I understand correctly, soda ash is the pure or more purer form of washing soda, sodium carbonate Na2CO3?


Cissy May 31, 2013 at 10:54 am

Sommer, I just made my detergent and was wondering what amount do you use for each load? I was told to use 1Tbsp?

Brian May 31, 2013 at 11:56 am

I use about 1.5 tablespoons, but I also think it depends on the hardness of your water and how dirty the clothes are.

I use a scoop that came from a jar of “dollar store Oxi-Clean”. According to my kitchen measuring spoons, a rounded scoop of laundry detergent using that scoop measures approximately 1.5 tablespoons. If I am washing more soiled clothes, then I will usually throw in another half scoop. Hope that bit of information helps.


Kristie June 21, 2013 at 11:45 am

Is the Ivory soap non toxic? (I am really careful about that kind of stuff because of previous health issues.) Would the ivory soap, washing soda and then vinegar work for hard water and sweaty clothes?

Abbie June 25, 2013 at 8:06 pm

So I wanted to add enzymes to my detergent mix but I could not find one at my local store so I got Papain in the meat tenderizer isle. Can I use that for now till I get some off the web?

Ivory Soap June 28, 2013 at 8:02 am

I would think so.

Laurie July 24, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Regarding borax ruining clothes, I haven’t had that experience. However, I use an old washing machine with cold water and only one rinse, and I was tired of the borax powder not rinsing off properly. Solution: While the washer is filling, mix half a cup of borax with a quart of boiling water from the kettle, stir well and wait a minute or two until completely dissolved), and add to the washer when it’s full of water.
Actually, now I do the above with borax and soda ash (aka sodium carbonate, or pool chemical for raising pH); I only use 1/4 cup of this mix (again, with boiling water), and it works better than borax alone.
Oh–you have to put vinegar in the rinse or the crystals from the borax and/or soda ash will crystalize on the clothes; maybe that’s what ruined yours. Some say don’t use vinegar in a washing machine, or that borax is not environmentally safe, but we all have to look into these ideas and decide for ourselves.

Mary August 31, 2013 at 10:20 am

I have been making laundry detergent for a couple of months now. I have noticed a mildew smell on and off on some clean articles of clothing. I never notice the smell after getting the clothing out of the dryer. I notice when I grab the item from the drawer. It didn’t start until I started using my own concoction (Borax, Washing Soda, Dawn dishwashing detergent. I like the low cost and would like to continue. Any suggestions?

Kay Mahoney September 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I love your blog! Thanks for all you teach me.

Since you know a lot about chemistry, would you look at this list of ingredients for Cal-Ben’s soap products, and tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly? Actually, I’m only interested in the Five Star shampoo, bar soap, and liquid/dish soap. Thanks to you and your wonderful info, I make the other things I use, and I’m quite happy with them.

I need to know if the shampoo, bar soap, and dish soap are safe. Here’s the list they provided.

Thank again,
Kay Mahoney

Ingredient Listing For Cal-Ben Products:

Complexion Beauty Pure Soap Bar
20% Cocoa Butter (Extra Virgin Copra Cocoanut Oil) U.S.P. Grade. 80% Vegetable Fat (Highest Grade Tallow Oil) A few drops Pure Almond Essential Oil Extract for essence

Five Star Shampoo (Triple Concentrate)
Extra Virgin Cocoa Butter Oils, Vegetable Protein Oil, Amide Cocoa Fat, Essential Cocoanut Oil Essence, Vegetable Fat Conditioner

Seafoam Dish Glow Concentrate
Vegetable Tallow Oil, Extra Virgin Coca Butter Oil, Anionic Degreaser, Foam Stabilizer, Opacifier, Essential Oil Extract Of California Oranges Essence

Seafoam Liquid Pure Soap
Vegetable Tallow Oil, Extra Virgin Coca Butter Oil, Anionic Degreaser, Foam Stabilizer, Opacifier, Essential Oil Extract Of California Oranges Essence

Seafoam Laundry Soap Granules (SUPER CONCENTRATE)
Dry White Cocoa Granules, Tallow Oil Granules, C.M.C. Degreaser, Anionic Degreaser, Sodium Metasilicate, Washing Soda, Essential Oil Extract Of Lemon Oil Essence

Seafoam Laundry Liquid (SUPER CONCENTRATE)
Liquid Cocoa Amide, Tallow Oil, C.M.C. Degreaser, Non-Ionic & Ionic Degreaser, Essential Oil Extract of California Oranges Essence

Seafoam Dish Machine Granules Concentrate ( Destain )
Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Silicate, Biodegradable Surfactant, Chlorine, Sodium Sulfate. Zero Phosphate Formula

Almond Hand Lotion
Purified Water, Glycerin, Tea-Sterarate, Vegitable Fatty Acids, Almond Oil Extract, D&C Red #33

Ivory Soap October 17, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Ditch the borax entirely. Also, are you doing liquid or powder? Liquid loses power over time. Powder is more stable.

Cindy A October 17, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Thank god for the perfectionists out there, doing all this good research! Saved me from having to do it, and I’m busy, organizing my sock drawer by color, type, and season…

Jenny D October 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

What type of washer are you using when you use 3T of laundry detergent?

Desert Fox October 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm

If you want to bleach the natural way…just soap the item and place it in the sun for a bit. It works!

When you say “Liquid loses power over time” – if you wash regularly, the liquid will be used within a decent period not becoming weak! The powder kind of soap might not dissolve well if you pile it in one spot. You might want to dissolve it in a cup first to distribute it better in the liquid stage. Ah!… a little bit here and a little bit there! Life is a blast!

Ivory Soap October 28, 2013 at 6:44 am

top loader, jenny. You need less for a front loader

Randell December 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm

?t is said that in Indian folklore if yyou eat
three leaves of fresh Holy Basil that you will prevent
any diseases. Any kin? of te? – green tea, black tea, ookong tea, they all
are effectiv? for weight control as long as they are not taken without any sugar oor cream.

What w? do need tto know is very simple:
Drinking tea will help us lose weight.

David Custer January 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm

After reading your research. I tried the following recipe. Which works for laundry powder, dishwasher detergent, and scouring powder.

1 cup washing soda
1 cup 100% coconut oil soap with 1% super fat
1/4 cup citric acid
1/2 cup sea salt

Thank you for everything!

janet January 21, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Thanks for doing all this research! I have shared this page many times. For all the people who ask if it works in well water…the answer depends on where your well is, or in other words what kind of water you have. I have used it with well water and had great results. My water has lots of iron in it but apparently not much calcium and/or magnesium which makes water hard. You really just have to experiment to see what works best in your particular water.

Teri January 27, 2014 at 4:56 pm

So could you tell me about how much Ivory soap and how much washing soda you use? Maybe I missed it. Thanks!

Teri January 27, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Also, is it safe for HE toploaders?

dena February 12, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I am so overwhelmed with all this information I don’t know what to do. I currently make my own liquid detergent, washing soda, borax and some kind of soap. Sometimes I will add a TSP of salt to the load for fading. Ive got a top loader and have not had any issues. Upon reading this info I don’t know what to do, someone please help me.

kim February 16, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Hello, thanks so much for the tips. I just wanted to let you know that you should probably stay away from the bacteria b. cereus if you have kids in the house. It can cause a nasty stomach infection, it is one of the bacteria that causes food poisoning! http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/bcereus/

Rebecca March 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Do you have any thoughts on using the liquid enzyme cleaner meant for pools as a laundry additive? The instructions call for 8 oz. per 10,000 gallons (!) so I was thinking a few drops in each load of laundry, but I’m too chicken to just try it without some input from someone who understands these things.

Alicia July 28, 2014 at 7:05 am

OK. I’ve tried the recipe Ivory Soap uses and while I love it, it doesn’t seem like it lasts a long time. I think my batch (using a single bar of soap and equal parts of washing soda) only lasted a week. Am I doing something wrong? I have a family of 5. I used to use the recipe that called for lots of water, washing soda, borax, and a bar of soap, which lasted half a year for my family (but it didn’t clean as well as I’d like). However, it doesn’t sound very cost saving if a bar of soap will only last a single week. I feel like I have no choice, but to go back to Tide.

Abraham Girt August 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Thank you so much for these tips. (I didn’t know them).

Paige September 2, 2014 at 4:05 am

I’ve been making my own laundry soap for years. I only use washing soda, ivory soap and borax. The only variation I’ve used over the years is if I use water in it to make liquid or not, either way works the same for my laundry. I’ve used this formula on cloth diapers, cloth sanitary pads, regular every day clothes and since my family and I rely on second hand clothes, this formula cannot be beat. Everything is and smells clean, every time. You only need a tiny bit, one or two tablespoons, and a nearly perfect load of laundry every time. My washer is wonky so it only washes in hot water, not a big deal for my family, though. Like I said, I wash cloth diapers, etc. If you want your soap to last longer, use one bar of ivory soap with two cups each borax and washing soda. You’re laundry soap will last much longer and your clothes will be just as clean.

cp October 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

There is one property of borax that you’re overlooking. It is an anti-fungal and great against mildew. I live in a mildew prone area and I definitely add it to my detergent. Especially if I’m using soap (which I don’t usually). Soap can leave build-up (soap scum) behind and mildew likes to grow on soap scum. My mom’s front loader is particularly prone to mildew and she does a rinse with borax and without clothes to remove the mildew.

Mimi December 2, 2014 at 3:58 pm

I don’t grate my soap anymore–so much easier to just soak it.

When I make a batch of soap, I drop a bar of soap into a cleaned, plastic Folger’s coffee canister, fill it 3/4 of the way with warm water, put the lid on, and stick it under the bathroom sink.

By the time I need to make another batch, it has long since turned into slimy soap-water, and is so easy to mix in! Obviously, for my first batch, I planned ahead (so unlike me, lol) and soaked it a few weeks before making my first batch of laundry detergent.

BTW, a lot of people talk as if all the soaps are interchangeable for the Fels Naphtha. They don’t realize that Fels Naphtha is NOT a bar of soap–it is a laundry stain stick in the shape of a bar of soap (for easy rubbing over large stains). I’m not saying bath soap doesn’t work–I’ve never tried it, but plenty of people have–but you are losing some of the cleaning power of the original recipe if you don’t use Fels Naphtha, which specifically powers up the batch for stain removal & heavier cleaning.

Tamara DeVault January 14, 2015 at 10:58 am

What about septic tanks? No one has mentioned what these soap build up does to them. I made some laundry soap, fels napa , borax, and washing soda, with oxi clean. 9 months later we are having odor problems with our septic……I hope I have not cost us a new leach line in trying to save money on laundry soap! Not a good bargain in the long run. Someone told my husband that powdered soap is bad for septics.

Loren Amelang January 14, 2015 at 9:25 pm

Re: Septic Systems…

I don’t have a scientific answer, and septic tanks are so varied in construction, other loading, and leach field soil, it probably isn’t possible to provide one. But as one data point, I’ve used my washing soda, borax, and New Age (liquid detergent) mix for over 25 years on the same septic system with no problem whatsoever. I’d be much more concerned about putting chlorine bleach or antibacterial products (including excreted antibiotics) into the system.

If you are at all concerned, I’d suggest regularly adding a bacterial product made for septic tank support. I’ve used the Canadian “Septonic” brand forever, it is much more economical than the US competition. Does it work? I’ve never had occasion to open my tank to see…

Lizzy Bee January 24, 2015 at 5:57 pm

THANK YOU for this post! I am a DIY laundry detergent maker and I firmly believe LESS is MORE when it comes to ingredients. My go-to recipe is always borax, washing soda, and a grated soap (Fels, Zote, Castille, etc.). I have come across quite a few “recipes” on Pinterest that are not only ridiculous, but completely self-defeating.

It seems like some people literally just go to the store and buy every single item they see in the laundry aisle, bring it home, throw it all into a food processor, grater, or bucket, and write an article claiming their concoction is “the best ever DIY laundry detergent recipe.”

To me, that’s like buying every type of disinfectant, floor polish, scouring scrub, and window cleaner, dumping it all together, pouring it into empty spray bottles, and then writing a blog post about my “amazing all-in-one house cleaner.”

Anyways, thank you for such an informative post. I shared it via Pinterest and hope that the many detergent do-it-yourselfers out there will read it, too!

Lori January 30, 2015 at 2:56 am

Just want to draw your attention to the fact that the bacteria B. Cereus is a pathogen. see http://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/bcereus/ , however the first one you mentioned is not toxic. http://www.epa.gov/biotech_rule/pubs/fra/fra009.html

Are you not concerned about the impact of using a toxic bacteria in your laundry detergent? Could it be harmful if it remains on the clothing?

Just a little worried about this.

Kind regards

Daisy January 30, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Lori–The “ingredients” Deanna mentions in this post are found in commercial laundry detergent. And she was really just kidding about making your own bacteria. We’re crunchy but we’re not THAT crunchy!

Jenn February 17, 2015 at 9:17 am

Thanks for the great info – it was super helpful! Be careful of the B. cereus – it’s the bacteria in spoiled fried rice that causes severe food poisoning that we see people in the hospital for.

Donna March 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm

The hardness (or softness) of your water is a huge determiner in how your cleaning agents are going to work. Back in the day when soft rainwater was used on blue Monday, lye soap worked great. I still have several pounds of my grandmother’s last lye soap batch made nearly a hundred years ago. The outside has powdery residue, but when you scape it down to ‘healthy’ soap it’s wonderful. I use it whenever I get bad dry skin in winter time.
The water here in East Tennessee is delicious, sweet and pure, but having filtered through hundreds of feet of limestone is extremely hard.
A good commercial coconut oil castile bar soap is ‘Kirks’ which is made in Kentucky and available in Food City stores here in Tennessee. That and Nature’s Gate shampoo/conditioner are only products I have found that work well with our water.
Because we have cattle (beef and dairy) we have a lot of manure stains on our clothes that only thing I have found that does the job to remove is the Tide enzyme ‘boost’ pods. One thing I have found about them is that they are much more effective if you fill washer about half full with lukewarm water, put in pod and then laundry, mix and let soak about fifteen minutes. Then finish filling and add whatever detergent/soap. Apparently the detergent/soap can deactivate the enzymes. Donna, lady farmer in braids

sat March 11, 2015 at 3:51 pm

I found that the original liquid recipe with washing soda and baking soda and soap did not get all my laundry clean if-body odors-some people are more potent than others, some dirt(stains, heavy soil, cuffs, collars, socks imbedded with dirt from walking around with no shoes can be removed by pre-scrubbing with lots of water and direct application of an extra soap bar or a special soap paste/sun technique).

My improved homemade recipe uses baking soda instead of washing soda, and adds 1/3 cup of Kosher salt per cup of borax to soften water and improve greatly the surfactant property( decreases surface tension and improves wetting quality-so clothes are able to absorb more water and dirt gets pushed out-it is water that cleans not the soap-but you must be able to push the water in and out the material to clean by later rinsing out the dirt well. this is the science of cleaning-soap, detergent is needed because most dirt is bound by oil which is hydrophobic-does not release in water-soap takes care of this problem. Without the oil you could clean with water alone. As for suds- an unhealthy chemical sodium lauryl sulfate or its counterpart SLES(cancer, neurotoxic) creates suds which is simply for your viewing pleasure.

I actually hand wash some items-white socks, kitchen linen-cannot stand that greasy smell that remains after washing even with traditional detergents-that also cover up odors with all that heavy perfume which makes me sick now that I have not used it for 5 years or more. simply scrub with bar soap, rub material against itself and rinse twice. For stubborn stains or other types-expose soaped item(can make a paste and apply to stain) to sunlight, a great stain remover, whitener and disinfectant-scrape off soap paste and stain is gone. rinsing well imperative.

Clothes last longer-environment is protected and I am exposed to far fewer toxins. think of doing laundry as exercise-burning calories.

My dry recipe:
600 gm or 21 oz of grated soap: Zote, Tepeyac, Lirio, Fels Naptha-I generally use 2 types of
soap(bath soaps or other scented soaps can contain fragrances which stain due to the oil)
2 cups of Borax
2 cups of baking soda-bicarbonate of soda (not washing soda) at Costco you can get 11 lbs
2/3 cup of Kosher salt

essential oil optional-they do not stain because they are not oily-they are the volatile distillates of plant materials. make sure you have pure essential oil and not infused ones that are mixed in carrier or fragrance oils-these are cheaper and will stain-personally the smell of clean is enough for me. caution with lavender especially and possibly tea tree oil-question of hormone disruption causing breast dev in prepubescent boys and problem with pregnant women-estrogen like effect and anti-androgen(male hormone) so I would not use if you have family members in this category until facts better known

I have used oxiclean powder-no added whiteness seen
pure peroxide works well on blood stains, not seen any benefit adding to wash otherwise
Used washing soda -no benefit seen
Baking soda removes odors very well-biggest reason to add
switch to dry recipe has made a huge difference
sunning with soap yes does whiten or with lemon juice boiling, also just put item in sun
handwashing regular laundry(then throw in machine) stains, dirt does very very well-nothing beats plain laundry bar soap scrubbed into material-more time energy but worth it
salt works for me-grandmas used it
soaking after a few minute agitation improves results, handwashing too
bath soap, face soap, fragrance soap should never be used-oils can stain clothes plus you are fighting clean by washing with these oils contained in them

Valerie March 16, 2015 at 5:18 pm

I really prefer my liquid homemade detergent but I am curious if anyone can answer a question for me?

I think adding salt is a good suggestions as many have mentioned here. I wash mostly in warm or hot water (I would never wash my dishes in cold water, I feel the same way about my laundry).

Could I add some salt directly into the basin at the start of the wash, I always put my gel like liquid into the dispenser, and vinegar with various EO in the rinse dispenser.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Elizabeth March 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

I have been using Pink Solution enzymes and it has worked great.

At the moment trying out the Smart Klean Laundry ball!

soma March 31, 2015 at 8:57 pm

We have extremely hard and highly chlorinated water. Also a family of chemical and asthma sufferers. I have a carbon filter on the cold intake and a kdf filter on the hot. About a year ago I discovered soap nuts, about as all natural as you can get. Toss a about five nuts in a cloth bag and drop in machine at start, and remove before rinse cycle. Seems easy enough? Not with the hard water and not in cold water. Seems you need to warm them up abit first to release the saponins from the nuts. Not a problem with hot, but still the issue of hard water persists. Here where the borax and washing soda come in. When washing hot, I’ll just drop the bag of soap nuts in, about quarter cup each of borax/washing soda. I sometimes miss the rinse cycle to remove the bag, and the times i did, it didn’t seem to make a difference. The clothes come out amazing! I do not add anything to the rinse cycle. So what about the cold? Well I’m too lazy to heat the soap nuts up first, so I just grab my old coffee grinder and grind up into a fine powder and premix with the borax/soda. A little goes a long way, and the bag of nuts last many washes. And no worrying about removing the bag at rinse which will lessen the uses you get out of them. I use wool balls for the dryer and clothes are soft, oil stains come out in cold, and they just feel amazing on the skin!

Jazzy April 7, 2015 at 10:58 am

I came across your website in Google , U answered questions I had about salt in laundry soap and borax. I had to stop making it and ARM @ Hammer laundry detergent is what I use and he stopped itching . Will start making it again when I run out and might make it liquid . What do u think about Dawn dishwashing soap in laundry recipes ? It does make a good stain remover and washes my dishes . My grandma used it and my mom uses it. Will buy your book . What a great website! Jazzy

Julia April 17, 2015 at 10:36 am

My washer and dryer are in my garage and only cold water is running there. There for my laundry is washed in cold water .Since borax doesn’t do well in cold water, can i just use washing soda and a grated bar of soap? Please Help. Do you have a recipe for cold water laundry detergent?

Cynthia April 23, 2015 at 11:43 am

What is your final outcome for a powdered recipe for hard water?

Ruth May 18, 2015 at 8:31 pm

I love the research you have done, we have hard water where I live and I love to have homemade detergent specially for my daughter cloth diapers! I usually wash them by hand with zote I have an HE front Machine, any help thanks 🙂

Jean May 19, 2015 at 7:29 am

Although vinegar in the rinse acts as a great water softener, I would not use it if you have a septic tank. The vinegar will kill off a lot of bacteria… a septic system needs those same bacteria to function properly.

Kathleen S. June 5, 2015 at 11:40 am

I make up a huge painter’s container of a powder laundry detergent that contains 1 part Raindrops water softener (http://www.amazon.com/Rain-Drops-Water-Softener-Ounce/dp/B005NZ4MGU), 2 parts old fashioned Borax Hand Soap (borax, powdered soap http://www.amazon.com/Dial-02203CT-Powdered-Original-Unscented/dp/B0011FR66E/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1433525709&sr=8-2&keywords=borax+hand+soap ) and 1 part Oxyclean or its equivalent, and 1/4 -1/2 part TSP (which can be left out, but really works to get the conditioner out of the towels). I use ECOS liquid detergent as a pre-wash in heavily soiled loads or for the satisfaction of others, but often times just my powder. I use this on my pots & pans, floors and it cuts down greatly on the need to scrub. Make sure you keep your powder dry, so get a good lid.

NicoleIsOutmsartingLife June 8, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Wow, thanks so much for this! I’m making my own for the first time, and I really appreciate all the research behind your work. I’m going to try your recipe; many of the others are too complicated or contain too many ingredients. The water where I live is really hard, so hoping it works!

Liz G. June 18, 2015 at 5:31 am

What precautions if any,should i take with a side loader washing machine that requires the low suds detergent?

Danielle July 2, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Regarding the enzymatic cleaners – a lot of the commercial cleaners contain enzymes made by genetically modified forms of b. Cereus, b. Licheniformis and friends. In their wild states they can still make these enzymes, but probably not to the same strength as the commercial cleaners. I like your idea of using a pre-made microbial cleaner for stains; if you have a commercial cleaning store nearby you can get large bottles for relatively cheap, and they should last a very long time.

Safety note: some forms of b. Cereus can produce toxins that are very bad for people, so please please please be careful if you’re trying to culture bacteria for cleaners! Keep it away from kids and any animals that you like!

Michele July 26, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Homemade detergents aren’t made for HE washers. You got to use detergents that is recommended for HE washers. Or, you’ll run into problems with your HE washer.

Luella July 29, 2015 at 10:16 am

I have a question in regards to Michelle’s statement about homemade detergent isn’t made for HE washing machines.may I ask why? Is it the suds or something else.

Ivory Soap July 29, 2015 at 1:40 pm

Yeah, I’ve never heard that. I read that it was just a smaller amount.

shahid September 29, 2015 at 9:48 am

Is borax and baking soda same?
How to make enzymes at home?

Daisy September 30, 2015 at 8:41 am

shahid–No, baking soda(NaHCO3) and borax (Na2B4O7·10H2O) are different. We don’t cover how to make enzymes. I’m not sure how to direct you, it’s not a commonly done practice in the home.

bette October 22, 2015 at 12:21 am

I make homemade laundry soap and use 2Tbsp only (the same measurement as a tide pod) in my machine, an HE washer with no problems.

Beth October 30, 2015 at 7:32 am

Thanks so much – I bookmarked this page and am glad I finally got back to it. You helped me see it was redundant to use sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate (washing soda) together, as I was doing. I was using grated Marseille soap, those two ingredients & baking soda with a vinegar rinse. Now will just choose the percarbonate for whites. PS I’ve ruined some man-made materials and narrowed it down to my vinegar rinse, I believe, so that’s another factor to check out.

Caroline November 18, 2015 at 1:09 pm

First thanks for all the tips you have given me… And this does work in an HE WASHER that’s all we have in the UK.. Not a lot of top loaders… What we do have is very hard water depending where you live in London… I only make the liquid laundry soap… I do prefer this …yes it doesn’t
Suds up …but the question should be does it clean the clothes…and I have to say a big YES.. 5 kids .. 2 Dogs … And it’s true cleans the pans great…make sure you rinse in cold water… Again many thanks for all the info….

Jaslyn Begni November 21, 2015 at 9:04 am

Hi I live in Italy and found a website hosted by a industrial chemist who has posted household cleaning recipes. He also answers any queries and advice on your recipes… albeit in Italian. I was quite excited to stumble across it as I, like you, was looking into sodium silicate and enzymes for my home made cleaners… with no end in site! He says that enzymes in laundry detergents cause allergies and can even break down fabric. For stains, take some of the laundry detergent mix, (recipe below) add water to make a paste and smear over the stain. Wash article of clothing before the paste dries.

Take 2 Tbs of grated laundry Soap (we use Marsiglio from olive oil) and mix with a heaped Tbs of Percarbonate of Soda. In a separate container add Bio dishwashing liquid to a level Tbs of Carbonate of Soda (Washing Soda). Mix all ingredients together. Dosage is as a normal commercial detergent. Only for use 40°C (104°F). This Recipe will last for months and months without any problems but in a COOL place, otherwise the percarbonate of soda will degrade
If you have hard water add one or two cups of Sodium Citrate to the washing powder dose ( citrato di sodio)

In a glass or stainless steel container, dissolve 200g/7 oz of citric acid in 750 ml/25 0z water. Now SLOWLY add Bicarbonate of Soda until there are no bubbles ( about 350g) +/- 12 oz. Set it asidefor a few hrs, preferably in a warm spot ( house radiator) and its ready to use.

I obviously cannot answer any questions on this, just wanted to share what I’d found from a reputable source and also add to the citric acid /alkali combination that a lot of people have queries about.

If this does work and you would like any of his other recipes let me know and I can translate them for you. I’ve had enough of research, so I’m happy to take his advice and get on with my life .

Jaslyn Begni November 21, 2015 at 9:10 am

Sorry forgot to add the SODIUM CITRATE is the WATER SOFTENER

tcbaaa December 8, 2015 at 12:54 am

I have a question. do you use this homemade laundry soap mainly for whites? have you encountered any discoloration using it with colored clothes?

i am relieved and happy that someone has gone this far to research on homemade laundry soap. i’ve been making homemade laundry soap for months and using all those ingredients stated above …so now, i will just use washing soda and ivory soap together.

QUESTION: can i add oxyclean to washing soda + ivory soap? is this just for whites?

thank you

Jane December 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Great read, I’ve been making my liquid soap for 4 years now and the cost is cheap! I use fells-Napha soap grated, washing soda, borax &
because I have hard well water I add a TBS. of Epsom salts to each load to soften the water. ( I add vinegar too sometimes.) I also add one TPS. Epsom salts to a large glass of water to rinse my hair after washing it. Don’t rinse it out and your hair will be soft & shiny .

lisbeth January 1, 2016 at 9:50 am

Is it really so hard to come up with a descriptive adjective other than “poop”? How about power, strength, efficacy… it makes you sound more literate.

Patricia January 13, 2016 at 11:07 am

I actually have a jar of sodium silicate on hand, which I purchased a million years ago when I was trying to make my own dishwasher detergent. Would it add anything meaningful to my homemade detergent?

Sandy January 22, 2016 at 8:21 am

I make homemade laundry powder using grated homemade bars, borax, washing soda, oxiclean, and baking soda. Would you recommend adding grated Zote soap or just using it as a separate treatment? Did you ever make those enzymes and did you use them in your laundry? Do you use just the regular peroxide from the dollar store or something stronger?

Ivory Soap February 17, 2016 at 11:59 pm

I have used it for whites and colors. It is most successful with colors since it doesn’t have the brighteners we associate with whites.

Oxyclean is fine with the above ingredients. It is color-safe.

Amy Higgins March 7, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Actually SOAP is not what commercial detergents contain. Commercial detergents contain surfactants which are a totally different story. Unless you are using an old fashioned washing board you should not use SOAP. Modern washers are not designed for it, leaving build up on your clothing and in your washer. In fact the use of soap in your washer voids most manufacturer warranties. If you’re a long time user of homemade laundry soap I suggest a strip of your laundry, particularly your towels and other absorbant items. I have no personal stake in this, I’m not selling anything, just passing along some science 🙂

nicole March 8, 2016 at 4:52 am

I have a recipe for laundry soap it is 9 ounces finely grated bar soap ( I make my own artesian cols process soap) 2 cups washing soda, 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup oxi clean

nicole March 8, 2016 at 5:00 am

its suppose to say cold process soap and I use 2-4 tablespoons per load it depends on the load size I also use hot water to start the empty washer then I add my clothes and turn the water to tap cold and it works good for me.

Ivory Soap March 9, 2016 at 7:04 pm

All of that is fine. The baking soda isn’t necessary if you have the washing soda in there, as far as I know.

Ivory Soap March 9, 2016 at 7:04 pm


June April 5, 2016 at 2:54 pm

I have been using homemade laundry soap for almost 5 yrs now in my front loader and never had a problem with it. Always my clothes are clean with no issues. I use washing soda, baking soda, borax, oxiclean and finely ground zote soap if I don’t have goatmilk soap around and that seems to work just fine for me. I started making laundry soap when my daughter was suffering horribly from eczema and was on 2 strong steroids to help it. No matter what I used commercially even the hypoallergenic stuff wasn’t helping so I decided to give it a try and she has been eczema free since we changed over. I pretty much got rid of all chemicals in our house and now it’s just baking soda, vinegar and peroxide to clean with, and goat milks soap to bath with. All of us are much better for it. Also on a side note I never experienced and soap residue on our clothes but really saw it in the commercial stuff no matter how little I used. I also prefer the no smell from that homemade detergent I mean who needs Mountain rain daisy flower lavender fresh scent anyways 🙂

mikebrady April 10, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Do you think “Bonner’s” lavender soap bar would work in place of “Ivory” bar when added to washing soap for this recipe? I use a T. of “Bonner’s Tea Tree” Liquid soap and a T. of “Oasis Laundry Soap” in small loads with hot water. I get clean clothes but it’s $$.

Leanne Raymond April 10, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing!

Ginger April 15, 2016 at 7:33 pm

Hi! I just made my first batch of powder laundry detergent using 1 cup borax, 1 cup of A&H super washing soda and a finely grated bar of the Fels-naphtha. Well, I washed a medium load of towels in cold water, used 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of the homemade powder. My towels have blue spots on them. It’s no biggie on our old towels but now I’m afraid to use it on a load of clothes. Please help! What do I need to do? Change the recipe? We have well water and no softener needed. I am just stumped as to what to do. Thanks so much for any advice anyone can give. I really want to continue to make this and save money.

Ivory Soap April 28, 2016 at 11:53 am

I’m sure Bronner’s will work, but like you said, it’s PRICEY

Ivory Soap April 28, 2016 at 11:54 am

I can’t imagine what would have made blue spots! I’ve heard a lot of laundry bloopers over the years, but that is a new one. You sure there wasn’t a crayon in there? That happens in my house with some regularity.

Loren Amelang April 28, 2016 at 12:22 pm


I know you said “no softener needed”, but your blue spots sound exactly like what happens with my hard well water – if I just dump in the soap and clothes and start the machine. If I leave the clothes out, let the machine fill with water, then put in the soap and run it for a minute until the powders are all dissolved, and then add the clothes, no problem, even with nasty hard water. Try it…

Leslie Landry June 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm

I let the water fill up with the clothes in. (Clothing absorbs a lot of water so to be sure there is enough water I do it this way )
I dilute soap in a cup of hot water , start the wash and add soap while agitating . For a front loader I would mix soap in water add and toss in clothes and carry on. Don’t know if it works as well as the top loader . I have both and will take the top loader any day of the week .

Mandy June 27, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Wow! You have really done some great research – thanks so much for this – I have a costume shop and spend a huge amount of time and money on laundry – I’ve thought about making my own but been a bit scared to try – this helps heaps!

Abigail June 27, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Homemade liquid deterg comprised of washing soda, borax, Dawn Dish liquid (orig blue), Bronner’s, and water– does not clean my clothes, plus leaves a horrid ring on the inside of my washing machine every time. Ive tried using more and less of the liquid detergent to no avail. It did not remove simple water-based paint from my son’s t-shirt, but liquid Tide removed it. Everybody loves this homemade liquid detergent; why is it not working for me?

Seasud June 28, 2016 at 1:15 am

Washing soda doesn’t lose efficacy in liquid concoctions. Tide powdered contains only borax and not washing soda, and it’s consistently a top preformer in consumer reports tests. Borax is more expensive than washing soda and doesn’t dissolve as quickly, but it softens water more efficiently and is more effective against mildew. Probably a good choice in hard water areas, but perhaps not necessary for soft water.

For enzymes, use the sprays meant for pet accidents. Cheaper than bac-out. I like the earth friendly brand because it’s not so perfumey. I spot treat soiled areas with a spray bottle.

Seasud June 28, 2016 at 1:19 am

Few detergents contain real soap. Soap leaves behind residue, particularly in hard water, which reduces absorbency and grays fabric. It might take a while to build up, but try boiling a clean towel that’s been washed with real soap for a year. It’s disgusting. In the old days when real soap was all they had, boiling clothes was a regular part of the routine to counteract the buildup.

Dish soap is an easy to obtain detergent for a homemade laundry detergent. Or for a single ingredient, orvus paste shampoo can frequently be found at feed stores. Very effective degreaser, a little goes a long way making it very economical. Its used by quilters and conservationists for washing fabric.

Ivory Soap July 4, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Thank you for your insights!

Ivory Soap July 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm

This is why commercial detergent is so successful. It’s dependable. It’s formulated to work in any water, any temperature, all that. It sounds like you ahve really hard water.

Ivory Soap July 4, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Great! Glad it helps!

Abigail July 4, 2016 at 11:52 pm

Thank you Seasud, for your reply explaining soap vs detergent; why can’t we find detergent to use in our homemade concoctions? In lieu of that, I purchased a box of TSP and have added 1 tablespoon to a load of laundry using homemade powdered detergent– washing soda, borax, and Fels Naptha. Let’s see if that helps. Or perhaps I shall go back to Tide.

Marlys Lauer August 22, 2016 at 8:27 am

I have read how vinegar is too harsh on rubber seals etc, deteriorates them. ???

Aaron Cash September 20, 2016 at 3:08 pm

You cannot “make” enzymes. They are a naturally existing substance and cannot be reproduced synthetically. You can cause them to precipitate from other substances but involves time pressure and temperature controls you aren’t likely to obtain in a home environment.

Aaron Cash September 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm

This article (and another like it) has a fundamental misrepresentation of PH, it’s role in cleaning, and chemicals involved in changing the level of PH, mostly because you say that washing soda is more ‘powerful’ than substances like borax and baking soda. I think it’s because adjusting PH also requires one Adjust the Alkalinity. Hey are different measures that often move together in response to the addition of these chemicals- and to be honest it all depends on the water you have in your home. So what is effective in Florida is not going to be the same in the Midwest. Baking soda is used to increase PH and Alkalinity, washing soda will only increase PH and borax increases both but also introduces borites to the water and will increase PH much greater than Alkalinity. Also PH effect is one that is a matter of canceling out acidicicy , and balancing the water in a way that allows the water to remove the ‘dirty’. Likewise soap is a surfactant which reduces the surface tension of the water. So soap reduces surface tension and PH balances acidiciyand then water can more easily bond to the molecules or “dirty” and casting them out in the drain

Amy October 6, 2016 at 7:31 am

Hi, if I want to add some fizz to the detergent with Sodium Percarbonate, how much would you advise?

Amy October 6, 2016 at 10:23 am

Continuing from my previous comment, I have spent the entire night on researching of different recipes for laundry detergent plus surfactant vs soap and this article blew me away. So now I’m entirely sitting on the fence as to whether I should continue with my road of homade products. Do let me know what’s your opinion? http://butterbeliever.com/homemade-laundry-detergent-soap-diy/


Mark October 15, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Question: you write that younuse 1/2 washing soda and 1/2 ivory. What about adding Biz or an enzyme to that? Aren’t you missing out on the “stain fighting” power of an enzyme?

Edrianna November 10, 2016 at 10:15 am

What about using vinegar in a pre-wash instead of a rinse cycle?

Deanna Culp November 12, 2016 at 12:23 pm

What recipe do you use

Lauren Brown December 19, 2016 at 2:23 am

I dont see the truth in this article. Soap should rinse away just fine in soft water which is what your doing by adding borax and washing soda. It removes the minerals in the hard water giving the soap nothing to react to, to cause soap scum. And if it did leave build behind on your fabrics then vinegar should be used because it is known to disolve soap residue, so therefore stripping should not be needed because there was no build up. If someone has used vinegar I’m their final rinse cycle and still got build up then let me know because it doesn’t make sense why something with high acidity would not cancel out something alkaline like soap.

Lauren Brown December 19, 2016 at 2:30 am

Explain the logic when your using water softeners and vinegar in the rinse cycle?

jessica February 6, 2017 at 12:10 pm

Finally someone that talk my language lol…i comment in someone else post that ask about adding oxiclean instead washing soda and borax i said not to use oxiclean bc it loses its power in homemade liquid soap and someone else told me to im bothering to much with something i dont know lol

Ryan March 16, 2017 at 8:21 am

Oh my goodness. I am so excited and very confused (with brief, yet fleeting, moments of clarity in between).

I am planning to make my own detergent, because as you mentioned, a laundry soap is not really enough, especially in harder water.
Problem is, to conserve energy (and since some care tags say not to wash in hot/warm water) I wash almost exclusively in cold water.
What should I be using for ingredients?
I was planning to get a coconut oil based soap bar for laundry, cook it with borax/washing soda, (in distilled water cuz I read that was better?) then after I let the mix sit in a sealable tub for 24 hrs, blend in some Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds or Charlie’s Liquid Detergent, then take the mixture from the tub and distribute into airtight containers….maybe old commercial detergent bottles.
Because you can’t really craft a “detergent” without a laboratory and I had seen a post from One Good Thing by Jillee where she added Tide. I don’t wanna use tide because it isn’t environmentally sound or very good for humans anyway….though it DOES clean well….gotta give em that.
I want to make something healthy for people and the environment, while also having enough to last me a long time and not make my wallet cry. LOL
But now I’m not so sure what my ingredients should actually be…….

Cyndi Alles April 3, 2017 at 8:06 am

Try microwaving the bars of IVORY. The bar fluffs up and it becomes powder just by rubbing the puff pieces in your hands! The bar will not puff 100% but remaining bar pieces can be microwaved again. Watch microwave closely & powder in well vented area, best outside. I used vinyl gloves.

Alexis April 12, 2017 at 7:13 am

Hi Ivory Soap, thank you for the article. I have a question about the peroxide; what is the peroxide percentage in the solution you use for your laundry?

peggy m May 3, 2017 at 11:47 am

Interesting arcticle. I to have made laundry soap for years, using the pre approved recipe… zote, washing soda, borax. I also make a liquid with dawn, WS and borax. Depending on the temp of water, which one i use. They work better than anything i have ever tried. But now, your saying we dont need Borax? I to am confused.I do know that in my liquid detergent the borax crystalizes, so Ive always wondered how much borax is left to do its job.Anyway, I may make a small batch of your new recipe and try a side by side. Like I said, I’m perfectly happy with the results, so if it’s not broken, dont fix it , right?

Ivory Soap May 10, 2017 at 7:02 pm

YES! First rule: If it ain’t broke…..

Ivory Soap May 10, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Whatever’s in the bottle at the Walmart pharmacy…

Ivory Soap May 10, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Ryan, a “1/4 satan” recipe is still better than nothing, right? Over 50 years? Totally worth it. Experiment with how much BAD STUFF is required. The “poison is in the dose,” as my nuclear physicist dad use to say. Creativity, self-sufficiency, minivans…we never claimed to be 100% organic.

Pauline May 28, 2017 at 7:00 am

I’m beginning to think that some of us are just “self taught chemists” in disguise. I love making my own detergents/fabric softeners but I have come to the conclusion that I am doing so much mixing and messing around that it’s probably costing me twice as much to make my own as it would to just go and buy. But I just love playing around with ingredients, constantly looking on websites for economizing and tips on saving. I also love home hacks. Enjoy!

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