Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year
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How to Make DIY Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

Today’s tip is one that is gentle on your washer (HE and regular), but most importantly it will save you money! If you’ve ever looked at the cost of laundry detergent, you may have choked at the cost. I have a wonderful recipe to make your own Liquid Laundry Detergent for only $1.25 per year! And the detergent is low suds and low residue which will keep your washer and clothes cleaner.

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

How to Make DIY Laundry Detergent

If you think this detergent couldn’t possibly work on dirty clothes, think again. I can tell you that in addition to our regular clothing, I’ve been using this recipe for 9 years on my boys’ clothes, on my own work clothes, and my husband’s karate clothing. And it really works. Whatever stains don’t come out in the wash are no match for my DIY Miracle Stain Remover.

The ingredients for the laundry detergent are simple and can be purchased at your grocery store. Just look on the high or low shelves in the laundry detergent aisle. If you can’t find them there, you can also look at your local hardware or home improvement store.

To make the detergent, you only need about 15 minutes and then let the detergent sit overnight. The next morning, you stir, add more water and you are done! Do you think that’s too much time to devote to making laundry detergent? What if I told you that this batch lasts our family of four (did I mention two of them are young boys) six months or more.

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

Click Here to Download the Printable Version of the Recipe

Laundry Detergent for $1.25 a Year

Several of you asked me to make a video showing how I make my own detergent. For your convenience you can watch the video, then scroll down to read the directions.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Please note, you can purchase these items cheaper at your local grocery store or hardware store. The links are here to help you see what the box looks like or to order if you can’t get to the store.

Optional: Essential Oil for Scent (see below for scent ideas)


  1. Cut Fels Naptha Bar in quarters. Grate one quarter of the Fels Naptha Bar using a fine cheese grater.
  2. Boil 1 cup of water. Pour grated Fel Naptha into pan of boiling water. Stir continuously until the soap has dissolved. Meanwhile, pour 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water into a large container or bucket. Pour dissolved Fels Naptha into the bucket of water. Stir.
  3. Add 1/4 cup Super Washing Soda and 2 TBSP Borax to the bucket.
  4. Add 2 1/2 quarts more water and stir.
  5. Cover the mixture and let is sit overnight out of reach of pets or children. Uncover the bucket and stir the gelatinous mix.
  6. Add 5 Quarts (20 cups) of water to the bucket. Stir.
  7. Add 15-30 drops of essential oil of your choice.

Some essential oil scents you may like:

Citrus scents: lemon, lime, orange, bergamot, or grapefruit
Herbs scents: peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, basil
Other scents to try: Eucalyptus, chamomile, cypress, lemongrass
Want to fight mold & mildew? Use Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca)

Blends to try:

  • basil & lemon
  • lavendar & lemon
  • orange, bergamot, and lemon
  • chamomile, lavender, and orange
  • lemon & tea tree

Miracle Stain Remover Recipe:

If your clothing gets stained, try soaking in this miracle stain remover a day or two before laundering. You’ll be amazed how the stain lifts out effortlessly.

miracle stain remover

How did I figure out my cost per year?

I had to do a little guestimating to figure out my cost. In the nine years I’ve been making this recipe, I’m only on my second box of Borax and Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.

Each batch of DIY laundry detergent consists of at least 4o cups. If you use the required 1/4 cup per load (do not use more, as more detergent won’t get your clothing cleaner) you can easily get 160 loads from each batch.

All this to say, I came up with a very conservative estimate that I pay $1.25 for laundry detergent per year!

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year

Storing Your Laundry Detergent:

When I first started making this recipe, I used my empty laundry detergent container. But, it was often too small for the batch size. Next, I used an empty 2.5 Gallon Water Jug. But, several years ago I bought a big glass drink dispenser and a smaller bottle with a flip top stopper. The smaller bottle is filled and used for dispensing detergent into the 1/4 cup measuring cup and then added to the washer. The large drink dispenser holds all the excess detergent. This is a prettier solution to storing all the detergent.

DIY Laundry Detergent | Pretty Handy Girl

Gift Idea:

Once you try this DIY laundry detergent, I know you’ll love it. And then you’ll want to share this recipe with everyone you know! I like to share the recipe with a small sample amount in a laundry themed basket.

DIY Laundry Detergent |Pretty Handy Girl

If you want more uses for that big box of Borax, check out my 2 Ingredient Ant Killer!


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Make Your Own Laundry Detergent for Only $1.25 per year


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40 replies
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  1. leese
    leese says:

    Are you still using this? I made my own dry version with same ingredients and gave up when I put 2 + 2 together after reading about why homemade detergents don’t work with our low sudsing, gentler washing machines these days. My clothes reeked like motor oil. My daughter said her t shirts stunk too. The linens didn’t smell fresh (I wash them every week). It’s because we don’t beat our clothes on rocks or agitate them in boiling water like we used to (well, not me, but you get it). We need the surfactants to remove the oil and odor. Hey, if it’s working for you and you don’t smell like you just changed the motor oil from your car, rock on. For me, I haven’t regretted paying 100x more for the commercial stuff.

  2. Paige White
    Paige White says:

    Hi Brittany, I love your Pretty Handy Girl site, it’s THE BOMB!!! Like you, only endorsing products you have tried and love, I’m very particular about what products I use in my home and on myself. I wanted to make this recipe but had never heard of Fels Naptha so I did a searched on the (Environmental Working Group) website and both Fels Naptha & 20 Mule Borax get a C & F respectively for product ingredients (ratings for allergies, cancer, environmental, etc.) but there are some other products that could be substituted, Meliora Soap Stick for one. The Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda gets an A tho! The links below will take you the EWG pages for these products. Thanks for all you do! -Paige

  3. Patti Kafton
    Patti Kafton says:

    Thanks! I had formerly used this recipe (the 5 gallon version) with great satisfaction. EVENTUALLY I ran out, but had misplaced the recipe. I have saved ECOS jugs so I’d be prepared when the recipe turned up again. I am SO READY!

  4. Heather
    Heather says:

    Hi Brittany!

    I recently saw you make this on Instagram stories in a 5 gallon bucket. I wanted to do that too. I remember that after the mixture has gelled (the next day) you add more water to it, but I can’t remember the quantity & I didn’t see it here. Was it 20 cups? Thanks!!

  5. Loyce
    Loyce says:

    I’ve been saving this detergent recipe for over a month. My very independent 85 yo MIL has declared that no one may buy her Christmas gifts this year. Guess what she is getting? You guessed it–homemade detergent! It should blow her socks off.
    I scored big brownie points earlier on her BD. She had declared no gifts unless we found it at a thrift store. I found her an unused Peacock Alley coverlet and matching shams. It has been a long time since I gave her anything she of which she expressed such delight. Just wait for the opening of the bottle of Santa’s Secret Sauce Laundry Detergent!
    Thank you so much for continuing to inspire us all.

  6. kristie
    kristie says:

    I’m Not Too Sure I Did It Right. My Batch Of Laundry Detergent Didn’t Gell overnight, Could You Please Tell Me Where I May Have Gone Wrong While Making It? Thank you.

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Kristie, I’m not sure. Check that you used the same ingredients and the correct proportions. Did you use too much water? Once it gels, it’s really only on the top. Once you mix it, it will go back to a thick liquid.

  7. Candice
    Candice says:

    Hi Brittany! I found your blog around the beginning of October and when I saw this laundry detergent recipe, I knew I had to try it! My first load of clothes is in the dryer right now. I’ve gone back through old posts some and it’s inspired my husband and I to try some things on our own, instead of waiting for my dad to help. 🙂 Thanks so much!

  8. Colleen Taylor
    Colleen Taylor says:

    I’ve been making that detergent since I saw it on your blog way back when. It’s great stuff & so easy. I do love your detergent container much better than mine. I must find something similar to this container! Thanks for this again.

  9. Ashley
    Ashley says:

    I’m a single mother of two who recently found your blog and immediately added it to my RSS feed. I have to tell you that you are honestly such an inspiration! You’ve helped me to do it myself and not feel like I need someone else to rely on. I love learning new ideas on how to fix up my rental home or save money on necessities like this. THANK YOU!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Want to save hundreds of dollars a year? Make my tested and approved DIY Laundry Detergent! […]

  2. […] a try.  I hated paying so much for something that we literally wash down the drain.  I found this recipe from Pretty Handy Girl and whipped up a batch.  I must say, it works really well!  Borax, […]

  3. […] over at Pretty Handy Girl  saved my pocket book! She had just posted an article on how to do your own laundry detergent back in October so off I […]

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