Home-made Laundry Detergent

My cute daughter holding some ‘very stinky' clothes!

My cute daughter holding some ‘very stinky' clothes!

I am always looking for more ways to make something from what I already have, and laundry detergent is no exception. It seems in our household (full of little kids) we have a lot of laundry. Lots of smelly laundry. Especially pee. It just is a fact. I was doing laundry in a front-loader washing machine at one place we were staying, and I was getting frustrated that I had to wash the loads 2 times with regular store-bought detergent for the clothes to come out smelling clean. Laundry detergent is not cheap! So I looked into detergent alternatives, and I tweaked several recipes I found to make this one.

I have been using this now for many months, I have used it in front-load and top-load washers, with salty well water, and city water, and for hand-washing too. It works great, and all those smelly clothes come out clean. It is not a stain remover detergent though, so you may have to pre-treat stains before washing if that is an issue.

I love how simple this detergent is to make, and how it uses ingredients that I have in the house anyway. Now I never have to worry about running out of detergent, I just make up another batch. The two ingredients you need to make this recipe are baking soda and a bar of soap. That’s all. So how do you make it?


Step 1: Turn baking soda into washing soda. So you can buy washing soda, but it is super simple to make your own. Take a box of baking soda (500g), empty it onto a baking sheet, and spread evenly. Put into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or so, stirring a couple times. I have forgotten it in the oven for a couple hours once and it didn’t burn or anything. Wish that happened with cookies! The heat of the oven turns the baking soda into washing soda.You will be able to tell the difference between baking soda and washing soda when you look closely. Baking soda is bright white, and can kind of clump together. Once it turns into washing soda, it is very slightly a grey colour, and much more fine of a powder, and can’t clump together. Take it out of the oven and let cool.


Step 2: Grate a bar of soap. I use the small size grater holes and use whatever bar soap I have. Irish Spring, Ivory, Old Spice, or a home-made bar that I made or from the farmer’s market. If it has a scent, that may transfer to the wash, so that’s nice! I always have kids asking to eat some when I grate it, as they think it is cheese! Sprout #4 asked for more once after I let her have a taste!!

Step 3: Mix together the grated bar of soap and the entire pan of washing soda, and put into an airtight container. I use an old peanut butter jar. Be careful when mixing together, as the washing soda is quite dusty, and can cause you to cough if you breath it in.

That’s it! Use 1 Tablespoon of detergent for a small load; 2 for medium; 3 for a large load. We always have a large load. If you want to have your clothes smell like a scent, you can add a few drops of essential oil in your load of laundry when you do your wash, and if you have hard or salty well water, 1/4 cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle (or dispenser) can help with the hard water.

Recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent


1 Box Baking Soda (500g or about 2 cups)

Bar of soap (grated finely)



Empty baking soda onto a cookie sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring twice. Remove and let cool. Grate a bar of soap and mix together with the (now) washing soda. Put into an airtight container to store. Use 1 Tbsp for Large load; 2 Tbsp for Medium load; 3 Tbsp for Large load.

Add a few drops of essential oils to your load when you wash if you want a scent, and you can use 1/4 cup of vinegar in your rinse if you have hard well water.

So there you have it! A simple to make, and very cost-effective Laundry Detergent Recipe! Let me know how you like it!