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Homemade Dry Laundry Detergent Recipe

Several months ago I shared with  you a homemade liquid laundry detergent recipe that I had been using for some time and seen good results.  However, recently I ran across this recipe for a dry laundry detergent recipe on Pinterest that many swore to be the next best thing since sliced bread.  Given so many positive reviews I decided to try it.  Here’s my results.

Homemade Dry Laundry Detergent Comparison

The Recipe:
1 box Borax
1 4 lb. box Baking Soda
1 box Washing Soda
3 bars Fels-Naptha Soap 
5 1/2 cups Oxyclean (Any brand will do.  This is about 2 small containers or 1/2 of a large container or 3 to 3 1/2 lbs.)
1.  As with the liquid laundry detergent recipe, you begin by shredding the Fels-Naptha bars.  From reading several reviews online and concerns over shredded soap pieces and high efficiency machines, I decided to make this a two-step process.
I began by grating the bars in my food processor.  
I then switched to use the regular food processor blade to grind the soap into a fine powder.
2.  Next I combined all the ingredients in a 5 gallon bucket.  This did take a little muscle strength but it was definitely doable.  That said, Maybe next time I’ll ask my hubby to bring out his paint mixer again.  😉  

3.  All that was left to do was to place the soap in a storage container and label it for use.  You use only 1 tablespoon per load.


I bought this 32 cup storage dispenser from Walmart for approximately $6.
It held the laundry soap perfectly and has a spout at the top for pouring.
I then created a label for it using Word, printed it off on copy paper and taped it with clear packing tape (sorry, no Cricket here). I then set it on my laundry shelf with a tablespoon and that was it.  It took me a total of about 15 minutes to make.  

Homemade Laundry Detergent Comparison


Let’s Compare:
1.  The dry laundry detergent requires NO cooking and NO wait time like the liquid laundry detergent recipe with is really nice.
2.  The dry laundry detergent  uses full boxes instead of a 1/2 cup at a time so you don’t have to store unused products for later use.
3.  This recipe makes enough detergent for approximately 448 loads so you may have to only make it once a year.  The liquid laundry detergent only makes about 64 loads per recipe so you would have to make it more frequently.
4.  The cost of this recipe is slightly more expensive than the liquid laundry detergent at approximately 3 cents per load compared to the less than 1 cent per load with the liquid laundry detergent.  However, when compared to the cheapest store brand detergent at 10 cents per load and the most popular name brands costing closer to 20 cents per load, I still consider this quite a bargain.  
5.  The liquid laundry detergent would eventually gel up and you would have to occasionally re-stir the batch.  With the dry laundry detergent you never have to worry about it getting too solid to use.
6.  The dry laundry detergent appears to clean clothes better than the liquid laundry detergent.  Thanks to the addition of the baking soda and Oxyclean, even my most challenging stains (namely Teacup’s blowouts) are almost eliminated without the extra help of a stain removal.  I probably will still use a stain removal such as Shout to get it even cleaner but this detergent definitely helps.
Other questions and conclusions:
Do I have a high efficiency washer?

Why do I think baking soda is included in this recipe in addition to washing soda?

While I can’t vouch for everything, this article on how to use baking soda in the laundry definitely helped me understand this one.  Basically, baking soda is a good deodorizer, fabric softener, and neutralizer.  It also helps control suds in our high efficiency washers.

Will I use this recipe again?  
**UPDATE 11/18/2013**
I recently completed an experiment comparing homemade laundry detergents with commercial.  The results were astonishing such that I changed my laundry detergent yet again.  Read all about it in my Commercial vs. Homemade Test to see why.
Do you use a homemade cleaning product that you swear is the next best thing since sliced bread?  If so, please share your recipe.  I’m always looking for more natural and cheaper cleaning resources that WORK, and I’m sure others would love to try them out too.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10

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  1. says

    Saw your link at Somewhat Simple. I love this recipe. I made the liquid recipe once. Was not impressed because it was gloopy and hard to store. I may try this recipe. Is there something your could do to make it smell nice, essential oils or something?

    • says

      Totally hear ya in regards to the liquid recipe. This is much easier to store. The Fels-Naptha has a fresh smell to it already but if you want something particular, yes, I’ve read several places where they have used a couple of drops of essential oils per load. I don’t think I’d add it before putting it into the dispenser though as it may cause the detergent to clump while storing. Hope that helps!

    • says

      Once I posted this reply, I spoke with my mom who happens to be pretty knowledgeable in regards to essential oils. She recommends using 2 drops of lavender oil in each load of your laundry because it not only helps your laundry to smell good but it also is known as the essential oil that kills germs! Sounds like a win-win to me. I think I may try that in my next load too!

  2. says

    This is a great comparison. Can I ask how it does with cold water? We try to only use hot for whites and cold for everything else. I am always afraid that powders won’t dissolve completely. Btw, saw you on diy home sweet home.

    • says

      I’ve had another reader email me the same question. Yes, as far as I can tell it works with cold water. I use hot water very sparingly too. I have not noticed any build-up or anything left in the dispenser so it seems to work fine with me. Thanks for linking up via DIY Home Sweet Home and checking us out. Hope that helps!

  3. Anonymous says

    I use a homemade powder mix and I add essential oil to the main batch. I usually use lavender or grapefruit and add maybe 10-20 drops into the whole batch. Your recipe looks like it makes 2-3 times the amount mine does. But I would add only 10 drops at first and then if you like it add more the next time. But maybe add it to the baking soda before mixing in the full mixture to help better distribute it in the mix. I can’t wait to try your recipe with the addition of baking soda and Oxi-clean!

  4. Anonymous says

    I love the look of this recipe and am going to try it.
    Do you use different quantities depending on how big your washing machine is? When you say baking soda is this the normal type you buy for cooking? We are on a farm and my husband is also a mechanic so it will be interesting at how well this will work for us, I think having the oxyclean clean in it might hopefully help get the really grimy bits out.
    Thanks for your great post.

    • says

      I currently use 2 tbsp. in my washer and have found that to be enough for our loads. I can see where you might want to experiment with different quantities depending on your load as with any detergent. Anyone else experimented with different quantities that might be able to share?

      As far as the baking soda, yes this is the normal kind you buy for cooking. Our Walmart actually has it both in the baking AND laundry aisles but its the same stuff.

      My father-in-law is farmer and deals with a lot of greasy equipment. I’ve asked my mother-in-law to try it out on his clothes in their extra large washing machine. Once she does I’ll have to report here to let you know how it goes. I can say this much, the clothes definitely smell cleaner and that is always good.

  5. says

    You can also add one or two bottles of the Purex Crystals or Downy Unstoppable crystals or any other of them I think there is a gain one too. That gives you the nice smell. you can also use the lid from the top of the purex crystals to measure out your soap into your washer.

  6. Anonymous says

    I normally make 10 gal of liquid..but sometimes have to work up the energy to want to make it…im now trying your dry recipe and will def be trying the essential oils!! Thankyou all for sharing!

  7. Anonymous says

    Does anyone know if you add to the regular dispenser or directly in the macine ina front loader washer?

  8. KellyK says

    I notice most people here are using it in front loaders…should I be using more in a top loader?

    • KellyK says

      I just made mine and it looks just like yours (same container and everything)! I’m really excited to try it. I’ve been using homemade liquid detergent, but just can’t get over the globs and how the end result always looks different. I am going to go try my new soap now!

    • says

      Lol. Well good deal. Yeah, I went back after some time to the liquid version to try it out again and I’m with you–I just can’t get over the glo by inconsistency. Hope you like this dry version much better!

  9. Kristina says

    Hi there,
    I came across this on pinterest. I’ve never made my own detergent before but would love to try. What size box of borax? Also the Fels-Naptha bars? Maybe they only come in one size, but i’m not familiar.

    • says

      At my store they only come in one size…76 ounces. And the FN bars can also be replaced with a plain bath soap bar I am told if you can’t find it, although I haven’t personally tried it yet. Hope that helps.

      • Kristina says

        Sorry – is the washing detergent also 76oz? I’m finally almost out of store bought and ready to try to make it!! :)

      • says

        I don’t have any on hand but I think so…. Again, it only comes in one size at my store so I think if you find it you should be good to go.

  10. Sarah says

    I made a batch of this back in January, (except I think left out the baking soda which was an oversight on my part). While washing for a household of 5 (3 kids, 2 adults) estimating from how long my dispensing container lasted me from full, a batch of this should last us close to a year and a half!

    And it washes pretty good too; as good if not a little better than what we were using from the store. My husband works in a shop with a lot of grease and hydraulic fluids and I know his work jeans are washing cleaner for sure! Great recipe.

    • says

      Wow! That’s amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m glad you like it! So…what do you think, the baking soda may be unnecessary or helpful?

  11. says

    I use Zote soap. It is very cheap here in South Texas. It is plant based. It has a faint lemony smell. I set my soap out for two or three days to dry out and I grate it with a cheese grated (for this soap only). The last time I bought Zote, it was 59cents per bar at a Dollar Store. I have also found it at Walmart.

    I also use my Downy ball and fill it to the line with white vinegar. It helps with germs, helps stuff rinse better, and you don’t have to use a fabric softner. That vinegary smell leaves in the dryer and all you have left is clean smell. I have also put EO in my vinegar. I love Rose Geranium.

    • says

      Great tips! I haven’t heard of Zote soap. I will have to check that out! And EO…love it! Haven’t tried Rose Geranium though. I’ll have order that one. Fun. Fun.