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Make Your Own Laundry Detergent and Save Big

Today I want to introduce you to the idea of making your own laundry detergent. I know what you're thinking: Why on earth would we do that when laundry detergent is widely available? Store-bought detergent is a particular convenience for those of us who are already so busy we hardly can find time to do the laundry, let alone make the detergent.

There are several reasons, but the big one is cost. You can make your own detergent for about 3 cents per load. Commercial laundry detergent costs about 30 cents per load, depending on the type. If you make your own detergent, you may more easily afford milk, eggs, bread and other pantry staples that are rising in price so quickly.

Another reason to make your own detergent: allergies. Some people are allergic to the perfumes and other fillers in commercial detergents. The recipes that follow are very friendly for people who are sensitive to other detergents and laundry products.

I learned how to make laundry detergent from Stephanie Woods, owner of a fabulous Web site, Soaps Gone Buy. If you are unable to find these simple ingredients locally, you can order them online at (You'll find my favorite stain treatment there, too: Soilove.)

POWDERED LAUNDRY DETERGENT: 1 cup grated Fels-Naptha soap; 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!); 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax.

Mix, and store in airtight container or bag. For light loads, use 2 tablespoons. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons.

Big batch: To make a large batch, grate 6 bars of Fels-Naptha soap, and then add 3 cups of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 3 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax.

Mix well, and store in covered container.

TIP: Homemade detergent will not make suds in your washer, so don't be alarmed. Fels-Naptha soap is pure and typically makes little or no suds in the water. This makes it perfect for use in the new high-efficiency washers, as well as traditional washers. You also will notice the need to reduce your laundry softener; in most cases, you even can eliminate the use of softener completely. You also can use white vinegar in the last rinse (one cup is plenty) to remove all traces of detergent.

LIQUID LAUNDRY DETERGENT: 3 pints water; 1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap, grated; 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda, please!); 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax; 2-gallon bucket for mixing; 1 quart hot water.

Mix Fels-Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints hot water, and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2-gallon bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with additional hot water as needed (you should have about 1.5 gallons of the mixture), and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

Mary Hunt is the founder of and author of 17 books, including "Debt-Proof Living." You can e-mail her at, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2135, Paramount, CA 90723. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


2 Comments | Post Comment
My laundry detergent seperates and I wondered if I am doing something wrong in making it. Right now their is a clear yellow layer topped by a thick white layer. I just mix it up before I measure it out. ??????????
Comment: #1
Posted by: janice
Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:17 AM
If you are a single driver on your auto insurance and you have an illness or injury that prevents you from driving for several months, contact your auto insurance company to modify your policy for a reduction in premium. Every state has laws requiring that come coverate be retained.

Ann Maren
Ocala, Florida
Comment: #2
Posted by: Ann Maren
Fri Jan 13, 2012 4:11 AM
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