How to Make Homemade Laundry Soap

Posted on May 8th, 2010 by Tonia 20 Comments

Last week Cheri shared with us a list of things she is doing to reduce her impact on the environment.  I decided we would try each of the things on her list, and show you all how to do them as well.  First on the docket is how to make homemade laundry soap.

This is such a great thing to do, the main reason being because store-bought laundry detergents have scary ingredients, including quaternary ammonium sodium carbonate, sodium alkyl benzene sulfonate, sodium silicate, bleach, and some phosphates.  {The fact that my spell-checker thinks that half of those are not real words tells me that they certainly shouldn’t be going into our ground water by the gallons day after day.}  And buying the eco-friendly detergents is really expensive…so, let’s get right to it, shall we!

Itty Bird iconIngredients:

2 cups finely grated soap {preferably Ivory or Ivory Snow}
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax

Itty Bird iconSteps:

1. Mix well and store in an airtight container.

2. Use a 1/2 cup for a full load, less for smaller loads.

{Regarding High Efficiency (HE) and Front-Load Washers:  You may have been told you need to use “special soap” for your HE or front-load washing machine.  This is because they use less water, so they require soap that is less sudsy. The good news is, the homemade detergent in this recipe is VERY low suds. Just make sure you use the recommended amount of detergent.}


  1. […] I make my own laundry detergent […]

  2. Terry says:

    I can’t wait to make this myself! Have you used it yet? How do you find that it cleans? Do you notice any undissolved soap leftover in the wash?

  3. […] :: How to Make Homemade Laundry Soap Homemade Cleaning Solutions 20 great reasons to get rid of clutter Save Money with a Supply […]

  4. beth says:

    oh, good lord. You are adorable. This video is adorable. That headscarf is adorable. Love it ALL!

    So, I dug out my much loved copy of Raleigh Brigg’s Make Your Place book, and flipped to the laundry section. She has a variation on Cheri’s laundry soap recipe, and mentions that you can scent your soap with a few drops of essential oil… bonus!

    Also, she has a great recipe for fabric softener pouches that I’m dying to make a video of for you to add to your collection of adorable videos. mmm? Maybe I can even find a headscarf of my own…

  5. Heather says:

    Hi Tonia! I just found your blog via ‘Going Home to Roost’. I wanted to tell you that I have been using the same laundry detergent recipie in your post for over a year now and it works wonderfully. It has saved my family an insane amount of money as well as lowering our environmental impact.

  6. Tonia says:

    Hi Heather, thanks for visiting!! It’s great to hear from someone else who uses this detergent! I think some people are skeptical about whethor or not it will really actually clean clothes just as well as store-bought stuff. My personal feeling is that my clothes actually feel fresher after I switched to the homemade stuff! I think a good tip is to not use too much soap…too much soap leaves clothes feeling stiff. And remember to line-dry your clothes if you can, too! :)

  7. patricia says:

    or you can use green laundry detergent called sa8 i doubt this homemade recipe can take out blood, grease, grass, paint, ect. but sa8 can so thats what i use i get it from my nephews site its its cheap affordable, green, safe, and the best detergent in these times. so give it a look.

  8. […] bought on Etsy, I really admire Tonia’s commitment to thoughtful, sustainable living. The make-your-own-laundry-soap video was adorable, her wedding was lovely AND green as a freaking bean, and now she’s moved into a […]

  9. Kelly Murphy says:

    I have a question….. Where can I find the ‘washing soda’ for this? Thanks! Like your site. Just discovered it from Everett B.’s blog.

  10. Tonia says:

    Hi Kelly! Thanks for stopping by. I found washing soda (Arm & Hammer brand) at my local grocery store in the cleaning supplies section. It comes in a big organge box, kind of like baking soda. It’s a small-town grocery store that only stocks the “essentials”, so I figured that if they have it then MOST grocery stores must have it. Good luck, hopeyou can find it!

  11. Laura says:

    hi! Line drying is awesome. I live in South Australia & we have a hills hoist (traditional rotary clothesline) it’s amazing! We’re hitting winter here, so time to start hanging inside on the clothes horses :)

  12. Lael says:

    Plus line drying makes for really cool photos!

  13. Tonia says:

    You’re so right! Loved your post on this topic as well!

  14. Tonia says:

    I have an Aussie reader????? UM, AWESOME!!! Thanks for making my day, Laura!

  15. Laura says:

    hi Tonia, I’ve been reading for quite a while but I tend to be a ‘lurker’ and not comment much! I love your blog though (one of my fave posts was that gorgeous yellow skirt your dyed & then your mum sewed, gorgeous!)

  16. Tonia says:

    that’s OK! i think most of my readers do that. i realized i had more readers than i thought i did when i was vacationing in Seattle, WA and a girl in a restaurant recognized me and Mike and asked us if we were the Itty Bitty bloggers. it was a really fun moment. i don’t look at my Google Analytics, like, ever. i think when you start thinking about your blog in terms of traffic, it loses the casual, personal, journal-like feeling. thank you for reading/lurking/commenting! :)

  17. […] There’s no need for pesticides and poisons- these methods are doing the trick for us. Although, I do miss my cheerful fruit bowl. Here’s another great household use for borax. […]

  18. kelly says:

    I use a similar recipe, just with homemade bar soap instead of Ivory. My partner is a mechanic and I have found if you pour in a little baking soda with greasy or otherwise super dirty clothing, then it will get out just about anything. And bonus, my line dried clothing is no longer crunchy! I make it in big batches about once a year. Every time I’m shopping with a friend and they mention they have to buy laundry detergent I am so grateful I don’t have to even think about buying laundry detergent.

  19. Tonia says:

    @Kelly: Great tip! Baking Soda is an amazing thing. This will be handy now that we have lots of super grimy clothes to wash after gardening all day.

  20. […] though I live in the Chicago, some of Tonia’s tutorials are perfect for a city mouse. She makes her own laundry detergent! In fact, her blog has inspired me to do an audit of our home (after the holidays when I have some […]

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