How To Make Your Own Laundry Soap

I found this ‘recipe’ online by Crystal Miller. The Crankee Yankee and I have been washing our clothes with it for a few years, and it works beautifully. Not only does it get clothes and towels clean, but everything out of the dryer smells wonderful, and towels and blankets come out soft and fluffy.

Don’t worry if the soap isn’t very sudsy. The whole point of laundry soap is to clean, and this recipe does it beautifully. Best of all, it’s cheap and easy to make; a load of wash costs out at about a penny per load.

Have fun! Here’s the recipe, and some FAQs as well:

“Making your own laundry soap is very easy!  No longer do you need to rely on store bought detergents.  With a few ingredients on hand you will be able to make batch after batch of laundry soap.  The cost savings by doing this is incredible!

What Ingredients Do You Need?

You will need 3 basic ingredients; a soap of some sort, washing soda and borax.

The Soap:  The most typical type of soap to use is Fels Naptha.  It is an old-fashioned type of soap usually found in the laundry aisle.  The other options for soap are Ivory or another brand called, Zote.  Any of these will work.  If you use Ivory or your own homemade soap you will need to use the whole bar.

Washing Soda: This is not to be confused with baking soda.  Washing soda is sodium carbonate or soda ash (baking soda is sodium bicarbonate).  It is a white powder.  Its purpose is to help remove dirt and orders.   The brand to look for is Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.  I find it in the laundry section of my grocery store.   Many people have a hard time finding this locally.  I know you can purchase it online, even through  I would also suggest asking your grocery store manager if it would be possible for the store to get it for you.

Borax: Borax is a naturally occurring mineral: Sodium Borate.  It is a white powder.  Its purpose is as a laundry whitener and deodorizer. The brand to look for is 20 Mule Team.  It comes in a 76 oz. box.  You should be able to locate this in the laundry detergent aisle.  Again as with the washing soda, if you cannot find it ask you store manager or look online.


  • 1/3 bar Fels Naptha or other type of soap, as listed above
  • ½ cup washing soda
  • ½ cup borax powder
  • Small bucket, about 2 gallon size~

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  You use ½ cup per load.

NOTE: The finished soap will not be a solid gel.  It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an “egg noodle soup” look. Also,  the soap is a low sudsing soap.  So if you don’t see suds, that is ok.  Suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap.

Optional: If you want your soap to have some sort of scent you can scent this with ½ to 1 oz. of essential oil or fragrance oil of your choice.  My favorite scent is orange essential oil.

But is it Really Less Expensive?

Is the laundry detergent a cost saver?  How do the numbers on this add up?  Well I am a person who likes to know what I am spending and if my efforts save me in one way or another.  This is one of the areas that I wanted to know if I was actually saving money.  We do a lot of laundry and I make double batches of this soap and knowing that the time spent doing this was a savings for my family was important to me.

Here are my calculations:

The cost of making the above recipe of laundry soap was .71 cents.  That was amazing to me!  With this 2 gallon size recipe you will have enough to do 64 loads of laundry.  That translates to about .01 cent a load.

Breakdown of Laundry Soap Cost

Here is the breakdown of my costs and how I came up with those numbers (I am using the prices I paid for these items and you may find your price varies some based on what you pay):

Fels Naptha: $1.12  for a 5.5 oz. bar.  The recipe says to use a 1/3 of a bar.  I calculated 2 oz. just to make the math a little easier.  The cost of the Fels Naptha per batch is: .40 cents

Washing Soda: $2.23 for a 55 oz. box.  This came to .17 cents per batch.  I calculated how much per oz. (2.23 divided by 55) and then weighed a half cup of washing soda (4.2oz.) and multiplied my per oz. price by 4.2

Borax: $3.27 for a 76 oz. box.  This came to .14 cents per batch.  Did the same calculations as above, however a 1/2 cup of borax weighs 3.5 oz.

For the final numbers I have .40 + .17 + .14 = .71 for 2 gallons of laundry detergent.  Two gallons translates to 64- 1/2 cup portions and .71 divided by 64 = .01109, etc… or about .01 cent a load!


  1. Can you use this laundry soap in a high efficiency (HE) washing machine?
  2. Is the laundry soap supposed to be clear and smooth like manufactured laundry soap?
    No–It will be a liquid gel.or a liquid with bits of gel in it, sort of like an Egg Noodle Soup consistency. If it is more or less gelled it still works. If it does not gel at all, next time add more soap.
  3. Will the laundry soap clean badly soiled or smelly clothes well?
    It depends–the soap works fine for every day dirt and grime. But if you have extra dirty clothes then you may add a scoop of Oxyclean to the load.


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