Frugal Fridays – Homemade Laundry Soap

Frugal Fridays Homemade Laundry Soap cradlerockingmama

Back when I talked about cleaning your washing machine, I mentioned that we use homemade laundry soap. While this is something you can easily find on nearly every blog out there, there is a reason it’s so common: it’s a brilliantly simple way to save TONS of money!

So here’s my recipe for homemade laundry soap for this weeks Frugal Friday post.

If, somehow, you’ve been on Pinterest, read blogs, and still not read about “homemade laundry soap love” elsewhere, I’ll take just a moment to fill you in.

It’s cheap.

All you need is some borax, washing soda, salt and soap. All are easy to find, all are inexpensive. For the price of one box of Tide (to use the detergent I previously used as an example), you can have enough supplies to make at least three batches of the homemade stuff.

It works.

We’ve used it for three years now, and our clothes are fresh and clean…just as good as if we were using commercially made stuff.

It’s healthier.

There are none of the nasty additives and chemicals in homemade stuff (depending on the soap you use) that there are in commercially made stuff. This is important if you are sensitive to chemicals.

It’s easy.

Some folks make this into a liquid, others make it into a powder. I’ve personally used the powder type for all this time. All I’ve done is dump one to two scoops in while the water is running into the washing machine, before I add the clothes.

Now, some things to consider:

We are in the process of going detergent-free in our household. After writing about Zac’s bucket being kept full, a wise friend of ours contacted me and shared some things she’s doing to keep her sons bucket empty. One of those was to go detergent-free.

I had never heard of this before, but apparently, many people with all sorts of maladies see dramatic improvements when they remove detergents from their lives.

My friend is an actual, real-life degreed scientist, and she explains these types of things much better than I ever could, but my understanding of it boils down to this: it’s the basic premise of how detergents work that may be causing the problem.

Detergents work by breaking down the surface area of things so they can be easily scrubbed away. That’s why they’re called “surfectants”.   So, if you’re ingesting – either topically or internally – a surfectant, then wouldn’t it make sense to expect the surfectant to continue working in your body exactly the way it is made to?

So, for example, it might work at breaking down, oh, I don’t know, say, the lining in your gut, thereby making you more sensitive to intolerances, allergies, or just about anything that might wig your gut out?

Sound familiar?

Yeah, me, too. So we’re in the process of finding replacements for the detergents in our lives. (This detergent-free thing is going to be a whole post eventually, but it needs mentioning here because, well, we’re talking about detergents!)

It’s more complicated than it seems. Detergents, to me, are the corn and soy of the non-edible world. They’re in everything and not necessarily labeled.

And if you get rid of detergents, you have to use soap instead…and soap won’t work if you have hard water. So you need a water softener if you, like us, have hard water.

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another, right?

Well, getting back to the laundry soap, the recipe I’m sharing is what we’ve used for three years to great success. As we go detergent-free, I’ll be replacing the current Fels Naptha we use with plain soap flakes, and at that time, I’ll need to start dissolving the powdered soap in hot water before adding it to the wash.

But that’s really not too big a hardship, right?

So. On to the how-to!

It’s so easy, really. Just gather your supplies and get out a food processor.

A bar of Fels Naptha

A bar of Fels Naptha

Grab a bar of Fels Naptha. Then cut it into big chunks.

Cut and ready to chop.

Cut and ready to chop.

Drop the chunks into the food processor and turn it on. When it looks like this:

Chopped up soap.

Chopped up soap.

Stop processing and get the rest of your stuff. Grab some borax…


some washing soda…


and some salt…


This is regular, corny salt. I need to switch salts, but other than the need for corn-free, any salt will work.

And dump it all in with the soap. Then process it again.  Make sure to get your toddler his ear protection before letting him help. (No, not a helicopter mom. He WANTS to wear the ear muffs whenever I use the food processor. In fact, he insists on it!)

My helper.

My helper.

When you’re done, it will look like this:

Perfectly ground up, well blended homemade laundry soap!

Perfectly ground up, well blended homemade laundry soap!

I pour it into a glass jar to store in my laundry room.

Who knew laundry soap could be so pretty?

Who knew laundry soap could be so pretty?

And use a coffee scoop to portion it out when I need some.

One scoop or two?

One scoop or two?

Most of the time, one scoop is enough. For particularly nasty loads of laundry, I’ll dump in two. Either way, it works like a charm and has saved us a TON of money over the years!

Hope that helps!

Frugal Fridays - Homemade Laundry Soap
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This laundry soap works as well as store-bought stuff, at a fraction of the price. Try it!
Recipe type: personal care
Serves: 2-3 cups
  • 1 bar of soap (after grating, approx. 1¼ c. worth)
  • 1 c. borax
  • 1 c. washing soda
  • ½ c. salt
  1. Chop your bar of soap into big chunks and toss in a food processor. Process until fairly small chunks.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until no chunks remain and the powder is uniform in consistency.
  3. Store in an airtight jar in your laundry area, and use 1-2 scoops per load.
  4. Enjoy saving money with clean laundry!

Do you prefer powdered or liquid laundry soap?

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