Personal Hygiene

Homemade HE Liquid Laundry Detergent



Doing laundry is a large part of life.  We all need clean clothes.  But why wash clothes with commercial laundry detergents that contain phosphates, surfactants, fragrance, and other potentially harmful chemicals?

Our skin is very absorbent

The skin is like a sponge.  It absorbs everything that touches it.  So when we wear clothes or sleep on sheets that have been washed in commercial detergents, our skin comes in contact with and absorbs the chemicals from the detergent, the bleach, the fabric softener and/or the dryer sheets.  Everything you add to your laundry will be absorbed by your skin.  Also, breathing in the fragrances isn’t healthy either.  For those of you who cannot walk down the detergent aisle without getting sick from inhaling all the fragrances, this homemade laundry detergent is for you.

There IS a better way.

After my bout with cancer 15 years ago, I am very careful with what comes in contact with my skin.  Since I don’t want to drink laundry detergent, I certainly don’t want it entering my body through my skin.  This homemade detergent cleans just as well as the brand name ones only without the chemical surfactants, cleaners, and chemical fragrances.  Borax is 99.9% pure and washing soda is merely baking soda modified for use as a detergent.  If you can’t find washing soda where you live, fear not because it’s easy to make your own.  Sprinkle a cup of baking soda in a shallow pan and bake it at 400 F for half an hour.  About half way through the baking process, give it a stir so that it will bake more evenly.  Baking soda is powdery, crystallized and it clumps together.  When it turns to washing soda, it becomes more grainy, dull and won’t clump together as easily. 

It is also a very inexpensive way

For those of you who are on a budget.  After all, in today’s economy, who isn’t on a budget?  I certainly don’t want to spend much of my budget on detergents and personal hygiene items.  Usually, in many cases, that’s what happens.

A typical box of Borax powder is 65 oz. and yields 10.83 cups per box.

A typical box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda is 55 oz. and yields 5.6 cups per box

At my local Walmart, here is what each cost:

65 oz Box 20 Mule Team Borax:   $4.47

55 oz box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda:          $3.97

Ok, to simplify matters, let’s round down the Borax to an even 10 cups per box, which would cost $4.47.  

Let’s also round down the washing soda to 5 cups per box.  To make it equal to the borax let’s multiply its cost by 2, which would equal $7.94

$7.94 + $4.47 = $12.41

Let’s add to that 10 bars of Fels Naptha at a cost of $.97 per bar = $9.70

So $12.41 + $9.70 = $22.11

Remember that each cup of borax mixed with each cup of washing soda plus one bar of Fels Naptha will yield 5 gallons detergent.

So, in total, you have 10 cups of Borax, 10 cups of Washing Soda, plus 10 bars of Fels Naptha soap.  

Multiply 5 gallons X 10 (cups and bars) and you’ll see that $22.11 will yield you 50 gallons of detergent.

You canNOT beat that, even buying the cheapest brand at the dollar store.

It cleans just as well, if not better than Tide or any of the other brand name detergents.  It also is acceptable to use with the new HE machines.  Oxyclean powder can be used with your homemade detergent to clean and brighten your whites.

What you’ll need

1 Cup 20 Mule Team Borax

1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

1 Bar of either Fels Naptha, Zote, or Castile soap

A few drops Essential Oil for fragrance, if desired.  My personal favorites are Lavender and Orange

5-gallon bucket with tight-fitting airtight lid (Can be found in either Home Depot or Lowes)

Stick or broom handle to mix

What to do

Take the bar of Fels Naptha soap and grate it.

Bring a quart of water to a boil and add the soap shavings.

Lower the heat to medium and stir for about 10 min. until the shavings melt.


Fill the 5-gallon bucket halfway with hot water and add the melted soap shavings mixture to it.

Add the cup of Borax and the cup of Washing Soda.  Also add your essential oil fragrance at this point if you’d like.


Stir thoroughly with a long stick or broom handle.

Add more hot water to the top and stir to make sure everything is well blended.

Cover the bucket with a tight-fitting lid and let it sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

When the 24 hour period is up, you can ladle the detergent into empty old detergent bottles, or emptied cleaned out milk gallon containers.  Please note that your homemade detergent will be watery with glops of gelatin.   Don’t worry about the consistency, as it doesn’t affect the potency of the detergent.   You can smooth it out with an immersion blender to make it as smooth as commercial laundry detergents, but it’s not necessary.   I don’t and my clothes still come out clean and fresh.

Well, that’s it.  I do hope you enjoy using this detergent as much as I do.  Just think of the money you save! 

More money saving homemade recipes for other products are forthcoming, so stay tuned.



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