This Homemade Laundry Detergent Will Save You Loads of Money

Our homemade laundry detergent recipe is just as effective as store-bought detergent, but it's much better for your pocket and the planet.

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How To Make Homemade Laundry Detergent, Getty Images (2)

Think about how often you do laundry and how much detergent you go through. Whether you use powder or liquid detergent, the cost alone—to your own pocketbook, never mind to the planet—just might make you consider creating your own homemade laundry detergent. Believe it or not, doing that is less complicated than you probably think.

“It’s easy to make your own powder,” says Jen Chillingsworth, who has penned four books about green living.” It’s less expensive, as you use only three key ingredients, which you can buy in bulk. Plus, all the ingredients are non-toxic, biodegradable, and they won’t cause harm to waterways or the life-forms that depend on them.”

There’s really no downside to homemade detergent. It’s safe for people with sensitive skin and it can be used in any machine—even in HE washers, working as well as any HE detergent. In fact, when it comes to saving money and avoiding the harsh chemicals found in many store-bought products, the best laundry detergent—even the best-smelling laundry detergent—may actually be homemade. Once you try the recipe below and see how simple it is, it just might become a regular part of how you do laundry.

Is homemade laundry detergent as good as store-bought?

The short answer is yes. When you use the right ingredients—ones that are safe for your clothes and your machine—homemade detergent can be just as effective for cleaning lightly soiled items. You can use it on all of your items, including white clothes and towels, and even hand-wash delicates with it. Heavy stains, though, may require something stronger.

What is a good substitute for laundry detergent?

Chillingsworth makes her own laundry detergent, and you can, too. The three main ingredients are soda crystals (washing soda), bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), and Savon de Marseille olive oil soap, and they do it all, says Chillingsworth.” Savon de Marseille is a gentle cleaner that has natural antibacterial properties,” she explains. “It’s particularly good for wool, silk, delicates, and even baby clothing, as it’s very gentle. Bicarbonate of soda is antimicrobial and a natural deodorizer. Soda crystals have good degreasing power and are used to soften hard water.” If you’d like, you can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to give your homemade laundry detergent a scent.

How do you make laundry detergent from scratch?

Chillingsworth’s homemade laundry detergent recipe is easy to follow and only takes a few minutes to assemble.

  1. Combine 9 oz. soda crystals and 9 oz. bicarbonate of soda in a mixing bowl.
  2. Grate 9 oz. of the Savon de Marseille soap and add it to the mixing bowl.
  3. If you want scented detergent, add 30 drops of the essential oil of your choice.
  4. Mix well with a spoon.
  5. Tip the ingredients into a storage jar.
  6. Seal and label.

Tips for homemade laundry detergent

What’s great about this DIY detergent, according to Chillingsworth, is that you use it just the way you would use store-bought detergent, as long as you keep a few important guidelines in mind.

  • For each load of laundry, use about one tablespoon of detergent.
  • Store the detergent in a sealed container. It will remain effective as long as it’s stored in a dry place.
  • This recipe makes enough detergent for approximately 38 washes.

For more DIY solutions, find out how to use baking soda and vinegar in your laundry, as well as which secret ingredients will make your laundry cleaner, brighter, and all-around better.


Lois Alter Mark
Lois Alter Mark is an award-winning travel, lifestyle, shopping and entertainment writer for Reader's Digest, Forbes and USA Today 10Best. Her work has taken her to all seven continents and introduced her to new people, food and—her latest obsession—pickleball! An avid cruiser, she loves introducing readers to the joys of travel.