Make your own laundry soap for fresh smelling clothes and linens!

I did, and I absolutely love the way my massage table linens and my clothes smell!

It started when my daughter told me she was making her own laundry detergent. I was not happy with the expensive  “natural” detergent I was using on my massage sheets. I’ve smelled old massage sheets that have a rancid smell from the oils and creams used that didn’t quite get washed out. My massage sheets are an investment (100% organic cotton), and I want them to feel and smell clean and fresh for a long time.

She gave me the recipe she used. I tinkered a little with it and am very satisfied with the results. If you’re interested in making your own, you can save money, get better results, and be kinder to the environment.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • a large mixing bowl
  • a measuring cup
  • rubber gloves
  • an airtight container


  • 2 cups washing soda (found in the grocery store on the laundry supplies aisle)
  • 2 cups Borax (ditto)
  • 2 cups baking soda (on the baking supplies aisle)
  • 1-3/4ths cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s; you can choose a scent)

Add the powders to the mixing bowl and mix well. Put the gloves on and break up any lumps.

Add the liquids. Remember, baking soda plus vinegar are how you make volcanoes erupt for 4th grade science projects! It will fizz up, so add it slowly.

Wearing rubber gloves, start mixing it by hand, breaking up lumps. The mixture gets warmer. The texture becomes like Play-Doh. Keep kneading, and it becomes crumbly. Keep kneading and breaking up the lumps until it is mostly powder. It’s okay if a few small lumps remain — they’ll dissolve in the wash. This should take about 10 minutes.

Put it in an airtight container. I like using a Ziploc bag.

When I’m ready to wash a load, I simply add 1/4th cup of this homemade detergent to the water, and my laundry comes out sparkling clean and smelling wonderful!

(Shortcut: On January 9, 2014, I mixed up a batch. For some reason, after kneading it for 12 minutes, it didn’t become powdery. Temperature? Humidity? Age of ingredients? I don’t know. I measured 1/4th cup of the mixture and rolled it into a ball. I made 32 more “soap balls” to match, let them sit on my counter for a couple of hours to dry, and stored them in a Ziploc bag. When I need to wash a load, I simply crumble a soap ball into the water.)

This recipe makes enough detergent to do 33 loads of laundry.

Here are the pre-tax costs of ingredients, as of March 7, 2013, rounded up to the nearest cent (using my best math abilities; let me know if I miscalculated, please). Note that I bought larger amounts of ingredients to save money.

  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, $3.24 for 55 oz. = $.06 per oz. x 16 oz. = $.96
  • 20 Mule Team Borax, $3.38 for 76 oz. = $.05 per oz. x 16 oz. = $.80
  • Store-brand baking soda, $2.12 for 64 oz. = $.03 per oz. x 16 oz. = $.48
  • Store-brand white vinegar, $2.82 for 128 oz. = $.02 per oz. x 14 oz. = $.28
  • Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, $43.19 for 128 oz. ( = $.34 x 4 oz. = $1.35

The total cost to make this recipe is $3.87, which breaks down to about 12 cents per load. I don’t know how that compares to commercial laundry detergents, but it seems very reasonable to me, given how fresh my massage sheets and clothing smell and knowing it’s natural and not harmful to the earth.


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