Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent -- Duggar Style!

We have since added a post showing pictures of how well this liquid detergent has worked for us and how much it costs per load - click here. As some of you know, my husband and I have 5 children:  7, 4, 3, 2, and 3 months.  Our friends and family sometimes tease us about ending up like the Duggars.  We could do a lot worse, I say! 

Especially now that we have a large family, though, I'm all about saving money.  Um, y'all know this about me by now!  So when I heard about making my own laundry detergent, I was all over it.  But because we live on a farm, this also needed to actually clean our clothes!  I'm pleased to report his is easy, effective, and CHEAP. 

What you will need:

1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
1/2 cup Borax
5 gallon bucket
Empty laundry soap dispenser
Essential Oils (optional)

All of these ingredients are very inexpensive!!  The top 3 "ingredients" can be found at Walmart for about $3 or less.  A 5 gallon bucket and lid can be found at Lowes for under $6 or so.

Step 1

Grate the Fel-Naptha bar into 4 cups of water in a pot on the stove top.  Heat on medium-low heat, stirring constantly until dissolved.  This took me longer than anticipated.  I was stirring for about 10 minutes and still had a couple of very small chunks.  They didn't seem to mess anything up.

It was more dissolved than this by the time I was done stirring.

Step 2

Once your bar soap is dissolved, fill your 5 gallon bucket half way with hot water.  Then add your dissolved bar soap plus 1 cup washing soda & 1/2 cup Borax.  Stir until dissolved.  This didn't take long. 
1/2 cup Borax

1 cup washing soda

Stir until dissolved

Step 3

Fill the 5 gallon bucket the rest of the way with hot water.  If you'd like to use the essential oils, let this cool first and add 10-15 drops per 2 gallons.  Cover with the lid (don't snap it on unless you have a tool to easily take this off) and let it sit overnight. 

**I would recommend a Gamma lids for your bucket.  These have a base that snaps onto your bucket but are a screw top so you can easily access the contents.

Step 4

In the morning, the detergent will have congealed and needs to be stirred.  The Type A personality will attempt this with a spoon ... unsuccessfully.  :-)  Just stick your arm in it to break it up.  It has the consistency of Jello, and you need to break it up so you can pour it in your detergent dispenser.

You can see that I started with a spoon, but I quickly put the spoon and camera down to use my arm.  :-)

Step 5

Fill your dispenser with half detergent and half water. 

Step 6

Shake well before each use as it will gel.

I chose not to add essential oils this time around.  Some ideas for those of you who would like to add them are lavender, lemon, wild orange, or melaleuca.  The detergent has a fresh scent on its own but doesn't scent the clothes after washing.  Personally, my essential oils are more for medicinal use and are too expensive to use just to make our clothes smell good.

I've had great success with this recipe and will never buy detergent again!  My ingredients will last me a LONG time!  In the end, you will have 10 gallons of laundry detergent. 

Happy washing!

Until next time,


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Sarah Lewis said...

I have seen various posts of a similar recipe but I am so worried that it won't get my clothes clean. My mom's church makes something similar and while it's good for she and my Dad's clothes, it just doesn't get the dirt out of my kiddos clothes. Do you find it works good on tough stains or do you still have to use a stain stick or something similar for the dirtier stuff?! I would love to make something like this, would sure save us a ton of money with 4 kids but I am just afraid it won't work good enough. I have three boys. Three. Dirty. Boys. LOL

Mudpiesandtiaras said...

That looks like a lot of work. I'm with Sarah. I have tried a few homemade detergents but they never get kids stains out. does this work on grass and stuff?

Tesa @ 2 Wired 2 Tired said...

This is so much easier than I thought it would be! I'd love to try it sometime it sounds like a real money saver and I can't believe how much it makes.

Melissa Tiffany said...

I have been dying to make my own detergent however anyone use something different than Fels Naptha. It contains animal by products.


I have seen a lot of detergent recipes, but I think I love this one the best! I didn't know you could make your own liquid detergent!

I wouldn't use essential oils either, because I use them so much for medical reasons. I wouldn't want to waist them.

And I am also in love with those bucket lids! They are the only ones I will buy!

TerinAleah said...

I love the idea of this! I might have to try it... if I ever find the time! haha!

Jennifer Clay said...

Thanks for sharing! My household consists of 5 people not including my brother in law who is staying with us until he gets his own place so making our own laundry detergent will help us out a lot! I just never knew how until now!!

Cascia Talbert said...

What a great idea! Does it work pretty well for you Have a wonderful weekend.

Ruqayyah said...

this is really great and I definitely want to try. ruqayyah.rcolin@gmail.com

Pam said...

Ladies, I'm so sorry for the delay in answering your questions! I have "published" two responses and they just wouldn't post!

We live on a farm, as I said, and my children are out in the pasture or in the creek (or playing with muddy dogs). So far, I've been really pleased. I might add some OxyClean for a "boost", but I think the detergent itself works as well as Tide or any other I have used.

BUT, you guys definitely deserve some before-and-after pictures! Next week, I will literally air my dirty laundry online for you! I'll photograph some of my muddiest, stained kids' clothes, so you can see if it's worth you time. :-)

I do want to say this really wasn't a lot of work to do. Considering how long this will last, 30 minutes spread over 2 days was a worthwhile sacrifice for me.

I should have said:
Top loaders use 5/8 cup for 180 loads
Front loaders use 1/4 cup for 640 loads

Hope that helps! I'll post pictures next week.

Happy Memorial Weekend!!

VickeC said...

how much do you save by doing it this way,,id be interested in how much you saved my making it yourself an if it does a good job

Jennifer Q. said...

I really would love to try this! Thanks for sharing!

Allyson Bossie said...

I have done this many times, but I find that even with essential oils, I am not satisfied with the scent of the laundry. It cleans, just doesn't smell perfumy. Also, I ultimately like keeping it dry and using a couple of TBS per load

Jessica Cali said...

I have been making this type of laundry soap since 2011 and I love it!! I got the recipe from our local heath department at a WIC appointment! To me, it gets my clothes so much whiter with out having to use bleach! I also choose not to add oils, but the few times I have, I've gotten the cheaper ones from Walmart (in the candle section, which are okay to use) but they don't have a very strong scent! The unscented is great because my husband doesn't like the smell of most laundry soaps!

Anonymous said...

I think you can you any bar soap I use dial basic and it works fine.

kewkew said...

I am curious if this would bother my sensitive skin. We have 4 little ones (6, almost 5, 3 and 1) and could use any way possible to save money, but not if it bothers my skin. I have been using All or Era free detergent.

Gianna said...

Thanks, i've been wanting to give this a try!
I got teased a little about the duggers too.. Just had my 7th. They have way more LOL.

Shaun Mclain said...

This is nice Information blog. Thanks for Sharing.

Sofia @ From PDX with Love said...

I have been told, time and time again, that I should make my own detergent. And now you have me convinced that I should do just so! :D

Tammy S said...

I really like the idea of making my own detergent. Thank you for sharing how to with pictures even!

My question is if it is safe to use in HE machines?

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