Weekend Money Tip: How to make your own laundry detergent


how-to-makeyour-ownFrugality has been one of the main ways my family has been able to get ahead financially on one income.

The amount of frugality to incorporate into your life is an individual decision. Your time is valuable and there is a balance between the amount of time it takes to save money and the actual money saved. When you spend an hour of your time to save two bucks, the savings may not be worth pursuing, but when you invest 5 minutes to save $5, the time invested is worth it, in my opinion.  

Each Friday, I will share tips I actually use to save and make money, along with my once-a-month grocery update. The posts will (typically) be short and sweet, giving you ideas for saving or making money over the weekend.

I’d love to hear any tips you would like to share! Please feel free to comment or email me about how you save money through frugality.

How to make your own laundry detergent

I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for a few years now. I started with this recipe, a powdered version that worked just fine, but took longer to make than the liquid detergent I currently use.

My recipe is a version of Mary Hunt’s Quick ‘n Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent (she has a great tutorial out there). The only tweak I’ve made to the recipe is to add OxyClean to the mixture (which makes it less natural); it’s just a personal preference as our clothes get pretty dirty from camping and working in the garden and the OxyClean seems to do the trick.

Laundry Detergent Recipe:

  • 3/4 cup borax
  • 3/4 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup OxyClean
  • 3/4 cup Dawn
  • Water
  • 1 Gallon Container

1.  Find a clean, empty gallon container (or larger) to mix your detergent in.

I use an empty laundry detergent container my mom gave me – it is equal to 1 ½ gallons, so I just adjust the recipe accordingly.

2.  Gather your ingredients.

I buy some of my ingredients in bulk, but I’ll include Amazon pics (affiliate links) for ingredients at the end of the post, so you know what they look like.

Washing Soda – Sometimes referred to as soda ash; both are sodium carbonate (Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda is most widely available).

Borax – Any brand will do (Twenty Mule Team Borax is most widely available).

Blue Dawn Liquid Dishwashing Soap – I’ve never used generic here, so I can’t speak to that. I always buy a large container when it’s on sale and it lasts for a long time.

OxyClean – I buy the big box of the versatile powder (again, I’ve never used generic here).

3.  Using a measuring cup and a funnel, pour ¾ cup borax, ¾ cup washing soda, and ½ cup Oxyclean into your gallon container.DSC_0007

4.  Add about 3 cups of very hot tap water to the gallon container slowly…just eyeball it, this doesn’t have to be exact.DSC_0009

5.  Put the lid on your container and shake for a couple of minutes to dissolve the powder in the water.


6.  Fill the container with hot water until it’s almost full (leaving room for the Dawn).


7.  Add ¾ cup Dawn to the container.


8.  Fill to the top with water (very slowly).


9.  Add lid, but DO NOT shake.

DSC_0013If you shake the bottle, you will have bubbles galore. Just gently tip the container from side to side to mix in the Dawn. If Dawn separates between loads, just give it a little tip side to side, or roll it gently to remix.

10.  That’s it! Add ¼ cup of finished detergent to a full load of laundry.*



There you have it! The cost for me to make the detergent this time was $2.42 (of course, this varies, depending on how much the ingredients cost). Assuming I can get around 75 loads out of it, it costs me around 3 cents per load  (and I will likely get more loads than that). The whole process took 15 minutes, even with me taking pictures and doing the math. Cha-ching!

*NOTE: I have a top loader and this works just fine. The original recipe (without the Oxyclean) is supposed to be safe to use in HE machines as well, but since I’ve never tried my recipe in a front loader, I cannot guarantee results, so please do your homework – you may want to leave out the Oxyclean if you have a front loader (and the recipe will still work just fine).


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This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a commission if you buy products through these links. See the full disclosure here. Thank you for supporting Centsibly Rich!

16 thoughts on “Weekend Money Tip: How to make your own laundry detergent

  1. Amanda, I really like your “Weekend Money Tip” idea and this was a really nice post. What an easy way to save a few bucks and I’m sure the mixture is much greener than you would get from the store even though there are still some chemicals in there.

    I’ve created my own mixture for cleaning the bathtub/shower before with vinegar and even though it’s just a couple of bucks of savings, the satisfaction of making it on your own is priceless!

    Have a nice weekend.

    1. Thanks, Jon! I’m glad you like “Weekend Money Tips” – I’ve been having fun putting them together.

      I make my own shower cleaner as well (blue Dawn and vinegar) – it works incredibly well on soap scum. I like making my own cleaners to save $$ and have less chemicals in the house (and it really doesn’t take much time at all to mix them up!).

      Wishing you a lovely weekend too!

  2. That’s awesome, I’m totally on-board with doing this. Good savings, not much work, and just as effective cleaning. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks! Totally – not much time with a huge savings return. Let me know your results if you make it!

  3. I’ve been interested in making my own cleaning supplies but haven’t yet sat down to figure it out. This is a great guide! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Jax! I keep it simple, in fact, the laundry detergent is the most complicated mixture I use. Other cleaners I use typically rely on simple ingredients, such as vinegar, baking soda, Dawn, and alcohol (for the counter tops and bathroom).

  4. Nelson

    Nice…. This goes right next on my “to do” list. Thanks.

  5. We started making our own laundry soap two weeks ago and haven’t looked back. We prefer the powdered version we do one grated bar of Castile soap (my sister made us a homemade batch!), washing soda, and borax. I’ve seen a few of these liquid versions that use Dawn, which I’m really not a fan of since it still requires hyper-processed soap from the store. The measurements I just shared are also good for HE machines, if anyone’s interested in a powdered version.

    1. Thanks for the info! I used to use the powdered version and it worked just fine for me, I just found the liquid to be faster to make since I don’t have to grate a bar of soap. But I do agree, the Dawn version isn’t nearly as natural, though probably still better than store-bought.

  6. This is great. I’ve never made my own laundry detergent before because I found that it’s much cheaper for me to buy them (with coupons), which comes out to around $0.50 per 32 loads. But I will try this because I just like trying things out and finding new stuff that I may end up loving.

    1. Thanks, Allan! .50 per 32 loads is a great deal! I’ve never been a big coupon clipper, but if I could get find it at that price without the coupons, I would definitely consider buying it.

  7. Not going to lie, I never thought about making laundry detergent before. The ingredients and steps are very simple and judging by your math I think it can save a load, haha get it, of money! Putting it on my DIY list, thanks for sharing Amanda.

    1. Thanks, Stefan! It’ll definitely save you “loads” of money?!! Glad you want to give it a shot.

  8. Wow – this is seriously frugal stuff. I remember Laurie posting about her homemade detergent, and I thought I’d give it a try “some day”. Some day has never arrived, and I’m not convinced that it will. Hats off to you for this uber-frugality. I just don’t think I’m there.

    1. Thanks, Ruth! It is definitely frugal stuff. You really just have to pick those things that work for you and leave the rest (I do the same). It seems like you’ve figured out what works for you – and with your progress it’s obviously working!

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