make your own laundry and dishwashing detergent!


My friend Angie gave me a great tip (along with an awesome Burro’s Tail succulent) not too long ago. She showed me how to make my own detergents, using easy to find, household ingredients. I’ve had the supplies purchased for a while, but was waiting to run out of my current stash of Mrs Meyer’s before mixing up a batch. Don’t worry, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes and equipment you’ve already got on hand.


Here’s what you need:
Laundry Soap:
-1 bar of soap (approx 2 oz) grated. *I used the fine grate on my box grater, next time I will use my microplane for finer flakes of soap, though they dissolved perfectly. The soap I used, Fels Naptha, is a laundry soap, and for a bar that large, I doubled the recipe.
-1/2 c Borax
-1/2 c Arm & Hammer washing soda
-3 drops essential oils (optional — I used lavender)

2 tablespoons/ wash is all you need! My clothes have been coming out brighter, softer, and have been smelling clean and fresh — and one batch didn’t cost much, and I’ve got enough Borax and Washing Soda left to make at least 3 more batches!

Dishwashing Detergent:
-1/2 c borax
-1/2 c washing soda
-2 tbs Citric Acid powder or Fruit Fresh
-pinch of salt
Combine and store in airtight container.
In the rinse aid container, use distilled white vinegar.

I was most skeptical about this one, but it turned out great! Dishes clean and sparkly, no crud, much better than some of the other natural brands I’ve been using.

Try ’em out, and let us know how they work for you — or share recipes of your own in the comments! — Megan B.

From our partners

I really want to try this! Is the laundry soap safe to use in HE machines?

Megan B

It doesn’t suds much, so I’d venture to say yes. My machine is a HE/top loader hybrid from Fisher & Paykel and it works fab. My towels haven’t been this soft and fluffy since they were new!


Maybe you can just make some and sell it to me.


Yes, it is PERFECT for HE machines! I use 2 Tablespoons is my HE, a little more if its a really dirty load, and there’s never been a problem!


We have a front load HE machine. Can I put it in the little compartment or does it go directly into the machine?

So excited to try this!

Megan B.

@Hillary: put it where you would normally load your detergent, so it properly gets mixed and distributed. Just pour it right in. And you can add white vinegar to the rinse cycle if you want natural fabric softener!

Friday Link Love – Fresh Home Blog

[…] How to make your own laundry and dishwashing detergent [Shelteriffic] […]

Kellin Shepperd

I’ve used this recipe for 2 years now for laundry detergent and will not go back to pre made products
However you will have to use fabric softener for the perfume smell to stay in your clothes.
Its inexpensive enough to try and all the ingredients can be used else where if you decide not to make more detergent
I love Fels Naptha it is great for heavy cleaning on a wet rag

We Heart This - we heart weekly – 8.21.11

[…] • If you have some household cleaning chores on your list this weekend and are looking to go green, save some money or you’re just low on supplies, shelterrific has the details on making your own cleaning supplies with a few basic items: Make your own laundry and dishwashing detergent […]

Heather P

Any idea how this works with bleach and/or how to do a white load with this? Use vinegar?? Looking forward to trying – have all the supplies, now need to make the laundry detergent and the dish detergent! Thanks bunches!!

Megan B

@ Heather P: Works great w/ bleach for whites as found out today — use as you would normally. In fact, I think my whites look even better than with other commercial detergents!

Heather P

Great news! I have three boys and *lots* of grimy socks and undershirts!! Here’s hoping we have the same results!!


I made the dishwasher detergent this week and it is working great. Much better than other DYI recipes I’ve tried.

Since the dishwasher detergent was working so well I tried making the laundry detergent yesterday. I then tested it out by washing a load of misc knit clothing, a load of denim trousers, and then a few party dresses (one of which was brand new and black). All 3 loads of laundry came out just fine.

I was so glad to have seen this post. Both of these recipes are definitely going to save me money and time spent going to the big box store to buy detergents. They were both easy to make and the ingredients were easy to find.


The dish detergent recipe didn’t work well for me. It left a powdery residue even after a second rinse with some vinegar. I have a fairly old dishwasher that doesn’t have a rinse aid. Still hoping the laundry recipe will work since my washer is new.