Tutorial : : Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

Last winter I promised you a tutorial for homemade laundry soap. At long last, here it is! I originally wrote this for a soapmaker's publication, the Saponifier Magazine. I write a regular column for them and will share some other tutorials for homemade in the coming months.

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DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

In my company we make a lot of soap. A lot. Our cornerstone body care product, we sell thousands of bars each year and ever batch results some trims or damaged bars. We sell the scratch and dent soaps when they are available over here (perfect for laundry soap!), or make yours with a regular bar. One bar is enough for weeks worth or laundry soap. Either option is perfect for effective, homemade laundry soap. (As a bonus, after coming here day after day you'll have a scratch-and-sniff experience of my world when you use my soap!)

My soaps are as natural as can be, made with organic oils, essential oils, and herbs. But most bar "soaps" found in stores today – as well as most laundry "soap" is actually synthetic detergent. Who knew? I'm all for clean clothes but I prefer the most natural route possible. So quick homemade laundry soap it is.

There are only three additional ingredients to turn natural bar soap into laundry soap and all can be found at your local grocery store: baking soda, borax, and washing soda. Baking soda is a natural odor remover. Borax softens water. Washing soda is chemically similar to baking soda but is a much stronger base (high pH) and helps neutralize the natural moisturizers found in soap.

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Two thoughts before we begin regarding soap selection:

  • Any of the soap I make (LuSa Organics) is laundry friendly. If you opt for another brand, select soaps that do not contain synthetic colorants or large bits of ground herbs.
  • If you are mixing different soap varieties choose scents that harmonize with each other. (We used a lavender soap and a eucalyptus bar.)

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

How to Make Laundry Soap

Materials and Equipment:

Soap, approximately 4 to 5 ounces (to make 2 C) (One large or two medium bars)
2/3 C Baking Soda
1 C Borax
1 1/3 C Washing Soda
Essential Oils (optional)
Box grater or electric grater
Food processor (optional)
Mixing bowl, reserved for non-food use
Mixing spoon, reserved for non-food use
Jar, for storing laundry soap

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog

DIY laundry soap. | Clean. : : the LuSa Organics Blog


Gather your materials and equipment. You may consider wearing your gloves and dust mask as we'll be working with powders and alkaline materials (washing soda).

Grate soap on the fine side of a box grater or process through your food processor fitted with the fine grater blade. Go for the finest shreds possible as they will dissolve easily in your washing machine. (Note: 4 ounces of well-cured soap will make approximately 2 C of grated soap.) If desired you may process the grated soap a second time in your food processor for an even finer powder.
Measure grated soap into mixing bowl. Add additional ingredients and stir well to combine. Check scent. If desired add additional essential oils to boost the scent of your soap (a few drops is plenty). Transfer to storage jar. That's it! Shake jar occasionally to keep powder from separating from soap if your gratings (like mine) are medium size. Use two to three Tb. per load, and add a splash of vinegar to your washer in the fabric softener cup for your freshest, cleanest clothes yet. Homemade laundry soap is low-sudsing and is safe for use in most HE (High Efficiency) washing machines.


49 thoughts on “Tutorial : : Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe

  1. Laura Jeanne says:

    I used a similar recipe last year to make homemade laundry soap, but unfortunately I couldn’t use it, because it gave me rashes…in Canada the only washing soda I could find (Arm & Hammer) was VERY heavily scented. I mean, nauseatingly, headache-inducingly scented. If I could every find unscented washing soda through, I’d give it a try again.

    Your soap looks lovely with the purple gratings!

  2. Rachel Wolf says:

    You could omit the washing soda and either A) choose a brand of bar soap that you would find drying to your skin or B) add extra baking soda (like a 3x amount). I would think that would work well. Yes, adding synthetic fragrances would be an irritant for sure! ~ Rachel

  3. Cassandra says:

    Hi Rachel!
    A short while ago I made some soap in a class at Old World Wisconsin (the seriously old fashioned way: http://mightydistractible.blogspot.com/2011/05/just-call-me-half-pint.html) and the teacher said that it is super-drying.

    I have a whole box of it that has cured for about a month and I was thinking I could maybe use it with this laundry soap recipe? Since it was made with no moisturizers (Simply animal fat and lye) would I omit the washing soda?

  4. Katie says:

    Thanks for sharing this!! I’m excited to try the recipe. Do you think this is okay to use with cloth diapers?

  5. KC says:

    Sweet! Thanks for sharing. My whole family loves your soap. Once we or rather I can decided on a fragrance I’ll try this out!

  6. Morgan says:

    I use my blender (blendtec brand) to chop of the bars of soap, I rough cut them then blend. I use a bit of borax in the blender to keep the soap from clogging up the blades. It works really well. I love my homemade soap!

  7. Lynne says:

    I’ve been making homemade laundry soap for a while now, but my first attempts using grated soap were seriously unpleasant. I don’t wash my laundry with hot water, (except cloth diapers) and the grated soap didn’t really dissolve. My new recipe uses liquid castile soap, washing soda, borax and water. We love it. And it works great with cloth diapers!

  8. Rachel Wolf says:

    What kind of soap did you use? I never use hot and the batch pictured melts perfecetly into my top loader. I would think a commercial detergent bar (grocery store type soap) might be tricky like you described.


  9. Nettie Black says:

    ooo yay, I cannot wait to make this! Just ordered 2 lbs of scratch and dent soap, as we just took out our last bar from the last time I ordered it. YUM!!

  10. Lynne says:

    Actually, you are right. My first efforts at homemade laundry soap were before I had irradicated my home from chemical laden products. I did use commercial soap back then! Thanks for the reminder!

  11. Jody says:

    I will definitely be using this. I’m tired of my homemade liquid version that doesn’t seem to gel anymore. Thanks!

  12. Kathy says:

    This post makes me so happy! We’ve been making our own laundry soap for a year now, and we love it. Cheap, easy, good.

  13. Marla says:

    Hi I have a question. My friend makes homemade olive oil based soap. No preservatives in it at all(so it can go bad after awhile). she only uses essential oils in it also. Would this be a good soap to use? Is there a shelf life to your recipe? Thinking about making it for holiday gifts and giving in a pretty jar. Thank you.

  14. CY says:

    Hi there! I made some laundry powder and detergent from ivory soap, borax and washing soda and they worked fine… until winter! I don’t use hot water in my top loader and both don’t dissolve even after I’ve stirred them in a cup of hot water and added it to the wash. Would anyone be able to advise me on what to add/ substract from my formula? Thanks 🙂

  15. curbsidezebra says:

    I actually put my soap in first and turn on the washer with hot water just enough to melt the soap then I turn my water on cold w/ a cold rinse. I grate my soap much finer as well which means I use very little hot water.

  16. Sharon C says:

    I also add a bit of biz to the mixture as well as oxyclean
    For my whites I use diluted bluing to the final rinse as well
    It helps keep the dingys down
    I live homemade laundry detergent!!

  17. Heather says:

    I know this is a tad bit late, but you can make plain ‘ol washing soda from baking soda by baking it in the oven. I’ve seen it posted many times…google it! 🙂

  18. Violet Westergaard says:

    My daughter has horrible bouts of excema. Do you think it will be ok for her delicate skin?

    Thank you so much for all your inspiration!

  19. Rachel Wolf says:

    Absolutely! Just be mindful of the soap you use, choosing a type that your daughter can handle. You can also add a splash of vinegar to your rinse water (sometimes you can put it in the softener cup).

  20. Lisa says:

    I have made my own laundry detergent in the past. I was wondering how to make it without the Borax. I find that my skin is more irritated, and have recently read that Borax may actually not be as safe as people thought. So I would like to try and omit it if possible. Do you have a recipe that I can use without the Borax? Also, have you heard anything about this?

  21. Lisa says:

    Oh, and I forgot to ask…Can I use Kirk’s Castile soap bar. I want to make my own, but I have so much of the Kirk’s as I used it in the other detergent that I have made. The ingredients are:

    Coconut Soap, Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Coconut Oil, Natural Fragrance

  22. Abbie says:

    I know you said it is safe for HE front loader but I am a little nervous to try it, lol I have been making your soap for at least a year but just recently got a new washer and nervous about trying it out. Anyone on here try it out and how much do you use?

  23. The Natural Fighter says:

    Laura you can make your own washing soda. Just take regular baking soda, spread it out on a cookie sheet, and pop it into the oven for a couple hours on about 200 degree heat. Homemade washing soda, unscented just how you like it!

  24. Dena says:

    I’m confused because you said with soft water we can skip the borax but then you told someone else to google a borax free detergent. I have a water softner and would like to know if I can skip the borax or not. Thank you for your time!

  25. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Dena,

    The borax acts as a water softener. If I remember correctly someone told me they didnt want to use borax, so I sent her looking for a different recipe. If you have soft water, skip the borax and see if you love it. I have very hard water so Ive never tried it without. Hope that helps!

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