DIY Laundry Detergent

Good morning! If you are visiting Frugal Frontier because you saw my segment on Good Morning Central Oregon, welcome to my blog! I am glad you are here.¬†Kristi and I had a great time on the show, even if we did inhale some Borax powder in the process. So, our segment was all about DIY laundry detergent and baby wipes, and in case you didn’t DVR the segment or have a pen to write down the recipe, I wanted to share it here for you. So here’s what you need to make your own laundry detergent:

  • 1 4 lb box of Borax
  • 1 4 lb box of Arm & Hammer baking soda
  • 1 4 lb box of Arm & Hammer super wash
  • 3 bars Fels Naptha soap
  • 3 lbs of Oxy Clean
  • .5 oz essential oil (optional, if you want it scented)

All of these items were found at my local Super Walmart in the laundry aisle (minus the essential oil). Right next to each other. As if they knew I was coming and was making laundry detergent from scratch. Isn’t that amazing? Walmart is so personal! Ahem. All of these items cost about $17.00 and this mixture will last about 6 months. Not bad!

The first thing I did was grate the 3 bars of Fels Naptha soap. But before we do, may I just show you how stinkin’ classy this bar of soap is? Maybe “classic” is the best word to describe this,¬† and for some reason, I can see (in my dream home) a vintage cabinet with chicken wire doors holding a bar of Fels Naptha as decoration. That’s how much I like how it looks. But, since it won’t work very well in full-bar form, off to shredding it goes. I actually used Betty Margaret, my Kitchenaid mixer, and my cheese grater attachment. This took care of 3 bars of soap in no time. Here’s what it looked like when it came out. All cute and curlie-q and everything. Setting the shredded cheese soap to the side, I poured all of my ingredients into a 2-3 gallon container. And then I threw in the shredded soap too. I put my lid on, gave it a good shake, and it was all done. Each load uses about 1 tablespoon of detergent. This stuff lasts, baby!

If you are interested in a scented detergent, feel free to add some essential oils, like lavender, to your recipe. But make sure to not use any lemon oils, as they will bleach colored clothing in the sun (thanks for the tip, Frannie!). Speaking of Frannie, since she has been using this detergent for quite a while, she also mentioned  it is best to start each load of laundry with warm or hot water, add the detergent, agitate, then add the clothes, and change the temperature if necessary. The warm water allows the detergent and soap flakes to dissolve.

As Kristi mentioned on Good Morning Central Oregon, this detergent is best suited for top loading washers. If you are looking for a recipe for front loading HE machines, check out this recipe. This blogger has actually quartered the “5-gallon-bucket” recipe so it’s quite managable and super inexpensive. The ingredients are nearly the same, minus the baking soda and Oxy Clean.

So, there you have it! DIY laundry detergent in about 17 minutes for about $17. Nice!


  1. Kristina says:

    I'm going to make this VERY soon! Have you ever seen a recipe for DIY dishwasher detergent, Dana? (I had to put "Dana" in there to continue with the alliteration!)

    • FrugalFrontier says:

      Kris, that's awesome! And yes, I have. It was on Pinterest. However, there seemed to be so many "make sure you do this" and "every 20th cycles, use regular dishwasher soap", it was a little too many things for me to remember. But I know that it involves lemon kool-aid! If you find it and try it out, let me know how it goes!

  2. Erin says:

    When I used this detergent a few years ago, I would shake up a tablespoon in a jar with some hot water, as an alternative to starting the wash with hot water to dissolve. I just kept the jar right by the washer.

  3. Mom says:

    That is awesome!!! Why didn't anyone tell me about that when I had lots of laundry????

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