Homemade Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time now.  I feel like I’m a little mentally foggy after work, but it’s worth the extra effort to keep the blog updated.  I’m still trying to find time and energy to balance it all.  Seriously, if any of you work-outside mamas are also “keeping it all together” at home please tell me how you do it. 

Last time I told you about my love of the Homestead Drying Rack.  Today I’d like to share my recipes for laundry detergent and fabric softener.   Both of these recipes are simple and inexpensive.  My kids love to help me make them both.  Since the ingredients are all fairly mild, my biggest concern with letting children help is the heat from the stove when melting the ingredients for the detergent. 

The detergent is easy to make, economical, and seems comparable to the commerically available brands I’ve purchased in the past.  It is low to no suds and is generally considered appropriate for use in HE machines. I still occasionally have stubborn stains, but that happened with the name brand products I’ve used too.  It would probably help if I treated stains promptly and washed clothes regularly instead of letting them pile up during the week.   The fabric softener works as well as any I’ve used without the heavy perfume smell.  Clothes smell fresh coming out of the wash, but I can’t really discern a particular scent after drying.  I like this since many of the commercial brands make me sneeze.


Shred 1/2 a bar of Fels Naptha into six cups of warm water over medium heat.  When the soap shreds have all melted add 1 C washing soda (not baking soda) and 1C borax.  Continue to stir until the ingredients have all dissolved.  Allow the mixture to cool then put it into a larger container.  I use an old 1.5 gallon dispenser from the laundry detergent I used to buy.  Then just top it up with cool water and stir to incorporate the ingredients well.  Use 1/8 cup for a medium load, a bit more for a large or heavily soiled load.  You may need to re-stir or shake the jug before each use as the solids tend to glob up.

Fabric Softener

Start with a gallon jug of white vinegar.  Store brand is fine.   After it is about half used up add one whole bottle of cheap conditioner like White Rain or Suave.  Stir gently, do not shake as it will foam.  Then, again, top up with plain water.  Use as you would store bought liquid fabric softener.  To make your own dryer sheets dilute the solution to 1/2 strength with more water and soak pieces of a ratty old tee shirt in the mixture.  I keep some solution and tee shirt squares in a lidded “tupperware” type dish.  Ring out a tee shirt piece and toss it into the dryer with wet clothes. 

Both of these are eco friendly, and economical solutions for your laundry needs.  The ingredients for either can be found at the grocery or big box store and should cost less than ten dollars.  Each batch of detergent lasts me 4-6 months, and each batch of softener lasts me about one month.  It would last longer if I used it solely for making dryer sheets, but I like to hang clothes out to dry so I mostly use it in the rinse cycle. 

Does any one have a good recipe for a spray on type stain pre treater? I’m thinking of filling a spray bottle with diluted dish soap and spraying it onto stains before clothes go into the hamper,(Ok, honesty check.  They usually go into a pile on the mudroom floor.  Shame.) but I would love to know what has worked for you. 

Happy Homemaking!

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2 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Detergent and Fabric Softener

  1. Delena

    Can’t wait to make these. I’ve been wanting to try it for awhile but have been too lazy to google a recipe. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Back at Home, Plans, Projects and Preps | Half Acre Heaven

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