Tuesday 4 February 2014

homemade eco laundry detergent

washing detergent
Exactly a year ago I decided to try making my own clothes detergent. I saw people doing it online and thought I'd try it myself.

I liked the idea of making my own eco-friendly detergent without nasty additives and I'd read that it was easy and much cheaper than buying it. On top of that I was sick of dragging home heavy bottles of detergent and hated the packaging waste.

And is it good?


Truth is I haven't bought any premade detergents since February last year and I figure I've saved myself a lot of money in that time. (To see how much I've made a price comparison for you below between bought and home made.) I also love that when I run out (invariably on the weekend) its a simple thing to pull out the ingredients and make another batch rather than having to drive to the shops and buy more.

All the recipes are very similar but I think I based my measurements initially on this one. This batch makes a bucket full, about nine litres. You can also make dry powder but I've always found that makes my sensitive skin itch.

homemade detergent

1 and a half litres of water
1 cup soap flakes or grated soap (I use Lux flakes because its quick and easy.)
1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
10mls eucalyptus oil (optional but I love the smell and I guess I'm used to scented detergent)

clothes detergent
Bucket, containers for finished soap, pot, wooden spoon, measuring cup, funnel if you have one. I keep my ingredients together in the pantry and in the washing soda container a copy of the recipe so its there when I need it.

Put one and a half litres of warm water in a pot and put on the stove on medium to high heat.
Add 1 cup soap flakes or grated soap and stir till it dissolves (above).
Add 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup washing soda and stir to combine until the mixture thickens (below).
Pour mixture into a bucket and fill with warm water.
Stir to combine.

washing detergent

As it cools the mixture thickens so keep stirring or the top will harden and you'll have to stir it to break it up again. I keep the bucket in the bath and stir it when I walk past.

When the detergent is cold decant it into bottles. A jug or a funnel makes this process easier because the mixture is quite thick by this time.

And that's it! How easy is that? Once you get into the routine its a pinch and much easier than dragging it home from the shops, paying ten times as much and now you know exactly what goes into it, all eco friendly ingredients.

washing detergent
Price comparison
The other day I was in Woollies and noticed the price of the detergent we'd been using (photo below). It was a nice reminder of the money we are saving. The five of us go through a lot of washing detergent, what with sport and school and work and everything.

I sat down and made a price comparison based over ten litres for the basic ingredients. And even I was pleasantly surprised. My homemade detergent is 15% of the price, each two litre bottle saves me over $8. Times that by two or three bottles a month and the savings mount up.

Homemade per 9L
Lux flakes ($7.19/700g) - 1 cup, 123g = $1.26
Borax - Glitz Green ($7.98/kg) - 1/2 cup, 107g = $0.85
Washing Soda Lectric $3.86/kg - 1/2 cup, 133g = $0.51

Hurricane Top Loader ($8.99/2L) $4.50/L or $45/10L
Homemade ($2.62/9L)                  29c/L or $2.91/10L

Edited to add
* according to Lisa on instagram you can even lower the amount of borax, which helps make it friendlier for her husband with psoriasis.
* there are no foaming agents so it is initially quite disconcerting because it doesn't foam.
* I have been meaning to further thin it because it can come out in a bit of a glob because its quite thick.
* All the ingredients I found in the soap powder aisle at my local supermarket.

washing detergent


  1. You've inspired me (again). One question - how much should you use per load? I've only ever used powder, except for wool wash liquids.

    1. Hi Suse,
      I'm so pleased :-)
      We use a dollop, I'm sorry that's not scientific but we use about the same as regular detergent. I suppose its about a tbsp or two?
      I've been meaning to further thin it down to make it easier not to pour too much. It doesn't foam as much because it doesn't have fake foamers, which is disconcerting but means you can't really use too much.

  2. What a great comparison! I must try making this too, I really resent the price of laundry powder. Where do you buy the borax and washing soda, are they at the supermarket?

  3. Excellent, thanks for this, same question as Suzy, do you find Borax ad washing soda at the supermarket?

  4. So glad you are going to try it Suzy and Kate. I found all the ingredients near the soap powders at my local supermarket.

  5. I love Rhonda's recipe, have been using it for ages now. How cool is it, not having to lug a huge bottle of detergent home every shop? I love a bit of eucy in mine too. Nice one!

  6. i will be trying this and have googled where to buy ingredients. borax at Bunnings and the rest at woolies in SA. How much do you use per load (front loader) and do you substitute oxygen bleach powder so you can use as grey water on garden?

  7. Pleased to see you've discovered homemade detergents too! I make the powder version, and honestly have never used anything before that works as well.

  8. Fantastic Susie - I'm going to go out and buy the ingredients tomorrow ;-) Just one question, do you have a top loader or front loader? We have a front loader and I wasn't sure if you need to be a bit more careful with these - or maybe it's just the marketing hype that tells us we need one type for top loaders and one for front. More ways for them to make money I'm sure!

  9. I have been wanting to do this for yonks, thanks for the inspiration!!!


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