DIY Laundry Detergent


DIY Laundry Detergent

Hi! I’m Amber Anderson, I am a pastors wife, mom of 2 lovely boys, and an avid DIY’er. I am so excited to be sharing my tutorial on DIY Laundry Detergent this week. I love trying out DIY projects, crafts and family life!

My husband and I decided we were going to give a go at the Duggars recipe for DIY laundry detergent. Oh how I love those Duggars, however, I refuse to watch their show. Despite how much Sam tells me it’s not real life, I covet the fact that every single one of their kids appears to be angels send from heaven to help Michelle Duggar cook and clean. So instead lusting over their organization or cleanliness, I decide to just not watch.

A lot of the reviews I have read on this DIY Laundry detergent of people who have allergies, eczema, or babies, use a milder soap, like Johnsons baby bar, Dove, etc. But the batch I made in this tutorial is with the Fels-Naptha. I will be trying the Johnsons baby bar to make a batch for my 6 month old. A few ingredients is all you need and it will only cost you a few bucks, $11.60 to be exact, $9 dollars if you already have a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.

Ingredient List:

  • 5 gallon bucket with lid -$2.60 at Home Depot
  • Borax
  • Arm & Hammer Super WASHING soda (NOT baking soda) *laundry aisle
  • Fels-Naptha Bar (I will be subbing this with the Johnsons Baby Bar pictured to try some baby detergent) *laundry aisle for the Fels, Johnson’s in the baby section
  • 10 clean milk jugs (or any other 1 gallon container)


  • Front loader= ¼ cup per load, approx 640 loads
  • Top Loader=5/8 cup per load, approx 180 loads

7 Simple Steps

1. Grate the Fels-Naptha bar. (Or other bar of your choosing)


2. Add to a pot with 4 cups hot water, cook over medium heat until all flakes have melted. (Will be a little bubbly) Beware, this stuff is a little strong while cooking, I felt a tad loopy afterwards, try opening some windows.


3. Fill your 5 gallon bucket HALF full with hot water.

4. Add your soap mixture, 1 cup of the Arm & Hammer and ½ cup of Borax. Stir. (We used a attachment on my husbands drill used for mixing paint, but you could use a 5 gallon paint stirrer too)

5. Fill up the rest of the bucket with hot water about an inch from the top. Stir. Put the lid on and let it sit overnight.

6. In the morning, stir (will be gelled and murky) and fill all of your 10 gallon jugs HALF full. A funnel works best for this step, but my husband and I still spilled this stuff everywhere! (We actually spilled so much we only got 9 gallons worth)


7. Once they are all half full with your solution, fill them all the rest of the way full with water. This was by far the hardest part to me, every time I filled it too fast it would sud up so much that I would have to wait to continue to fill it (sort of like coke in a Solo cup). My suggestion is to fill it slower with colder water, and fill it with the water slightly running down the lip of the jug, makes less suds, but takes more time.


And that’s it! Give all a good shake and your ready to go on detergent at least a few months! (Maybe more if you don’t have to do as much laundry as me) Make sure you shake well before each use too. I went ahead and measured out a 5/8 cup (I have a top loader) in a Solo cup and marked it with a marker, so I can just re-use that each time instead of dirtying up my measuring cups.

So, a fun idea would be to make some labels for your jugs telling the measurements and a reminder to shake well, sometimes milk jugs can be boring! Spice it up a little with a label and some ribbon!

My total project took about 45 minutes, but hopefully the more batches you make, the faster you’ll get! And the best part is, with your next batch, all you will have to buy is the soap bar. Even better!

If I did my math right, a bottle of Tide for 96 loads is $18. So if you have a front loader, instead of paying $160, your paying $10 or less for 640 loads. Amazing!


    • says

      Mine is runny too Tina – but I don’t know that it’s supposed to end as a thick gel since it’s fabric softener. If you’re used to a gel-type fabric softener, it may be that you’re using a super-duper concentrated variety. I suppose mixing less water and vinegar would result in that kind of consistency here as well, but then it might be more difficult for your washing machine to distribute evenly during the rinse cycle. Hope that helps!

  1. Jessica says

    Did you try the Johnson’s Baby Soap? If so, how did it work out for you? I’m expecting a little one in May and the cost of Dreft is just too much so we are looking into alternatives! Thanks!!!

  2. Shannon Comer says

    I make this but keep it as a powder. With the powder form, you use 2 tbsp. per load and it lasts so much longer and cleans better. You don’t feel like you are washing the laundry with a lot of water. Also you don’t have to shake before each use or store all those containers. Also, if you add Epsom salts to your mixture, you don’t have to use fabric softener , at all!

    • says

      What kind of container and how big do you store your powder in? I also would prefer it this way. Do you add the Epsom salt in the mixture or just to the washer everytime you do laundry? How much of the Epsom salt? I love your idea!

  3. Sylvia says

    Can you add any bar of soap you want or only certain kinds???? And does it make the clothes smell good?? Towels???

    • Amber says

      You can sub any bar soap you want! I am going to try a Johnson’s Baby Bar soap (in the picture) to try it out for baby clothes. The detergent itself smells great, but I don’t notice a distinct smell when the clothes are finished! (which is how I prefer it) :)

  4. Laura says

    I made my own laundry soap for over a year. I made this recipe as well as a powdered recipe (preferred this one). While I loved it for so many reasons, I could never get my whites bright white. After a year almost all of my hubby’s t-shirts were a dingy grey…. even with bleaching and line drying. Any ideas regarding how to combat this would be appreciated.

    • DAWN says


    • Jacque says

      We use a cup of Hydrogen Peroxide for whites, This works like Oxy Clean. We also use a cup of white Vinegar in the rinse with a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil. This works well for us.

  5. Penny says

    You can also substitute ivory soap for the fels-naptha. It has very little odor while melting & smells great in the finished product.


  1. […] laundry detergent – this one can save you so much money! It’s a powder detergent but I have an older washing machine that doesn’t require HE detergents or anything of that nature so it works great for us. I do add softener to the machine for some loads. This recipe makes a TON. I wanted to make a liquid when this runs out but I’m not sure it ever will.  […]

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