Domestic Diva: Takes on the Laundry

 homemade laundry detergent

I was elated to find out that Martha Stewart was a fraud. I mean she isn’t perfect. I am far from perfection but I always pictured her having the right everything for every occasion. I have my moments of greatness and several that are pitiful. I did however decide once a week I will cook a different meal  which appears in my Wednesday column and I am now adding Domestic chores to my list of talents. This week I will attempt to tackle the laundry. The laundry pile is larger than my son standing up. This is caused by the messiest children ever. I am also Madame Deals so tackling the laundry means doing so “with in” the budget. I can buy laundry detergent using coupons for a lot less than most. The problem is my youngest has an adverse reaction to laundry soap. I decided this week I was going to make my own. I went to Walmart and was able to buy all the ingredients. I then ran into Lowes and bought a 5 gallon bucket and top.

Dial Corp. 04303 Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap

Church & Dwight Co 03020 Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

Dial Corporation 76Oz 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Pretreater

The total price is $20.14. I would buy several Fel Naptha Laundry Bar soaps at $1.42.  That will bring your total up to $25. I believe if you buy 5 bars total that you will have enough ingredients to make your laundry soap for an entire year. That breaks down to $2.00 a month. You could also split the cost between 3 or 4 friends.  This would honestly make a great gift to someone who who is trying to make ends meet or to someone who just had a baby or someone who is using expensive laundry soap because they have allergies.

Here is the recipe:

I used The Duggar Recipe for my first try.

  • 4  Cups – hot tap water
  • 1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
  • 1 Cup – Arm &Hamme Super Washing Machine Soda
  • ½ Cup Borax


I decided to make the yield of 10 gallons into two different 5 gallon buckets so I didn’t have to worry about watering it down later. I was also attempting to make my friend a bucket at the same time. If you only want to make a 5 gallon option and then water it down prior to use then do not do what I am doing.

homemade laundry detergent


Grate one bar of the Fel Naphta soap into a sauce pan of water.  You will need to set the temperature at medium heat. You can also use your food processor to grate the soap. You will do so until the soap dissolves.

I filled the bucket with the 2 cups of hot tap water. (Do 4 in one bucket if you are going to transfer your mixture to a laundry bottle and add water)

homemade laundry detergent

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add 1/2 of the melted soap in each bucket,  with 1/2 cup of the washing soda in each bucket and 1/4 cup of the Borax.

Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

If you did not make two 5 gallon buckets then:

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)


You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

Serving Suggestions

–Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)

-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Here are next weeks idea:

Homemade Laundry Softner

I am going to try to do these as well if you like powder laundry soap

If you would like to make homemade fabric softner

If you would rather make a powder one

Thanks Elizabeth and Chris and Nicole and Kelly for your extra tips!

laundry soap

Dawn dish soap is great way to get stains out

What are your tips to save money while doing the laundry



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  1. Britney Koger says

    I made this last year, and just now am running low…so this will last me one year! AMAZING 🙂 Of course I do buy fabric softener occasionally and stain boosters too… Still, it has saved me so much!!!

  2. Dusty Wade says

    I use the Bounce Dryer Bar for fabric softener. The initial one you buy with the holder is around $4 and lasts for two months. The refills are $6, but they last for 4 months. They make your clothes smell great and it’s super easy because it’s just stuck inside your dryer. I bet you can find some coupons out there to save even more!

  3. meloni cutberth says

    I called Michelle and got her recipe about 2 yrs ago. I made the 5 gal bucket and used it for a few months. I guess my very hard water makes the difference because everyone else loves this stuff. when it is in my washer, a nasty scum comes to the top and stayes on our clothes! I had to quit using it because it was just leaving too much residue. but its probablly just my water. wish I could use it! saves tons of money!

  4. Rachelle Goude says

    I use the powder version and have a front loader. I must say I will not have to buy laundry soap for at least a year, I used fels naptha and ivory soap and subbed baking soda for washing soda because of the sensitive skin in the house and because, well, I use washing soda to raise the pH in my pool so I was not about to use it to wash my kids’ underwear! So far, everyone LOVES the way their clothes feel and smell and everything comes just as clean as it did when I used commercial soap.

  5. Elizabeth Braun says

    Your right dawn dishwashing soap is good for stains. We own a small trucking company and it seems that every time I go into the shop I get grease on my clothing. I have found the only thing to get it out is dawn. When I get home I place a little dawn on the inside and outside of my clothing and rub it in good, then let sit over night. I have left clothes like this for a couple days before I washed them and the grease still always comes out. Has saved me alot of money in clothing costs for pennies on the dollar

  6. Jennifer says

    I subbed Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap. 1C Borax + 1C Washing Soda + 1C Dr Bronners liquid
    Use a stick blender to make a fluffy paste. Then used a cookie scoop to measure out little mounds on a cookie sheet and left overnight to dry.

  7. Meredith says

    Can you get all the ingredients at local stores? If so, where? I want to try the powder version. VERY excited. 🙂

  8. Dianne Shaw says

    Think I’ll try the Dr.Bronners and pain soda with a drop or two of organic tea tree oil. Hearing some bad stuff about Borax. Any one else?

  9. Angie says

    Thank you for sharing this! I have meant to make this so many times and I am *almost* out of laundry detergent. No time like the present right?

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