Recipe For Homemade Laundry Detergent That Works


The one thing you will never run out of in your home is laundry! There seems to be a never-ending pile always forming and needing to be done. To wash laundry, you will inevitably need to have laundry detergent! The shops have an aisle filled with strong smelling chemically filled detergents that will wash your clothes well. Or if you are wanting to buy a more natural detergent you will pay the price for it. The other option is to make your own homemade laundry detergent.

You can save money by making this laundry powder at home, you only need a few key ingredients. This recipe is easy and works well and if you really want to save money the best option is to bulk buy your main ingredients. The main ingredients include borax, washing soda and you will need either soap flakes or a natural bar of soap that you will grate yourself.

Natural laundry powder in a bowl and glass container.

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How Much Does It Cost To Make?

The cost depends on several things. First if you use organic ingredients or not as organic ingredients will cost more. 2nd it depends on if you bulk buy items as this drops the overall price per volume. 3rd it depends if you buy soap flakes, buy bar soap and grate it yourself or if you make your own soap for your laundry uses at this makes it cheaper again.

The cost for this recipe and what I bought is in Australian dollars. If you live elsewhere things can either be more expensive or cheaper to buy. I will try and find similar items on amazon and have them highlighted below for you.

This recipe makes 9 cups which can wash about 144 standard loads or about 77 large loads of laundry.

Breakdown Of Cost

Borax (American link only 4lbs): I paid $120 for 17kg. You get about 8 cups per kg. This means each cup cost me about $.90. I use 3 cups which cost $2.70

Washing Soda (Australian link) cost $5 for 1kg: 1 cup cost about $.63. I use 3 cups which cost $1.90

Soap flakes (American link for a 2 gallon tallow based unscented soap flake): Cost $7.50 for 700g: I get about 6 cups out of this. I use 2 cups in this recipe costing $2.50

Baking soda (Australia link for organic 5kg bag): Cost $15 for 5kg organic baking soda I have a wholesale account with the company so get it extra cheap: I get about 40 cups and use one cup in this recipe costing me about $.38.

Essential oils: Lemon oil Australia link: I buy a 100ml bottle which cost me $20 I buy it on special only. You get about 20 drops per ml. I use about 25 drops of lemon oil costing me $.25

Total cost: $7.75 I rounded up for everything. The most natural one I could find that did a similar amount of loads cost $21.75 and had to be shipped as well. So, I personally think it is worth it and remember you can make this even cheaper if you grate bar soap instead of buying it already grated. I personally don’t want to have to grate it and clean up so prefer to pay a bit more and buy it already grated for me.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Benefits

  1. It is cheaper to make your own homemade natural laundry powder than to buy it!
  2. The ingredients are basic and pure no artificial number, colours or fragrances that are harsh on your body.
  3. You can control the scent of your laundry powder using essential oils of your choice.

Why Make Powdered Laundry Detergent VS Liquid?

There are several benefits to making powdered laundry detergent. First of all, it is a lot easier to make than liquid detergent. Liquid detergent is a bit more tedious, more work and more mess to make. Powdered detergent is cheaper to make and is good to use if you have very dirty clothes.

The pro for liquid detergent is it can be used straight as it is as a spot-on stain remover while powdered needs water added to it first. Also powered detergent might not properly dissolve all the way when placed in cold washing water and can add a bit more residue to your washing machine compared to a liquid detergent which can be placed in cold water.

Ingredients for homemade natural laundry powder displayed on kitchen counter.

What You Will Need


Bowl or large measuring cup for mixing ingredients in.

Spoon for mixing.

Measuring cups for measuring out ingredients

Grater if you are grating your own bar of soap.

An airtight container to place your laundry detergent powder in.


Borax (American Link): helps to deodorize your clothes, remove stains, gets ride of fungal growth and dust mites. It works by increasing the PH of your water which softens it and makes the detergent more effective.

Soap Flakes (American link) are good for cleaning clothes and getting rid of dirt.

Washing Soda (Australian link) helps to soften water. This helps to lift dirt of the fabric easier. Washing soda also helps clean your washing machine from dirt buildup, brightens your clothing colours and helps to remove stains.

Baking Soda (Australia link) has several benefits as it also helps to remove stains, keeps your clothes soft, gets rid of bad odours and also helps to keep your washing machine clean.

Mixing all the ingredients together for natural laundry detergent.

How To Make Laundry Detergent

It is very easy to make homemade laundry detergent.

  1. You simply need to add 3 parts borax, 3 parts washing soda, 2 parts shredded soap and 1 part baking soda to a large bowl. So, for example, it would be 3 cups borax, 3 cups washing soda, 2 cups soap flakes or shredded soap and 1 cup baking soda.
  2. Stir it all together evenly and add your essential oils if you choose to and give it another good mix.
  3. I like to add essential oils into my mix as they add a nice smell to the laundry and depending on the oil used can even help with cleaning.
  4. After pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid and place a label on it so you remember what it is.
pouring laundry detergent in front loader.

How To Use Homemade Laundry Detergent

For a full load I use 2 tbsp of laundry powder in my machine. For half a load use one tablespoon of laundry powder. This recipe makes 9 cups of laundry powder which will do about 144 half loads of laundry or 77 full loads. It’s best to place the laundry detergent straight into your washing machine drum not the dispenser for a front loader as the dispenser can get clogged over time.

Adding Essential Oils To Laundry Detergent

Essential oils can kill bad bacteria, help get rid of grease and also add a nice smell to your finished laundry. Here are several essential oils you can add to your homemade laundry detergent. I only pick one or 2 essential oils at time to my detergent.

  1. Lemon essential oil: This oil not only smells lovely but also helps to cut through grease, kill bacteria and get rid of any bad odours.
  2. Wild Orange essential oil: This oil smells amazing and has similar benefits to lemon oil. It helps to kill bad bacteria, get rid of bad odours and helps get rid of grease.
  3. Lavender essential oil: This oil helps to keep your clothes fresh and smelling lovely.
  4. Tea tree essential oil: This oil helps to get rid of bacteria and bad odours in clothes.
  5. Peppermint and Spearmint essential oil: These oils help to get rid of bad bacteria while also adding a lovely smell to your clothes.
  6. Rosemay essential oil: Helps to fight of bad bacteria and fungus while also smelling amazing!
Homemade natural laundry on a table. One tablespoon being scooped out.

How To Store Homemade Laundry Powder

Store your homemade laundry detergent in an airtight container to stop the any liquid from coming in. If moisture gets into your laundry powder it will cause it to clump and will no longer work as well. I like to store in a plastic container when making a large amount rather than glass because it ends up being quite heavy and I don’t want to drop it. If you are making a smaller amount glass will work perfectly fine of course!

Laundry detergent tends to keep pretty well other than that and doesn’t really have an expiration date.

Homemade laundry detergent in a glass storage container.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

Yield: 144 loads
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

You will love this homemade natural laundry detergent recipe. It's easy, cheap, cleans clothes well, septic safe and not harsh on your skin.


  • 3 cups borax
  • 3 cups washing soda
  • 2 cups soap flakes
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 25-30 drops essential oils (optional)


  1. Pour all the ingredients into a large bowl except essential oils.
  2. give it a good mix.
  3. Add essential oils if you choose to and give it another good mix.
  4. Pour the detergent into a large container with an airtight lid and label so you know what it is.
  5. Use one tablespoon for standard load or 2 tbsp for a large load of laundry.


  1. For stains use 1 tbsp of detergent and turn it into a paste by adding a little water and spot wash the clothes first. Then place into the laundry to go through a normal cycle.
  2. In front loader its best to place the detergent straight into the washing drum not the dispenser as it can clog the dispenser over time.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram


    How To Make Your Laundry Detergent Smell Good

    If you want amazing smelling laundry detergent, add a few essential oils into your mix. I listed above a few oils you can add into your powder to make your washing smell amazing while also having other benefits. Make sure to mix the oils through your powder well so you get a nice smell in every load.

    For this recipe I use about 25 drops to 30 drops of essential oil in total. If you are using several oils in your mix just add less drops of each to give you a total of about 30 drops.

    Is Homemade Laundry Detergent Safe For Septic Tanks

    The ingredients listed in this recipe are all considered safe for septic tanks. They are natural ingredients and should not cause any damage to your tanks.

    What Is Borax?

    Borax is a salt like substance that is found in mineral deposits around the world by the evaporation of lake water. Borax is widely used in cleaning products and has strong antifungal properties.

    Is Homemade Laundry Detergent Natural?

    yes, homemade laundry detergent is natural. The beauty of making homemade is you get to choose what ingredients you use. All the ingredients listed in this recipe are natural ingredients.

    Does Homemade Laundry Powder Really Clean Clothes?

    Yes, homemade laundry powder can really work at cleaning clothes. Be aware though it does not remove all stains very well. For any tough stains you might need to do a patch wash of the area first before throwing it into the wash for a normal cycle.

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