How to Make Detergent At Home

Detergent can easily be made at home with household ingredients. Anastasiia Krivenok / Getty Images

There are hundreds of laundry detergents on the market with fancy packaging, advertising and big promises. The truth is you can easily make a comparable detergent from basic ingredients in your own home.

Here's what you'll need:


  • ½ bar of soap
  • ½ cup of washing soda
  • ½ cup of borax
  • Empty 4-gallon (15-liter) bucket
  • Scented essential oil, optional

Here's what to do:

  1. Gather your ingredients. Most basic bars of soap, washing sodas and borax will work well.
  2. Grate or break apart the soap into small pieces. Place the soap pieces in a saucepan.
  3. Add 6 cups of hot water and stir over medium heat until the soap melts and dissolves into the water.
  4. Fill the bucket with about 1 gallon (4 liters) and 10 cups of steaming hot water.
  5. Mix the melted soap solution, ½ cup of washing soda and ½ cup of borax into the bucket of water.
  6. Stir the mixture really well until all the powder liquefies.
  7. Cover the bucket and allow the mixture to cool overnight. The mixture will thicken into a watery gel.
  8. Fill an old, empty laundry detergent bottle with your homemade liquid for easy dispensing.
  9. Use about half a cup of detergent with each load of laundry. Shake your detergent before using it [source: Lehmans].
  10. Add 10 drops of essential oil to each load of laundry. This will add a subtle fragrance to your laundry, fight stains and act as a fabric softener [source: The Real Essentials].

If you don't want to make your own laundry detergent, but do want a natural way to reduce the chemical-laden products you use when doing laundry, try:

  • Vinegar Adding some vinegar to your washing machine during the final rinse will help get rid of any soap residue left in the clothing.
  • Baking soda Replace your commercial fabric softener with baking soda. You can also reduce the amount of chlorine bleach you use if you add baking soda to your washing machine when you start the load [source: MSU].