Homemade laundry detergent - more or less expensive?

jakkrabbitjakkrabbit Raw Newbie

On MotherEarthNews, there was this recipe for homemade laundry detergent:

8 c baking soda

6 c borax

4 c grated castille soap

Tbsp lavender essential oil

mix all together w wire whisk

Makes enough laundry detergent for 6 months

A few questions - where do you get castille soap from and what is it? Secondly, this says it lasts six months, but how long does the average large box of say, Tide laundry soap last (for a household of four)? Does making it the above way actually give you more or less loads than storebought?

Secondly, cost effectiveness - I can't go to the store to check prices since I'm housebound due to debilitating nerve damage... what is the price of baking soda and of Borax? Because this recipe asks for quite a lot of it. If it's cost effective in comparison to regular laundry soap, then I'll get my brother to get the baking soda/Borax/castille, but if not we'll have to stick with the regular laundry soap for now even though it's not green, since we're on a really tight budget.


  • Baking Soda from somewhere like Costco will be cheaper. Borax at the store. Not sure about castille but I think I saw it at the grocery store too. I think it would be cost effective. I personally think you could half the amount of any detergent and would be fine. Better for the enviroment. Sometimes baking soda for wash and vinager for rinse works.

  • leafygreenleafygreen Raw Newbie

    I've seen castille soap at Target but I'm not sure if they only had the liquid form. I think WF might have it or maybe iherb.com. Also I saw Borax at Target. A large box of detergent lasts less than 6 months for us.

    Btw-I'm going to try this recipe. How much of this mixture goes into each wash? Thanks!

  • Mon46Mon46 Raw Newbie

    Dr. Bronner's is Castile soap. You can also try Dr. Woods, which is definitely cheaper.

  • jakkrabbitjakkrabbit Raw Newbie

    The only Dr. Bronner's soap I have seen is the liquid form. It comes in bars too? The recipe calls for it grated, so I'm assuming it would ruin the recipe if I used liquid. I'm trying to figure how many bars of soap would equal 4 c grated... I've never heard of Dr. Woods but I'll check 4 it.

  • jakkrabbitjakkrabbit Raw Newbie

    You only need 1-2 Tbsp/load. If you don't want to make such a large amount at once, here's some other recipes from the site which are basically similar but don't require such large amounts of borax and baking soda:


    "I grate a bar of soap and put it in the food process. I add 1 cup each of borax, baking soda, washing soda, oxygen cleaner to that and run it until it's a fine powder. You only need to use 1-2 Tbs/load, so it lasts forever--we're a family of 6, including twins in cloth diapers, and a batch will last us a good 2 months. I sometimes add lavender oil to it, but the scent doesn't linger on the clothes, it just smells nice when they dry."


    "Take a bar of soap and grate it. Then cover it in water in a small saucepan and heat until it's melted. In a five-gallon bucket, add the soap, one cup of washing soda, and a half-cup of borax. Then fill the bucket with hot water and stir until everything has dissolved. After sitting for 24 hours, it will gel up and work just like store-bought detergent. It produces very few suds, and I've used it in both a regular washer and a high-efficiency washer with good results. Just use about 1/2 cup per load. Sometimes the mixture will separate, but it mixes back together with a quick stir or shake. Borax can be found in the laundry aisle of the grocery store. Washing soda is a little harder to find. If you can't find washing soda, baking soda will work, too. However, the mixture won't gel. It costs about $1 to make a five-gallon bucket of detergent, and the bucket will last for 160 loads, making this a frugal alternative at less than a penny per load. It's really easy, too. I get it done in about 10-15 minutes. I leave mine unscented, but if you like fragrance, you can add a

    few drops of essential oil as well."


    "Another useful tip... instead of costly and harmful (for you and the environment) fabric softeners, add 1/2 - 1 cup (depending on water hardness) of vinegar to your rinse water. It helps rinse away soap and hard water deposits that make your clothes feel hard and crunchy."


    Bleach/Brightener Substitute

    1 cup hydrogen peroxide

    1/4 cup lemon or grapefruit juice

    12 cups water

    Store in a labeled plastic jug. Add 2 cups per load.

  • Kirk's is another brand of castile soap. It comes in bars and liquid and can probably be found at a natural foods store or co-op.

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