Homemade Laundry Detergent

Empty Jars

Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Making Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent

A few years ago, if someone had told me that one day I would make my own laundry detergent I would have thought they were totally insane, but as you know, things change. I’ve changed. And last Sunday afternoon I found myself standing by the stove as the winter sunshine streamed though the kitchen window, stirring a pot full of lux flakes, borax, washing soda and water. Making laundry liquid.

I’d actually been considering this little project ever since I got my hands on Rhonda’s wonderful book last March, but had always managed to put it off. Even though the directions looked simple enough, making my own seemed so much more difficult than just grabbing some detergent at the supermarket. And to be very honest, I don’t think I was ready for that level of, well, hippyishness. I realise now that was silly and I needn’t have put it off. I used this recipe and the whole process was ridiculously quick and easy. I added some lavender oil and the finished liquid smells lovely. We’re still finishing off our last bottle of store bought detergent, so I’m yet to put my homemade stuff to the test, but I’m looking forward to giving it a go!

I didn’t do the sums but according to Rhonda’s math, it costs just $1.75 to make 10L of this laundry liquid, while 10L of a leading Australian laundry detergent would cost around $80. That’s a pretty incredible saving! It’s also really comforting to know we won’t be using anything nasty to wash our clothes. I shudder at the thought of all the chemicals most of us put on our skin and wash down the drain every day. Though there is some debate concerning the healthfulness of borax, in my mind it is a big step up from the string of unpronounceable ingredients in commercial products.

Do you have any great recipes, tips or secrets, for green, chemical free, cleaning? If so, I’d love to hear them!

Katie x

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About Katie

Katie is a tea drinking, jewellery making, op-shopping daydreamer. Katie likes vintage dresses, Pictionary, doilies and colourful tights.


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42 Responses to “Homemade Laundry Detergent”

  1. Zara May 23, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Making my own laundry liquid I’m yet to try. This and soap making is something I’d love to achieve this year.

  2. Talia May 23, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    Oh I’ve been using a VERY similar recipe, and I love it! I use it in a powder format though. Actually one day I ran out of the mix I’d made up AND borax, so I just made it without, and it still works pretty well. I do use… stronger products on the dirty cloth nappies though, so when they go in the mix maybe that helps…!

    I am just so glad I made my own laundry liquid, I’ll never go back!

  3. Christina Lowry May 23, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    It’s so satisying, isn’t it? Good on you for taking the plunge! I’ve been using Rhonda’s recipe for awhile now and haven’t looked back. Next on my list is a home made wool wash – http://ivynest.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/washing-woolens.html 🙂

    • Katie
      Katie May 23, 2013 at 11:12 pm #

      Oh, that might come in handy now the weather is cold and we’re wearing our woolly things. Thank you for sharing! x

      • niki June 28, 2014 at 10:08 am #

        Whats tje exactt recipie??
        Also is this recipie austtalian. As iv never actually heard of.botax!

  4. Sarah @ Chantille Fleur May 23, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    I’ve never thought of making my own washing detergent, although I used to think I’d make my own soap one day. Now we buy our soap from the a local, small family business that attends the markets every month. Their soap is made using old fashioned methods, and is so lovely to use. I now don’t see the point in making my own soap, when I can support a family’s income and purchase healthy, eco-friendly soap so easily!
    I’d love to hear how your detergent goes!

    Sarah x

  5. jamie May 23, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

    Do you wash in cold water Katie? thanks 🙂

    • Katie
      Katie May 23, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      Yes, usually. I do the occasional warm wash, but never hot! 🙂

  6. Nicole May 23, 2013 at 9:27 pm #

    I’m so intrigued by this – I’ve been making an effort to DIY things like skincare products this year, but I haven’t delved into cleaning products yet!
    I can’t wait to hear how it works out!

  7. Kathy May 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    I’ve attempted it a year ago but I don’t think I let the flakes dissolve enough so I thought it was a flop. I still have all the stuff so will have to give it another go.

    My beautiful necklace arrived earlier on in the week and I’ve worn it already and it looks great. Beautiful packaging as well which didn’t go unnoticed. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

    • Katie
      Katie May 23, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

      Yes, I found it took a little while for the flakes to dissolve completely, but they do eventually. So glad your necklace arrived and you like it. Thanks again for all your support! x

  8. Amie May 23, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    I’ve been making Rhonda’ laundry liquid & soap for almost 12 months. I started making it
    to reduce the chemicals that we are exposed to as my son has eczema. Both are great & I even used this laundry liquid on my husbands mining clothes! It has been great for the whole family & is also so much cheaper & even more convenient as I can make it up any time instead of having to rely on store bought detergents. Enjoy your lovely clean clothes x.
    Amie, NSW

  9. Aubrey May 23, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    Isn’t it so much fun making laundry detergent? I make large batches of it and shared the recipe as well. I had read the research on borax and wasn’t a fan of what I read about borax, so I went with borax free. It turned out fantastic and only 4 cents a load. Wahooo! I just love making it. 🙂

    • sara mae May 23, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

      I agree reading about Borax scared me away! I am always looking for healthy and practical alternatives 🙂

      • Katie
        Katie May 23, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

        I have read that you can replace borax with baking soda, with good results! I might try that next time 🙂

        • Aubrey June 6, 2013 at 10:04 am #

          I have a borax free recipe on my blog, if you are at all interested. It’s super basic and gets the job done. 🙂

  10. kelly // apockylypse May 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    My mother-in-law made the her own laundry powder a few months ago & swears by it now. I had wanted to try some of the laundry powder recipes I had seen all over Pinterest, but was afraid to try it. I just didn’t want to get stuck with tons of powder that didn’t do much of anything, but boy was I wrong! She gave me a few loads worth & I find myself wishing I would hurry up & run out of my store bought liquid detergent now.

  11. Joy May 24, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    ◾1 bar of plain Castile soap …finely grated or use 1.5cups soap flakes
    ◾1 cup washing soda
    ◾1 cup Borax

    Mix, use one heaped tablespoon each wash.

    I tend to triple up all the ingredients to make a big batch

    • Katie
      Katie May 24, 2013 at 9:18 am #

      Thanks for sharing Joy! That sounds similar to Rhonda’s washing powder recipe 🙂

  12. Rita@thissortaoldlife May 24, 2013 at 4:18 am #

    Hi Katie–
    I’ve been wanting to do this, too. Like you, I just haven’t been able to get myself to do it. This will sound so dumb, but I don’t know where to get borax. I’m sure it’s at the grocery store, but I haven’t been able to overcome my inertia in figuring that out. Would love to hear how it cleans. Maybe that will get me off my duff!

    • Katie
      Katie May 24, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      We actually had trouble finding borax. They didn’t have it any of the nearby grocery stores/ supermarkets. In the end we got it from a hardware store! 🙂

      • Amie May 26, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

        Coles sell borax as do IGA. Woolies stopped selling it last year.

        • Katie
          Katie May 26, 2013 at 8:04 pm #

          We tried a couple of different Coles and an IGA and none of them had it, so I guess it depends where you go! 🙂

  13. Rian May 24, 2013 at 7:23 am #

    Have you ever tried using soap nuts?

    • Katie
      Katie May 24, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      No, I haven’t, but I’m very curious about them. They sound good!

      • Zoe May 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

        I was going to suggest soap nuts too! We’ve been using them for over a year, they work out to be soooo cheap and my clothes are always clean. I’m not sure how they’ll go when we have poopy nappies in a few months, but for regular washing they’re awesome!

  14. domestickate May 24, 2013 at 8:34 am #

    Good for you! I started detergent several months ago. I prefer the powdered kind, though. I think the cost savings aren’t as much as they would be with liquid, but I think because I grew up with powdered detergent, it just seems right somehow! Anyway, I got my recipe from this page: http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/ I use #4. It’s also nice because the proportions are simple and I can make a little at a time since I live in a small place and have to cart my laundry supplies to a communal laundry room.

  15. Helen May 24, 2013 at 9:46 am #

    I’ve been using Rhonda’s recipe for over a year now. I use 2 litre plastic milk bottles to store mine, the handle makes it easy to give it the shake it needs. I couldn’t get Lux flakes the day I bought my ingredient stock so I grate up a bar of yellow velvet soap, 12 months on and I still haven’t used the whole box of bars yet.
    I still use stain remover spay and once a month or so will put in a dose of Napisan powder – but I used to do that with shop detergent.
    No tradies or kids in my house so no thigh stains to deal with

  16. Mike (CraftyDad) May 25, 2013 at 4:59 am #

    Hey there!

    I’ll have to try this. Most of the recipes I see are for the powdered version. Since we have a front-loading washing machine, the LIQUID version makes a lot more sense.

    Let us know if you like it.

    Have a WONDERFUL weekend. Winter there…and the beginning of Summer here in the States.

    It’s a wonderful world, isn’t it?

  17. The Life of Clare May 25, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    Ive also been meaning to do this for ages. I think shampoo and conditioner might be next. Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. Kathy May 25, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    I’ve been using Ronda’s recipe for a while. Easy to make and great to use. I only use cold water to wash in and it’s fine. Tend to use a cap of nappy san with the pure whites, as I did with shop detergent!

  19. Karen May 28, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    I have been using Rhonda’s recipe for my laundry liquid for 18 months now and wouldn’t go back to commercial products. I completely hear you on putting off the leap into making your own products for seemingly silly reasons lol….i have been putting of making my own soap (using Rhonda’s recipe) for no valid reason 🙂

    I found that my whites did look grey after awhile but after googling natural alternatives to commercial whitening products like napisan etc. I found that soaking my whites overnight in hot water with a cup of lemon juice added, then washing as normal and drying in direct sun worked a treat. 🙂

    Added to say I only wash in cold water

  20. Erin English May 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm #


    I thought of you just the other day as I am enrolled to do one of Rhonda’s amazing Simple Living Courses on Sunday! I am so psyched and can’t wait to be inspired all over again.

    Her book totally changed the way I do things around the home and I, like you, couldn’t have imagined it a few years ago but I am just so thankful that I stumbled across others who think similarly, you and Reuben included.

    Love your blog and your little world.

    Erin. x

  21. Rachael Alsbury @ Frugal Faye May 30, 2013 at 1:27 am #

    Love it! Why does making your own laundry detergent feel so empowering? I use powdered, but ready to experiment with liquid.

  22. tors (girl, meets wolf) June 4, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    White vinegar seems to be a favourite for a lot of recipes I’ve found, but I’ve yet to really try it (although it’s on my to-do list). I love that you’ve done this, making my own laundry soap is something I’m hoping to do in the future, but for right now I’m working my way up from old tried and tested simple recipes (lip balm for the win!) to the more scary looking ones like laundry soap! I’ll be interested to see how it works out for you, please keep us appraised!

  23. Egads June 30, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    I love Rhonda’s laundry detergent recipe! I also found borax (the same brand) at a hardware store (Bunnings I think). I bought yellow soap, then washing powder then borax as I could afford them and as I found them (our Coles had them, but not when I initially looked). I make a batch in January/February and I still have 3 bottles. I gave one as a present and will probably give another one as a present next week (I might decant it into something more pretty). It’s the best stuff and so satisfying to know it’s got no harmful gunk in it and that I made it!

    Your jars look lovely by the way; our detergent is in old coke bottles 🙂

  24. Giselle.c July 14, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Hi! I’m trying to make my own laundry soap but I can’t find borax anywhere? Where did you buy yours or what is an alternative? I also live in Brisbane

    • Katie
      Katie July 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

      We had a really hard time finding borax too! In the end we got it at Bunnings. 🙂

  25. Kirk November 12, 2014 at 1:29 am #

    Very nice post!!Thank you for sharing!!!!


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