Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have made my own laundry detergent before and it is so easy and so inexpensive.  I’m not sure why I stopped for the past few years but I was recently inspired to make it again.  Most of the recipes for liquid detergent use Fels Naptha and I wanted to try something new.  I found this recipe using Zote Soap, something I had never heard of before so I decided to try it.  I was able to find all the ingredients (including the large 5 gallon bucket with lid) at Wal-Mart, a trip I made especially to try and find the soap.  One bar makes 10 gallons of soap and was $0.97… unbelievable!  This recipe is found from Becky’s Homestead, a website I stumbled upon when searching for laundry detergent recipes.

What you need:
1 bar of Pink Zote Soap, 400 grams
Cheese grater
5 gallon bucket
5-10 gallons of water… just not all at once
Something long to stir your soap like a paint stir stick or wooden spoon
1 cup measuring cup
Something to store your finished soap in
1 cup of Borax


Start with your bar of soap.


We have a regular cheese grater, but I LOVE to grate cheese in the food processor using the special attachment to do so.  If you’ve never done this before and need a whole block of cheese grated, I highly recommend it.  There is something about grating an entire block of cheese in 2 seconds that is so satisfying… especially if you hate to do that task by hand.

I wondered if it would work with the soap and since it is softer than a block of cheddar cheese, I thought I’d try it out.


Voi la… 2 seconds later I had the whole large bar of soap grated.


Seriously, this is surprisingly fun.
(I won’t mention having to wash all the parts afterwards though.)


Put your freshly grated soap into the bottom of your 5 gallon bucket.


Start filling your bucket with warm water from the tap.  After each gallon, stir the water and soap.  After you have put 3 gallons in, stir well, put your lid on the bucket and wait 24 hours.

After 24 hours you will have a thick, jell-o like gel.  My photo of this stage didn’t turn out well so you’ll have to use your imagination.  You’ll need to stir it for 5 minutes or so to break up the gel and it becomes a very interesting texture, kind of mucus like.  Gross, I know.  After you have successfully stirred your soap up, add one cup of Borax, 2 more gallons of water and stir some more.  The borax will dissolve and your soap will be runny and still a little gel like.  Borax is a water softener and helps whiten your clothes.  If you want an extra gentle soap, just leave the borax out.


Now your soap is ready to use.  The original recipe suggested putting 1/2 gallon into old 1 gallon milk containers and then filling the rest of the container with warm water, shake to mix.  You then use 1 cup of detergent for a large load.  I decided to keep it the original strength and just use 1/2 cup of soap per load.  5 gallons is still a lot of soap, so I can’t imagine storing 10 gallons!  So far, so good.

I put the laundry soap into a canning jar because it’s what I had on hand and it pours and seals well.  The remaining soap is in it’s original bucket waiting to refill the jars once I run out.


Again, since I left it full strength without diluting it with another 5 gallons of water, I just use half the amount of soap per load.

One thing to add, Zote soap doesn’t smell great.  It’s a very strong soapy smell which I was worried about staying in our clothes, but the scent seems to rinse out completely and our clothes come out smelling fresh and clean.  It also has done a great job so far at getting stains out and our icky kitchen towels and wash cloths came out cleaner than they do when I use bleach.  It’s not a chemical free soap by any means, but it seems to do a great job getting our clothes clean and was just over $1.00 to create 5 gallons of double strength soap.  Not too bad, if you ask me.




5 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. wow, that’s….um.., creative. =P Wouldn’t have thought to make my own! You can use borax to make….silly putty! Let me know when you want a creative craft to do at home. At some highlighter dye and you’ll have glow-in-the-dark silly putty. Not a bad idea eh? Made that with my Chemistry students.

  2. I made this about a week ago. I live in Colorado where all the flooding is happening and I used this detergent with a little oxy clean and they came out spotless! I thought the stuff was a lost cause but gave it a try anuway and it worked amazingly well! Thank you! 🙂

  3. I Love this. Thank you so much. We use grated Zote for our baby’s clothes and its an awesome alternative. This is the best post I’ve found on homemade soap so far. THANK YOU THANK YOU.

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