Make your own laundry detergent

17 May 2007

The equivalent amount of laundry liquid (10 litres) from a supermarket would cost around $43. To buy all these ingredients will cost you around $6.70, less if you buy generic laundry soap. This will give you enough materials to make this recipe twice, and you'll have some ingredients left over. Give it a try. It really does work.

4 cups grated laundry soap or soap flakes (Lux)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
Mix all the ingredients thoroughly and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use 2 tablespoons per wash. This powder will not make suds and this is perfectly okay.

Makes 10 litres
You may add any essential oil of your choice to these homemade cleaners. Oils like tea tree, eucalyptus, lavender or rose are ideal. They are not necessary to the recipe but do not detract from the effectiveness by adding them. Use essential oil and not a fragrant oil.

1½ litres water
1 bar Sunlight or generic laundry soap or any similar pure laundry soap, grated on a cheese grater OR 1 cup of Lux flakes
½ cup washing soda – NOT baking or bicarb soda
½ cup borax

10 litre bucket
Slotted spoon or wooden spoon for mixing

Into a medium sized saucepan add 1½ litres of water and the soap. Over a medium heat, stir this until it is completely dissolved. Make sure the soap dissolves properly or the mixture will separate when cold.Add the washing soda and borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Pour this mixture into your 9-10 litre bucket then fill the bucket with hot water from the tap. Stir to combine all the ingredients.

The laundry liquid will thicken up more as it cools. When cool, store in a plastic container. I use one of those 10 litre flat plastic box containers with a lid. Use 1/4 cup of mixture per load or monitor to see what works well for you. I keep a quarter cup measuring scoop in the box to measure the mixture into the washing machine.

PLEASE NOTE: If you are going to use your washing water on the garden, don't add the borax to these recipes.


  1. What does the Borax do? I have a septic tank, should I leave it out for that? Here EVERYTHING is routed to the septic tank, not just the loo & I can't afford to have all the other outlets rerouted away from it.

    I've gone back to read your blog from the beginning ~ it's brilliant. Thank you

    1. Hi Killi, I just started reading it from the beginning today!

  2. Dear Rhonda, I love your blog and have begun reading from the beginning - it speaks very much to what I've been aching for but have not been successful at managing. Not yet anyway. But there is hope, especially when I read how others are doing it.

    My first question is this: I live in the US and am not familiar with some of the ingredients in the liquid laundry soap. Can you clarify? What is generic laundry soap or any similar pure laundry soap? I imagine it comes in a bar form? What is Lux flakes? What is washing soda? Once I know what these products are, I can try finding them locally. Many thanks! I can be emailed at

  3. Thanks for the recipe! I use the washing powder without the Borax. I don't add the Borax as all my washing grey water goes onto my lawn. It has worked well even with a 3 year old who is night toilet training (lots of washing sheets).

    I made a big lot as I had an old 10kg container. The measurements were close enough to add a whole box of Lux and bag of washing soda.

    Thank you for saving my family a fortune!

  4. Dear Sarah, I live in the southern suburbs of Sydney and am unable to purchase Borax. It seems to have disappeared of the shelves of the supermarkets. Does anyone know if it can still be purchased? The local hardware store proprietor said he thinks it can be used to make bombs and this is the reason for it not being available. It this a fact - if not, can anyone suggest where I may source it. Thanks. Sheila

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Hi Killi - Borax acts as a water softener, insecticide and fungicide. It neutralises pH and is used in swimming pools as a buffering agent.

    You don't actually need it in a home made washing detegent, and if you're going to use the grey water, I would leave it out, as it is dangerous to plant and pets and will build up in your soil over time, affecting the pH of the soil and causing toxicity.

    Just leave it out, and make the recipe as per described, minus the borax. It will work fine.

    Hi Ellen - Generic soap means any old soap you can find, in bar form. Grate it on a grater and use the shavings.

    Lux flakes are sold in Australia - it's a brand name. They're just soap flakes. So look for soap flakes sold in a box - about the same size as a cereal box. They shouldn't be expensive.

    Washing soda is also known as soda ash, soda crystals, or lectric soda.

    You should be able to find it in the cleaning aisle of your supermarket. If not, ask at your local hardware store.

    Hi Sheila - Some countries have taken borax from shelves in supermarkets as it can be a component of bomb making.

    It disappeared about the same time as the plastic knives and forks appeared on planes! *sigh*

    However, you should still be able to find it in hardware stores or in swimming pool supply shops.

    Hope this helps everybody.

    Leanne at Cluttercut

  6. Hi, I've just made my second batch of the laundry liquid and wanted to just say that it is so good! I use bicarb as my pre-soak in the front loader, and vinegar as the rinse (with a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus oil as fragrance). The first batch lasted two months and I have a baby, a 3 1/2 yr old and myself plus a fifo hubby, so I thought that was pretty good value and made it again. I still haven't re-purchased any of the ingredients and will probably get at least another 2 batches - so about 8 months of laundry liquid for the initial outlay of around $10-15AUD.

    I also wanted to add a couple comments - that borax is available at places that sell soap-making ingredients or bulk cleaners (in Perth West Australia one place is The Big Bubble), and the other thing I wanted to add was that this recipe only takes me 20 mins from start to finish.

    Oh, and because it is a gel, I pour mine in to the 2litre vinegar bottles that I buy my vinegar in before it cools, as this is heaps easier! If it separates, a shake combines it again.

    I also use cloth nappies, and find that if I pre-wash with bicarb soda, with a few drops of eucalyptus oil, then a 1/2 cup of the laundry liquid, and a rinse of vinegar and the oil again I don't have any problems getting them nice and white and clean and gorgeous smelling.

  7. Can you use this laundry detergent in a front loader?

  8. will this work in front-loader?

  9. Hi, I make this washing liquid using Bi-Carb instead of Borax for myself, my daughter in law and 2 of my daughters, its great. I make it in bulk for us all and costs us each about $10.50 each for 21 litres. We all save 2 and 3 litre milk bottles and I top them up using a funnel and make it in a 25litre kitchen bin.

    For the ladies above my daughter in law has a top loader and myself and my daughters have front loaders. No problem with stains or smells.

    We all love this washing liquid, saves us a lot of money and washes beautifully.

  10. I have been making this super easy laundry detergent recipe since I attended a workshop with Rhonda in the Lockyer Valley in 2013, and love it! Thank you for sharing what you do Rhonda, you do really make a difference. The world would be a better place if more people 'got back to basics' and spread goodwill ;)



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