homemade laundry detergent without bar soap

Here is a detailed post about Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Bar Soap. Suppose you are looking for homemade washing powder and a soap free laundry detergent recipe. Then reading this article may help. It also includes best homemade laundry detergent.

Here is a nice stack of different recipes for making homemade laundry detergent that I’ve collected over the years. Do they work? Yes, I’ve had good luck with them. At the time I was using them, we had a relative who was in trade school living with us. Every day he was mechanic grease from head to toe–the clothes still cleaned up nice!

best homemade laundry detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Bar Soap

a bottle of ahomemade laundry detergent in front of a basket of folded clothes.

soap free laundry detergent recipe

Making your own is a discipline and it’s not for everyone, but it definitely saves money–sometimes just costing pennies a load! Before you get started, here are a few tips:

  • For the bar soaps required in the recipes, you could try Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Sunlight, Kirk’s Hardwater Castile, and Zote. Avoid using heavily perfumed soaps.
  • Washing Soda and Borax can normally be found in the laundry and cleaning aisles.
  • Some people with really hard water or well water may have to adjust the ingredients if the clothes look dingy.
  • Although several of the recipes have the same ingredients, the measurements are different–some contain a higher soap to water ratio. Test and see which works best for your needs.
  • You can make huge pails of this at once, or smaller quantities. Also if you can get your hands on a few empty liquid detergent bottles, they work great for storing large batches. Just make a big batch and pour in bottles, cap then use as needed–shake before use.
  • Some of the recipes call for large amounts of water. Check with a local restaurant to see if they have any empty large pails from deep fryer oil–that’s how many restaurants buy the oil. See if you can have one or two of the pails after they’ve emptied it–just wash them out really well before using. They’re big, heavy plastic and very sturdy when stirring the soap and hot water.

Here are ten different recipes you can try, I’ve also added a very useful Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom of the page. Lots of info here to get you started, good luck!

#1

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda

  • Add finely grated bar soap to the boiling water and stir until soap is melted. You can keep on low heat until melted.
  • Pour the soapy water mixture into a large, clean pail and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all is dissolved.
  • Add 2 gallons of water, stir until well mixed.
  • Cover pail and use 1/4 cup for each load of laundry. Stir the soap each time you use it (will gel).

#2

Hot water
1 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
1 Soap bar

  • Grate the bar and add to a large saucepan with hot water. Stir over medium-low heat until it dissolves and is melted.
  • Fill a 10 gallon pail half full of hot water. Add the melted mixture, Borax and Washing soda, stir well until all powder is dissolved. Top the pail up with more hot water.
  • Use 1 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).

#3

Hot water
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
1/3 bar Soap (grated)

  • In a large pot, heat 3 pints of water. Add the grated bar and stir until melted. Then add the washing soda and borax. Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.
  • In a 2 gallon clean pail, pour 1 quart of hot water and add the heated mixture. Top pail with cold water and stir well.
  • Use 1/2 cup per load, stirring before each use (will gel).

Powdered – Recipe #4

2 cups Fels Naptha Soap (finely grated – you could also try the other bar soaps listed at the top)
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax

  • Mix well and store in an airtight plastic container.
  • Use 2 tablespoons per full load.

#5

Hot water
1 bar (4.5 oz) Ivory Soap – grated
1 cup Washing Soda

  • In a large saucepan add grated soap and enough hot water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until melted.
  • Fill a large pail with 2.5 gallons of hot water, add hot mixture. Stir until well mixed.
  • Then add the washing soda, again stirring until well mixed.
  • Set aside to cool.
  • Use 1/2 cup per full load, stirring well before each use (will gel)

#6

2.5 gallons Water (hot)
1 Bar soap (grated)
3/4 cup Washing Soda
3/4 cup Borax
2 TBS Glycerin

  • Melt grated soap over medium-low heat topped with water, stir until melted.
  • In a large pail, pour 2.5 gallons of hot water, add melted mixture, washing soda, borax and glycerin. Mix well.
  • Use 1/2 cup per full load.

#7

2 cups Bar soap (grated)
2 cups Washing Soda
2 – 2.5 gallons hot water

  • Melt grated bar in saucepan with water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until dissolved.
  • Pour hot water in large pail, add hot mixture and washing soda. Stir very well.
  • Use 1 cup per full load.

#8

2 gallons Water (hot)
1 bar Soap (grated)
2 cups Baking soda (yes baking soda this time–not washing soda)

  • Melt grated soap in a saucepan with enough hot water to cover. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring frequently until melted.
  • In a large pail, pour 2 gallons hot water. Add melted mixture, stir well.
  • Then add the baking soda, stir well again.
  • Use 1/2 cup per full load, 1 cup per very soiled load.

Powdered – Recipe #9

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)

  • Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
  • Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

#10 – (Powdered)

1 cup Vinegar (white)
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup liquid castile soap

  • Mix well and store in sealed container.
  • I find it easiest to pour the liquid soap into the bowl first, stirred in the washing soda, then baking soda, then added the vinegar in small batches at a time (the recipe foams up at first). The mixture is a thick paste at first that will break down into a heavy powdered detergent, just keep stirring. There may be some hard lumps, try to break them down when stirring (it really helps to make sure the baking soda isn’t clumpy when first adding). I used 1/2 cup per full load with great results.

Note For Liquid Versions: This will be lumpy, goopy and gel-like. This is normal. Just give it a good stir before using. Make sure to keep covered with a lid when not in use. You could also pour the mixture in old (and cleaned) detergent bottles and shake well before each use.

*If you can’t find Fels-Naptha locally, you can buy it online (check Amazon).

Optional: You can add between 10 to 15 drops of essential oil (per 2 gallons) to your homemade detergent. Add once the soap has cooled to room temperature. Stir well and cover. Essential oil ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.

Tricks To Get Rid Of Stubborn Underarm Stains and Odors From Clothes

Each of these remedies works best if you turn the garment inside out and expose the underarm fabric before treating. These remedies are best used on shirts that can be handled a little “roughly”

1. Aspirin and Cream of Tartar

Mix three white, non-coated aspirin tablets with a cup of warm water and a tablespoon of cream of tartar (you probably have a can in your kitchen cupboard!). Scrub the solution into the underarm area with a nailbrush or old toothbrush, then allow the mixture to remain on the garment for at least 20 minutes. Launder as usual. Repeat, if necessary.

2. Baking Soda

baking soda uses - box of baking soda

Seriously, what can’t baking soda do? It’s is great for neutralizing strong perspiration odors that are embedded in fabrics. Make a paste with baking soda and warm water, then rub the paste into the problem areas. Leave the paste on the garment for 15 minutes, or allow it to remain overnight. Launder as usual. Some have found luck with a paste of baking soda and Dawn dish soap, following the instructions above. But test for colorfastness first.

3. Salt

cleaning salt
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Dissolve a ½ cup of table salt in a bucket or large bowl half-full of warm water. Soak the affected areas of the garment, then launder.

4. White Vinegar

White vinegar is a powerful odor neutralizer and works wonders on underarm areas of fabrics. Fill your washing machine with water, then add 1/3 cup of white vinegar. Turn off the machine and let the garment soak for 20 minutes, then launder as usual.

5. Washing Soda

Sprinkle a ¼ cup of washing soda (sodium carbonate, not sodium bicarbonate) onto the affected area. Be sure to wear rubber gloves. Add water to make a paste and work it in with gloved hands. Leave the paste on the affected area for 30 minutes. Launder as usual.

6. Mouthwash

Listerine® or Scope® work well on underarm fabric odors. Simply pour several capfuls on the armpit areas, wait 30 minutes, then launder as usual. You might want to test it first if you’re going to use mouthwash on white garments.

7. Murphy’s® Oil Soap

Pour the oil soap directly on the armpit which has been dampened with water, and use a nail brush or old toothbrush to scrub it in. Leave on for 20 minutes then rinse in cool water, then launder.

8. Meat Tenderizer

This remedy might sound a little strange but meat tenderizer works by “digesting” or breaking down the chemicals that are embedded in the fabric from underarm odors. Simply dampen the armpit area with water and sprinkle generously with the meat tenderizer. Work it in with your fingers and allow it to sit for 20 minutes. Then launder.

Be sure the stains and odors are gone before tossing any garment in the dryer, which will further set the unwanted stains and smells. Line drying clothing may also help eliminate odors.

Preventive Advice

All-natural fabrics are more breathable than synthetic fabrics, so be sure to choose fabrics made from cotton, wool, bamboo or silk, and avoid polyester and rayon. Allow perspiration to evaporate before tossing any garment in the dirty laundry basket or rehanging. And be sure to wash all of your clothing regularly.

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