Laundry Detergent: Hippie Style

In recent months I’ve experimented with some homemade products in an effort to save money. But I also just really like making my own things and having things be more natural (though I’m totally not a hippie like I’ve been called πŸ™‚ ).

At the end of last summer I did my own shampoo and conditioner using baking soda and apple cider vinegar (which are both dirt cheap). It worked really well and I was happy with it. But the water is so different at school that I stopped using it. I could definitely try it again in different ratios, but had bottles of regular shampoo and conditioner to finish up anyway.

I also made body wash using Olay bar soap which is divine. It smells lovely. And all you do is chop up the bar and dissolve it in water. At first I added too much water and it was too thin. So now I use less and it’s good. I bought a 2-pack of the bars for $3 and have only been using that since. I have enough to last me probably till the beginning of summer. See what I said?!?! Money saver!

My latest installment of hippie experiments comes in the form of laundry detergent. Doing just my own laundry is not very expensive since I’ve really cut back on my wardrobe and do about a load a week (unless I have lots of towels and linens). But I’ll take any kind of savings! Here’s what I did to make the detergent:

1. Buy this stuff


All of them can be found in normal laundry aisles. Want an idea of the price? The Borax was $3.97, Super Washing Soda was $3.24, and the Zote soap was $0.97 for a grand total of $8.18. Read through a little more to see how that adds up to normal detergent.

2. Grate da soap


From what I read online, many people opted to use the Fel-Naptha bar soapΒ which apparently take out stains like a boss. And it’s yellow. How cute is that? This Zote bar sounded good to me at under a dollar for twice the amount of the other one. I forget how much FN was in store, but it was much more pricey for half the amount of soap . . . aaaaanyway. Zote smells slightly of lemon which is delightful (plus it’s easy to grate). I used half the bar.

3. Stir 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Washing Soda into le soap shreds.


I dumped the soap into the dry stuff which made it kind of clumpish and lumpish, so I would recommend doing it the other way around. But just mix it real well and be sure to get an even amount in your scoop when you throw it in the washer.

4. Viola! Put in it an airtight container and you are set. Most people recommended that you use ~1T per load.

And now I’m laughing at myself because in writing this I found that I used twice the amount of soap I needed to.


You actually only need 4.5 ounces of soap, and the giant bar is 14 oz. Now I’m off to go add more Borax and Washing Soda to the mix!

I did two loads of laundry with this to test it out and ohmygoodness I was so happy with it. My laundry has never felt cleaner, and it even smelled lovely (which was partly because of my dryer sheet . . .).

This recipe made a substantial amount which is going to last for months and I still have tons of Borax and Washing Soda, and enough soap for one two more batches. Let’s just say I was pretty excited about all this and my suitemates here thought it was a little lot weird to get so excited over weird awesome stuff. Weeeeell, I say, I’m the one saving money and having adventures making my own stuff.

There you have it! My latest adventure in homemade household items . . . have you ever done anything like this? Any recommendations for my next item to try making?

6 thoughts on “Laundry Detergent: Hippie Style

  1. Ohh, I’ve never heard of Zote, but now I want to try it! I followed pretty much the same recipe to make laundry detergent and I love it. But your lemon-smell is tempting me…gotta keep that in mind for the next batch πŸ™‚

    I also made my own dishwasher detergent, but a) if you don’t have a dishwasher, it’s lame and b) I haven’t used it much yet {still finishing off the store-bought stuff}. I used this recipe:

    Ok, how did the shampoo really work? Do you have curly or straight hair? Oily to dry? I’d love to try it, but I’m nervous about the week or two of finding the right ratios for my hair :-p


    1. Haha, how much of a bar did you use in your detergent though? Did you use the Fels-Naptha or something else? I love reading everyone’s experience!

      I’d probably hold off on doing dishwashing soap….but I saw something for fabric softener which is cool. I would love to find an alternative to hair mousse/gel, but the only thing I’ve found is making a gel from flax seeds which sounds kind of gross πŸ™‚

      Anyway. The shampoo/conditioner did definitely work. My hair is pretty average with no big issues – thickish (but not crazy thick) and curly (but not really tight curls) and I’ve never had issues with oil or dandruff. After coming back to school where the water is super weird and hard, it left too much stuff in my hair and it didn’t get clean enough. I could probably experiment with more baking soda, but now I like the bubbly-ness of shampoo! Darn. We’ll see what happens when these bottles run out πŸ™‚


      1. I halved the recipe in the link above, so I think it was 2 bars of Fels-Naptha. It is yellow and reminded me of cheese πŸ™‚ There is no smell to this detergent, which is both nice and sad. I really want to try your lemon-smelling stuff now! πŸ™‚

        Ohh, fabric softener! I think I’ve seen a couple recipes for that. I don’t use store-bought fabric softener, though; I can’t tell a difference with my clothes.

        Have you tried using Neutrogena’s anti-residue shampoo? I find it’s really helpful for when gunk gets built up in my hair; I use it about once a month. That won’t really help the hard water problem, but it’s a nice “reset button” for hair πŸ™‚


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