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Homemade Laundry Soap That Smells Amazing!



Oooooooh yes, I went there. 

Homemade Laundry Soap by The Learner ObserverHow many of you have pinned an image of homemade laundry soap? Yeah… that’s what I thought. Basically everyone! Well, I pinned several, read a gazillion blog posts about it, and Googled the crap out of anything and everything to do with good-smelling homemade laundry soap (because the #1 complaint was that Fels Naptha and Ivory don’t exactly smell great). 

So why did I do this? Several reasons:

  1. I was curious. What’s the hype all about?
  2. I wanted to save some $ and not have to buy laundry detergent all the time.
  3. I love the idea of using more natural ingredients and being able to choose them myself!
  4. I honestly just needed to know if this stuff was as bad or as good as people say because there are SO many mixed reviews!

How to make your own laundry soap

Let’s start with the ingredients. I picked my own from several recipes that I saw, and some examples are from Happy Money Saver, Liz Marie Blog and reading the comments on SOOOOO MANY posts like this one from TipNut, which has 10 recipes. 

My ingredients:

Homemade Laundry Soap by The Learner Observer

  • Borax
  • Washing Soda
  • Baking Soda
  • Oxi Clean
  • 2 Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile Soap

 I did also get Downy Unstopables, which was in SO many recipes for the scent factor, but the castile soap smelled so delicious, I didn’t even feel like I needed anything else for scent. Overall, all of the ingredients cost between $25-30, and I made a bucket load of it! I did not use all of the Borax or the washing soda – I used 3/4 of each box.  I would have used all of it had I bought another bar of soap and more Oxiclean, but I didn’t want to make too much soap in case I hated it!


I love the soap and should have used up all of the boxes because it is UH-MAY-ZIIIING! In order to use all of the ingredients and not have any leftover in the boxes, here’s an exact measurement of how much you’ll need:

1 full 3 Kg box of washing soda
1 full 2 Kg box of Borax
1 full 500 g box of baking soda
3 bars of castile soap
1.36 Kg container of Oxi Clean
*This means spending about $5-10 more on ingredients, but because you’re getting more soap the cost per load ($.25/tablespoon) remains the same! 

The materials:


Homemade Laundry Soap by The Learner ObserverI thought I would need a grater, but the soap fell apart when I used the knife to cut it into smaller pieces. It was totally a trial and error thing, and to be honest I was not looking forward to grating soap because it’s another thing people really complain about! I was happy to be able to cut into it and throw it into the food processor.

cutting up soap for homemade laundry soap.jpgGetting the soap into an almost powdery consistency took no time at all! I was so excited about that! The chunks of soap broke down easily even in my tiny food processor.

Homemade Laundry Soap by The Learner ObserverI mixed everything together slowly, meaning I used small amounts of each ingredient, mixed, added more, mixed, and so on. I used an old paint stir stick to mix it all together, which worked really well (though I had to be careful not to poke holes into the plastic bag). After that, it was just a matter of scooping it all into a smaller container (which I purchased at HomeSense for $5) to leave in the laundry room…

Homemade Laundry Soap by The Learner ObserverHow much do I have left over? Enough to fill this container 3 more times! And with a bit more Oxiclean and another bar of soap, I have even more! I used an antique measuring spoon in my container and I love the look of it! My laundry room is not pretty, but my soap is!

Review of homemade laundry soap


We have had no issues with it at all. The soap dissolves perfectly in the washing machine – just put the soap in and allow it to dissolve slightly before adding clothes. This is VERY fast and honestly, sometimes I forget to do it! Ours is a top-loading machine, but after all of the reviews and comments I read, I can safely tell you that it can be used with HE machines, it just needs to be put right into the machine rather than in the dispenser cup.

Homemade Laundry Soap by The Learner ObserverIt smells heavenly, though the lavender smell does not stay on the clothes. The good news is, our clothes don’t smell like anything other than clean! There’s a hint of lavender on them, but it’s barely noticeable.

I only use the 1 tablespoon at a time, which is perfect since that’s the size of the measuring spoon in my container. For bed sheets, towels and anything heavily soiled I may use 2, but for regular laundry just 1 is more than enough.

Homemade Laundry Detergent by The Learner ObserverI would love love love to hear what you have to say about this if you have had your own experience with it because it’s definitely one of those topics I just can’t hear enough about! Oh and if you have questions about any steps I took, or if something is unclear, please ask away!

I am so excited I took the plunge and made my own laundry soap. It was so worth the 30 minutes and $30 dollars to have enough soap to last me for months and that smells better than any other laundry detergent from a store! As usual, I will leave you with an easy pinnable image!

Homemade Laundry Soap by The Learner Observer.jpg

 Doing laundry just got a little tiny bit less torturous!


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  • Reply Hanna Caldwell

    Using a food processor is genius! I just did a post on homemade laundry soap last week but didn’t even think of using that. I used a grater instead and it takes away to do it that way! And I bet the lavender does smell great!

    March 18, 2014 at 11:48 am
    • Reply Thalita

      I just hopped over to see yours. Loving it! That container is so cute! (and I love how large it is!)

      I was going to use a grater, but the soap I used fell apart so easily, I got lucky and didn’t need to. I was really hoping the food processor would get used and I totally mentally high-fived myself when it did! The lavender does smell pretty amazing! I wish it stayed on the clothes!!

      March 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm
  • Reply Kristin

    so, for us unscent-y people; if you skip the scented stuff, would it just be a fresh smell? Or basically unscented clean clothes? I guess what I’m asking is, does adding a scent mask any unpleasant smell from the detergent itself? Thanks for posting this!!!

    March 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      If you want unscented, your clothes just come out smelling like clothes – a.k.a. nothing – which is also pretty great since ‘no smell’ is a pretty great smell. The detergent (whether you use a scented soap or unscented) doesn’t leave any scent on your clothes, which I love! I take it the baking soda is the one to thank for this, since it actually takes away any scent (good or bad) from fabrics. I hope that answers your question! For unscented soaps, Ivory is great because it’s gentler than actual laundry soap bars and doesn’t have the weird laundry soap smell! You can also look for Dr. Bronner’s unscented version since it’s an all-natural soap and breaks down so easily!

      March 23, 2014 at 4:59 pm
  • Reply Emily @ Two Purple Couches

    I’ve checked out a few posts and articles on making your own soap, but haven’t thought much about it beyond that. Thanks for breaking this down! I might give it a shot :)

    March 19, 2014 at 10:06 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      I hear you – I looked at SO MANY, and that was mostly because I was so skeptical about it. There are tons of amazing resources, and even homemade liquid soaps, which sounds way scary to me, but I am also in awe of the people who make it!

      March 23, 2014 at 5:05 pm
  • Reply Lauren @ The Thinking Closet

    Wow, I am so impressed by you, Thalita! And hearing how easy and rewarding this process was for you gives me a little nudge closer to trying it ourselves. Thanks for the step by step…and pin-able pics! Now, it’s YOUR pic we’ll all be re-pinning on Pinterest!

    March 22, 2014 at 9:08 pm
  • Reply Leslie B

    I used my Salad Shooter to grate the soap bars..

    September 7, 2014 at 9:45 am
    • Reply Thalita

      Such a smart idea!

      September 8, 2014 at 8:05 am
  • Reply Leslie B

    What is your actual ‘recipe’ ? Am i not reading the measurements? thanks.I have an HE washer and made a bucket full using Fels Natha soap.

    September 7, 2014 at 9:54 am
    • Reply Thalita

      Hi Leslie! In all honesty, I didn’t measure much. This is why I’m a terrible baker!!! Next time I make this, which will be soon, I’ll actually measure things out. Despite no measuring, this ended up turning out great! I’m sure the batch you made was awesome! :)

      September 8, 2014 at 8:05 am
  • Reply Susan

    f made the powdered version with Fels and while I don’t mind the smell of it, I always ended up with little white specks on my clothes, even if I used hot water. So I switched to making the cooked variety, but it’s not the watery kind. It turns out like mayonnaise and I LOVE IT!! I still don’t mind the smell of the Fels, but I may try the Castile. My recipe does not call for the baking soda and in fact tells me NOT to use baking soda. I imagine cooking with it might have something to do with it.

    September 7, 2014 at 10:09 am
    • Reply Thalita

      How cool that you made a cooked version! Have I been living under a rock? I had never heard of it before! I have had no issues with the soap leaving marks on clothes at all and I do not dilute the soap in water before throwing my clothes in, so it could have something to do with the soap. Also, probably wise not to use baking soda if you’re cooking it! I also wouldn’t use baking soda if you use vinegar as a fabric softener. You might get an explosive science lesson that way ;)

      September 8, 2014 at 8:08 am
  • Reply Carolyn

    Homemade laundry detergent is the best! Have been making it for several years and it’s so nice to have a large quantity ready to go. I also don’t miss shopping for the best price on name brand detergents. The Fels Naptha and Ivory soap aren’t offensive to me. But, I’ll give the lavender castile soap a try, too. I also use any bar soap that we have on hand when I’m in a pinch. Thanks for sharing!

    September 7, 2014 at 10:14 am
    • Reply Thalita

      I am totally with you! I do not miss paying $20 for soap I didn’t even really like! And having to do that once a month! Yikes! I don’t mind either of those soaps either, but I would have added the unstoppables into it. I’m a smells girl, what can I say :)

      September 8, 2014 at 8:10 am
  • Reply Barbara

    Maybe I missed it but what are the quantity ratios?

    September 7, 2014 at 7:20 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Hi Barbara! You didn’t miss it – I’m a bad blogger and didn’t measure exactly how much I used. I sort of eye balled the whole thing, so my measurements include things like “half of this box, 3/4 of that one.” If you’d like more accurate measurements I would be glad to figure them out for you!

      September 8, 2014 at 8:12 am
  • Reply Mary rentmeester

    What if you used all the ingredients from each product ( borax, oxiclean,castle soap, and sodas) I hate boxes that are opened I have a small laundry area and don’t like clutter

    September 8, 2014 at 7:33 pm
    • Reply Thalita

      Hi Mary! I’ve updated the recipe so that we can do just that! Thanks so much for your suggestion!!! The blog post will go live on Sunday and I’ll update my Hometalk post as well. You are one smart cookie ;)

      September 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm
  • Reply For The Love of Lavender! + Laundry Soap Recipe Update - The Learner Observer

    […] a few months ago I shared with you a lavender-scented laundry soap recipe, and I’m here to tell you that I LOVE it. I love it so much, and even my mom loves it, which […]

    September 14, 2014 at 8:04 am
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