Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Homemade Laundry Detergent August 20, 2012

I’ve been trying to do my best to plan sensibly for Baby # 3. I saved all of the gear, cloth diapers, wipes, bibs, and burp cloths from my first two babies. I have plenty of clothing if I’m having a girl, but, for the first time, I’m going to find out the Baby’s sex so that I can prepare accordingly. I spent the first few weeks of my pregnancy making a Plan A and B and C for all of the bigger things (i.e. how to continue with my schooling after the baby’s birth, how to survive financially, how to make sure that my girls still get time with me and avoid sibling rivalry). Now that I am 16 weeks pregnant I have time to focus on smaller things. One of my first goals was to make several extra batches of laundry detergent. By several I specifically mean ten, and by batches I mean five-gallon buckets full; so yes, 50 gallons of surplus laundry detergent in all.

You may be thinking that 50 gallons of laundry detergent is excessive, but I reasoned with this: we usually use one five-gallon bucket every month and a half (give or take half a bucket depending on the season, number of bed-wetting accidents, and the amount of spills the girls make with their cups, or splashes that come out of the bathtub). I figure that since I’ll be exclusively cloth diapering Baby #3 we’ll be using a maximum of ten gallons of detergent every month. More than likely it’ll be less, but I wanted to be on the safe side. I wanted to know that I could go a full five months after Baby’s arrival without having to make another batch.

It’s not extremely difficult to make a batch of laundry detergent; tedious and slightly dangerous, but it could be accomplished while a baby is napping. However, I am quite sure that I will have a lot of needs pining for my attention while Baby is napping, and I figure that once I have the detergent surplus there will be one less thing I’ll have to worry about doing soon after Baby is born. Thus far, I have made five surplus batches. My goal is to make one batch of detergent each week until I reach my surplus goal. Some weeks I may be replacing one of my two in-use buckets, so it may take me another two months to be officially complete, but I am excited to be planning ahead and creating a sweet relief for my postpartum phase.


Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe


Yields: Five-gallon bucket nearly full (approximately two inches from the top)



1 five-gallon bucket

1 long-handled wooden spoon

Cheese grater

Enough pots to boil 6 quarts of water and a pot to heat 4 ½ quarts of water with room to stir ingredients



4 ½ Quarts of Water

1 Bar of Zote Soap, grated

1 ½ Cups of Washing Soda

1 ½ Cups of Borax

3 Quarts of Hot Water

6 Quarts of Boiling Water

4 ½ Quarts of Hot Water

15 drops of Essential Oil (Optional – I use tea tree oil)



Start heating 6 quarts of water to a boil. In a large pot, mix 4 ½ quarts of water with the grated Zote Soap. Heat the mixture on medium and the soap will dissolve. Stir the Washing Soda and Borax into the mixture. Continue heating the mixture, but do not let it boil. Stir the mixture until it thickens (less than five minutes), and then remove the pot from heat.

Add 3 quarts of hot water to the bucket then add the soap mixture from the pot and mix well. Add the 6 quarts of boiling water to the bucket and mix well. Add an additional 4 ½ quarts of hot water to the bucket. If you’re using essential oils add these now. Mix the contents of the bucket.

Let the mixture set for 24 hours or until it thickens. Use 1-3 cups of the mixture per load of laundry (use more for heavily soiled clothing).


My mother-in-law gave me this recipe about seven years ago. I have used it consistently for six years and through two exclusively cloth diapered babies. It cleans everything, smells wonderful, and doesn’t leave residue or cause skin irritations. We love it, and if you try it let me know what you think!


2 Responses to “Homemade Laundry Detergent”

  1. Teresa Cleveland Wendel Says:

    When my gram was alive, she made her own lye soap. We grated it up to use for washing clothes. Thanks for the recipe. I intend to try it.

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