The Best D.I.Y. Laundry Soap-Quick, Easy and Cheap!

Laundry Soap, A Necessary Evil

Washing clothes is just a fact of life, unless you don’t wear clothes, then, well, I guess you have one less chore. Ha ha. For the rest of us, there is laundry! For most of my “laundry life” I have bought various types of laundry soap from the store, usually going for the cheapest I can find, occasionally going by my nose and spending more because I liked a certain scent. Once upon a time, I tried to make my own laundry soap, but it required grating the soap and I did not enjoy that step. It was messy and time consuming and hurt my poor little hand (wah!)

A Different Kind of D.I.Y. Laundry Soap

But, lo and behold, thanks to my amazing Pinterest browsing skills (and the amazing folks who post these recipes), I have found an amazing D.I.Y. Recipe for laundry soap and I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I found it at Mary Hunt’s Everyday Cheapskate webpage. You can find her recipe here: here

As I write this, I have been using this laundry soap for a little over the year and these are the things I love about this laundry soap.

It is super cheap

And, I am not kidding. I spent less than $20 on laundry soap for an entire year for our family of 6. That is incredibly cheap any way you slice it! I bought one huge jug of Dawn Dish Soap and two boxes each of Borax and Super Washing Soda. That’s it. And…I’m still going on the Dawn Dish Soap and the second boxes of the two dry ingredients. In Mary Hunt’s original post she reports that this laundry soap costs between 3 and 5 cents a load!

It’s Incredibly Quick

I can mix up enough to last our family about 2 weeks in less time than it takes me to go to the store. It takes maybe 10 minutes to mix up 3 gallons of soap. We typically do probably 10-15 loads of laundry a week in our high capacity washer, so that is a lot of soap in a very little amount of time.

It works very well.

As I mentioned, we have a family of 6, including four children, so I will just let you imagine the types of things that are sometimes on the clothes I wash (I’m sorry for that mental image). This laundry soap has gotten almost everything gross and icky out in one wash. The only thing I’ve had problems with is vomit (once again, sorry for the mental image). I have to wash those items twice, but I have had the same issue with other detergents and that particular substance as well, so it’s a neutral point for me.

Another way it works well is that it softens clothes on its own, so I no longer use fabric softener, which has saved additional money.

Disclaimer: This soap will not give you a strong scent. In fact, there is hardly any scent at all. The clothes just smell clean. There’s no stink, no funk, but also no flowery or mountain fresh scent or anything like that.

It is so Easy to Make

It seriously is! Here is how I make it:

The Cast of Characters for this amazing D.I.Y. Laundry Soap. Not pictured: Empty gallon milk jug or jugs (I usually do 3 at a time)

What you’ll need: Dawn Dish Soap, 20 Mule Team Borax, Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda, an empty and clean gallon milk jug, a tablespoon measuring spoon, a funnel. Optional: measuring cup and jar.

Isn’t it purty? It sort of has an “e” shaped swirl and I didn’t even do that on purpose.

Optional Step:

To speed up the process even more, I keep a jar of pre-mixed dry ingredients. I just measured one cup of borax and one cup of the Super Washing Soda and keep it in there. Before I did this, I just measured the dry ingredients right out of the boxes with the tablespoon, so the pre-mixing is not necessary, but makes it super easy!

For the laundry soap, you need 3 TBS of Borax and 3 TBS of Super Washing Soda, so if you pre-mix it, you need 6 TBS of the pre-mixed dry powder and you’re good to go!

Step 1: Fill the jugs!

Fill the jugs with hot water, leaving just a little bit of space at the top (maybe an inch or so).

This sink is like a strange record of all the paint colors in our house. Ah, memories.
Fill ‘er up!

Step Two: Use the funnel to put the dry ingredients into the jugs

This is the trickiest part of the whole thing–hold the funnel a wee bit above the milk jug, because if you get the bottom of the funnel wet, the dry ingredients will get stuck in the bottom of your funnel (not that I have done that of course–or maybe only a few or 20 times).

The funnel is a little bit (maybe a quarter of an inch) above the top of the jug. Also, I didn’t really do this step with one hand, but it would be cool if I did. Maybe I could if I practiced? I need a good “stupid human trick.”

Side Note:

For the sake of honesty, I will tell you that you can add the dry ingredients before the water, but if you do that first, use a little bit of hot water and swirl it around with the dry ingredients until they are dissolved and then finish filling the jugs with cold water, otherwise it will suds up a little too much and complicate things.

The reason I like adding the hot water first is because the dry ingredients dissolve almost completely before they reach the bottom of the jug and I just have to give it a few compulsory shakes for good measure. Bottom line: Detergent first, more shaking; Detergent second, less shaking. Just boils down to preference (or if you want to get some exercise in while you do laundry).

Step Three:
Screw the lids on the jugs and shake!

Look at that action shot!
Shake, swirl, turn the jug over on itself. There are no rules–just get that baby mixed up.

Step 4: Check the bottom of the jugs to see if all the powder has dissolved.

It should look like Pictures A and B, maybe a tiny bit of powder in the bottom, but just a very little bit and no big chunks. You can shake it some more if you want to totally dissolve it but this is what mine usually looks like and it works great. When you’re satisfied with the way it looks, move on to step 5.

Picture A
See the little bit of powder that’s sort of collected in a linear fashion on the left of the jug? It ain’t no big thang. It cool like that, or you can shake it a bit more, if you want.
Picture B
Lookin’ good!

Step 5: Add the Dawn Dish Soap

You need 2 TBS of Dawn Dish Soap. I usually do 2 1/2 TBS just to account for the soap that sticks to the TBS, but you could just scoop it out with your fingers, if you want.

This here is quality stuff folks. I mix it with vinegar and clean our showers and tubs, it also takes out grease stains on clothes and it last a really long time for this purpose. I’m on about month 14 of this jug, which cost me a little less than $9 when I bought it in January 2017.
I missed a little at first, but then I got it. No big deal–that’s why I do it in the sink.

Step 6: Shake again!

This time, you only need to shake a little bit, just so the Dawn is evenly dispersed.

Another amazing action shot here.

Step 7: Give your little jugs a bath (if you’re messy, like me), if you’re nice and neat, you can totally skip this step.

A little water and a little rub down to get the soap off of the outside and voila!

Step 8: Admire your beautiful laundry soap.

I would say this is optional, but is it really? I mean, look at those beautiful blue jugs of money savin’ soap. Gorgeous!

Step 9: Use it!

Bubbly, beautiful soap. Good for regular and H.E. washers!

Currently, I am using an 18 ounce cup to measure the soap, though I don’t fill it all the way, so it’s probably about 16 ounces. For a long time, I used a little styrofoam cup and filled it twice, which is about the same amount.

The Best D.I.Y. Laundry Soap-Quick, Easy and Cheap!

This laundry soap takes only minutes to make and is cheap, easy and works great! 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 8 loads worth of laundry soap


  • 3 TBS Borax Powder (like Ten Mule Team Borax)
  • 3 TBS Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 2 TBS Dawn Dish Soap


  1. Dissolve 3 TBS of borax powder and 3 TBS of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda in hot water in an empty and clean gallon milk jug using one of the following methods:

  2. Method One: Use a funnel to put  powder into empty jug and fill with a cup or two of hot water, twirl, swish and mix until powder is dissolved and then fill jug almost to the top with cold water. 

  3. Method Two: Fill jug with hot water almost to the top (leaving an inch or so of space).  Hold a funnel about 1/2 of an inch above the milk jug and pour powder in.  Shake a bit to help dissolve powder.

  4. Check bottom of jug to see if powder is mostly dissolved (there may be a little bit of powdery residue, but that's O.K., there just shouldn't be a lot of residue or any big chunks of detergent. 

  5. Add 2 TBS of Dawn Dish Soap and mix. 

  6. Use about 16 ounces of liquid soap per load of laundry. 

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