Homemade HE Laundry Detergent

Welcome, friends! Today’s topic is a tutorial on how to make your own laundry detergent at home, from low-cost ingredients and with minimal effort. If you’re like me, you love your high-efficiency (HE) washer, but you hate how expensive the special HE detergent is. And, like me, you probably aren’t a big fan of all the chemicals and additives in store-bought detergents. The good news, friends, is that there is a better way! This detergent washes very well, and costs much less than store-bought detergent. For comparison, Tide HE can cost anywhere from $.17 to $.25 per load, and this formula costs about $.03 to $.05 per load. 

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 cup of  20 Mule Team Borax ( in the laundry aisle of most stores)
  • 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda; also  in the laundry aisle)
  • 1 cup (approx. 1 bar) of grated bar soap (any brand, I have used Fels-Naptha from the laundry aisle and regular Ivory)
  • Essential oil (for fragrance – try any you like, lavender is very popular, though I have used and really enjoy clove; optional)
  • A food processor or cheese grater
  • A resealable container to store the finished product in

Here’s what you do:

  • Grate the bar soap on the finest holes of the grater, or process in the food processor until quite fine.
  • Combine borax, washing soda and grated/powdered soap in the resealable container.
  • If using essential oil, add 2-4 drops to achieve the desired level of scent.
  • Seal the container securely and shake until evenly mixed.
  • You will have borax, washing soda and essential oil left over for future batches, which helps spread your costs out. 

Here’s how you use it:


  • For HE washers: place 1-2 tablespoons (yes, that’s all you need!) in the detergent drawer of your washer. Because this formula is very low-sudsing, it will work well in all HE washers.
  • For standard top-loading washers: place 1-2 tablespoons in as the washer is filling, then add clothes.

Additional tip: I don’t care for the smell or residue that traditional fabric softeners leave on my laundry. I like to use about 1/4 cup of white vinegar, in the softener dispenser of my washing machine. It leaves the laundry rather soft, but leaves no residue or vinegary scent. Give it a try!

Peace Be With You!

One thought on “Homemade HE Laundry Detergent

  1. Pingback: A Penny Saved: How to trim every area of your budget, Part 2 – Around the House « Little House In The Mountains

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