The Best Super Easy & Cheap One-Step Homemade Laundry Detergent

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Something every household struggles with is keeping up with the laundry. When you get right down to it, doing laundry is expensive when you consider your time, detergent, bleach, fabric softener and whatever else you use. And doing laundry isn’t much fun. It’s pretty much a chore! So, if you are going to make your own laundry detergent, here are a few pointers on what ingredients to use, how much DIY laundry detergent costs, what we discovered is the best way to easily mix the detergent and as a bonus, a nice way to store your detergent. 

It should be noted that this detergent recipe works equally well in both HE and regular washing machines. We have personally used this detergent in both types of washing machines for years with no problems. And, we have been equally impressed with the cleaning performance of this detergent and the cost per load.

DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredients

What’s in homemade laundry detergent? There are lots of recipes out there and they all have some common ingredients. This photo is all that is in our laundry detergent. Five ingredients, that’s it. I’ve listed the ingredients below. Feeling inspired? There is also a handy recipe at the end of this post that you can print out.

Cheap and easy laundry detergent ingredients.

DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredients 

1 box ZOTE laundry flakes (17.6 oz)
1 box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4 lb “Value Size”)
1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 oz, 3 lb 7 oz)
1 box 20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster (65 oz, 4lbs 1oz)
1 container Oxi Clean (1.77 lb)

Cost of Homemade Laundry Detergent

When you consider a capful of liquid detergent is used per load of laundry the cost for laundry adds up quickly. Even bargain brands of liquid and powder laundry detergents can be relatively expensive on a per load basis.  Here’s how the cost for our homemade detergent breaks down. 

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Keep mind that one batch of this detergent lasts our family of three for six months

Note: prices are taken from our shopping trip to Walmart on 3/15/2017

1 box ZOTE laundry flakes (17.6 oz) $2.28
1 box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4 lb “Value Size”) $2.24
1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55 oz, 3 lb 7 oz) $3.97
1 box 20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster (65 oz, 4lbs 1oz) $3.97
1 container Oxi Clean (1.77 lb) $4.96

Total cost: $17.42  

Mixing Homemade Laundry Detergent

mixing homemade laundry detergent

Mixing this detergent has turned out to be the most vexing part of making it. We’ve grunted and groaned our fair share making batches of this detergent. We’ve mixed it on the floor, on a table, on top of the washing machine, in small batches and all at once. 

The picture above is probably the best work arrangement we’ve found to date. Using a 5-gallon bucket on a kitchen chair gives me a way to mix the detergent all at once at a comfortable working height. You can find a 5-gallon bucket at home improvement stores or, auto parts stores. This one is actually one of three I use to wash our cars.

When mixing you should be focused on getting the Zote detergent flakes evenly distributed throughout the detergent mix and ensuring the other ingredients have been mixed in. It’s a lot of white stuff so, mixing from the bottom up and at an angle will eventually get everything incorporated. I find mixing for about 8 – 10 minutes max is sufficient.

Use a big spoon from the kitchen to mix with. A plastic one with a good size head is ideal. Again, you could score one at the dollar store and dedicate it to this use. We wash ours off and put it back into regular rotation. Want to see exactly what we use, check the photo below.

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What DIY Laundry Detergent Looks Like

more mixing diy laundry soap

This is a finished batch with all the ingredients incorporated. This is now ready to be transferred and use.   


Storing Homemade Laundry Detergent

You want to store your detergent in something clean with a large opening. Several years ago we opted for this glass jar.

storing homemade laundry soap

This is an Anchor Hocking 1-Gallon Heritage Hill Jar and it’s perfect for (stylishly) storing your homemade detergent. It has a wide opening at the top which makes it easy to get all the way down to the bottom of the jar to use every bit of your detergent.


How Much Homemade Laundry Detergent to Use

measuring homemade laundry soap

You want to use the correct amount of detergent per load. And this homemade detergent uses surprisingly little detergent per load. We use exactly one teaspoon of detergent per load. Just buy a set of plastic measuring spoons at your local dollar store and you will have a permanent scoop of the right size.


A Bonus Splurge

Gain Original Fireworks Scent Booster
Gain Original Fireworks Scent Booster

If you are really watching your pennies you can skip this ingredient. Our latest batch didn’t include this but, we really like the boost it gives the laundry in terms of scent. It’s about an additional $8 that you don’t have to spend. But, the smell is amazing! Dump Gain Original Fireworks Scent Booster in with your other ingredients and your wash loads will smell awesome!




Laundry Detergent Recipe

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Make an easy and cheap laundry detergent with baking soda, washing soda, Oxi Clean and soap flakes.

Keyword cheap detergent, diy detergent, homemade detergent
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 1 box ZOTE laundry flakes 17.6 oz
  • 1 box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda 4 lb "Value Size"
  • 1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda 55 oz, 3 lb 7 oz
  • 1 box 20 Mule Team Borax Detergent Booster 65 oz, 4lbs 1oz
  • 1 container Oxi Clean 1.77 lb


  1. Pour all ingredients into a five gallon bucket or, similar container.
  2. Mix ingredients with a large plastic spoon until soap flakes are well distributed.
  3. Transfer laundry detergent to large storage container.
  4. Use 1 teaspoon per laundry load.


Have you made your own detergent? What’s been your experience? Share in the comments below.

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