Homemade Laundry Detergent “Recipes” Based on Different Water/Machine Types

Below you will find “recipes” for homemade detergents provided by different Padded Tush Stats readers. I asked them to provide me with the source of their recipe, if it is from somewhere (I also tried to do some detective work to see if perhaps it was from somewhere else). If you see that one appears like one listed from another website, please let me know as soon as possible so that I can make sure I link up that site. Please also be aware that some of the contents listed in these recipes had a negative effect on your diapers or may void diaper warranties. While I personally do not feel like there is sufficient research correlating the use of these chemicals on diapers specifically, please use at your own risk. Pin Stripes and Polka Dots has a GREAT post that talks about many of these ingredients.

*** Items are those that may lead to premature wear on diapers, so wash at your own risk! Borax is in all of these, which may lead to early wear. See the article above at Pin Stripes and Polka Dots that talks about the abrasiveness of Borax and how dissolving could help with the harshness. You may also want to read this caution article from Thirsties. I am eagerly pursuing actual research that connects these chemicals with damage on diapers, so if you find anything that provides lab or statistical-based evidence, please let me know.

Although washing with some of these natural chemicals may not be ideal for diapers, many have come to the point that due to their water conditions or budget, it is just something they need to do.


Making your own detergent is one way to both reduce costs and to customize your detergent to meet your particular needs. 35 of the 2,098 survey respondents to the Washing Diapers Survey (still open) indicated that they made their own detergent. Overall, the satisfaction score for homemade detergent did score higher than the average score for all detergents.

Those who had front loaders, soft water, and normal water all seemed very satisfied with their detergent (much, much more than those using all detergents).

I asked those who were satisfied with their routine to let me know what their recipes were and here were the responses:

Front loader, unsure of water:
1 cup borax***
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup baking soda
1 finely grated bar of Ivory or Dr Bronners
Use 1-2 tablespoons per load
Makes 48 cloth diaper loads/24 regular clothes
(this video seems very similar to this recipe)
Estimated Price: roughly .05 per load

Front Loader, Moderately Hard Water
 1 bar fels naprha, grated
1/2 c washing soda
1/2 c borax***
Melt grated soap in 2 qts. Of water on stove top, stirring to melt. In 5 gal
bucket add 2 1/2 gallons of hot tap water, pour hot soapy water into that stirring well. While it’s still liquid-y I pour that into gallon jugs (I use vinegar jugs). Leave lid off overnight the soap will set up a bit like jello.
Use a little less than 1/4 cup.
Makes 3 gallons for $1.50 per gallon.
Top Loader, Hard Water
165 oz washing soda (3 boxes), 96 oz Oxiclean, 152 oz Borax ***(2 boxes). Using 1.5T in the prewash and 3T in the wash cycle, it would do about 100 loads of diapers. Use 2T in regular laundry loads.
Estimated Cost: .31/load (about .15/load for regular laundry)
Top Loader, Moderataly Hard Water
1 box washing soda
1 box baking soda
1 box borax***
2 containers of oxyclean***
3 bars Dr Bronners bar soap (or Kirks Castile bar soap)
Estimated price: roughly .05 per load
Front Loader, Normal Water:
One bar shredded Ivory soap
1C.  Borax***
1C. Washing Soda.
Keep it a powder and use about 1/2 a tablespoon.

Front Loader, Normal Water:
“I’ve only made my recipe once (as it makes such a big batch!) and it has lasted me a year already (and there is probably another year’s worth left!). I made the recipe from this website the Eco Friendly Family and obviously used the larger batch mentioned.
I’ve loved this detergent. It’s so cheap to make. It never leaves any smells afterwards, my diapers are just clean! I only use a 1/2 TB per wash since I have an HE frontloading washer. Here is my exact washing routine in case it helps other HE people (if not HE I would do the same just use normal cycles instead of “delicate” and use 1TB per wash):
1st wash: Delicate setting (because it fills an HE washer with the most water) on cold or warm/cold with 1/2 TB detergent
2nd wash: Normal or SuperWash setting on hot/cold with 1/2 TB detergent
Extra rinse
I’ve never had to strip my diapers due to build up of detergent (they have never leaked from this) but have stripped them after a yeast rash (only after 9 months or so).”
Top Loader, Normal Water:
“It is very easy – 1 part Borax***, 1 part Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, and 1 part oxygen cleaner (any off-brand OxiClean***). They are all powdered ingredients, so just dump them in a container and stir it up. :) I usually made it with 2 cups of each, and stored it in a 2-qt tupperware container.
To wash, I use 2-3 tablespoons depending on my load size. I also use this same recipe for all of our regular clothes as well. I have been cloth diapering for 22 months, and we have never had any issues with build-up, stinkies, repelling, etc. And all of my diapers are still in good condition (except the seconds quality rump-a-rooz I bought that delaminated). The only ‘issue’ we had is when my son’s urine turned into that super strong toddler urine, and his overnight diapers would be pretty potent. And he also started wetting more heavily, and we had to start doubling up on inserts. But those are hardly issues at all! So overall, everything has been going great for us!”
Front Loader, Soft Water
Take a bar of non-oil based soap and microwave it about a minute. I use Dove. Take that and put it in a blender with 2 cups of washing soda and 2 cups of Borax***. Blend it and let it cool. Viola! Makes about 75 loads.
*** Items are those that may lead to premature wear on diapers, so wash at your own risk!
I just want to say a special “Thank You” to all who contributed to this article!
Do you make your own detergent? If so, please share below! Please also fill out this survey on whatever detergent you use. If you got your “recipe” from somewhere, please link up!

Tara Porter

Tara Porter began using cloth diapers in 2011 when she felt that using disposable diapers was costing too much money. The problem was, a lot of the highly recommended diapers weren’t working for her baby. What she finally discovered was that her baby was skinny and a heavy wetter, and that diapers worked differently for those baby types. Because of her professional work with survey design and statistics, she designed Padded Tush Stats as a way to determine how different cloth diapers worked on different babies.

Tara moved on to other career endeavors in 2014 but can still be found online blogging about health and fitness at Fit Baby Steps.