DIY Laundry Detergent for High Efficiency Machines

Once you start cleaning with laundry detergent crafted by your own hands, you’ll never buy overpriced detergents from the store again.

This detergent mix works well in high-efficiency machines and the older, less efficient ones. We have been using it for years at the apartment laundromat without any problems.


These instructions are for an undiluted detergent; meaning you only need a scant 1-2 tablespoons to clean an entire load.

Necessary Ingredients

You just need a few ingredients. Two are uncommon, but quite cheap.

The hardest part of the task is grating the bar soap into little flakes. We just use the cheese grater because getting soap all over something hardly counts as making it dirty, right?

Laundry Detergent Ratio

The laundry soap proportions are very easy to remember – it’s 1:1:1

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 grated bar soap

I mix everything right into the container I’ll be keeping it in which is either a small bucket or pour container like the one pictured here, from this set of three spout containers.


In a securely lidded container you can shake to mix. The detergent smell can be quite strong so it doesn’t hurt to do this step outside.

Use sparingly: 1 tablespoon for a small load, 2 tablespoons for a large.


Cover photo credit: Jackson Boyle

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12 thoughts on “DIY Laundry Detergent for High Efficiency Machines

  1. I already use Fels Naptha in laundry as stain fighter love the way it smells. I cook mine on the stove with water and dawn dish liquid only until it melts. Found this in a gardening book to help fight garden pest. Had trouble fighting stains in laundry and nothing I bought seemed to help, felt like I was flushing money down the drain. So, thought I would give our bug stuff a try. It works.

  2. Have you ever tried adding essential oils for fragrance? Or even fragranced soap? I am a lavender junkie! And love the smell of it on everything. Thanks!

  3. We use fels naptha in this same recipe, but I use 2 teaspoons in an HE machine or 3 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon) in a top loader. Even for large loads filled with gross kids clothes this seem to be plenty of soap-this is very concentrated so try using a tiny bit less to make your money go even further.

  4. I’ve been making laundry soup for a few years now using the above, but 1/3 bar of grated soap per 5 gallons. I can barely stand clothes washed in store soap due to the excessive fragrances these days but my sense of smell is sharp! Great money saving tip, this soap.

  5. Is this really the formula for 5 gallons of the HE laundry soap? One reply mentioned the 5 gallons but the picture of the shaker was small.

  6. I used only Zote…I used to put it in a big gallon-or- two-gallon jar (never measured it) of water and let the bar of Zote start dissolving…before doing a load, I would shake it around to mix up the dissolved part…then pour the liquid into the washer. I refilled it…The soap never dissolved more than what was god for one load…as long as it sat still, the soap did not dissolve that much.. and it worked great on getting the clothes clean!! I am about to do it again..and will stock up on the Zote this time.

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