As a family-owned business, our leadership staff here at DC Life Magazine take our product and service endorsements very seriously. We’ve hesitated to share a recipe that was discovered almost three years ago because we wanted to try it out ourselves before recommending it. Our family has very sensitive skin, we have mild eczema and allergies to most perfumes, so the search was on for a recipe that was free from the many harmful coloring agents, phosphorous and artificial fragrances. To make things even more difficult we have a rather expensive “High-Efficiency” washer and dryer combination at our house (Whirlpool Duet Steam Washer and Dryer), so I was concerned about a homemade detergent damaging our washing machine. These high-performance machines require the High-efficiency detergents, and I was concerned that use of my detergent recipe would leave me with an expensive visit from an appliance repairman.

This led me to the internet searching for alternatives to the super-scented and ultra-expensive laundry detergents. Throughout our search, we’ve tested dozens of do-it-yourself laundry detergent recipes. Out of all the recipes we tested, the one we are sharing with you today is the best for our family and our Whirlpool Duet washers. We have been using this recipe for more than two years now and I think we originally found it on Pinterest. We have taken the photos and captured the measurements so that we can share it with our DC Life Magazine audience. After two years I can say that my daughter’s eczema has subsided and our delicate washer is still working just fine.

The recipe takes about 20 to 30 minutes to prepare and is really simple to make. If you follow the steps you will have enough detergent for months from one batch, but with all of your ingredients, you should have enough laundry detergent for a few years.


  • Borax 1/2 Cup
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 1 Cup
  • Fels-Naptha Bar 3 Oz.
  • Ivory or Dove or Naturally Scented Oil Bar Soap 2.5 Oz.
  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Large Pot
  • Water 4 Cups + 4 Gallons
  • Cheese Grater
  1. Use a cheese grater to grate 5.5 ounces of bar soap, at least 3 ounces of Fels-Naptha. (We used a scented organic lavender bar soap from Wegman’s and two-thirds of a Fels-Naptha bar for our batch of detergent.)
  2. Bring 4 Cups of water to a boil in a large pot, then pour water into a 5-gallon bucket.
  3. Add in 1 cup of A & H Washing Soda, 1/2 cup of Borax, and the grated soap and stir til’ completely dissolved.
  4. Pour the solution into 5-gallon bucket add in 4 gallons of hot water from the tap and mix well.(Add a few drops of essential scented oil at this point if desired)
  5. Cover loosely and allow set overnight. The mixture will gel slightly, use a wand mixer to mix again, then pour into your desired container.

We have a family of five, and we wash clothes weekly. Yet our original ingredients are over two years old, and we can probably get three more batches. Note that we normally double the recipe that we are sharing today, and we have used Dove, or Wegman’s natural soap in place of Ivory. Also if your family has no allergic reactions to scent you can purchase a scented oil (like lavender oil) and add half-ounce to one ounce of it to your detergent. For an added boost of whitening power, you can add a few scoops of Oxy-clean powder to your batch. Compared to some of the other “Clean’n’clear“ dermatologist-recommended detergents that sell for around $10.00 a bottle….. our recipe is much cheaper, the recipe calls for approximately $9.00 –  $12.00 worth of ingredients. Target sells 100-oz Tide Free&Gentle for $11.00 for 64 wash loads that is about .17 cents per wash. Our recipe is on pace to cost us less than 2 and a half cents per load before we finish our ingredients.


The Family Smith


Written by: Eugene Smith