DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

I’m still really digging my DIY Laundry Detergent that I shared with you awhile back, but I have to admit, the new tablet craze is winning me over–I love the ease of throwing a pre-measured tablet into the washer, plus I know exactly how many loads I am going to get out of each batch.  {This recipe is safe for front-loaders}

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

You’ll need:

1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1 cup grated bar soap {I used Fels Naptha, but you could also use Zote, Ivory, etc.}
1/2 cup vinegar
15-20 drops essential oil {optional}
Ice cube tray {this is my favorite one}

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs Fels Naptha soap


Start by grating your soap.  I grated mine on the smallest setting so that I could get it into a fine powder–otherwise, I feel like the soap doesn’t always dissolve completely in the wash.

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

Mix the grated bar with the Borax and Washing Soda.  Pour 1/2 cup vinegar over the mixture and stir to combine.  The mixture shouldn’t be too wet, just wet enough to pack into your ice cube tray. I use  1″ square ice cube trays to make the tablets uniform.  {Just don’t fill the ice cube trays up to the top, or the detergent door might not close on your washer.}  I have found that a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop is just the perfect amount to use. After packing the mixture into the tray, leave out to dry–usually about 12 hours.

DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

When the tabs are dry, pop them out of the tray and put them into a storage container.  Use one tab for front loaders and two for top loaders. Makes 45 detergent tabs.


DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

Here are a few more of my DIY Recipes:

DIY Window and Glass Cleaner
How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
DIY Fabric Softener
Homemade Soft Scrub
DIY Dishwasher Tablets
DIY Daily Shower Spray

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  1. Heather says

    I recommend microwaving your bar of soap before grating it- first, it’s cool 😉 second, after microwaving the soap bar grates into powder. Warnings: your house will have an overwhelming smell of fells naptha for a few hours and you will want to microwave some water and wipe down the inside afterwards to help get the smell our of your microwave. But if you are only making soap every couple of months it is so worth it to get a very fine texture from your bar soap!

  2. says

    While I like the idea of the tabs, I still prefer my five gallons of liquid detergent that I make every few months–I dunno, maybe it’s soothing to make the liquid for me. I do enjoy the process. Heather–if I microwave the soap, does it do what a bar of IVORY soap does, get all ‘dry frothy’? How about with ZOTE? I have a bazillion bars of ZOTE, due to a clearance at store. I got the bars for 29 cents each! I won’t be buying any for a long time.

    • Heather says

      Yes, it does the same thing as ivory and gets that foam like texture. I have no idea about zote, but since they start to puff in about 30 seconds in a microwave it probably wouldn’t do much harm to start one and just watch to make sure it starts growing. When I make a large amount of soap I like to cut the resulting hardened soap foam and send it through my salad shooter on grate mode- I can get a bowl of powder in no time.

  3. Cecily says

    I’ve tried using homemade laundry and dish detergents but I have found them to be to harsh. The laundry detergent ate holes in all of our shirts and the dish detergent made our glasses cloudy after only a couple of uses. We have very hard water so that might have something to do with it. I guess its back to Tide and Finish for me.

    • erin says

      I’m with you on the dish tabs. My dishes we so yucky afterwards. We have a softener so it shouldn’t be the hard water issue.

    • Shelia says

      I have been making homemade laundry detergent for a year now and am very happy with the results. Not harsh on the clothes at all. We also have less skin rashes which store bought detergents was causing. I will never go back to store bought brands which contain a lot of fillers that have no results on getting things clean.

    • Jackie M says

      Use white vinegar as the rinse agent in the dishwasher. We have really hard water and I use the cheapest dishwasher soap i can find with no residue on the dishes or glasses using white vinegar.

    • LORI-ANN says

      I have had the same problem as Cecily the detergent is too harsh on clothes it ate holes in mine and hubby’s shirts also . I was wondering if i could use oxy powder instead of the borax or washing soda . I feel if i don’t use the oxy my clothes look dingy . I make the regular powder no vinegar and am thinking of switching to dr bronners for the soap bar as i dont like the smell of fels napha and i use zote now but wanted to try Dr Bronners has anyone tried this . I dont want to go to store detergent as i like the money im saving and doing the environment good .

      • tracy says

        Dr bronners soap works great. I do own a HE washer and haven’t had any issues with the borax or fels naphtha. I haven’t used liquid soap in two years at least. I love the homemade it’s much cheaper and cleans the clothes just as good!

      • Susanne g says

        Yes I use Dr Bronners peppermint and lavender. Both smell great, but really leave nothing but a clean smell on clothes. I love using my homemade dry. My recipe is one cup soap gratings, 1/2 cup washing soda, borax and baking soda each.

  4. says

    This might be a silly question but since this recipes makes 45 batches do you own four ice cube trays or can you measure 24 out and let them harden for 12 hours and then measure the rest of them 12 hours later?

    • Mavis Butterfield says

      Not a silly question. I own 4 ice cube trays. You could always cut the recipe in half in you needed too.

  5. Gail says

    I love the smell of the fels-naptha soap when I am grating it. Something about it is soooo soothing. Makes me want to hang out in the laundry room with my nose stuck in the tub of home-made laundry soap. Odd, I know. But I love it.

  6. cathy says

    Can anyone tell me if they have a preference for Fels over Zotes? Is one better for whites and colors? I have been using the powdered detergent that Mavis (thanks Mavis) has given using the Fels and love it but my whites seem dingy. Any suggestions? I refuse to go back to store bought detergent.

  7. Jennifer says

    Cathy, I started with Mavis’ recipe and tweeked from there. Fels Naptha is a really strong scent for me and seems to get my allergies going so I switched to Ivory. I always microwave the heck out of mine which makes it into a very fine, dry powder like the other ingredients. I also leave out the vinegar and add a bit of oxyclean and just use the powder, no tablets. I’ve nver had a problem with dinginess…is that a word? :)

  8. Lisa says

    I love making the liquid recipe too… but I am quite keen to give this cube idea a go!
    Good advice on the microwaving the soap…
    I have been making my own laundry liquid for a couple of years now… I costed it at about $2 per 10 litres.
    I always feel a little smug when I see the supermarket liquid at nearly $10 a litre!!

  9. Chrisitne Hagen says

    I have made our laundry detergent in the past but always stop after a few months because our clothes seem so dingy. Any thoughts on what to do? We do have really hard water (well) with some iron.

    • Dina says

      I would add a cup of Vinegar to the rinse AS WELL as a cup of baking soda to the wash… I have NEVER used bleach in my laundry because the smell gives me migraines instantly, going to the hospital kind of migraines!

      I don’t add essential oils to my powdered laundry soap… just the Borax, Washing Soda and Fels Naptha… occasionally I will add Oxyclean if there are some heavy stains… but depending on the stains, I also use a bar of Fels Naptha and rub on the stain or Hydrogen Peroxide, or mix baking soda with vinegar or lemon juice…. and hanging out my whites in the sun!
      I hope this helps!

  10. Yavonna says

    can i ask does anyone have a recp for dish tabs ? looking always to cut my budget but i can right now 115 tabs for 9.00 at sam’s

  11. Heather says

    Hi Mavis,
    I have made the powder laundry soap using your recipe and we love it. How could I add oxiclean to the tables?

  12. gwen murray says

    i live in Australia and i would like to know if any others have come up with a replacement for the soap here in OZ ? i tried sunlight soap and it failed so bad i was making the powered form of your recipe. thank you for any help you can come up with

  13. Erin says

    Is there anyway to make the powdered laundry detergent recipe you posted (Soap, Borax, Washing soda, Oxyclean, baking soda) into the tabs? Do I just add enough vinegar to wet it?

    • Mavis Butterfield says

      I don’t see why not. Just make sure your washer isn’t totally packed with clothing so the tablet has room to move around.

      • dena says

        Thanks I tried it and didn’t pack it up to much but the tablet didn’t dissolve much. What should I do? Does water temperature make a difference?

  14. Monique says

    I love the idea of making your own detergent but I never have before. We use tide currently and both my hubby and I have issues if we change soaps. Is this recipe good for sensitive-ish skin? Also any tips for beginner? I really want to start doing stuff like this butI am a bit nervous. Does it really clean well? I have a million other questions haha

  15. Monica S says

    I’ve been making my own laundry soap since last October, it works really well, but I use 2 bars of Fels Neptha. My cost is around $11 in Missouri. My question is, how come you only got 45 loads out of these measurements? I get at least 2 months worth of laundry by having powdered version of this. I use 1 entire box of both, the Borax mule team, & washing soda, along with the 2 bars, & that’s it. I use up to 2 tbsp per load (depending on the size). I was wondering how much vinegar you would recommend for my version? I’d like to try the bars, it’ll be easier this summer.

  16. mamavanous says

    I keep getting dark spots on light colored laundry. I have made mine forever too. Why and what are these light grey/brown spots? What am I doing incorrectly in my laundry process?

  17. Dina says

    I use the Fels Naptha bar soap and I chunk it up and put it in my Vitamix… it is soap, so no worries there… AND it comes out in a powder!!! LOVE IT!!!

  18. jess-nebraska says

    I have a question, do you own a HE washer? When we purchased ours the salesman recommended using only liquid detergent. If so, I am assuming you had no issues using the powder. I actually prefer the homemade but went away from it b/c of the HE washer and the recommendation. (fyi the PODS destroyed the old washer – clogged it up which is fine b/c then I got a HE :)

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