Homemade Laundry Soap and Dryer “Sheets”

Homemade Laundry Soap and Dryer Sheets l Make your own, save money l Homestead Lady.comI’ve been meaning to replace my store boughten (as they say in the South) laundry detergent with a homemade version for a long time. I finally got ‘er done! I also found a way to replace my dryer sheets for when I use the dryer. So, here’s our report on homemade laundry soap and dryer sheets.

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How to Make Homemade Laundry Soap

There are lots of tutorials on this on the web, but here are just a few:

I decided on powdered detergent because it was so much simpler and I can find what I need for it at my local grocery store. If it was going to be complicated, I simply wasn’t going to have time for it.

I bought Fels Naptha bar soap to use in this recipe. It’s a so-so Castille soap (a fancy phrase for an olive oil based soap), but I will definitely be using my homemade stuff once I get my booty in gear and make a few more batches. (NOTE – I finally did make some soap just for this detergent because the Naptha caused allergic reaction in several of us. Plus, its stinky!)

Steps to Make Homemade Laundry Soap

The first step is to mix the washing soda and the borax in a big bowl – watch out for loose washing dust floating up your nostrils!

Homemade Laundry Detergent by Homestead LadyThen we grated the bar of soap with a regular cheese grater.

Homemade Laundry Detergent mix it up by Homestead Lady

The Homemade Laundry Soap Proportions

To mix up our homemade laundry detergent we used:

  • one box of washing soda,
  • one box of of borax
  • one bar of grated soap – I may up it to two bars but so far this mix cleans clothing really well.

It also seems to be cleaning my #%@^&#$ HE washing machine which constantly stinks if I don’t run vinegar through it all the time. When I use this mix, it doesn’t smell.

So, see, learning to make homemade laundry soap and dryer sheets can lead to all kinds of other important discoveries!Homemade Laundry softener by Homestead Lady

Vinegar Fabric Softener

On the topic, of vinegar though, it makes a groovy fabric softener, fyi.

You can also make a simple herbal vinegar to add to your wash by:

  1. soaking citrus rinds, mint and/or lavender in a solution of  1/2 vinegar and 1/2 filtered water.I usually just fill a quart jar with the liquid and herbs – I’m not very scientific about it.
  2. Strain the herbs out after about a week and you’ll have a great herbal vinegar to clean up your clothes and your machine. Sometimes I’ll just drop in some peppermint essential oil, too, if I’m feeling saucy.

Homegrown on the Hill has a great post about making your own lavender fabric softener using vinegar. (Update:  Here’s a post we ended up writing on Homemade Citrus Laundry Wash using vinegar.)

Making Dryer “Sheets”

Homemade Dryer Balls by Homestead LadyThe next thing on my list was to replace my dryer sheets – those things just scream nasty toxins. I’m a fiber geek and so when I ran into a post on how to make wool dryer balls, I was intrigued!

Dryer Ball Tutorials:

  1. From Crunchy Betty, here’s how to make wool dryer balls.
  2. Here’s another one from Urban Overalls
  3. And one that uses socks and dried beans from Modern Vintage Housewives.

So, they’re not technically dryer sheets, you make dryer balls – whatever, they work great!

The kids and I made four in about an hour, including felting/washing time, using the various instuctive posts above. To make them and the laundry smell fresh and clean, I add some of my awesome new fragrance oil from The Sage directly to the ball.

I think I’ll make some more balls because it seems to work best with two to four in each load. I want to have a lot on hand because I’m too lazy to go digging through my clean laundry piles to find them.

For more ideas on dryer sheets, here are 5 Natural Dryer Sheet Alternatives from All Natural Mothering.Homemade Dryer Balls with Essential Oil Scent by Homestead Lady

If you’re just feeling overwhelmed in general by the laundry that never seems to disappear no matter how many loads you know you’ve done, you may want to check out Angi Schneider’s E-book, Taming the Laundry Monster.

Just sayin’.

Now that I’ve learned how to make homemade laundry soap and dryer sheets, my big laundry goal for this summer is to get an outdoor clothesline set up. So many projects, so little time…

Update on the Homemade Laundry Soap

Several people have asked how I liked the homemade laundry soap and dryer balls and if they really work. So, here’s the update!

  • Yes, the homemade laundry soap works, even on my cloth diapers! The original recipe called for the castile soap Fels Naptha which ended up giving DH a rash so the last batch I made had a handmade goat milk soap in it. We all seem to be doing just fine after the switch and, to be honest, that Fels scent was really strong and it’s not the best soap out there ingredient-wise.
  • I made a batch of  this old fashioned lye soap recipe to use in the homemade laundry detergent after the goat milk soap ran out. The recipe is from Frugally Sustainable and it isn’t super-fatted like most bathing soaps. Being fatty is a fine quality in a bath soap, not so much in a laundry soap. This recipe creates a soap that doesn’t leave a residue, therefore it cleans a little bit better.
  • I’ve been pleased with the results from the detergent, especially with my &*%%*$ HE washing machine which is always stinky no matter how we clean it out. I usually throw in a bit of white vinegar along with my detergent as a fabric softener/extra cleaner. I should also mention that I’m still using Resolve to treat stains. My next project will be to mix up some sort of homemade concoction for stain treatment, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. The world should just be happy that I remember to brush my teeth most days.

Do Dryer Balls Really Work?

As for the dryer balls – those things are very cool!

Like I mentioned above, I add a bit of my awesome fragrance oils from The Sage to a ball now and then to scent the laundry with great results. The balls do just as well as dryer sheets but with no chemicals. AND I’m not throwing anything away.

The balls struggle with synthetic fibers and static just as much as dryer sheets do but nothing could hope to conquer those things. Items like fleece blankets which are made of polyester still get static. Polyester is annoying on many levels.

One of my balls made with yarn and not just fleece came loose but I just re-felted it and it was fine.

So, there you go! Let me know if you have something to add or a better way of doing it – I’m always happy to learn!

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16 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Soap and Dryer “Sheets”

  1. I have been using dryer balls for about 2 years now and I love them! (I have a tute on my blog for slightly bigger ones…) I make my own liquid detergent (Cassi’s recipe) and use it all the time.

    Glad you could find something that you like. Isn’t learning how to do it on your own fun?! 🙂

    1. I thought about making bigger ones but my DD appears to have absconded with my scrap roving bag – no doubt for some really clever project of her own. I’ll need to get it back before I can make anymore, though! Learning to do it on my own is equal parts exhausting and satisfying; I certainly wouldn’t choose to do it any other way. Now, how to build my own house…?

  2. I would LOVE an update on how you like your laundry detergent after about a month or so. I have tried making the liquid version with Fels Naptha, Borax, and washing soda but haven’t had the results I would like. I really want it to work though! 🙂

    1. You got it! Well, it may take me longer than a month since I’ll be in newborn stupor but I’ll get lots of practice with using it on diapers every day!

  3. Peggy sent me this via email but gave me permission to share it – good tips!
    “THIS IS GREAT!!! thank you ! i have been buying expensive non-toxic detergent for a long time … it is great but costs a lot.. i also use vinegar as a fabric softener…i found that it will even take the scratchiness out of wool sweaters and blankets! a combination of vinegar and baking soda has removed mildew for me from lots of things and different kinds of fabrics …if you home school , you may have seen it as the ingredients to homemade volcanoes 🙂 you have to be careful with it and add it into the water after the cycle has started but it has worked good for me…thanks, peggy”

  4. PS – I just made four more dryer balls out of some yarn I spun ages ago and that had seen better days. I found that four just wasn’t enough with the volume of laundry I process every week. They’re strangely satisfying to make, too…

  5. Thank you for sharing on the Make Your Own Herbal Monday link up! I do a similar blend with vinegar for my fabric softener but the dryer balls are a new thought. Hope everything works out with the clothesline. I LOVE ours 😉 Happy homemaking ~ JES 🙂

  6. Hey, look, the link to my blog is my homemade laundry detergent post! Lol! Anywho…I wanted to thank you for the link to Sage essential oils! I’ve seen a teeny bottle of deTerra EO go for over $40…nooooooo thank you. I’ve also been wanting to make the wool dryer balls, so thanks for talking about those too. 😀

    1. Tara, that’s kismet! I love Comment Luv for that very reason! So glad you found the post helpful; I love MMS (The Sage) and use their oils in soap and now on my dryer balls all the time. I usually get their sample kit so that I can keep trying out their many, many scents.

  7. Thank you so much for sharing with us over at the Homeacre Hop, and for linking up on my blog! 🙂 I still need to make the dryer balls and then our laundry items will be complete! I’ll have to check out those sites. Please join us again soon!!

  8. I made my own dryer balls a couple of years ago. I need to make some new ones though as they are starting to fall apart. Thanks for linking up on Tuesday Greens!

  9. I’m going to begin making dryer balls soon! I absolutely love this post. I’m an ex-extreme couponer, so I have tons of sheets laying around; but, I think my son is irritated by them. And, the static is crazy during the dry winter months!

    1. So glad you stopped by, Krystal! We still experiment with homemade laundry soap all the time, but our dryer balls have come and stayed. I made some, we’ve bought some – they all work wonderfully well. We line dry as much as we can but, when we can’t, I love having my dryer balls to help with the electric dryer. The fragrance oils mean I don’t miss anything about dryer sheets – really, it was the smell I liked!

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