Sunday, February 8, 2009

Cloth Diaper Laundry Soap Recipe

I finally got around to actually making it! I made some new laundry soap for both my cloth diapering needs as well as our family laundry. It was easy, fast & inexpensive. All traits I was looking for.

After a ridiculous amount of hours searching for the perfect recipe for soap/detergent, I discovered the best bet was to make one & try it for myself. There is a wealth of information that I gratefully came across. However vast, it became more conflicting the more I read.
I have read that; borax is bad for cloth diapers, good for cloth diapers, doesn't make a difference, makes all the difference. I read that soap such as Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Zote, Castie,& Sunlight is both bad due to buildup and great for cleaning action. Although after much thought, I voted to leave it out of my CD recipe.

I was using All Free & Clear for my cd needs. I noticed & read that I must have been using too much detergent, as the diapers started smelling like a wet dog. Yes, it was yucky smelling! I was using such a small amount that I thought was appropriate. Upon my stinky discovery, I knew I had to do something quick. I have never had this problem with our clothes before so this was new to me.
It only took ONE soap free, detergent free soak, hot wash & double cold rinse to get the odor out. Some people use 6+ hot washes....but I escaped the "never ending soak, wash, rinse till it smells better" cycle.

I have a top loading washing machine by Maytag that is only 4 years old. The appliance repair guy just visited to do a checkup & says my washer is in tip-top condition with years of life left.
I explained that I cd & he says my washer is great for those heavy duty needs.

This recipe, as well as the Family recipe, has been approved for HE washers.
Both are low sudsing as required for the HE brands.
Be sure to use the appropriate amount of laundry detergent or soap if you decide to venture to the homemade side of laundering.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe for Cloth Diapers:
(Powdered, 3 minutes to make)
If you desire a fragrance, add two drops of your choice of essential oil to the water before adding diapers

2 cups of Borax
2 cups of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not baking soda!)
2 cups of Oxygen cleaning powder, such as Oxyclean (I used Sun brand from walmart)

Mix well. Use 1 Tablespoon (15ml) for small loads & 2 Tablespoons (30ml) for large loads.
Store in recycled, air tight containers.

The Borax, 4lb 12 oz, cost around $3, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, 55 oz $2.50 & Sun brand oxycleaner 30 oz $1.96. I had more than enough to make multiple batches of this recipe & decided to make my family laundry detergent with some of the extra.

Everyday Family Laundry Soap Detergent Powder Recipe (10 minutes to make)
Add 2 drops of essential oil for fragrance to water before adding clothes
1 bar finely grated Fels-Naptha Soap (you may use other bar soaps such as Ivory, Castile, Zote)
1 cup of Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup of Oxygen cleaner powder, such as Oxyclean

Mix all ingredients well. It will look like yellow & white granules. Use 1 tablespoon for light, small loads & 2 tablespoons for large loads.
Store in recycled, air tight containers.

The cost addition for this recipe was for the Fels bar, $1.29. I searched all over town, Waco Texas, & finally found the Fels Bar. It was located at the Keith's Ace Hardware (254-666-2520) across town, in Hewitt. I called before I loaded up the baby & they knew what I was talking about & how much it cost. I was so glad! None of the stores, HEB, Wal-Mart, Brookshires, Sam's knew what I was talking about or where to get it. I had been looking for it for a while.
The man who helped me said he keeps it stocked & can get it any time. He also said there are 7 Keith's Ace Hardware & they can have some transferred to any of the other stores for those of you who live elsewhere. I bought 5 bars, to save on gas. I figure they should last me a couple of years. :)

For grating my Fels-Naptha, I used my Pampered Chef grater that looks like the kind they use at an Italian restaurant to grate parmeasen cheese. I do not use the fine grating blade much & figured if I did, it is ok because I'm grating SOAP. Lots of rinsing of the blade was involved.

I used Mason Jars with lids to store my completed detergent. I wrote on a piece of paper the instructions & taped it to both the inner lid & outer ring with one piece of tape.
I had some measuring spoons that I no longer use & put a tablespoon next to my jar in my laundry room.

So far, so good. I am pleased with the washing & will keep you updated on the results. Feel free to ask questions. I will do all I can to answer them. If you live outside of the states & need a conversion recipe for the metric system, let me know.


Rachel said...

I want to make some! Like you, I've seen several recipes and have been unsure which one to try. I'd like to make my own and save some money.

Jenny said...

I'm going to get the stuff for the cloth diaper detergent and try it tomorrow. I've found so much conflicting use this, don't use that sort of advice online that it all gets a bit overwhelming! Thanks for the recipe.

woodly said...

I also make my own laundry soap, with pretty much the same recipe as you, except I don't add the Oxyclean. Have you tried yours without the Oxyclean? I'm thinking maybe it's just the thing I need! Don't know if it's psychological or what, but I think my whites are looking dingier since I started using my home made soap, 6 months ago. Thanks! And love your blog!

AikoArt said...

Glad to hear you are using homemade soap too. To be honest, I haven't tried laundry soap without the oxyclean. I figure, it can't hurt to have it in there & it is relatively inexpensive. You could always increase the amount of soap you use by one tablespoon to see if that makes a difference. It could be based on the water you have as well. For example, if you have hard water or well water, it changes things according to the research I have done. Public water tends to have chlorine already, so it too can help whiten.

Have you ever looked at the laundry soap isle & gladly smile? I always look at the price & laugh, knowing I can do laundry for a lot less money :)
Thanks for stopping by & saying hi!

Kristina said...

Though from back in Feb., this is a great post! I picked up all the ingredients and plan on mixing up both the cloth diaper and the regular laundry detergents. What I am curious about -- are you still using these homemade detergents and what kind of results have you had? Also, did you have the stinky cloth diaper problem while using the homemade detergent? I use bumGenius one size diapers for my son and I cannot kick the "wet dog" stink. Thanks!

AikoArt said...

I am still using the homemade detergents & I really like them for both price & function.
I have found that my husband's extreemly sweaty stuff needs something with enzymes. Other than that, lots of success with both the cloth diaper recipe & laundry recipe.

As far as the "wet dog smell" of your bum genius, you have detergent buildup. You will need to wash multiple times without any detergent or soap. I would recommend that you put all of your diapers in the washer & start with the first wash on warm or hot water with the highest water level available. Then run a cycle after the first to see if you still have suds in the water. Some people report that they have to wash the load at LEAST 6 times, some say more times, to get the detergent buildup out.

Please let me know if you have more questions. Email me at saranevill {at!} yahoo dot com.

Kristina said...

I've done the multiple washes without detergent and then I get upset that I'm using so much water and stop before all the suds are gone. I will try again!

Thank you for your helpful comment and again for the recipes!

AikoArt said...

I feel so silly.....I completely forgot to tell you about RLR Laundry Treatment. This will help reduce the amount of washes you will have to do.

You can order it at

Sometimes you can also find it in grocery stores. So sorry this completely slipped my mind. I think it's due to lack of sleep, I'm certain :)

Heather said...

I've used RLR in my top loader, but now that I have a front loading HE machine, I wonder if I can use it anymore? Do you happen to know?

AikoArt said...

Yes, RLR treatment is safe to use in your HE machines!

Katie said...

I just found this post when searching for cloth diaper detergent recipes. Thanks for sharing! I'm excited to try them.

AikoArt said...

Katie, I'm glad you found it. I also have a recipe for homemade wipes solution. It's really geared for increased yeast but will work regardless of yeast present or not. I really like using it & it's much cheaper than buying pre-made solution.
Have a terrific day! Please visit my Etsy shop when you get time.

angie said...

Why do you use a separate detergent for non-diaper loads? Could the cloth diaper mix just be used for all laundry?


AikoArt said...

Yes Angie, the same detergent could be used for laundry as well. Some people prefer fragrance in their clothes or softener that is in the detergent. It's really a personal preference for most people.

ksaldivar said...

just wanted to say THANK YOU. after much searching and many weird looks from people in stores i found all the ingredients to make the family laundry soap. It was fun to make my 3 year old thought grating the soap was the best. do you adjust the amount of grated soap if you have to use a ZOTE bar since the zote bar is larger than the fels-naptha. The first load was a success as well .....So THANK YOU again!

AikoArt said...

Congratulations on getting all of the ingredients! I know what you mean about the strange looks. Hope you save lots of money making it yourself.
It's a great activity for kids too. Glad to hear you shared it with your 3yo.
There is no need for adjustment when using the Zote bar. If you have hard water, you may want to adjust the Calgon accordingly.

Ariel said...

THANK YOU. I'm newly using cloth diapers and have been making our own detergent with the Fels Naptha recipe...I knew everyone says it will build up over time on diapers, so your CD recipe is MUCH appreciated (AND I already have the ingredients! Woot!)

Diamonds & Burlap said...

I was researching if Borax is good for cloth diapers and came across your recipe. Ironically, I just bought Borax and Sun just a couple days ago. I've been using rockin green but noticed with my hard well water I've been having to strip my dipes waaaay too much. I bought the borax thinking it will help with softening the water so it can rinse well, and got the sun to whiten them. Thank you for this! I will have to try it out and possibly cancel my subscription for $15! rockin green. :)

Jen said...

Hi. I'm new to cloth diapering and currently make my own laundry soap for our family's laundry. I'm looking for a homemade cloth diaper soap that won't damage the diapers. Now that some time has passed since you posted this, did it work for long term? Did you run into any problems?

mizbiz5 said...

I have used this for cd and all laundry in the house.. LOVE IT!! No issues long term for me. I did add baking soda to help with the whitening. I started using a wet pail instead of a dry pail, changing water daily and adding a little vinegar each time and wash dipes eod. I also bleach all dipes once a month, to help cut down on buildup, and every other week I rock a funk rock soak (rockin green brand detergent). Hope this helps!

Bee said...

This might be a silly question: you said this detergent is approved for HE washers, what about regular washers?

AikoArt said...

Yes, works great in regular washers too!

Marcey said...

When I was looking for a cd friendly reciept I came across your post. Thank you! (: Couple of questions though: For the detergent for regular clothes, what softer do you use? I know a lot of people use vinegar but I didn't know how much or if you had another suggestion.

Also, what about whites? Do you just use the same amt of homemade detergent? Thanks for your help!

cljackson08 said...

I just started cloth diapering when my daughter hit a month old. I have been looking to make CD laundry soap but been conflicted about all the stuff I have read. Thank you so much for posting this. It makes me feel better and gives me that push to do it!!

My only question is what kinda CD do you use? Will this be okay on my microfiber diapers??

AikoArt said...

@Marcey: I just use regular softner. Sometimes it's downy & sometimes it's something else. If you want the natural route, vinegar is the way to go though ;)
Yes, for whites I generally use the same amt of detergent. You might add a scoop or two of oxyclean if they are dingy whites.

@cljackson08: I use everything from AIO to prefolds. Your microfiber will be fine with this detergent. You'll find that some folks say Borax is hard on the dipes, but my experience does not indicate that Borax is a problem. The only thing I notice with cloth diapering washing/drying, is when I over dry my prefold covers in the dryer, the elastic wears faster & has to be replaced.
Hope this helps

cljackson08 said...

Yes it does! Thank you so much! I have been using bum genius laundry soap and lately have been having to wash them twice just to get them clean!

Robin said...

how do you replace the lining in AIO diapers? I have some that are peeling. I don't know why. I have used ALL FREE & CLEAR, until my diapers started to smell then I switched to FOCA (its is bio friendly and phosphate free) seems to work ok but is very sudsy. I have made some of my own .........but I have lately read that borax is harmful to the lining. do you think this is why my diapers a breaking down? I just want a soap that will clean my diapers and keep them lasting a long time.

beth.canny said...

I've just bought some cloth diapers and I'm planning on using your recipe,thank you for posting it, so I'm just looking for some advice. How do you wash your diapers? I've read to do a cold rinse and wash in hot, but if I rinse with my diaper sprayer before putting them in my pail can I just wash in hot water and not do the cold rinse?

AikoArt said...

Hi Beth,
I found that diapers come clean, best, when washed in hot water but that is just my experience. You could rinse it however you want. I'm not sure if you mean to just wash them without a rinse cycle or if you mean to wash them in the total cycle with a secondary rinse. Either way, you'll need to be sure the detergent is rinsed out. If it only takes one time, meaning the whole wash cycle,then you're good ;) Some people have trouble with their detergent building up & recommend a second rinse.
I'm not sure if this helps. Feel free to ask questions & I'll do my best to answer.
Happy CD'ing!

Unknown said...

Hi! I'm getting ready to start Cloth Diapering this December when my first is born and I'm excited to make my own detergent. I live in France and detergent is crazy expensive here ... AND they don't have anything like "rocking green" etc.
My concern is that I have really hard water here in my area, do you know if this will work for me? should I add something else to the powdered mix? or use more?
Thanks for your advice and recipe!

AikoArt said...

I would recommend a water softner like Calgon. I don't know what is available there, so you might just look at the store to see what you can find. Another great choice is vinegar.
Hope this helps! Best of luck!!

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Nia said...

Brittany, Don't use Vinegar if you have hard water.
It will make your diaper more stink. Washing soda works also as watersoftener.

Brittany Thomas' said...

So happy I found this recipe! I was using regular detergent on my sons cloth diapers and after a few washes I noticed a 'wet dog' smell. Since I've started using this detergent and doing a 'pre rinse' instead of a 'post rinse' I haven't noticed that smell.

AikoArt said...

That is awesome Brittany! Thanks for letting me know! So glad it was helpful to you. Please feel free to share the recipe & pass it on :)