Six years ago, we decided to try our hand at making our own laundry detergent. It started as an experiment in saving some money, but then something happened – we never stopped. It’s cost effective and we like that this mixture leaves our clothes clean without the heavy scent of ‘mountains’ or ‘fields of flowers,’ but most importantly, it works! The lack of perfumes and dyes is friendly for the allergy prone (aka, us and every single animal that lives in this house!), and we’ve used it in both a standard washer and, most recently, our H/E machine, too.

There are just 3 ingredients to the recipe – borax, washing soda and a bar of Fels Naptha soap – and all of these items can usually be found in the grocery store, in the same aisle where you’d buy the big name detergent brands (often times, you’ll find them tucked on the lowest shelf). The longest part of the process has always been grating the bar of soap to make the dry mix, but many of you recommended the microwave method, claiming that it saves your arms a workout. (I’ll take that!) A few months ago, I tried this new-to-me method for the first time and shared the process in an Instagram Story, and we received so many questions, I thought I’d share over here just how easy it is to replicate.

I always make a double batch at once, but whether you’re making two batches or five, the math is simple: 1 bar of Fels Naptha + 1 cup borax + 1 cup washing soda = DIY laundry detergent. In the past, I used a cheese grater to whittle down my soap, but the microwave method nixes that step altogether!

Here’s How:

Cut up the bars into thirds or fourths, and put them on a microwave safe plate. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, and allow them to cool for up to one hour in the microwave. It’s so important to leave them be, because not only will the soap be extremely hot, but the strong smell of Fels Naptha will dissipate the longer it’s left untouched.

In the meantime, mix equal parts borax and washing soda in a large bowl. If you used a single bar of soap, you’ll use 1 cup of each. If you used two bars of soap, you’ll use 2 cups of each – and so on.

Once the soap has cooled, take it out of the microwave. Each chunk should have ballooned into twice its original size. (It’s weirdly magical. Science!) Toss them into a quart bag, and pound with a fist. The soap will easily crumble into a fine powder, and it can then be whisked together with the borax and washing soda mix:

That’s it!

Our double batch fits perfectly in one of these glass jars (we use these jars for everything from stashing coffee to cat food!), and we keep this 2 tablespoon scoop inside.

Only 1 tablespoon is needed for a regular load, but toss in a small amount more for larger loads. We currently have a H/E washing machine, and we’ve had great success putting the soap mix right into the detergent tray, although others swear by adding the detergent right into the drum along with the clothes. Tip: Resist the urge to use more than you need, as too much can dull your clothes! 

Since completing the laundry room renovation, we also keep a wedge of Fels out by the sink. It has been an absolute miracle as a stain pre-treater; simply run it under water and rub it into anything stubborn. Before washing any of our dog bed covers, I’ll take a moment to pre-treat the worn down areas, and they always come out of the wash looking great.

Some of our readers have swapped in Kirk’s Castile, Zote or Ivory in place of the Fels Naptha, and we’ve even heard of using OxiClean as an additional whitening boost! For anyone who may be having trouble finding the ingredients at your local grocer, you can get a starter pack right here. One box of both borax and washing soda will yield you many, many batches of detergent (we only buy these two ingredients maybe once a year), so we’re always sure to stock up on bars of the Fels Naptha soap.

Happy washing!

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Scott said we may need to stop calling The Scary Room, well, scary, because now that it has a floor, it’s looking not-so-scary. Maybe we just call it The Room? In any case, we installed hardwood floors, and it’s starting to lean nice and cozy with that added layer or warmth (despite the lack of trim, but we’ll…
  • Stacy G. - February 23, 2017 - 6:48 AM

    Looks great! Extra points for teamwork. :)ReplyCancel

  • Carol - February 23, 2017 - 7:24 AM

    Looks fantastic!ReplyCancel

  • Carol @ CAD INTERIORS - February 23, 2017 - 9:30 AM

    Very informative, thanks. We have similar “floor slope issues” in our fixer…ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 23, 2017 - 11:08 AM

      Ugh, these sloping floors! At least we can cheat them!ReplyCancel

  • Steph M. - February 23, 2017 - 9:36 AM

    This looks so good! Our house was built in 1940, and I’d say these floors look so similar to our orginial. I’m keeping them bookmarked for when we redo our second story!ReplyCancel

  • Julie Marquez - February 23, 2017 - 6:42 PM

    Thanks for sharing this! I knew you’d come through with an informative post!!ReplyCancel

  • Alison @ Deuce Cities Henhouse - February 24, 2017 - 8:27 AM

    Hey! Your scary room is turning out great, although I would’ve maybe considered keeping that sparkly vinyl ;) Way to go on that threshold and closet transitions, that would’ve kept me up at night.

    We have a similar issue in our porch, the slab underneath the one north side has settled and the floor slants to the side. Our porch table has been shimmed to maintain a level table top for years (don’t tell). I think following your lead, and doing shims and a new subfloor might be the best solution. Can’t wait to see how you tackle the trim!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 24, 2017 - 9:07 AM

      Scott’s biggest pet peeve is a table that wobbles, haha! Shimming your table until you can shim the FLOOR is a secret you can keep with us. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - February 24, 2017 - 3:24 PM

    Floors look great, especially that transition! P.S. I’ve been reading your stair posts daily for the past week… going to tackle my own this weekend! Fingers crossed.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 24, 2017 - 3:51 PM

      So exciting, good luck!ReplyCancel

  • Esther - February 24, 2017 - 4:20 PM

    Hi,

    I just ” binch read” ( is that a word?) your blog from the start of you getting the key until now for the last 3 weeks or so and I’m a little sad. Sad because from now on I’ll have to wait for a new blog! 😂 Loved every word and I’m so glad I’ve found your blog.

    Until the next one!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 24, 2017 - 4:31 PM

      Wow, we are so happy to have you!ReplyCancel

  • Josh @ The Kentucky Gent - February 27, 2017 - 2:34 PM

    Shims have saved my ass in some many projects around the house! The new floor looks great.ReplyCancel

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Last summer, we sold our extra long Mid Century coffee table. There was a small outcry when we shared this vlog (we hear you!), but despite our love for that piece of furniture, it wasn’t the right fit for our living room. When we first moved into this home from our former condo, we would say, ‘Our…
  • Nadia Kaplan - February 20, 2017 - 8:07 AM

    Such a lovely table, amazing that you made it yourself.ReplyCancel

  • Alison @ Deuce Cities Henhouse - February 20, 2017 - 9:38 AM

    The tutorial vid rules! Love the DIY, and the new coffee table looks great in your space. Can’t believe you lived without one for so long!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 20, 2017 - 9:46 AM

      The funny thing is, we were so used to the extra space, that alone was reason enough to keep putting it off! The dogs and I liked to stretch out all over the floor with pillows. :D Now we have to move the coffee table to do that, ha!ReplyCancel

  • Jane lim - February 20, 2017 - 10:51 AM

    Do you use something else than a vacuum to clean your beautiful rug? You have inspired me to make my own DIY coffee table. Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 20, 2017 - 11:05 AM

      We spot clean if needed, but otherwise, we vacuum A LOT! With 3 furry pets, fur is no joke, so we stay on top of the vacuuming.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - February 20, 2017 - 12:24 PM

    What a kick ass video! We’ve used hairpin legs for a few projects before and just loved them. Finishes off the room really well (and no more banged up shins for you!) 👏🏻

    -Susie http://www.tinyhousegiantlife.comReplyCancel

  • Emily - February 20, 2017 - 2:34 PM

    I LOVE this coffee table idea. We’re in the middle of selling ours and this may be just the one to fill the space! And I definitely understand and agree about the whole space thing… just because you have more space doesn’t mean everything has to be bigger. I was tired of bumping into our coffee table so much too. Thanks for the idea :) Love the blog!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - February 20, 2017 - 6:00 PM

    Oh man, that video was SO helpful! I remember back when you had first posted about the Varde in your shipping room that you had discovered that you could do poly with a roller. And I was like okay but HOW because I have definitely tried before and it’s literally gloop. Clearly, my definition of a thin coat was not the right one.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 21, 2017 - 9:03 AM

      Ha! Yes, VERY thin. I also go slowly, and then I do a quick roll over any area that might show tiny bubbles. It always dries perfectly.ReplyCancel

  • Paige - February 20, 2017 - 7:48 PM

    That coffee table is amazing! I totally want to get my husband to make one for me!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.comReplyCancel

  • amayra | tilecentre - February 22, 2017 - 11:52 PM

    Thank you for sharing the tutorial.Hair pin leg coffee table matches with trending concepts as well you can create one by yourself.I am thinking now I should make it by my own.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - February 25, 2017 - 9:19 AM

    Love this diy! I’ve been looking for a round coffee table to replace our rectangle one too, because we’re always bumping into one of the corners (ouch!) and now with a mobile toddler, it’s on our high need list. But, I’m debating between a round ottoman with a tray on top vs. an actual wooden table. Decisions decisions…

    I did go ahead and price out the wooden top from the source you linked but the shipping comes out to almost the same as the price of the item itself. However, I did find that homedepot has the same for $39.99 and you get free shipping to the store. FYI for anyone else looking to do this diy.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 27, 2017 - 8:39 AM

      Great tip! We couldn’t find a 32″ round at any of our local hardware stores, so we turned to Etsy in the end. There’s no shortage of options, luckily!ReplyCancel

  • Cathy - February 26, 2017 - 8:54 PM

    Question, did you guys treat the raw steel legs to prevent rust?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 27, 2017 - 8:38 AM

      Yup, the legs come with a small bit of wax and instructions on how to prep them before use.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - February 27, 2017 - 9:52 PM

    Hi you two! Thanks so much for posting this. This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to make, you make it look so easy so it’ll be a project this upcoming month! I’m from Canada, so I’m sourcing materials tonight! I need to know though, did you get that sand paper holder from Home Depot? If not, can you please tell me where? Thanks so much! XoReplyCancel

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This post is in partnership with FilterEasy, a service we can really get behind to keep us, our tenants and our homes happy. First month’s on them! Some of you might know that we’re active landlords to two units, both our former condo and the garden unit in our current home. We generally live by the rule that…
  • Missy G. - February 16, 2017 - 9:02 AM

    I have been using Filter Easy for over a year now, and I LOVE it. Replacing the filter is definitely one of those important, but easily forgettable, tasks that keep your home running efficiently. We currently use the basic filter, but will upgrade once we get a pet again. (It’s been a year since we said good-bye to our girl, and Westminster got us feeling all the feels for a lovable furbaby again.)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 16, 2017 - 9:35 AM

      Aw, nothing warms the heart more than a home with pets, we think. :) Happy to hear that you’re loving FilterEasy. We sleep easier with the peace of mind knowing that our tenants are able to take care of this task and keep those HVAC systems running!ReplyCancel

  • Life On Hill Street - February 16, 2017 - 10:42 AM

    I had no idea a service like this existed – thanks for posting!ReplyCancel

  • Renee Gooch - February 16, 2017 - 4:40 PM

    Just signed up. No more sore throats. Yo. ;)ReplyCancel

  • Haley - February 17, 2017 - 9:13 AM

    I’m curious why no hardware on the furnace doors. Just to make it blend in a bit more?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 17, 2017 - 9:24 AM

      Yup. The last thing we wanted was to draw more attention to this corner.ReplyCancel

  • Erin - February 17, 2017 - 9:37 AM

    Yep, we are on the Filter Easy train, too. With lots of pets, changing our HEPA filter with regularity is a must, and having them delivered to us makes it brainless. Membership has been great for our little old cottage.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - February 18, 2017 - 10:45 AM

    What a neat service! Do you have them sent directly to your tenants, or do you go over and replace them for your tenants?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 18, 2017 - 6:35 PM

      They get sent directly to our tenants!ReplyCancel

  • Natalie - February 20, 2017 - 7:08 PM

    I love those doors! Do you have a source/supplier for these?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 21, 2017 - 9:02 AM

      They are just louvred doors from Home Depot. :)ReplyCancel

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In what might be the most anticlimactic reveal of all time, we painted the Scary Room! Despite the lack of contrast between where we started and where we are now, painting this room has made all the difference. What was once a hodge podge of new and old drywall, yellow-y joint compound and unknown grime is now a…
  • Emily @ Go Haus Go - February 13, 2017 - 8:42 AM

    It’s looking great! I’m still amazed by all the shimming on the floor to keep the space level. I can’t even imagine what a task that must be! My brain hurts just thinking about the math—haha! Love seeing these fresh walls. Can’t wait to see the floors!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 13, 2017 - 8:58 AM

      Gah, is there anything better than freshly painted walls?! It’s my drug. Thanks, Emily!ReplyCancel

  • Oksana | FOXYOXIE.com - February 13, 2017 - 11:11 AM

    This room is almost identical in size to our office-turned-nursery for our little one coming in July… I would love to see some possible furniture layouts in this space – I’m having the most difficult time figuring out ours!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 13, 2017 - 11:39 AM

      We’re not exactly sure what’s going in here, but we will absolutely be sharing everything along the way!ReplyCancel

  • Paige - February 13, 2017 - 12:02 PM

    I love the color you chose! It’s so bright and fresh!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.comReplyCancel

  • Megan - February 14, 2017 - 3:48 PM

    I noticed in the link to your living room room post you said that Intense White was matched to Valspar’s Optimus, but here you said it matched Valspar’s Reserve. Is one a typo? Or are Optimus and Reserve basically the same? Just wanted to check because I really love how this looks and want to get a sample for my own house, but we only have access to Valspar paints, so the color matching will be key!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 14, 2017 - 3:54 PM

      Such a good question! Optimus is available at Ace Hardware, where we bought Intense White for our living/dining/kitchen. We bought this gallon at Lowe’s, where they have Valspar Reserve. Neither is a typo, but either line of Valspar will color match just fine. :DReplyCancel

      • megan - February 14, 2017 - 4:06 PM

        Ah! I’m a dork. I thought the Reserve/optimus was referring to the paint color, not the specific Valspar paint line. Duh! :) Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • southern gal - February 15, 2017 - 5:46 PM

    YEA!!! on the way … loving the progress. as always!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - February 18, 2017 - 10:50 AM

    It’s going to look great! I have a question about the floors, maybe you will address that all later. I see that your contractor installed shims, then what are the next layers to get to your final flooring?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - February 18, 2017 - 6:35 PM

      The hardwood flooring goes directly onto the shims. We’ll share how that went soon!ReplyCancel

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