How to Make Laundry Detergent for an HE Washer

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High efficiency, or HE, washing machines are designed to use less water, less soap and less energy while delivering results equivalent to traditional washing machines. HE machines use special, low-suds detergent that is easily rinsed with the low amounts of water the machine uses. Since using an HE machine already saves money on water, energy and products, you can take the savings a step further by creating your own HE detergent. Simple, inexpensive ingredients combine to create a low-suds, homemade detergent ideal for cleaning laundry in an HE washing machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Fels Naptha laundry soap
  • Hand grater or mini-food chopper
  • Large cooking pot
  • Measuring cup
  • Water
  • Stove
  • Washing Soda
  • Borax
  • Essential oil
  • Large spoon
  • Lidded, airtight container

Step 1

Grate the bar of Fels Naptha soap into fine shavings using a hand grater or small food chopper (you may want to reserve the chopper for soap chopping only to prevent getting soap particles in food during use later on).

Step 2

Add grated soap to a large cooking pot along with 10 cups of hot water. Heat the pot over low heat on the stove until the soap completely melts. Once soap is melted, remove pot from heat.

Step 3

Measure 1 cup each of washing soda and borax, adding these to the melted soap mixture in the pot.

Step 4

Add 20 to 30 drops of your favorite essential oil (or a combination of your favorite essential oils) to the ingredients in the pot. Suggestions of oils to use include lavender, vanilla, citrus, peppermint, tea tree or floral.

Step 5

Stir the mixture in the pot with a large spoon until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Step 6

Pour the finished laundry soap into a lidded, airtight container for storage.

Step 7

Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of detergent per each load of laundry being washed.

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Tips & Warnings

  • Gently shake the container of detergent or stir it before use, as the detergent will tend to set up and solidify in places between uses.
  • Fels Naptha is a special laundry soap formulated to pre-treat stains, such as perspiration or chocolate, while acting as a basic laundry soap to clean clothing as a detergent does. This soap is available in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores; however, any mild bar soap could be substituted in its place for your homemade detergent.
  • The only type of detergent officially recommended for HE washing machines is HE specific laundry detergent, so check with your washing machine's manufacturer before using homemade detergent in the machine.

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