Homemade Laundry Soap: Liquid Detergent Recipe

homemade laundry soap

Out of all the things I’m talking about this week in regards to laundry, this homemade laundry soap recipe is by far my favorite. It’s super easy to make, and is the cheapest out of all the laundry detergent recipes I’ve been sharing.

If you’ve got these ingredients and twenty minutes, then you can make your own laundry detergent, be more eco-friendly, and start saving a lot of money. Here’s what you’re going to need…

Ingredients and Supplies

  • 1 Bar Soap (I use this castile soap)
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1 cup Borax
  • Hot Water
  • Measuring Cup
  • Cheese Grater
  • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Big Metal Cooking Pot
  • Long Wooden Spoon
  • Optional: 35-40 drops of essential oil (tea tree, lavender etc…) I chose tea tree oil.

Directions for Homemade Laundry Soap

Step One: Grate your soap with a cheese grater. This is probably the most work you will do in the entire process. But afterwards your cheese grater will be really clean!

Step Two: Bring big pot of water (about half full) to a boil, and then slowly stir in your grated soap.

Step Three: Once the soap is melted, reduce heat and slowly add in the Washing Soda while stirring with the wooden spoon. At this point a small reaction will occur, and your mixture will try to bubble over a little in your pot. This is where the wooden spoon comes in handy. Lay the wooden spoon across your pot, and then your mixture won’t boil over and make a mess.

Step Four: Add in your Borax to the pot while stirring. Once everything is blended and melted, remove from heat.

Step Five: Fill your five gallon bucket half-way with hot water. Add your soap mixture from the pot to your bucket of water.

Step Six: At this point you can add in your optional essential oil, and stir the mixture really well with your wooden spoon.

Step Seven: Once everything is well-blended, fill the bucket the rest of the way with water and then put the lid on. Allow to cool and sit overnight.

Step Eight: After sitting overnight, your mixture will become a gel-like goop, and that means it’s ready to use! At this point you can transfer some of the soap to clean and empty smaller bottles (old laundry detergent bottles or milk jugs), so that it’s easy to use every day. Shake/stir the mixture before using in your washing machine. Use one cup or less of “gel-like goop” per load.

 

A lot of people come out with a really thick gloopy mixture. This makes it harder to use, so I recommend this specific recipe, as it is a little less gloopy and easier to use (mainly because of the soap brand I used). If it gets too gloopy, just add more hot water.

While these ingredients are non-toxic and eco-friendly, I recommend that you still keep them out of reach of children and they should not be consumed. Handle with care just like you would any  laundry detergent.

Cost of Homemade Laundry Soap (Liquid)

  • 1 bar soap = $3.49
  • 1 box Washing Soda (55oz) $3.19 – Cost Per Cup = .46 cents
  • 1 box Borax (76oz) $4.49 – Cost Per Cup = .47 cents
  • Optional Essential Oil: Tea Tree Oil (1oz) $8.99 – Cost for 40 Drops = .72 cents

Total Cost for 5 Gallons or 80+ loads of Laundry Detergent = $5.17
Total Cost Per Load: Approximately .06 cents

*Note that prices are common retail. Watch for a sale or deal at an outlet for even cheaper cost per load!

And there you have it! You’ve got your own homemade laundry soap that costs you mere pennies to use, and it’s eco-friendly! This is by far my favorite way to make homemade laundry detergent. It’s super cheap, and it washes all of my laundry really well.  I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of all the laundry recipes I shared this week, and have a video response to answer your questions. So if you’ve got some questions, let’s hear ‘em!

 

92 Comments:
  1. I’ve been wanting to make homemade laundry soap, I’m so excited you shared this post! I’ve seen a lot of recipes for powder soap but it doesn’t dissolve well in our cold well water so this is perfect. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I make a very similar recipe (I skip the oil & only use 1/2 cup of borax). It stores great in the kitty litter containers that I got from freecycle. Also, I use whatever soap is on sale that we are not allergic to (ivory works great).

  3. I saw your directions for making homemade laundry soap and was wondering can you use this in high effiency washers. They only use a small amount . Any feedback will help.

    • Yes, you can use in HE machines. It is actually the best for them because of the low to no suds this detergent creates. Been using this recipe (only change, I only use 1/2 cup borax) since Jan in my High efficiency machine. Love it!!

      • Hi Christa – I just want to be sure before I make this… for HE washers, I should decrease borax to 1/2 cup but keep all other measurements same as listed in your recipe. Is this correct?
        Thanks!

  4. This is a great recipe! Have you tried it with liquid castile soap instead of bar to eliminate the need to grate it?

  5. As a note, the cost is not actually 0.06 cents per load (i.e., less than a 10th of a cent per load), but rather $0.06, or 6 cents per load. I was getting a little over-excited about the cost until I pulled out my calculator! :-)

    I use a dry laundry detergent recipe almost identical to the one you recently posted, and have been very happy with it! Still haven’t tried a liquid recipe yet…

    Sincerely,
    Shannon

  6. I read somewhere that a Borax, a component in many homemade detergents, causes fading. True?

    • Hi Karen,

      I have no idea if borax causes fading, but I do know that I color set all my darks and brights before I wash them the first time, and they hold their original color for dozens of washings after that. I just soak them in straight white vinegar for 24 hours before washing. This doesn’t work well with items that might rust, like clothes with exposed grommets or enameled zippers, but it works with everything else.

    • Unfortunately, it does fade some clothes depending on what type of material it is. I had bought a black sweater from walmart about a month ago, which I just threw in the garbage last night because it was faded so badly. I’m too lazy to dye it.

  7. I’ve been making my own for a year and LOVE it! Even my teenage daughter has started using it. I make the powder and let the water run before I add clothes and have never had a problem.

  8. I heard even though borax is natural it still doesn’t break down or get removed from the water supply (this is a few years ago so I’m not clear on the details)… true or false or does it really not matter all that much since we’ll be taking scrappy petroleum products out of the waste water stream?

  9. I have been making my own liquid detergent for several months now and have MANY friends and family hooked on it! The recipe I use only takes a half cup of the Borax and I use Fels-Naptha soap which is only 97c at WalMart. I dilute the 5 gallon bucket 1 part water/1 part soap and only use 1/4 cup per HE load or 5/8 cup per standard load. Works excellent.

    • I make mine the same as you and I love it! I have used it for over a year now with no problems.

    • Alicia, I use my home made lye soap in this recipe, it works great also!! But I have also used Fels-Naptha..Love that soap also!

  10. I’m wondering about fading colors with homemade soap. I’ve bought some cheaper detergents before & they were fading my clothes. Will this recipe fade colors?

  11. I’m wondering why my liquid detergent segments. It looks like the water sinks to the bottom & everything else floats to the top. I have to shake it up each time before I use it. Any ideas? Thank you!

    • I have the same situation. The soap comes to the top and is like water..didn’t gel at all. Any suggestions out there???

  12. You always have to shake up homemade laundry soap before use and I have never had an issue with homemade fading our cloths

  13. In using powdered homemade detergent (same basic ingredients), I haven’t noticed any fading — however, all clothes fade over time. It’s just that chemical detergents contain optical brighteners that make clothes *look* less faded.

    That said, our clothes seem to do just fine!

    Blessings,
    Shannon

  14. I’m not sure what I did wrong. I tried the recipe twice, but just ended up with cloudy water both times. I used Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap, Super Washing Soda and Borax. Can anybody help?

    • Jackie W-
      I used the same soap and have had the same issue, so maybe that is the problem, but I’m not sure how Dr. Bonner is different? I am going to try to use it on a load anyway. Some people have suggested adding another dose of the Borax and Washing Soda, not sure if that will help.

          • I am having the same problem, I used 1 bar of kirks castile soap, 1 cup soda, and 1/2 cup borax. Now after letting sit for 3 days its as runny as it was as when i first made it..I got this recipe somewhere else..I don’t want to waste the ingredients and start over…how much more of borax and soda should i add..and should i add them to a little bit of hot water to dissolve first…Help..thanks..

          • When this happens to me, I add 1/2 cup borax and 1/2 cup washing soda to a little bit of hot water on the stove and let it dissolve. Then I pour it into the mixture, stir and let sit again. It usually fixes the issue. If not, repeat until you don’t have the runny issue.

  15. Thank you Karen. I will try both ideas and see. I really appreciate it!

    Jackie

  16. I wish you would post the entire recipe in a text box first THEN do the picto-graphic play by play. I will have to transcribe this to use it.

    • Hi Shelly,
      I made this about a month ago and have been using it daily in my HE machine for our family of 11. It has worked GREAT! My detergent holder has a ‘max’ level that is less than 1 cup so I just fill it to just below the ‘max’ line. The one thing you should know is that you need to shake the detergent before putting it into the holder or the ‘goopiness’ will be an issue for the machine. Good luck!
      Cari

  17. What is washing soda, and I have never heard of Castille soap. Does any bar soap work?

    • You can use any soap you want. I use Ivory soap. I melt it in the microwave a bit first … this makes it easier to grate it.

      • I unwrap the Fels Naptha and place on a paper plate. I microwave it for 2 minutes. It puffs up and easy to grate or chunk it up and put in food processor for a few seconds, Too easy!!!!!!!!!

    • Walmart right next to the borax, and Dr. Bonners Castile soap is just a natural soap with no unhealthy additives in it, so ideally its better for you too. wholefoods market has that, but I believe my mom told me that Walmart does too.

  18. Just made my first batch, massive foaming, wooden spoon trick worketh not – I had soap suds everywhere! Anyone else have a this problem? Proceeding on, mixture cooling now. Hope I didn’t lose all my soap, mix from when I added in the soda.

  19. I made a batch of homemade laundry soap today but my recipe is 1/4 cup dr.Bronners liquid castle soap 2 cup borax 2 cup washing soda
    makes 5 gal

  20. I make mine this way but I use Ivory soap and in the end, I add Downy unstoppables to make it smell really good.

  21. I made this yesterday and let it sit overnight. This morning I had a beautiful (but not what I wanted) white cloud floating in colourless liquid. I mixed the whole thing. And it’s not separated or anything but it’s not what I would call gel-like. Can I use it anyway or should I grate some more soap and melt and add??
    I used this soap for dish-wash detergent and that gelled… so I know the soap has it in ‘her’ ;o)

    • Ramya – I had the same result. I’ve blended it with a paint mixer attachment on my power drill and it seems to have blended well, but no gel. I’m trying it in my washer as I type. I’m hoping that the mixture of ingredients is the same whether it gels or not.

      Anyone have any ideas why this might have happened and how to fix it?

  22. Help, I made the recipe, but mine never gelled its as runny as the day I made it and its now 3 days later….? Help…the only difference I used castile soap, and I only put 1/2 a cup borax…do you think I can go back and add the other 1/2 cup of borax and this will help it gel..dissolve it in a little hot water and add it..i dont want to waste all that i made? I used one bar of castile soap grated, then 1 cup soda, and 1/s cup of borax..please any suggestions would be appreciated…

    Thanks..

  23. I’ve been fascinated to read all the recipes and comments about home-made washing powder & ‘gel’. I’ve seen similar recipes from UK blogs – they tend to buy soap flakes – just thought it would be easier than grating bars of soap and maybe get better result with the ‘gel’? Maybe you don’t have soap flakes in USA?

    Thanks for the inspiration to make my own ‘detergent’!!

  24. What size bar of soap do you use? The only Castille Soap I have found in my area comes in 3 small bars packaged together. I just want to make certain I mix up the recipe correctly so that I get the best results right from the start. Thank you.

    • From her link it looks like she used a 5 oz bar. So, I think as long as you shoot for something near 5 oz total, it should be fine.

  25. Just wondering if anyone has used this recipe in front loader? My friend uses soap flakes instead of grated soap and since buying a front loader cannot use soap flakes – does anyone have any info on this thanks :)

    • Hi Rebecca,
      I have been using this recipe in my front loader for about 3 months and have had no issues. The only change I make is that instead of using 1 cup, which would go above my ‘max’ line in the detergent holder, I just fill it up to the ‘max’ line. Oh, one more thing…. I keep it in a gallon water jug container so that I can shake it right before putting it in… otherwise, it clogs up the dispenser.

  26. I was wondering what size metal pot you used? I used a really big pot and mine turned out really watered down so I’m thinking my pot was to big and I used to much water.

  27. Hi,
    I have been thinking to make this detergent and after reading all your comments I made up my mind and feel confident to go ahead. I am so excite., cannot wait to buy the ingriedients!
    Later I will share if something funny happen:-)

  28. Does anyone know or has anyone added a product like oxi clean to this recipe for a brighter wash?

  29. Does it have to be gloppy? Why won’t it work as a liquid if you make sure it’s mixed? I, too, used the Kirk’s Coco bar. I, too, tried to thicken it up, twice! There’s almost 2 and a half cups of Borax and Washing Soda and it’s still cloudy water when you stir it. I don’t want to waste it! I also have a HE machine if that helps!

    • I didn’t want to waste it either, so I just shook it up each time and used it anyway. My clothes were fine. I just ran out and am going to try again with a different bar soap, though.

        • I tried this again, with the Fels Naptha soap this time and put cold water in at the end (last time I used hot water) and it worked!!! It’s gel-like instead of cloudy liquid–Yay!!

          • LOVE Fels Naptha!! My lifesaver for daughters softball uniforms – she plays competitive travel ball and we are always on the go. I keep a bar of it in our travel bag so that I always have a bar when we travel out of state. It’s the ONLY thing that really gets the sweat and sunscreen stains out of her neck area 100% lol

  30. I made this and was thoroughly impressed!! It’s cleans the clothes really well and is a huge money saver. There is some natural separation after you make it only about an inch at the bottom of a gallon jug, so I give it a quick shake before using it.

  31. Made my first bucket. Love it. I have always been a Tide woman, no more.I used Fels-Naptha soap this time I’m using feels again but adding 1/2 bar of zote it does get thick but you just stir and use.never used anything that didn’t require pretreating on blood. None with this please try you won’t regret it

  32. How much water would I use for a 12 ounce stock pot? It doesn’t say what size pot you used. Also do I need to change anything for a HE machine?

  33. Does this also work for HE washers as well? I have to be very careful what I use – if I use regular detergent it goops up in the detergent bin in the washer and I have to totally rinse out the cup in the washer. It makes a mess and doesn’t even use all the detergent I put in there. Only found out the hard way – ran out of HE detergent and used regular and made a mess lol

  34. can’t wait to use this! i made it and it seems perfect in my giant bucket. lots of jelly stuff on the top. i’m transferring it to gallon bottles. i mixed it up and i’m getting some of the gel and some of the water and putting that in. once i finish off the gel later there will be a lot of water left in the bottom. do i use that? or is that just less concentrated and i should toss it??

  35. I have just started making my own laundry soap. And I just love it! My daughter is making hers now too. I will never go back to store bought laundry detergent. The recipe I use is so easy and no guessing on the water amount. You will need a blender or a food processor & 2 mason or ball canning jars with lids. It hasn’t failed yet and gets all the stains out and doesn’t need a 5 gallon bucket to mix it in. Everyone I have given some to loves it and wants the recipe. I even have people wanting to buy it! Mine does 128 loads of laundry at a cost of $1.67 fot 128 loads. It a super concentrated laundry soap and only requires 1 TBs per load. Recipe is 4 cups hot water in medium kettle , 1 bar grated felsnaptha soap. 1 cup 20 muleteam borax & 1 cup of arm & hammer super washing soda. You want to mix the washing soda & borax together in a container. Be careful not to inhale the powders when stirring them together. Bring your 4 cups of water to a boil. Add grated Felsnaptha. Cook at a temperature that will let the soap melt a very slow boil storing constantly for 10 to 15 min. All soap should be melted by then do NOT let this come to a rolling boil! But it must be a simmering boil hot enough to melt the soap. When soap is melted remove from heat and add borax & washing soda mixture. Stir for 5 min. Until no mote grittiness is felt on bottom of pan make sure to stir it long enough to dissolve all grit. If you don’t your soap could wind up gritty this is really easy to make and is wonderful. You will need your 2 canning jars now pour half of the mixture to each canning jar then fill the jars to the shoulders with hot tap water leaving at least 1 inch from rim of jar.wipe tops and put your lids on tight enough no liquid will spill out. Turn jars upside down and let set for 4 to 5 hours. When time is up turn jars right side up and remove lid take your blender parts from your blender pitcher and screw them onto your quart jar yes they will fit.who would have ever thought! Be sure to tighten good. Place on your blender and blend mixture together blend for 1 min. Remove from blender and shake jar to help mix all contents that might not have mixed good. Place back on blender always keep a hand on tip of jar as some blenders vibrate blend 1 more min. Remove from blender you should havr a creamy mixture that looks like mayonnaise. Wash blender pieces and place on other jar and complete the same process. I am a picky person so to make sure I have even mixture I remove from jars and blend both quarts together for uniform strength. It also will let you know if you have any that didn’t blend smooth. You can place it back in jars and blend again if needed. Mine has worked every time. I store mine in peanut butter jars and wide mouth mayonnaise jars. Freeing my jars to make more and to give for gifts. You use literally 1 TBs. Per load just spoon it up and hold under running water right onto laundry. This is not a Sunday soap. For high efficiency washers do not place in soap dispenser place directly in washer on clothes or dissolve in warm cup of eater and add to washer. You will have the cleanest freshest smelling clothes. It removes all odors if you have a tough stain you can pretreatment with this or with shout. It will not dull your clothes. If it does you ate using too much! My husband was sceptical laughed because I eas making my own laundry soap. But now he loves it and it takes the transmission oil right out of his clothes. It is called Moms Super Laundry Soap. You can find it on Pinterest. I have it pinned to my laundry board. No more stirring or adding more water because it gets hard on the bottom. This stuff is amazing! Hope you check it out And please read all the directions before starting.

  36. Hey question. You stated just over $3. for the Bronners bar soap yet your link leads to Bronners bar soap of over $20! Am I doing something wrong or what?

  37. Do you know if it’s safe to half these homemade detergent recipes? It’s only my boyfriend and I here plus we’d have nowhere to store 5 gallons of laundry detergent in our small apartment. Has anyone made this soap in small batches? If so, please pass on any tips you may have. Thank you all!

  38. Crystal, i just read the post from Sonia watkins on Jan. 2014 about her new soap recipe. I am brand new to your site and pretty new to this internet thing, but I have to applaud you !! Most other people probably would never let someone take up soooo much space . I think you are super and I am elderly and disabled and am on a FIXED income, i also live in a tiny apt. i was looking for something to save money and not a lot of work and would be easier to take to the laundra mat that wouldn’t be soo heavy. this seems like a terrific possibility. I hope it works. she didn’t say how long it lasts i only wash 1 time a month so i too was wondering about cutting the recipe in half. and is there a easy way to grate the soap? my hands can’t handle all that grating. any way here’s a hug for you and your sweetness to help us all out. oh —where do I get your answer and when? could you please tell me in my e-mail, because i won’t know how to find your post thing or is this a blog or what? please tell me how to find you from scratch. I don’t remember what I did , I was just punching keys Hee-Hee us old people can get away with that ,Don’t ya know !!thanks alot.

    • I emailed you but I also wanted to reply to your comment. :) You could definitely half the recipe. Unfortunately I don’t know of any way to grate the soap other than by hand unless you have an automatic grater.

  39. Hi Crystal, Hey this is me remember. It was last MAY 21ST. that I wrote you that note above, then I got real sick and am just now getting on my feet again. I have been trying to find you and I finally did. I started to read my note not knowing it was me, I giggled saying boy this lady sounds just like me, and I looked back and what do you know there it was. (ME) ! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR KEEPING THIS SO I COULD SEE IT. I WAS WONDERING ABOUT THIS HOME MADE SOAP RECIPE FROM SONIA WATKINS. MADE ON MAY 21ST. SHE TALKS ABOUT USING A BLENDER. I DON’T HAVE ONE. COULD I USE A FOOD PROCESSOR INSTEAD ? PLEASE SEND THIS TO MY E-MAIL .I WANT TO DO THIS WHILE I AM HEALTHY. ALSO WHAT IS THE SHELF LIFE OF THIS JAR OF SOAP, AND IS IT QUART JARS ? i’LL BE WATCHING MY E-MAIL i WANT TO DO THIS RIGHT AWAY. THANKS SO MUCH !!!YOU ARE AN AWESOME BLESSING TO ALL OF US SENIORS.

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