How To Make Laundry Soap Liquid - Recipes Your Can Use

Below I've collected instructions for how to make laundry soap liquid.

Why would you want to make your own laundry soap or detergent, instead of buying some at the store? Well, some of the most common reasons I've heard is that it is environmentally friendly, and also much much cheaper!

The main deterrents to making your own though are lack of knowledge of the best recipes, and also fear that it won't work as well. That is where this article is designed to help.

A lot of SR101 readers (and reader's from the sister site, Household Management 101), make their own, and have shared their recipes. I've gathered these together to help others find one that works well for them too.

how to make homemade powder laundry detergent
There are two main types of homemade detergent you can make at home -- liquid or powder. This page is dedicated to those recipes that make the liquid version. (You can click here to learn how to make your own laundry detergent powder.)

Whenever you use your own detergent you need to remember that there is a difference in the amount you should use for HE machines, versus top-loading, non-HE machines. If you use too much soap in an HE machine it will make too much suds and potentially ruin the machine. Therefore, pay attention to the directions below and add as little detergent as possible, upping or lowering the amount until you find the right balance between clean clothes and cost savings by using the least amount needed each time.

I've also found that there is no "right" detergent recipe, nor "wrong" one. Instead, many have ingredients in common, but often they have little tweaks to them which people have found work best for them. The beauty is you can tweak the recipes below to work well for your family too, with some trial and error.

If you also make your own laundry detergent, but don't see the recipe you use, either liquid or powder, please share it with me here, so I can add it to the site.

Now, without further ado, here are the recipes I've gathered from readers for how to make laundry soap.

Photo courtesy of moonlightbulb

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How To Make Laundry Soap Cheaply Using Three Basic Ingredients

by Roxane

The Three Basic Ingredients In Homemade Laundry Soap

The Three Basic Ingredients In Homemade Laundry Soap

Roxane also shared her laundry detergent recipe on HM101's Facebook wall (and then several others responded, sharing how their recipes varied slightly from Roxane's.

Roxane says:

Ingredients & Equipment:
  • 5 Gallon Bucket

  • Three Gallons Hot Water-straight from the tap

  • 1/2 cup of Borax

  • 1 Cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

  • 1 Bar of Fels-Naptha Soap

Fels Naptha {Referral Links}


Step One: On your stovetop heat 4 cups of water and shave the bar of soap slowly into the water until it is dissolved (keep the water below boiling).

Step Two: Add this mixture to three gallons of hot water using your 5 gallon bucket.

Step Three: Add the Borax and Washing Soda.

Step Four: Let it sit overnight.

Use about 1 Cup per load. ***Note from Taylor - I would try starting with 1/4 or 1/2 cup per load for top loaders, and just a tablespoon for HE machines, before you use a whole cup at once!***

You can also use 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (added to the fabric softener dispenser) to rinse water for a squeaky clean wash.

Borax Cleaning Powder {Referral Links}

Taylor says:

Thanks Roxane for sharing how you make laundry soap cheaply.

What started this whole conversation on Facebook, by the way, where people started sharing their recipes, was this post about how people need more low cost laundry detergent options.

If you're interested in cheap commercial detergent suggestions from readers check out that post for some ideas of what others have shared (scroll down to the comments).

If you haven't noticed by now, you will soon, that there are basically three common ingredients in almost all homemade detergent recipes. These are borax, washing soda, and some type of laundry soap bar, which is grated into soap flakes.

What makes this detergent so cheap is the fact that all of these ingredients by themselves are also very cheap, and a little of the detergent goes a long way!

Below are several more versions of this detergent you can make at home for cleaning your clothes and other washable laundry.

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Variations On The Basic Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

by Cassie

Cassie shared her family's variation on Roxane's recipe (see above), for making laundry soap.

Cassie says:

We use the same recipe as Roxanne except I use two bars of Ivory in place of the Fels-Naptha.

Ivory Bar Soap {Referral Links}

I also add a scoop of Oxyclean. We use plain vinegar for the fabric softener.

I would say it cost about $4 for each box of Washing Soda and Borax at the Commissary and I buy a big pack of Ivory soap bars for around the same price at the PX.

I only need to buy those maybe once a year for our family of 5 that goes through a ton of laundry.

Not sure how much we spend on Oxyclean, buy it in bulk at Costco when it goes on sale and we have had it two years so far and still have enough for a few more batches of soap.

So much cheaper to make our own and our laundry gets just as clean as it did using the store bought stuff.

Taylor says:

Thanks Cassie for sharing how to make laundry soap for your family.

I will share a secret with you -- it is almost always cheaper to buy your main ingredients for your homemade laundry soap at the store rather than online.

Although I have some links to various products you can purchase for making these recipes, from my investigation if you can find it at your local store buy it there instead. It will cost less.

However, these links can be helpful for people who can't get out to stores, and where their stores don't carry the basic ingredients necessary for making your own.

For me, it is hardest to find Fels Naptha soap and washing soda in stores. If the store does stock them, they are typically in the laundry aisle, generally in an out of the way area like the bottom or top shelf.

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Tips For Making Liquid Laundry Soap From Someone Whose Been Doing It A While

by Melody

Melody was kind enough to share some additional tips and tricks she's picked up for making liquid laundry soap with me, since she's been doing it for a while. I love hearing these kinds of insider tips, since it really helps us newbies make sure we're doing it right!

Melody says:

Thanks, Taylor, for compiling recipes for comparison. I've got a couple of suggestions that may help everyone.

How To Make Your Liquid Soap More Concentrated

I use a recipe with 1 bar of any soap, 1 cup borax, and 1 cup washing soda.

My suggestion is to half the amount of water used, which makes a more concentrated detergent, taking less storage space. Then I only use 1/4 to 1/3 cup in a load.

Tip For Storing & Dispensing Your Homemade Detergent

I also suggest using a jug with a spout (like a gallon jug for dispensing punch at a party, or a thermos designated for detergent). Just give it a stir when you use it, or do like my SIL, and drill a hole in the center of the lid to insert a stirring rod.

Idea For Keeping Favorite Brand's Fragrance While Still Making Your Own

Finally, for anyone who loves their favorite brand's fragrance, it's worth it to make your own, and then add just a cup or more of store bought to the finished detergent for fragrance.

Taylor says:

Thanks so much for these great ideas and suggestions Melody. I'm sure they're really going to help others make this adventure of creating your own detergent a success.

I'd love to hear even more tips from those who've been making these recipes for themselves and their family for a while. If you've got more tips to share you can submit them here, and I'll add them to the page!

Photo by Kristin Bonardi Rapp

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Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe - Make On StoveTop

by Lady Sarah

Lady Sarah shared this recipe on Household Management 101's Facebook page, which is SR101's sister site.

Lady Sarah says:

I make my own - you need a 5 gallon bucket with a lid. You also need a bar of soap of your choice - I use Ivory - washing soda, and borax.

The recipe will vary depending on the type of soap you use - but with Ivory it's 1 bar soap, grated into a pot with 5 cups water, and melted.

Then you add 1 cup washing soda, stir till dissolved, 1/2 cup borax, stir till dissolved....

Next, fill a 5 gallon bucket half full with HOT water, add your soap mix, stir really well - then top up bucket with water. Put lid on, let sit overnight to gel.

Finally, stir before using - and you use about 1/4 - 1/2 cup per load for regular machines - but start out at 1 tablespoon for HE machines.

This is low sudsing, environmentally friendly, and the cost is $2 Canadian per 5 gal bucket.

I've used it for months and I love it. I get 400 loads out of a 5 gal bucket.

Taylor says:

That sounds like a nice cheap way to wash your clothes! I don't think even the cheapest commercial detergents are that inexpensive, at least unless you get it free with coupons or something.

Thanks for sharing that recipe! I've noticed many of the recipes below are very similar to this one.

I would be interested in hearing from more readers, sharing which laundry bar soap they prefer to use. Some people prefer Ivory, others Fels Naptha soap, others Sunlight, Zote, or Kirks, or maybe even something else. Which do you choose, and why?

Please share your opinions here.

Photo by moonlightbulb

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Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent Gel Recipe

by Jessi Walters
(Lincoln, NE)

Jessi shared her recipe for a liquid gel detergent, which is as follows:

Jessi's Recipe:


Directions: Heat 6 cups water, glycerin, oil and grated Fels Naptha in a saucepan over medium heat until soap is melted.

Pour into bucket.

Add 2 liters of water.

Gradually add borax and soda, and stir well.

Add the remaining 2 liters of water, and stir again.

The detergent will gel and be ready to use in about 24 hours.

I store mine in milk or juice jugs, for easy shaking and pouring.

Photo by Collin Anderson

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Two Laundry Soap Recipes - With Video

Below is a video giving two laundry soap recipes for making your own washing detergent.

The video says that these recipes will cost you three cents a load, instead of having to purchase commercial laundry detergent for a higher price.

First of all, however, I have to say that I find this video a bit offensive in the sense that it makes it look like saving money by making your own laundry detergent is something only hicks and backward people living in the woods would do.

I, on the other hand, believe that as the economy gets tougher and tougher for most people, and also as we learn more about the chemicals in laundry detergents that aren't naturally occurring more and more people will begin to make their own laundry soap.

With that preliminary matter out of the way here are the recipes from the video, one for a liquid laundry detergent, and the other for a powdered laundry detergent.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap Recipe

  • Bar of soap (the video does not specify but I suggest using a laundry soap, such as Fels Naptha, not a soap that you would use for washing your hands in the bathroom)

  • 1 cup washing soda

  • 1/2 cup borax

  • boiling water
You will need to use a stove for making this recipe, and have a heat resistant bucket to stir everything into.

You will also need several large containers to hold the laundry soap in after you make it, since it makes over three gallons.


Heat 4 cups of water on the stove in a large pot, and right before the water boils begin adding the shavings of the laundry bar soap. (You can also grate the soap, which I believe is easier then shaving it.)

After the soap is melted into the hot water boil three more gallons of water and put it in a heat resistant 5 gallon bucket, and then add the soapy water mixture and stir.

Next, add the washing soda and stir until dissolved, and then add the borax and stir until it is dissolved too.

You will then need a safe place to leave the bucket overnight to let it cook and thicken.

Caution: Make sure this bucket is left in a place where pets and children cannot get into it, because it could be a drowning hazard.

Then, put the homemade liquid laundry detergent in several containers, such as old liquid laundry detergent jugs, to hold it all.

Then, use 1 cup per load of clothes.

Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe

  • 4 cups soap flakes (if you can't find soap flakes just make your own by grating a bar of laundry soap)

  • 2 cups washing soda

  • 2 cups borax

Combine all these ingredients and mix together.

The video also gives a hint about homemade fabric softener, which is to use 1/2 cup baking soda in the rinse cycle to help soften the clothes during the wash.

So, do you make your own laundry detergent? If so, share your homemade laundry soap recipe here, or read other recipes already submitted.

You can also see my homemade laundry detergent recipes here.

Photo by antwerpenR

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Steps For Making Your Own Laundry Soap

by Sara

1949 Fels Naptha Soap Ad

1949 Fels Naptha Soap Ad

Sara shared her steps for making her own laundry soap, and how it varied from Roxane's recipe (see above).

Sara says:

My homemade recipe is similar to Roxanne's but a couple things different.

2/3 cup Fels Napthia grated, 1 cup each washing soda and borax.

I put 12 cups water into a large kettle on medium heat and add the grated soap. Heat and stir occasionally until the soap is dissolved. Gradually add the washing soda and borax, stirring after each addition (I usually do about 1/2 cup at a time) until completely dissolved.

Pour 8 cups very hot water in your large bucket and add the soap mixture and stir. Add 2 gallons plus 12 cups more water, stir, and let sit for 24 hours.

With my front load washer, I use about 1/2 cup per load.

The other cost-saving things: 1/4 cup each baking soda and borax per load, and fill the bleach cup with hydrogen peroxide (every load.)

In the dryer I use the 60 minute setting and a fragrance free dryer sheet for static.

Taylor says:

As you can see there are lots of variations for how to make laundry soap liquid, but they are also pretty similar too.

I hope these recipes help you out, and that you can feel a bit more adventurous in trying some of them out.

For some reason, none of these recipes really mention adding scent to the soap, but you can definitely do this if you like to have some fragrance in your detergent. The easiest way to do this is with essential oils.

I've created an article containing suggested essential oils recipes for use with homemade laundry supplies that you can use to get ideas for the most popular scents, and also great ways to blend the scents together. In addition, you can get creative and come up with your own unique signature scent too!

If you've used a recipe for homemade laundry detergent or soap and want to share it, I would love to hear from you too! You can share your homemade laundry soap recipe here, or read even more recipes that have already been submitted for even more ideas.

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Comments for Steps For Making Your Own Laundry Soap

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Love to add Foca detergent to my powder and liquid homemade versions
by: Amirs Sittu

Foca cleans very well! Smells fantastic! I make my own detergent, both powder and liquid. I picked up a bag of this at Walmart for $3.49 and added to my homemade powder detergent for added scent and cleaning power. I have an HE washer and never have a problem with it. I just use 1 to 2 tablespoons and that works fine. My recipe is as followed for the powder detergent:

* 1 bag Foca
* 1 bar Zote grated, fine
* 1 box Borax
* 1 box Washing soda

Mix it all together store it covered and you have detergent for a very long time!!!

For the liquid:

1 bar Zote, grated, and put in very hot, not boiling tap water till fully melted. Stir it till melted. Pour it in a 5 gallon bucket filled half way with hot tap water. Stir. Add 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Washing soda. Stir till it's all dissolved. Fill bucket rest of the way, stir again till combined. Cover for 24 hours. Open lid and stir. I use my hands because I like the feel of it!! It will look jelled till you stir it up. Use 1/2 to a full cup per load.

Can you use homemade laundry soap in an HE washer?
by: Alexis

Are these ok to use w/ HE (high efficiency) washers?

Non-boiling method.
by: Anonymous

It's really not necessary to boil the water. Just use hot tap water. I make mine in a five gallon bucket with a lid. It is basically the same minus the whole stove top thing. When you have the five gallons done, I put one liter of home made soap and one liter of water in a container and shake it each time I use it. I fill up several one liter bottle to have on hand ready to add the water.

I wouldn't make my own detergent if I had to boil it.

It is a bit tiring to mix. I got an old time laundry tool. You can make you own using a plunger with holes cut in the side. Or You can buy one from Amazon its called a mobile hand washing wand.

One bar of Zote soap make 10 gallons of Laundry Soap for $.89. Works great and my allergic friends love it.

an idea for storing home made liquid laundry soap
by: Yolanda

Try reusing a large sized plastic container that store bought liquid laundry soap comes in. They are compact and have a pour nozzle on them.

by: Kathy Conley

You could use oil, lavender, patchouli, vanilla or any other fragrance you like. I would imagine you would add it to the water. What do you think?

use of Borax
by: Anonymous

I used liquid castile soap, would this be too sudsy for an HE washer? Also I read that borax really isn't great for laundry use. I used my own washing soda and regular soda. Would this be a fair statement about Borax? It needs to be used in warm water in order to work, HE washer use cold water.

Where to buy ingredients
by: Kathy Wiseley

If you have an Amish grocery store in your area it's a great place to get the ingredients at a much better price. Lowe's sells the 5 gallon buckets and lids also. Or ask an area restaurant. Many restaurant products come in 5 gallon buckets and free is always better!

response to request for recipes for sensitive skin
by: Taylor

Hi Monika, my family suffers from laundry allergies as well, so I totally understand wanting something you feel will be OK for your child's sensitive skin. I actually have a whole page devoted to this topic at this link for making laundry soap that is unscented. Hope it helps!

what about those with sensitive skin?
by: Monika Horsley

I just want to know how to make my own laundry liquid soap that won't affect my daughters skin issues. That's all. Please help me.

homemade products are wonderful
by: Suzi H.

I have made my own laundry soap and fabric softener for years. I wouldn't dream of going back to commercial brands. I also make all my household cleaners and several of our personal grooming products. I save money, control what is in the products we use and we're planet friendly ... what a GREAT feeling!!!

ours turned to crystals at bottom of pan
by: Anonymous

We made the laundry soap on the stove top and it turned to crystals in the bottom so we could not use it. What did we do wrong? We put the ingredients together and boiled it until it dissolved, then let it cool and it turned into crystals.

works great with a few exceptions
by: Dawn

Homemade soap works great on everything except super sweaty/ stinky lawn mowing clothes.

done this for a while
by: Kym

I've made my own no grate liquid for a while now and LOVE it! SO much cheaper! And way too easy NOT to!

switched to a green laundry detergent from homemade
by: Victoria

I switched back to an organic chemical free laundry detergent because my homemade one just wasn't getting clothes clean or whites white even with bleach. Plus it had Borax in it.

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