Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Laundry Detergent BucketOne of my latest obsessions is making homemade cleaning products.  My mom initially turned me on to the idea of homemade laundry detergent when she reported making 5 GALLONS of laundry detergent – that worked well! – for just a couple of dollars.  Whaat?!  This appealed to me on so many levels.
There are so many good reasons to make your own laundry detergent.  To live more naturally, consume fewer products with less packaging, reduce chemicals in our homes and on our bodies, and to stem the pollution going into the waste stream and waterways – and last but certainly not least, to save money.  Laundry detergent has always been one of the most expensive items on my grocery list, especially since liquid detergent is pretty much all we can use in our HE machine – so this is an awesome way to conserve in the household budget.  I started with a recipe from tipnut.com, which is a site I absolutely adore for its amazing compilation of home-making tips, recipes and ideas.  Based on all the suggestions there, and working with our own hard water and little-boy laundry conditions, I emerged after a few rounds using this super-duper formula that cleans fantastically and is dirt cheap – and has only 3 ingredients, plus water. This recipe makes about 3 gallons for just around $2 –
 You could add more water and get more detergent out of it, but we need it pretty strong for our household.  The base ingredients will cost you about $9 to assemble overall, are available in most general grocery stores, and you’ll have plenty left for additional batches later. These ingredients are also wonderfully multi-purpose around the house – so be sure to check out the packaging for more info on all the uses.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent


2 quarts Water, boiling
2 cups Bar Soap, grated ~ about 1 bar (Kirk’s Castile is very simple and gentle, Fels Naptha is a great deep cleaner if you have messy people ;)
2 cups Borax (I use 20 Mule Team Borax)
2 cups Washing Soda (I use Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda)
Essential Oil or Natural Fragrance Oil to preference (optional)

Time to Make: 15 Minutes

Kirks Castile Soap

Washing Soda and Borax

Also gather: Saucepan, Wooden Spoon, Glass or Plastic Measuring Cup (I just use a mason jar), 5 Gallon Pail (you can find these in the paint section of stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s), Empty Gallon-size clean containers (old juice or milk bottles, detergent bottles, etc), Funnel, Eye Protection if you please (safety first!)



Castile Soap and Water SimmeringAdd water to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Grate your soap bar using a regular kitchen grater.  Add finely grated bar soap to boiling water and stir with wooden spoon until soap is melted.  I usually put a lid on it and lower the heat so I can assemble the other ingredients in the meantime, stirring occasionally (about 5 minutes).

With your 5-gallon pail ready, slowly pour the soap mixture in and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir well until all ingredients are dissolved.

Add 2 gallons more water (from the tap) to the pail. Stir until well mixed.

Using your funnel, dispense into empty containers and add essential oils or fragrance based on your preference.


Homemade Laundry Detergent ContainersThe detergent smells wonderful on its own ~ very crisp, clean and fresh, so you may want to try it first, and then add essential oils if you still want to then.  I sometimes add a different
oil to each container, just for variety. (Do not add essential oils directly to your machine’s dispenser – they will stain and absorb into the plastic.)

Use about 1/2 cup for each load of laundry, depending on your load size, hard/soft water, soil level, etc.  Shake your detergent each time before you use it (it will gel and separate a bit once it cools).
All in all, this only takes about 15 minutes, and you’ll have laundry detergent for at least 1-3 months – and possibly much longer.

So let me know how it goes for you – would love to hear your results!


Love and light,

Samadhi ✷