Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Thanks to Pinterest.com I've been introduced to a recipe from "Why Not Sew" for homemade liquid laundry detergent. I've always been interested in making some but it always seem more convenient to buy it from the grocery store. 64 loads worth of detergent for 14.99...not too bad when you do the math, or so I thought. Turns out you can buy all the ingredients to make over 500 loads worth of detergent for 6 dollars. I've been told this stuff works better, smells great, perfect for sensitive skin, works for HE washers, and safe for septic systems. So, I am giving it the old college try. And all three of these ingredients were side by side by side on the shelf at Walmart. Where the bleach is found.

UPDATE: June 2012- I'm STILL using this detergent. I LOVE IT! In my opinion it works better than the store-bought, easy to make, smells great, and so cheap that I've even made it and donated it to the local shelters! It's also great on my 2 year old's sensitive skin and her eczema isn't irritated by this detergent at all! I haven't bought detergent since I started making this. =)

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent


1 cup Borax
1 cup Super Washing Soda
1/2 bar any soap (I used Fels-Naptha, which is a laundry stain-remover soap)
2 gallons water
A big pot (one that will hold 2 gallons of water (or near that))
A cheese grater
A funnel
2 empty milk jugs or any empty containers that will hold 2 gallons of detergent amongst them

Step 1

Grate your soap of choice into your pot.

Step 2

Add one gallon of water, heat until the soap dissolves.

Step 3

Add the cup of Borax and the cup of Super Washing Powder, stir, it will start to thicken. She says to bring it to a boil but I didn't. I heated it through until it started to get really thick and turned the heat off.

Step 4

Once it's thickened, add one gallon of cold water and stir. (I cut it kinda close there). Or if it's easier for you, fill each plastic bottle halfway with cold water instead of adding it to the pot, then using a funnel, add the soap mixture on top, leaving 1-2 inches from the top of the lid to give it room to move when you shake the detergent loose after it's cooled.

Step 5

Using a funnel and a large cup, pour the detergent into the empty containers, leaving a 2 inch gap between the detergent and the top of the bottle. Let cool, it will thicken more as it does. Once it cools and thickens, you will have to shake it vigorously to loosen the gel and make it easy to pour. She recommends 1/2 cup per load of laundry. And if you notice, you have a TON of Borax and Washing Soda left, all you need to buy each time you want to make some more, is a half a bar of soap.

I'll be putting this stuff to the test tomorrow.

I'd also suggest that if you intend on making your own (or making some for Christmas gifts or House Warming parties) you might want to invest in dedicated utensils. I don't think it will hurt anything this one time, but grab a grater just for soap, and pick up a pot at Goodwill, specifically for this use. I used my Gumbo pot for this test-run and washed it really good afterwards. =)


This got incredibly thick overnight, so much so that I have to shake it vigorously to get it to a consistency to squeeze out of the container. If you want it a little runnier (It's like a firm jell-o now) then use only half a bar of soap, or just leave some empty space in the bottle so you have room to shake it up. =)
Anonymous said…
How did it smell and work after you washed your clothes?
I've washed about 4 loads with it so far and my clothes smell great, but I do have a Bounce dryer bar in my dryer. No build-up or film on my clothes and some of kids clothes that have permanent stains looked cleaner than usual...not to mention the sweat stains on my husbands work shirts, they are nearly gone and those seem to only get more yellow with store-brought detergents. All in all I LOVE IT!
Karen said…
I work with your Aunt Lee and she told me about your blog and I have to say that I love all your ideas. I made the dish washing det this morning and am using it as I type this and I have plans on making the laundry det tonight. You have some really good ideas and some beautiful girls. Keep up the great work.
Thank you Mrs. Karen! And be honest...how much "work" does my Aunt Lee ACTUALLY do?! Haha!! I'm just kidding, of course. I'm glad you found me and even MORE glad that my tips are helping you! Thank you for commenting, too! It makes me giggle with excitement every time I get an email notification of a comment. =)
Momma Hot Flash said…
I just found your blog thanks to my new addiction of Pinterest! You have so many fabulous ides. Freezer cooking, you're my hero. But. this laundry thing? I'm definitely making some! Hve you made another batch only using half a bar of the soap? If so, how did it go? Keep those ideas coming!!
Jennifer said…
How much do u use for a load of laundry? I made the powdered stuff.. it was ok but I just prefer liquid! I had trouble getting the powdered stuff to dissolve.
Anonymous said…
Having trouble finding the Super washing soda, any ideas where to find some?
Anonymous said…
how much essential oil do you put in? When do you add it? And does it leave any "oil marks" of any kind? so excited to try this just need your input on the oil.
Anonymous said…
I find the A&H Washing Soda at Walmart. At our store it is right by the Borax.
Unknown said…
Just curious if you know...but Ias looking up a homemade water softner (like Calgon, since we have hard water), and it was basically just Borax & washing soda. So what I was wondering is if I could use like a cup & a half of each (instead of 1 cup each), would that be ok, or could it be too strong? Also, has anyone tried adding OxyClean to their liquid homemade detergent? Was wondering if it loses it's cleaning power when it's in water for too long? Thanks!
It would be fine to add another 1/2 cup of each to the recipe. As far as the oxyclean, I've never tried it so I'm not sure.
Anonymous said…
where do you find the washing soda? Tried three different Walmarts and they never heard of it.
I've always found it at my local walmart in the laundry aisle. Right next to the other two ingredients.
Anonymous said…
Mine is NOT thickening. My first attempt, after the fels was dissolved I added the borax & washing soap rather quickly and stirred, but it never thickened even after getting up to a boil. My second attempt I added the dry ingredients more slowly while stirring, still after boiling for several minutes it has not thickened a bit. What am I doing wrong?
It will thicken as it cools. =)
Anonymous said…
I tried this recipe several years ago and loved the idea of saving money. Our clothes came out of the wash smelling great and looking fantastic. Several days went by and we started to notice a rancid smell. Our clothes began to stink! I stopped using the stuff immediately. the only thing I could think of that caused the problem, we had well water. This well water had iron in it. Would love to try the homemade detergant again. Can I just make dry detergant with only the washing soda, borax and oxiclean? by the way, love the blog.
Seetha Ram said…
This is nice. Thanks for sharing with us. This is good to know
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