Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

homemade-liguid-laundry-soap-all-natural-

A few years ago, just as I was jumping on the “crunchy” real food wagon, I started hearing about homemade laundry soap. The idea of making my own soap was intriguing and something all the cool crunchy moms did. There was no way I was going to fess up to using chemical-ridden Tide, so I joined the cool play-date moms and made my own.

The majority of recipes I found called for a bar of soap, Washing Soda, and Borax. Simple, cost-effective, and much safer than most store-bought detergents. I’ll never forget the look on my family’s face when I proudly announced my new venture, homemade laundry soap. You made what?

Of course, I was eager to test out my new creation. I poured in the powder soap, turned on the machine, and loaded the clothes. The sense of accomplishment I felt while my washing machine swished and swirled was like none other. Forget graduating college or landing my first real job, I just made homemade laundry soap!

The moment of truth came. I eagerly opened the machine and pulled out the first few clothes. Disappointment set in. Chalk-like stains decorated every piece of clothing I pulled out. Darn. I washed, rewashed, re-rewashed, kept washing. Nothing worked.

So, here I am, the creator and author of a simple living, all-natural blog and I use Tide. It’s real around here. No judging. Just the plain ol’ truth. I know it’s not good for our clothes, skin, or the environment, but my family has a legitimate need–clean clothes. I can’t send my husband to work stained and smelling like BO. The word is already out we keep chickens and drink raw milk, we don’t need BO.

I’ve been conflicted. Wanting to make my own homemade laundry detergent, but stuck in the comfort and certainty of the store-bought detergent. I’ve spent many nap times, quietly sipping my coffee with toys scattered across the floor, the laundry pile starring me down, formulating the perfect homemade soap in my tired mommy-brain. A soap that’s effective at fighting stains, odors, and doesn’t ruin our clothes.

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Finally, last week, I took the plunge, again. I ventured down the road of homemade laundry soap. With four simple ingredients and ten minutes, I whipped up the soap I’ve been formulating. Nothing fancy, just simple ingredients. After multiple tests, including a chocolate chip stain, I’ve decided homemade laundry soap is here to stay. Sorry, Tide, it’s time to break-up.

homemade liquid laundry soap

Meet my new go-to homemade laundry soap.

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This simple laundry soap makes a little bit over one-gallon. The total cost of the ingredients is approximately $15. The ingredients can all be used multiple times, bringing the cost much, much lower. This homemade liquid laundry soap is highly concentrated which means you need only a small amount to get the dirty job done.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a slight boil. Once the water begins to boil, turn off the burner and add the Borax and Washing Soda. Stir to dissolve.
  2. In a large bucket (I use a 2 gallon bucket from the hardware store), combine the remaining 11 cups of room-temperature water and 1 cup Dr. Bronner's Liquid Soap
  3. 10-15 drops Essential Oil (optional).
  4. Pour the hot Borax mixture from the saucepan into the bucket.
  5. Stir the mixture together.
  6. Pour your mixture into desired storage container. I use a glass jar, like this, which I found at Target for a few dollars.
  7. As the soap sits, the mixture will form into a gel. There may also be liquid and gel separation, simply stir or shake. This is normal. I use 1/8-1/4 a cup of soap per load of laundry. For stains, I use a small amount of soap directly on the stain. The gel will dissolve in the water of the washing machine
http://livesimply.me/2014/02/11/homemade-liquid-laundry-soap-all-natural-detergent/

With Dr. Bronner’s Soap you can also make Homemade Nourishing Body Wash

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Kristin is a stay-at-home mom to her two children, Piper (4) and Londyn (2). She loves to share her real food tips, ideas, and recipes for feeding the entire family nourishing real food. She is passionate about encouraging moms on this journey of simple, natural living and traditional, real food. Kristin is a professional writer and the creator of Live Simply.

62 Comments

  • Reply February 11, 2014

    Tricia

    Thank you for this post! I’m a closet tide using crunchy mom too and I’m so excited to try something with similar results as my favorite detergent! Just a few questions though… Do you wash in hot, cold, or warm water? Does the use of different temperatures affect the outcome with the homemade detergent? Thanks again for this recipe.

    • Reply February 11, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      So glad to meet another closet Tide user ;). I usually wash our clothes in warm water, with kids and lots of stains, I find it works best. But, when testing this soap I tried using cold water and it worked wonderfully. If you use cold water, I’d recommend swishing the detergent in the water with your hand, just to be sure it dissolves fully.

    • Reply February 24, 2014

      meghaywood

      Hi Kristin, I am so excited to have found your blog. I am a new mom, and apparently having a baby brought out the “crunchy” side I never knew I had. Now, here I am cloth diapering! Have you or anyone you know used this on cloth diapers? Is there any reason why this detergent wouldn’t be cloth friendly? We currently use Charlie’s soap but I would love a make-at-home option.

      • Reply February 25, 2014

        Kristin Marr

        That made me chuckle. Having kids brought out my “crunchy” side too ;). I’m not sure about the soap on cloth diapers. I asked around to other crunchy bloggers, who use cloth diapers, and all said once you use Charlie’s Soap, it can be hard to switch to other detergents. So, I’m not really sure, sorry.

    • Reply July 24, 2014

      sue

      Hi
      just joined. looked up your liquied soap. Loove the measuring cup!

  • Reply February 11, 2014

    Elisha

    Can this be used in high efficiency washers and if so how much do you use?

    • Reply February 11, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Elisha, I wish I knew. Unfortunately I only have an old 1980′s washing machine, so I don’t have any experience with the HE machines and homemade detergent.

  • Reply February 11, 2014

    Marj

    What is the difference between this and any other homemade detergent? I’ve tried twice and am always disappointed.

    • Reply February 11, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Marj, This soap is liquid and highly concentrated, not a powder or watered down liquid. All three ingredients are effective cleaning agents many people already add to their laundry for extra cleaning power.

  • Reply February 12, 2014

    MonicaYB

    Curious how your water is? I am in central Texas, with some seriously crazy hard water. We use dr bronners Castile soaps for many things, e.g. body wash, hand soap, etc., but it reacts so harshly with the hard water, that it leaves a white/grey residual scum all over every surface it comes into contact with. Small price to pay for something that is so cost effective and non-toxic, plus I can scrub it off the sinks and tubs with vinegar, but I’m not sure I’m willing to risk having dull grey clothes, that I can’t just scrub down. :-/I’m scared to try it! Haha!
    I mostly just use country save (what I buy and use for diapers anyway), and whole foods store brand liquid detergent on some specific things (rated 0 on ewg). Your thoughts would be appreciated. :)

    • Reply February 12, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Monica, We have hard water. I haven’t had any of those experiences with Dr. Bronner’s, yet. I might try testing a small amount with a couple towels. I’ve also been using this as a cleaner, so if it doesn’t work for the laundry, that might be an option.

  • Reply February 12, 2014

    oksana

    hi there! thanks for posting this recipe! i’ve heard conflicting opinions on the safety/toxicity of borax. any thoughts??

    • Reply February 13, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Oksana, I’ve read many conflicting reports on Borax too. In the end, I had to realize Borax is much, much safer than 99% of the affordable laundry detergents out there. It’s also a very powerful and effective cleaning agent and my family needs clean clothes. I use it with confidence knowing there are far worse I could be using instead.

  • Reply February 16, 2014

    Stephanie

    Hi, I just made this last night and this morning, there was about 2-3 inches of a very thick, almost glycerine type separation at the top of the container. Down below, it’s still very thin. SHould I be mixing it?

    • Reply February 16, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hey Stephanie, Perfectly normal. Just stir or shake it up in the container and you’ll be good to use.

    • Reply May 4, 2014

      Suzanne McMahon

      I use my stick blender at this point and like Kristen said – put it in smaller containers. Then give a shake and go. Works wonderfully in a HE machine due to its low sudsing ability. I have used this soap over a year now, and so does my family and friends. Haven’t needed Tide in a LONG time and my clothes smell fresh and are so clean.

      • Reply May 7, 2014

        Kristin Marr

        Great idea, thanks for sharing :).

      • Reply July 25, 2014

        Amber Rasmussen

        Suzanne,

        Since you have used this in an HE machine, curious on your results. Additionally, how much do you use per load?

        Thanks,
        Amber

        • Reply July 27, 2014

          Kristin Marr

          Hey Amber, I hope Suzanne is able to answer. For the regular ol’ machine I use 1/4 cup per load. That amount probably varies with an HE machine.

  • Reply February 17, 2014

    Ev

    I just make the powdered kind, I use one grated bar or fels Naptha, two cups borax and two cups washing soda, in hard water, and I’ve never had any problems with it leaving chalky stuff anywhere. It does help maybe to dissolve it in a bit of hot water before you put the clothes in the washer, but I don’t even bother doing that and I haven’t had a problem. I find it washes my clothes really well, doesn’t suds up (so I can’t see why it wouldn’t work in an HE machine) and I will never go back to Tide as long as I can still find borax and washing soda in the stores. I love it!

  • Reply February 17, 2014

    Jana

    I have made.my own laundry detergent before, but I always thought there was still a smell in my daughter’s laundry (she’s potty training) so I have gone back to tide. I am going to give this one a try and hope for the best.
    I do have a question, what do you use for fabric softener. I use vinegar in the wash, but that’s not enough. I have gone back to using bounce sheets in the dryer.

    • Reply February 19, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Jana, I had the same problem with smell. I absolutely love the way this soap leaves our clothes smelling. I don’t use softener, but have used vinegar successfully.

      • Reply February 20, 2014

        Jana

        I just wanted you to know, I just finished my first wash with this recipe. It was bed clothes that had been wet in. The smell is gone! I can’t wait to try this on dirty clothes and see the spots come out. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Reply July 28, 2014

      donna

      Hi Jana,
      I do not recommend using fabric softener or dryer sheets because of the toxic chemicals in those- they even damage the air quality when it vents outside, from what I have heard. Wool balls work fantastically in place of dryer sheets and they are all natural and not in the least toxic!

  • Reply February 18, 2014

    Lynne

    I make and use the powdered detergent as well, in cold water, and have always been very pleased with the results. I have seen comments on other sites that it works very well in HE machines.

    • Reply February 19, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Lynne, That’s good to know about the HE machines. Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply February 19, 2014

    Miss Dee Canada

    I am glad to see you tried and are going to start making your own again! I have not yet made my own detergent but I have switched to a green one that I have used for months now along with using vinegar as a fabric softener and using balls of tinfoil for static cling in the dryer!

    This sounds like a great recipe so I think I am going to have to try it once I am all out of my stuff! Thanks for posting!

    • Reply February 19, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Miss Dee, I’ve never heard of tinfoil for static cling. Very interesting, thank you for sharing that tip. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • […] Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap […]

  • Reply February 23, 2014

    Samantha Miles

    Hello I’m new to the “make your own soap” but plan on making tomorrow/Tuesday. I have read up on Dr. Bronners (btw love dr.bronners) they said if predilute you loose the preservative (vitaminE) bc it gets diluted so you should use in 18 uses. Thank you again for sharing your frugal tips and yummy recipes I have been pinning away for the last week.

    • Reply February 24, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Samantha, I haven’t heard that, but I dilute Dr. Bronner’s in a lot of homemade products as it’s very concentrated. I haven’t had any issues.

  • Reply February 25, 2014

    Allison

    Just made this and was wondering what your thoughts are in regard to it being ok for baby clothes? It would be nice to not have to use two different detergents. My husband is in farming so I need heavy duty but gentle enough for baby skin as well.

    • Reply February 25, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Allison, I use this on my toddler’s clothes. I personally feel safe using this on my kids (including) baby clothing and linens.

  • Reply February 28, 2014

    Karen

    Can I store this in a plastic container? I actually have one from pretzels from Costco,

    • Reply February 28, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Karen, Yes, this laundry soap can be stored in plastic. Those large pretzel tubs would be perfect.

  • Reply March 4, 2014

    kennamom05

    Approximately, how much does this make? Just wondering how big of a container I should buy :)

    • Reply March 4, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      This recipe makes a bit over a gallon of soap. Around 18 cups of liquid.

  • Reply March 6, 2014

    kennamom05

    Thanks! One more question :) Have you ever tried adding baking soda as well to the laundry detergent?

  • Reply March 6, 2014

    kennamom05

    Just kidding, last one! Other recipes that are liquid detergents, have you let the detergent sit overnight before using. Do you have to do this with this recipe? I used a bar of castile soap instead of the liquid castile soap. I am not sure if that would make a difference. Thanks again!

    • Reply March 7, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      I usually let this sit overnight, it tends to gel after about 24 hours, which I like. However you can use it successfully immediately after it’s made too.

  • Reply March 10, 2014

    anthony stemke

    I use the borax/washing soda/grated ivory or fels naptha mixture all the time.
    Two tablespoons for a load.
    I never have streaking problems – here is why: Start the machine and when a little water has run add the laundry powder. Let the tub fill almost half-way and then add the garments.

  • Reply March 19, 2014

    K

    What do you use to stir it with and to measure it out? I want to try this, but seems like it would get messy.

    • Reply March 19, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi K, I usually only stir it once or twice. After about 24 hours of making the soap and then again when it gets toward the bottom of the jar. I either shake it or stir with a wood spoon. I use a small cup, similar to what’s pictured above, just plastic. It scoops out well, without mess.

  • Reply May 7, 2014

    E

    Hello! I want to try this, but I’ve had a problem in the past with DIY laundry soap making our clothes fade. Have you noticed this at all with this recipe? Thanks!

    • Reply May 7, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi E, That’s actually the very reason I created this recipe. I had the same issue with DIY laundry soap recipes in the past. This soap doesn’t fade clothes. :)

  • Reply May 11, 2014

    Lisa

    Enough about the detergent :) where did you get that cute scoop?

    • Reply May 11, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hey Lisa, Lol, I love that little scoop. It’s actually part of a measuring cup set I picked up from Home Goods. I’ve also seen the same ones at Pier One Imports. :)

  • Reply May 11, 2014

    Miss Butterfly

    I’m going to try it as it sound perfect and very easy to make ! Just a question …I put my liquid detergent directly with the load ( in a small plastic ball) can I do the same with this one or it’s is better to put in the soap dispenser of the washing machine ? Thanks !

    • Reply May 11, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Miss Butterfly, I’ve never tried using a plastic ball or the soap dispenser, so I don’t have any experience to speak of. I pour a small amount in the washing machine while the machine fills up with water.

  • Reply May 12, 2014

    Connie

    I made the laundry soap about 36 hours ago and it has not turned into a gel-it’s just like water-I used distilled water, could this bb the problem?

    • Reply May 12, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hey Connie, I haven’t tried using distilled water, but I don’t think it will be an issue. I’ve noticed (recently) my laundry soap is taking a few days to set with summer and the warm weather (at least I think that’s the cause)…no worries if it doesn’t. Even if it never gels, it’s still super effective and ready to use in your machine. The gelling is just an added perk.

  • Reply May 20, 2014

    Catherine

    What EO do you use with this recipe

    • Reply May 20, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hey Catherine, I use lavender or lemongrass, just for a scent. You can also skip the EO.

  • Reply May 22, 2014

    Bernice

    I’ve been making my own laundry soap for 3 years now (basically same recipe but instead of DrB I disolve a bar of soap) … sometimes it doesn’t gel … I get my stick blender, give it a bit of a buzz then let it sit another day … most of the time it then gels. I also make my own bar soap, and just started making my own liquid soap which is basically the same as DrB … I’m going to use your idea with my new liquid soap – thanks.

    • Reply May 22, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hi Bernice, Thanks for the stick blender tip…very smart! Enjoy the recipe :).

  • Reply May 27, 2014

    Tierney

    I use Tide as well ;) But only on my cloth diapers, and only because it allows me to use chlorine bleach on them less often because it helps keep away the stink! I’m currently using something made with soap nuts. I’m nervous to try homemade as I’m a stain-freak (as in a HATE stains) and I’m just nervous that homemade won’t work as well! However I think you’ve got me convinced and when we run out of our store-bought laundry detergent, I might have to give this a try! I have an HE washer so we’ll see how this goes :D

    • Reply May 27, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      I’m so happy to meet another naturally-minded Tide user ;). It’s freeing to confess, lol. I had some really bad experiences with homemade laundry soap, but this recipe sold me! There’s zero fading and it actually cleans our clothes. Can’t wait to hear what you think.

  • Reply July 4, 2014

    Malin

    Hello Kristin,
    Just tried to make the laundry soap and I must be doing something wrong. It’s very watery. I double measured twice. Using six cups boiled water then eleven of room temp. water. How much detergent is it supposed to make? I would need two huge jars to fit the blended mix :) Love your blog:)

    Thanks!
    Malin

    • Reply July 4, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hey Malin, Thank you so much.

      This recipe will produce a little more than a gallon of soap, so you’ll probably need a 1.5 gallon jar or divide the recipe between multiple jars. The soap can either be very watery or gel…both are very effective. I’ve found, for some odd reason, this soap sets (gels) better in the winter and colder months, and during the summer it can take days to gel. Gelling is just an added perk, but doesn’t effect the cleaning-power. Enjoy!!

    • Reply July 8, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Hey Malin, Just wanted to check back in to see how your soap is performing?

  • Reply July 11, 2014

    Katherine

    I just started using epson salt as a softener. It works great. Safe and not harmful to the environment.
    Just add a few tablespoons to the wash.

    • Reply July 11, 2014

      Kristin Marr

      Katherine, Great idea!! I’ve been meaning to try this.

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