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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88 Comments

  • Tricia says:

    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.

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

    • meghaywood says:

      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.

      • Kristin Marr says:

        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.

    • sue says:

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

  • Elisha says:

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

  • Marj says:

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

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

  • MonicaYB says:

    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. :)

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

  • oksana says:

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

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

  • Stephanie says:

    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?

    • Kristin Marr says:

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

    • Suzanne McMahon says:

      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.

  • Ev says:

    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!

  • Jana says:

    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.

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

      • Jana says:

        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!

      • Cathy W says:

        Ladies, Try the hair conditioner and vinegar fabric softener. After mixing with water, I tried every thing to get it in the dryer! Wash cloths, balls etc. Finally ended up with cutting a sponge in half, put them in a prepacked meat, or Tupperware with lids and pour the DIY softener to cover. Toss them both in with your clean wet clothes. Act like balls and smells good too. AND my husband hasn’t a clue that I’m using DIY soaps or fabric softener made with vinegar! HAHA! ( got him and saving $$!!!)
        You can find recipe on LizMarie Blog OR use a bottle of your favorite CHEAP hair conditioner, a cup or two of wht. Vinegar, fill up a 5 ? liter with water. Will separate so give it shake before you use!

    • donna says:

      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!

    • Kristin Day says:

      I am a yarn fanatic (I knit and crochet). I just made the wool balls for my drying to replace dryer sheets and I absolutely LOVE them. So easy to make. I happened to have lots of wool yarn sitting around from my yarn addiction, but you could get some inexpensive wool yarn at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby (Walmart, Joanne’s, etc).

      If you want to add a little scent, just drop a few drops of essential oils on one of the balls before starting the dryer.

  • Lynne says:

    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.

  • Miss Dee Canada says:

    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!

  • Samantha Miles says:

    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.

  • Allison says:

    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.

  • Karen says:

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

  • kennamom05 says:

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

  • kennamom05 says:

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

  • kennamom05 says:

    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!

  • 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.

  • K says:

    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.

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

  • E says:

    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!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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. :)

  • Lisa says:

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

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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. :)

  • 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 !

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

  • Connie says:

    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?

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

  • Catherine says:

    What EO do you use with this recipe

  • Bernice says:

    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.

  • Tierney says:

    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

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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.

  • Malin says:

    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

    • Kristin Marr says:

      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!!

    • Kristin Marr says:

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

  • Katherine says:

    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.

  • Sydney Favorite says:

    Hi! I just made you recipe for liquid laundry soap and mine made a little gel on top but when I shake it and go to use it, it is pure liquid. What went wrong and can I use what I made or should I just start over?

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Sydney, The recipe takes 24-48 hours to gel. Some people experience gelling issues in the summer heat (if you’re storing the soap outside in the garage or laundry room). Gelling is just an added bonus, but is not required for the soap to be effective. You can start using it ASAP.

  • Carol Ann says:

    I have been using this detergent for a couple of weeks now. At first it separated and was watery but after I stirred it and it sat for another day or two, it thickened up. It’s rather lumpy but that’s no problem. I have an HE front loader and have noticed that it does not produce suds at all. At first I was concerned but others have said that this is an added plus for HE washers. I have used between 2-3 T per load and it seems that my clothes are clean and smelling fresh. I also added about 15 drops of lavender essential oil. Today I used a few tablespoons to clean the shower. It worked great with no toxic fumes!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Carol, I’m so glad you like it and your clothes are clean! I’ve used this soap to clean upholstered chairs and even toilets. I’ll have to try the shower next. Commercial soaps contain added chemicals for added suds to give us the clean feel. This product will produce a few bubbles, but nothing like the commercial soaps.

    • Heather says:

      Carol, do you put it in the soap dispenser our in the tub with the clothes?

  • Savana says:

    Hi! Getting ready to make this fabulous soap!! Can’t wait to try it. This is random but, I love your super cute measuring cup!! You wouldn’t remember where it came from would you!?

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Savana, Yay! Enjoy the soap! That little cup is super popular, I’m often asked about it. Lol. It’s part of a measuring cup set I bought at Home Goods. I’ve also seen similar sets at Pier One Imports.

  • Savana says:

    Never mind. I read your blogs and found them :)

  • Fionna says:

    Hi! This is perfect and exactly what I was looking for! After finding out filsnapa soap and borax wasn’t good for us I used Dr. bonners soap with an all natural recipe and I was disappointed. I decided to use borax again and came across your recipe. The only issue I’m having is after it gels and I mix it, it keeps separating. Does it continue to seperate? If so do I have to stir it everytime before use? The bottom is completely clear liquid. TIA

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Fiona, Yay! I’m so glad you found this recipe too. I can understand the disappointment. I was in the same place before creating this recipe. I just stir once every few days with a long wood spoon or shake my container. The liquid on the bottom will occur, so just shaking every so often will help.

  • Kristin Day says:

    I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but my didn’t gel at all. I can still use it and it’s working great, but it’s a little more difficult to use as a straight liquid. It splashes when I push the dispenser drawer back in on my front loading washing machine. I read the recipe three times and I can’t figure out where I went wrong. Any ideas??

  • Jane says:

    I came across this website and I am so happy I did!!! I must say all the homemade things I was uncertain of making until I saw them laid out here (Amazon order is coming)! I am trying to get us away from chemicals in our everyday products, starting with the laundry detergent and dish soap; then the body wash and toothpaste. One question – my son is allergic to tree nuts – is there a substitute for the coconut oil that can be used? Thank you and again – LOVE THIS SITE!!!!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Jane,

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you found Live Simply too!!

      Due to coconut oils unique properties there really isn’t much you can substitute for it in something like toothpaste :(. For your son, you may want to consider a good “commercial” (but very, very natural) brand like Earthpaste which doesn’t contain any coconut oil.

  • Ashly says:

    Hello! So I made my own laundry soap and have for a couple yrs but my husband is a tide guy for scent reasons. How do I keep my clothes smelling good? I’ve done EO only to have the dryer kill the scent. So now I have to put a tbsp of tide in my husbands loads lol please help I can’t stand tide makes my allergies go crazy!!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Ashly, I totally get the Tide thing and it’s a very hard scent to mimic with a homemade soap due to the number of chemical fragrances added. I think for now adding the small amount of Tide just to give him that scent is probably the best you can do. Another option might be adding EOs to dryer balls or purchasing more “natural” dryer sheets (such as Mrs. Meyers). It’s hard to break the idea that “clean” is supposed to smell a certain a way (of course, no body odor ;)), at least it has been for me.

  • Alison says:

    How long does the laundry detergent keep? Does it need to be used within a few months? I’m so excited to try this!!

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Alison, The laundry soap will last around six months. I’d venture to say it would probably last even longer, but my concern when water is involved is the possibility of bacteria growth. Enjoy!

  • Robin Z says:

    If I were to purchase the ingredients needed to make this laundry soap from Amazon as you suggested, about how many batches of laundry soap can be made from my initial purchase. I just wanted to weight out the approximate cost of a complete gallon of soap. I know I will need to add shipping cost to that total. Thanks

    • Kristin Marr says:

      Hey Robin, I’m not sure how many exact batches of laundry soap the ingredients listed will make. I can tell you that I get at least three batches from the borax and washing soda. The Bronners will vary with the size you purchase…I now buy the gallon size. I’d also check your local grocery store for the ingredients. The “where to buy” links offer readers a chance to view the exact products I use, but many times they can be picked up locally.

  • Naomi says:

    You can easily make washing soda from baking soda. Heating it to a high temperature by baking it changes the chemical structure. This tip makes your recipe even more cost effective! Here is the link: http://naturesnurtureblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/IMG_2458.jpg.

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