Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe – The Why & How

270917_10151447685977424_1227744904_nI’m always looking for ways to save money, save my health, and save the environment. Making homemade laundry detergent helps me accomplish all three of those goals.  You read that correctly, friend.  Besides being expensive, most conventional laundry detergents contain toxic chemicals that seep into your precious skin via those “clean” clothes; it also horribly contaminates our water.  Once you start making your own laundry soap, I promise your wallet will be a little fatter and, let’s be honest, you’re simply going to feel like the planet’s superhero a better person.

Before I dish on the “HOW,” let me elaborate a little more on the “WHY.”


Not gonna lie.  The only reason I even began making my own laundry soap was because I crunched some numbers and realized there was potential to save a bunch-o-money. Here’s a little math breakdown for ya:

A 50 oz. bottle of Tide costs about $11.99.  You should be able to get 32 loads out of this, making it $0.37/load.  

Making your own detergent:

  • Borax = $5.39/box–used 1 cup = $0.54
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda – $3.99/box–used 1 cup = $0.58
  • Fels-Naptha Soap – $1.29/bar–used 1.5 bars = $1.93
  • Water = Basically FREE

That’s $11.31 to get started (with leftovers to use next time) and only $3.05 to make over three gallons of laundry detergent!  You’ll need 1/2 cup per load, which means you’ll get 96 loads out of one batch.  The grand total cost per load:



If your family does four loads of laundry a week, you’re looking at a difference of $76.96/year with a product like Tide vs. only $6.24/year making it yourself.  What could you do with an extra $70?  Besides saving on the cost of the detergent, think about the gas you’ll save with fewer trips to the supermarket.  Nice.


You’ve heard that looks can be deceiving.  Well, scents can be deceiving as well.  Turns out, most store-bought laundry detergents, while pleasant to the sense of smell, are extremely toxic.  Once you wear the clothes you washed, your skin absorbs those toxins–your lungs breathe them in too.  Side effects range from respiratory problems, hormone imbalance, infertility, and skin irritation.  Read more about the icky details here.


Making your own laundry detergent requires you to pour it into a container.  I opted to clean out our used plastic milk jugs.  This greatly reduces my carbon footprint by reusing plastic.  Let’s say my family averages four loads of laundry a week.  If I bought that Tide I mentioned earlier, I’d have to purchase nearly seven bottles a year.  That may not seem like much plastic, but multiply that with the other 123.2 million households in the U.S alone.  That = Yikes.

Also, as you’ll see in the recipe below, other than the bar soap, the ingredients are all natural.  If you want to go all out and have all natural bar soap as well, click here for a great recipe.   All natural products are, of course, better for the planet . . . and for you (refer back to reason #2).

Here is what’s most horrifying to me about many store-bought detergents.  As mentioned before, they contain a slew of toxic chemicals, one of which is dioxane.  Dioxane contaminates water and once it gets into there, not even water filtration systems can remove it. Did I mention it’s also not biodegradable?  Be sure to read this article and watch the 9-minute video at the bottom about how harmful these detergents are to you and the water system.  You’ll be shocked.  And disgusted.  And mad.  I don’t care how tired I get of making my own soap.  After reading this article, I vowed to never go back to conventional detergents ever again.


Once you’ve read the reasons “WHY” you should make homemade laundry detergent, now I’ll give you the HOW.  Here’s my favorite recipe for liquid soap:


  • 10 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups Fels-Naptha or Ivory soap (grated)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT BAKING SODA)
  • 2 gallons of cool water
  • 7 drops of essential oil for fragrance (optional-without this it leaves no scent on your clothes)

STEPS (takes only about 30 minutes)

  1. In a large pot bring 10 cups of water to a boil
  2. As you wait for water to boil, grate bar soap (I use a cheese grater over a plate)
  3. Add grated soap to boiling water until soap is melted
  4. Pour the soapy water into a large clean pail. Add the Borax and washing soda. Stir well until dissolved.
  5. Add 2 gallons of cold water.  Stir until mixed well.  If adding essential oils, do so during this step.
  6. Before it thickens, use a funnel to pour into clean milk jugs (I suggest two people for this job).  Should fill at least 3 gallons.

Add 1/2 cup to each load.  This will gel, so make sure to shake the bottle well before pouring.

There you go, guys.  My family has been using this recipe for years and have been extremely pleased.  I hope you enjoy saving money, your health, and the planet by making some of your own.  Have questions or comments?  Leave them below.

Check out http://www.skiptomylou.org for other great DYI ideas.


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