Make Your Own Liquid Laundry Detergent!

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liquid detergent

At the beginning of last year, I began making my own laundry detergent. I have loved making my own, both because it saves us money and saves us from exposure to needless chemicals!

Most of the recipes I found used a 5-gallon bucket to make the liquid form. However, not only do I not have enough gallon jugs for the final product, but I also could not figure out how to pour the 5-gallon bucket of detergent, by myself, into individual gallon jugs without making a mess. (Some of y’all may be more graceful that I am. Gracefulness is not my strong suit.) So I problem solved – I decided to make a homemade powder laundry detergent. And while I really did love it, I truly think liquid detergent leaves my clothes feeling fresher (just my personal opinion), so eventually I began making liquid detergent! Today I’ll share that recipe with you!

Method 1

There are two ways you can do this. First, if you are like me when I started and happen to have homemade powder detergent on hand that still needs to be used, don’t fret. You can totally turn that into liquid!

Boil 4 cups of hot water. Then add your leftover powder detergent to the water. Most recipes I have found say to boil the water and add the soap, letting it dissolve, before adding the Borax and Super Washing Soda, but I have never had an issue adding it all at once. So once it’s added, stir it all together until the mixture is smooth. (A few undissolved pieces of soap don’t bother me, but make sure it’s mostly dissolved!) Take it off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes, so that it’s still hot but not scalding.

Before pouring it into gallon containers, you need to figure out how much liquid detergent will be made. Since my powder recipe has the potential to make 5 gallons of detergent, use that are your guide. If you had half of your starting amount of powder detergent left, then you will be making approximately 2.5 gallons of liquid detergent. Hopefully that’s clear.

Funnel your detergent into gallon containers. If you are making 5 gallons, put 1/5 of the liquid into each of 5 gallon jugs. If you are making 2 gallons, do this with 2 gallon jugs. (You get the idea.) The jugs will not be full. What you have added to them is the super concentrated form, so add hot water until each jug is full. Then, shake, shake, shake!

You’re set!

Method 2

To make this detergent from scratch, here’s what you need…

To make 5 gallons, you will use 2 cups of grated soap or Felsnaptha, 1 cup Borax, and 1 cup Super Washing Soda. Plus 5 gallon jugs.

To make 2 gallons, you will use 1 cup of grated soap or Felsnaptha, 1/2 cup Borax, 1/2 cup Super Washing Soda, and 2 gallon jugs. (Technically this recipe should make 2.5 gallons. But this problem is easily remedied – once you use 1/4-1/2 of each gallon, refill it with hot water!)

Revision: I’ve always used the food processor to grate soap. While the food processor is a time saver with grating, it adds a lot of clean up, so I’ve often wondered about the time factor there. Recently I tried cutting the soap into chunks and putting it in the NutriBullet. It turned the soap into a grated powder beautifully! So if you have access to that, try it! Less mess.

Add the grated soap to 4 cups of boiling water. Stir and let it dissolve. It may need 5-10 minutes to fully melt. Then remove from heat, and add in the Borax and Super Washing Soda. Let it cool enough to handle, but you still want it to be hot.

Funnel the liquid in equal amounts into the gallon jugs. As stated above, the jugs will not be full because you are adding concentrated amounts of detergent to each. You will now need to dilute each of them by filling each gallon the remaining amount with hot water. Then shake!

If you want to add essential oils for scent, you can do this now.

Use 1/2 cup per load in a normal washing machine.

The cost break down:

1 bar Felsnaptha or bar soap (Cents to $1)

1 box Borax ($3.99/76 oz.)

1 box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda ($2.99/55 oz.)

You can do 160 loads of laundry from 5 gallons of detergent, or 32 from 1 gallon. This comes out to $1.60 per gallon, or 5 cents per load!

Since I always tend to dilute my gallons of detergent probably more than I should, my amount may actually come out to about half this!

Happy washing!


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  1. Thanks for sharing!!!! I kept wondering how to make it in liquid form so I’m going to bookmark this for future reference! Also..I don’t know about you but I really dislike having to grate the soap (maybe I’m just wonder if you added the the soap in like chunked up pieces if it would work (of course, it would all have to melt which would add to the amount of time it would take to make everything). I also wonder if it would all melt!?
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    • Sorry girl! Grating the soap is a must. Otherwise it won’t melt. That reminds me of something Iran to include though! I’ll add it. I’ve always grated it with the good processor, which is love hate because while it grates well, it’s a lot to clean! Recently I cut the soap into small chunks and put it in the nutribullet. That did the trick beautifully!

  2. I just leave mine in the 5 gallon bucket next to the washer, I too made a mess when putting it in the jugs plus storing them all was a pain. I have been using only 1/4 cup…lost the directions and couldn’t remember how much to use and that has been working great. I add more if I have a really dirty load. I make this up for my kids so I will try this for their next batch. thanks.

    • That’s smart! So do you just reach in with your measuring cup then?
      As for the 1/4 cup versus 1/2 cup… it may not make much of a difference. I NEVER use the amount recommended to use from store bought detergents. I just think you only actually need 1/2 the amount. And I’m bad about legitimately measuring too. So I may actually do closer to 1/4 cup… I just have always heard to do 1/2 cup, so that’s where that came from!

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