Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap Tutorial

Homemade liquid laundry soap recipe

Making your own laundry soap is so easy and inexpensive that I encourage everyone to try it! Even if you aren’t concerned about the health benefits of switching to a more natural detergent, this recipe will save money and time! Once you have the ingredients, it takes about 20 minutes total to make five gallons of laundry soap, enough for months for most families!

This was my cost breakdown: Total Cost for Ingredients was $4.30 and at 1/2 cup per load, one batch would wash 160 loads. That works out to a little less than $0.03 per load! By comparison, the cheapest I have found any semi-natural store bought detergents breaks down to about $0.20 or $0.25 cents per load. A natural substitute at a savings of $0.17 cents or more per load!

Homemade Natural Effective Laundry Soap Recipe


  • 1 cup Borax (sodium borate) found as 20 Mule Team Borax on laundry aisle of most grocery stores
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (sodium carbonate or soda ash) is available on the laundry aisle of most grocery stores
  • A bar of natural and organic bar soap like Dr. Bronners, or homemade soap

Optional Ingredients

  • Sal Suds (new product from Dr. Bronners- a good grease cutter)
  • Liquid Castille soap for extra cleaning power and scent
  • Essential Oils for scent


  1. Ask your local bakery, Sam’s Club/Costco or grocery store for any leftover five gallon buckets with lids. They will give these to you for free.
  2. Grate the bar soap with a cheese grater or food processor.
  3. Put 4-4.5 gallons of warm or hot water into a five gallon bucket
  4. In a medium sized sauce pan, heat 2 quarts of water until simmering.
  5. Pour grated soap in and slow slowly until dissolved
  6. Pour hot soap mixture into the five gallon bucket and stir well.
  7. Add optional ingredients if you plan to and stir well.
  8. Put lid on tightly and keep in corner overnight.
  9. The next day, remove lid and stir again.
  10. Pour into empty gallon jars or bottles and store by washer.
  11. Use ½ to 1 cup per load, depending on how dirty the clothes are.

Important Note

I have heard people express some concern with the use of Borax. Borax is an ingredient in most natural and eco-friendly cleaners, including Seventh Generation and Biokleen, so it is difficult to find any product without it. Though it can be toxic in high doses, especially if ingested, in the dilution used in this recipe, it appears to have little or no health risks. If you are concerned with the use of Borax and prefer not to use it, use an extra 1/2 cup of washing soda or 1 cup of baking soda in its place.

Does Natural Laundry Soap Work?

In my experience, this laundry soap works as well as store bought detergents (which aren’t even actually soaps at all but mixtures of chemicals!). This soap does not have a distinct smell like many conventional laundry soaps, though you can scent it with essential oils if you like. I use this as a pre-treatment for stains also, and it works well when pre-treated for up to 1 week.

What is your laundry secret? Tell me about it below!

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Reader Comments

  1. Neat! Have you used this on cloth diapers?

    • It seems to work great on cloth diapers, I’ve never had any trouble at all and they come out clean and fresh!

      • Do these work for the he washers??

        • I don’t have one, but according to other readers who have tried it it does.

          • what size is the bar of soap. they come in different sizes so not sure how much to use for the liquid detergent recipe?

          • Hi! I scrolled through the comments but I’m wondering how much sals suds you would add to the 5 gallons or how much of the oxi clean which I thought k saw in your post about powder soap. Thanks!

  2. How much Borax and Laundry Soda do you use?

    • Sorry… just added that- one cup of each!

      • I made the powder version ! 1 cup borax 1 cup washing soda and grated castile soap ! And a tablespoon of baking soda! When I put in top loader the powder seems to clump together , not dissolve completely ! It’s hard chunks ! What am I doing wrong ????

        • Most likely due to the soap not dissolving. If you are using Zote, this is a common issue.

          I suggest switching to Fels Naptha, which is far better at dissolving.

        • Thank You so much i love all of your recipes and they all turn out great! I really enjoyed learning how to make liquid laundry soap! Thanks again for everything!

    • i want the amount of soap borax and other things. if two bar of soap or so

  3. concerning the natural laundry detergent…..Borax is from Boric acid and it is not a safe thing to have around the house. It is not a “green” product, even though it is marketed that way. I just learned this myself….look into it.

    • I’ve read stuff on both sides of this issue too. There is actually a link to the safety info on Borax above. In my opinion, it is safer than bleach and other ingredients in conventional cleaners, but certainly precautions should be taken, especially when using it around children. Thanks for the comment!

      • Just a tip on the Borax powder, it actually does wonders for getting rid of ants and roaches. I was able to get rid of roaches from a duplex I rented by putting borax powder in any nook or crevace I could find and sprinkled it under every sink. I also mixed a small amount of sugar and borax powder and left it under my sink by a huge hole in the wall to tempt the roaches to take it back to the nest as food. Within a month there were no more roaches……

        • Does it work on rodents too? 🙂 Boric acid is good to get rid of fleas. I was told it is harmless for dogs.

    • Boron (20 mule team borax) is a mineral and is not the same as boric acid. Boron has the same toxicity in mammals as table salt. It’s quite safe.

      • Wow! Thank you for this info!

      • Thanks for the clarification!!!

  4. Can this be used in a front loader washer?

    • From what I understand, front loading and high efficiency washers just need a non-foaming, or low-foaming detergent or soap since the suds can prevent clothes from getting clean and can harm the machine. I don’t have a front loader personally, but I know several moms of big families that use this recipe with front loading washers, and in researching it, everything seemed to indicate that this recipe would be fine since it doesn’t foam. There was even a tutorial on one site that showed how to make your own high efficiency soap with essentially the same ingredients, so I’d think it would be fine.

      • I was wondering, concerning the front loaders : where do you put it? In with the clothes, or in the pull out tray where you’d normally put the he detergent? Thanks! Love your website by the way!

        • I put it in the pull out tray. Works great!
          I used it dry, just grated it all in my food processor. Saved all the melting steps and storage issues. I use 1 T. Per load

      • Excited to be trying this. was wondering, If I have a High efficiency washer how much should I use? is it still 1/2-1 cup and can we use a small amount of the liquid Bronners instead of having to grate and liquify the bar soap for this? Seems like this would be easier, but is it possible? Thanks

        • No one ever gives the answer to the question “Can I use liquid DBCS instead of grating the bar?” I’ve read 10blogs and still have yet to find an answer.

          • I tried this recipe 6 months ago with the liquid Dr. Bronner’s and found it much too watery. I went back to the bar on the next batch.

          • She actually answered it below (question #22.1) back in 2012. She said, ” it does work and you’d use about 1/2 cup liquid per each bar but it won’t be as thick or gel-like but it works”
            I was looking for this myself also.

      • I made the laundry soap & have some to my mom, who has a front loading washer. She said it made words, so she shouldn’t use it. Also: many of my clothes with spandex are deteriorating. Someone told me that borax is bad for spandex, so I haven’t used the recipe in a while. I bought some Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap but I don’t have a clue as to how much if it to use. Any advice on that?

        • Sorry, auto-text made the mistakes…I meant “I have some to my mom.” & “she said it made suds.”

  5. Sorry, I may be missing it, but when in the numerical order do you add the borax and washing soda? Or are the lumped into the #7 “add optional ingredients”? Thanks!

    • Sorry, I’ll try to add that. They go into the hot water in the bucket before you put the soap in.

      • I’m going to make this and Im still kind of confused when to add the borax and washing soda? Can I put them in the hot water with the bar soap or just put them in the bucket and pour soap and water in? Thank You

        • I need to update this 🙂 Just add them to the hot water in the bucket, mix them well, and add the melted bar soap…

          • Ok so this may be the reason why my 1st and 2nd batch has come out like water.
            Has anyone elses turned out that way?

            I added the borax and washing soda to the 5 gallon bucket of water after I poured the hot soap mixture in. I thought thats when you were supposed to add it.
            The directions definitely doesn’t tell you when to add those 2 ingredients specifically.

            Will it be a thicker consistency once I add the borax/washing soda to the hot water in the 5 gallon bucket before the hot soap mixture?

            However, even though it is thin like water, it still cleans our clothes.

            Thank you for your tips, help, and/or advice.

  6. trying this tonight! but there are still a few steps missing in the recipe…

  7. Tried this and it turned to gel. Not sure what I’m doing wrong.

    • Could just be the soap you are using. It will actually still work and
      be stronger as a gel. I usually use a hand blender to make it smooth
      though and then pour if possible, or scoop into laundry.

      • I think you may be right about the soap. We’ve discovered a new love for borax though!

    • Made similar recipe for few yrs. let set overnight. Will turn to a gel, top half usually. Use long handle spoon. Like a cafeteria spoon. And stir stir stir. It will break down. My recipe calls to be diluted by half with water. I put in old soap container and shake before I use. If stir each time open bucket it soon will stay liquid.

      • THANK YOU!!! You reassurance is wonderful. I made it last night and my husband is freaking out about how it will ruin our new washing machine. I transferred some into an old laundry bottle and shook the snot out of it and that seemed to break it down. I’m glad to read I’m taking the right approach!

        • If you have hard water, don’t use this. It may void the warranty on your new washing machine. I used it for about a year and it was great at first but because we had hard water, over time the laundry soap built up on the clothes. The items I only washed in cold were still a little stinky after being washed. The towels got more and more scratchy and white sheets began to yellow. A few times washed in hot water and small amounts of regular detergent got things back to normal but the whites needed a couple of washes in hot water with bleach (which I normally do not use).I still think this is a good recipe, but not for hard water.

          We have an unusually high amount of iron and calcium in our water. A water softener helps but it was still a problem as far as this laundry soap goes. Also, make sure that you follow instructions for maintaining your washing machine. I didn’t worry too much about it with commercial detergent but while using the homemade, I did see buildup on the door and running the maintenance cycle monthly was important. This was also part of my decision making to stop using it. If I could see it on the door, residue was probably building up in the washing machine where I couldn’t see it. After several months, the residue was harder and harder to get off the door.

          If you decide to stop using the homemade laundry soap, it is good for general cleaning. I am using mine up on walls, floors, and woodwork.

          • I agree about the hard water. We have hard water and I’ve been using a powder form of this for about a year. Our clothes gradually became less and less clean. Stains wouldn’t come out and white clothes were yellow. I’ve since stopped using this and went back to a natural commercial laundry detergent. Makes me sad because this was so easy to make!

  8. I’m excited to try this recipe!  I was just thinking about trying to find a cheaper alternative to the Seventh Gen laundry detergent we’ve been using.  And then I randomly stumbled upon your site.

  9.  This sounds like a great alternative to what I have been using that is almost gone. One question though, we have one of those high efficiency washers that is supposed to only have detergents marked as HE. Do you know if this would qualify?

    • I don’t have a HE washer, but several readers who do have commented
      that they have used it with no problem. You might be able to us a
      little less though.

  10. there are bar soaps weighing 3 oz, and bar soaps weighing 7 or 8 oz.  how much soap by weight, do you use in this?

    • It is much more of an art than a science 🙂 I think the bars I use
      are 3-4 ounces, though bigger bars would just make a thicker laundry

      • Thank you for this.
        I will definitely use more bar soap next time.
        Both of my batches have turned out as thin as water.
        But it still cleans our clothes. And my second batch smells fabulous.

  11. I made my laundry soap yesterday and used it today.  My soap is very, very thin.  Not sure why.  I used the exact amount and brands mentioned in the post.  I washed a load of cloth diapers this morning and they seem to be just as clean if not cleaner than when I was using my store bought detergent, so I guess it’s working! It’s just hard to get over the paradigm (like it is with most natural, holistic things 🙂 of laundry detergent being viscous and creating lots of suds.

    • It is definitely thinner than store bought, but like you said, it
      works better. you can always add more bar soap in future batches if
      you want a thicker soap, just make sure to use a little less of the
      finished soap per load.

      • Finished soap?

  12. I can’t wait to try this! Cost savings? YES please! I’ve, through coupons, gotten detergent for around $7 for that many loads, and that’s (good) commercial cleanser but I have no doubt I’d like this more. I recently bought some washing soda to add to loads and have gotten great results, so just making it all from scratch is going to be exciting! Also want to try making toothpaste and a ton of other things you’ve got on here. !!!

  13. Katie,
    I make my own detergent using your first 3 ingredients: bar soap, borax, and washing soda. I don’t have room for a 5 gallon bucket of liquid soap! i put the powdered soap in a sealed container (like a pretty jar or an old yogurt container)and just use 1 tbsp per load. Works great!

    • I’ve made that kind too and it does work great! For me, my homemade
      soap doesn’t powder well, so its easier to use as a liquid, but I do
      like the powdered version too.

    • M. Smith. Make it and give away as gifts or as a barter for something else.

  14. Have any of you added essential oils or Liquid Castille Soap for scent?  If so, what measurements have you used, and what scents?  I’d like to have nicely scented laundry soap, but I’d rather learn from your experiences than risk botching it on my own!  Thank you!

    • I was wondering the same thing! How much essential oil do you add for scent? And do you have specific essential oils that smell best for freshly washed clothes? Thanks!

    • my first batch I used 1/2 cup liquid castile soap by Dr Bronners (non scent) with just about 10 or so drops of lavender EO. —That batch came out weird the next day. Some ingredients seemed to have separated. But it still cleaned my clothes.

      my second batch I used 1 cup of liquid castile soap by Dr Bronners (lavender) with a lot of drop of lavender EO. —–The batch came out as thin as water the next day BUT SMELLS FABULOUS.

      I think the reason they both turned out so thin is because I needed to A. Add more bar soap and/or B. add the borax/washing soda mix in the hot water in the 5g bucket before I add the hot soap mix.

      ???? any advice would be great ????

  15. I almost bought the sal suds a few days ago, but then saw that it contains sls. I was disappointed.

    • it does, but it is coconut derived, not petroleum derived like commercial soaps so it is a different chemical composition and pH
      and is much gentler.

      • Since I have never heard of the different and therefor “safe SLS, I googled it. This is what I found. So, I will be avoiding all SLS.

        Where Do They Come From?
        What if the label says the ingredient comes from coconut?
        What they’re talking about here is where they’re getting the raw materials—in this case, the lauryl alcohol. Getting back to chemistry, SLS is synthesized in the lab by treating lauryl alcohol with sulfur trioxide gas or chlorosulfuric acid. Lauryl alcohol can come from petroleum, but it can also come from coconut oil. The oil is put through an elaborate process, however, that liberates the fatty acids, then hydrogenizes the oil, then pulls out the lauryl alcohol.
        No matter where the alcohol comes from, it’s still mixed with the other chemicals to produce SLS or SLES or other forms of the ingredient. The result is still a chemical that is a long way from the original coconut oil. We may feel better having something that originated from coconut oil rather than from petroleum, but that doesn’t mean the chemical will not be irritating to skin or hair, or that it will not be contaminated from manufacturing processes.
        How can we be sure of the extent of the contamination? We have no way of knowing. Companies can “vacuum-strip” ingredients to take the 1,4-dioxane out, but you won’t find anything on the label telling you whether or not they did that.
        The whole “coconut-derived” or “from coconut oil” or whatever verbiage you see on the label is a marketing gimmick to make you believe that somehow the ingredient is more natural. Don’t fall for it! Choose instead products that have REAL natural ingredients rather than chemicals they’re trying to pass off as “more natural.”

      • SLS is the more harmful and SLSa is the coconut derived and as you mentioned, much more gentle, version.

    • I began to make mine tonight and actually read the ingredients on the sal suds and was so so disappointed too !! I usually look but trusted that if she used it then it must be great stuff…. Nothing with SLS is good in my book, it’s bad no matter how they say they derived it. I’ll be returning it.

  16. Can you use goats milk soap like they sell in Whole Foods?

    • I’m not completely sure the ingredients, but i would think so

  17. I was thinking about substituting the baking soda for the borax.  Have you tried that?  Do the clothes come out as clean?  I’m thinking they would, but was just wondering.  I have children and we deal with allergies and asthma.  I am looking for the safest way, but want clean clothes!  Thanks!

  18. Why bar soap instead of just liquid castille? Liquid would be a lot less work…

  19. A few questions:1.  How much Sal Suds are used?  2.  Is it possible to make this into a “concentrate” using less water, therefor using less product?  I am trying to find a good cloth diaper “stripper” that is more natural than say… Dawn. <—Ick!  Thanks!

    • I’d really love an answer to this as well. I’ve scrolled up and down through these comments and haven’t found my answers anywhere.
      First, how much Sal Suds and Dr. Bronners castille soap?
      Second, when do I add those ingredients to the mixture?

      • I would love that answer as well !!!! And SOOO SOOO disappointed I spent $37 on sal suds to bring it home and actually read the ingredients and find that it’s mainly SLS !!! I trusted this site a little toooo much and bought without even looking fir myself. I myself was wanting to do a more concentrated liquid and do not have any bar soap, but do have liquid Castile…. I’d love an answer as well please !!!

  20. Have been using baking soda for cleaning sinks and bathtubs for couple years now and it works good or better than store bought cleansers.

  21. Hi!

    I made this recipe recently and the consistancy of the detergent didn’t turn out as I expected.  In your picture, it looks kind of creamy.  The consistancy of mine was like water with chunks of clear jelly.  I still used it in my luandry and it worked fine.  I just want to make sure I’m following the recipe correctly.  Any suggestions??

    • That’s definitely normal… mine sometimes does that too… I think it depends partially on temperature. Sometimes I use an immersion blender to smooth it out, but no need to at all.

      • Ok thanks!

        I also wanted to ask you about using the Dr Bronner’s liquid castile soap… Can you use it in adition to the Dr. Bronner’s bar of soap?  How much would you use? And when would you add it?

  22. I was also wondering about using dr.bonners liquid. I have that in the house already. Does it work as well and how much would I use?

    • It does work, and you’d use about 1/2 cup of the liquid in place of each bar. It won’t be as thick or gel-like, but it works. Katie

      • Ahh, finally the answer so many have been asking but must’ve missed and I’ve been wondering myself !! Yay, Thank you !! ? I just used my last bar of dr broners and already have so much Castile soap so I’m glad I found the answer ! Thanks much again ?

  23. Can these be used with low water effiecient washers? We always use concentrated tide liquid. Dont want to wreck my new washer.

    • In a HE washer, you should just be able to use half the amount. It is low-suds, so it shouldn’t cause a problem with the washer.

  24. Can I use this detergent for all kinds of clothes like delicates or hand washables?
    I found thisso I was wondering if any of these ingredients are too harsh or just not needed…although well I have been using chemical loaded detergents until now so….just curious…
    Fine washables laundry detergent – Combine 1 ounce liquid castile soap with 1 cup of rosemary infusion (or 3 drops of rosemary essential oil).

  25. My detergent won’t stay mixed. It works great! I just have to shake before I use it each time and was just wondering if this is normal?

    • Unfortunately, yes, since there is no chemical agent that keeps it the same consistency. I’m playing around with a natural way to keep it mixed,but so far, nothing has worked really well. I’ll definitely update if I find some way to keep it smooth!

      • Thank-you

      • I think I might try Rosemary leaf extract to emulsify the solution. Also smells good.

  26. I just want to tell you that I really like your blog! I’ve been reading a lot of homemade/ natural blogs and yours is one of the best! I recently  made my own powdered detergent and it is the best detergent I’ve ever used!! I really like your comment on borax, I saw a comment similar to that, but the scary “Don’t use this or it’ll kill your family” type comment, and it made me freak a little because I’m preggo and have a 2 year old! But after a lot of research I found out that you would have to eat it, everyday… for a few months to see the effects they were talking about.  I don’t plan on eating it, or making anything with it that my children would play with (I recently saw a recipe for slime) so I think we’re good! And as far as it being a pesticide/ herbicide, I have lots of things in my house that can kill bugs and plants.. vinegar, cinnamon, a jar, salt, my foot.. it’s all about using it responsibly. My hubby and son also have eczema and so far haven’t had any reactions to anything that has been washed in the homemade detergent. Next step dryer balls!

    • Excellent points! so glad you like your own detergent! Thanks for reading

  27. I finally was able to make a batch of this stuff yesterday, and after letting it set overnight last night I stirred it real good (lovely congealed mess this morning lol) and bottled it up. I tried it out on the dirtiest/smelliest laundry load (cloth diapers!!!) today and it worked better than the Seventh Generation detergent I was using. THANK YOU!!! 🙂

  28. Katie, this is a great recipe!!  I can’t wait to try.  But here’s my issue, I don’t have a 5 gallon jug to make in or 5-1 gallon ones to store the final product.  I was thinking “concentrate”.  Is this at all possible?  Maybe I could use 1 gallon glass jar and combine it all in there and let it sit overnight and use it from there, 1 tablespoon per load???  Any advice on this? 🙂  Now that I think about it, I think I’ll cut the recipe in half and still make it in 1 gallon jar.  Yes? 🙂

    • That would work. YOu can omit a lot of the water and it will make a concentrate, but you really won’t need to use much at all in each load. Just make sure you add enough water that you don’t get a gel that won’t dissolve!

      • I am concerned about the septic tank……is this stuff going to plug it up? I used the recipe and got to use 1 gallon of the liquid…..stored the rest and it became like cement….could not re-liquefy it Had to throw the rest out. Am concerned about the tank……..

  29. I’m just curious if the liquid soap molds?

    • It will stay liquid if you use a liquid castille soap to begin with. If you use a bar soap, it will create a gel like soap…

    •  I think Chumphrey is asking if it gets moldy.

  30. I am disappointed. I really wanted to like this soap and have tried making both powder & liquid versions but my clothes haven’t been getting clean. I am wondering if I need to change something. We have really hard water and i think that makes a big difference. What can I do to make this get my clothes clean?

    • I agree. I like it though. I’ve been using half a cup of the homemade and half a cup of tide and it works great and still saves money 🙂

  31. I purchased my 5 gallon container at Walmart for $2.97, just in case you can’t find a free one. 🙂

  32. Will this work in “HE” machines? I know they say to only use “HE” detergents…

    • It is non-foaming, so it should be fine. I don’t have an HE personally, but several readers have tried this and had no trouble in their HEs

        • I just came across this post, but started making this very recipe a year ago and LOVED it. I have an HE machine and very hard water, and it took six months, but it did eventually gunk up my washer to the point that it was no longer effectively washing anything. I’ve heard of others using it with no problem, but just thought I’d give you a heads up! I’m still trying to find something else to use that I like as well as this – especially for my 18 month old who seems to be allergic to all detergents except this!

  33. Also, do you have a recipe for dish soap and/or soap that can be used in a dishwasher? Thanks!

  34. Does anyone know how to make lemon scrub hand wash? Or has anyone seen a recipe for it on wellness mama? It’s supposed to be a moisturizer, hand exfoliatant and wash. Please let me know. thank you so much.

    • 1/3 cup olive oil
      2/3 cup white sugar
      2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice
      + a pinch of lemon zest

      It keeps longer if you put it in the fridge!

  35. Katie,
    What is the measurement for the Sal Suds ?

  36. Wellness Mama I sure do love your blog! Thank you for all the great recipes. I was wondering if you can make this laundry detergent without the ingredient borax?

  37. I made this soap with just washing soda, Dr. Bronner’s liquid castille soap, and a touch of baking soda, and after one test run in a load of laundry, I love it! I stored some in a laundry soap bottle and I was wondering if I need to shake it before each use. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  38. just wondering how much sal suds and how much liquid castille soap to add as the optional ingredients.

  39. Can you use liquid castile soap or does it always have to be from a bar?

  40. How much of the optional ingredients do you use?

  41. Do you have any recipes for homemade dryer sheets?

  42. I’ve been using this soap for months and I’m in love! It’s been almost five months and I have about half of my mixture left. BEAUTIFUL.

    I’m wondering if any of you put vinegar in during the rinse cycle? I’ve heard of this but I’m not entirely sure of it’s purpose or if the vinegar scent would remain on my clothes?

    • The vinegar acts as a fabric softener and the smell doesn’t remain in the clothes.

    • White vinegar is all I have used for over a year. It works great and helps with any lingering odor.

  43. My husband works in the HVAC industry and does a lot of recreational work on cars. In other words, his clothes are greasy and dirty beyond repair. I just want to throw them away every time he wears them! I saw that you said Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds is good for grease… How much would you recommend for normal clothes and how much would you recommend for my husband’s incredibly dirty clothes? Maybe I could put an extra shot of it when I wash his clothes? Thanks! You’re blog is great!

    • A friend of mine adds up to 1/4 cup per load for really tough stains. I usually just add about a table spoon though

      • Let me rephrase this..
        You can add 1 table spoon up to 1/4 cup per load
        So this isn’t something that you add to the actual recipe? If you can add it to the recipe how much?

        • You can add directly to the recipe by adding about 2 cups to the finished recipe, but I’ve found that it is more effective to add alone to the loads.

  44. I have made this version of the laundry soap from Budget101 blog (http://www.budget101.com/myo-household-items/whipped-cream-super-laundry-soap-3993.html) – I substitute Dr. Bronner’s bar soap for the Fels Naptha, though. Do you think the concentration of the Borax in this version is a concern? I have a 4.5 month old baby and I do use this soap on her items, as well. I am not familiar with the data on Borax safety.

    Thanks for any info you have!

    • I have used this for years. I also have a 7 year old and a 2 year old. I’ve never had any issues with it but like any detergent, you should watch out for any signs of a reaction when changing.

  45. Thanks for the recipe. I would like to know How much of the optional ingredients do you use?

  46. Just tried the liquid version with feels instead of Bronners. I’m noticing some spots that look like oily spots. They look wet even though they are dry. I can’t say it’s from this but I did just notice it on my clothes and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there before. Any ideas? I have hard water so I added a touch more of each powder as you suggested. Thank you!!

    • Felz naphtha is what I meant. Sorry!

  47. You say after the overnight part to put into other containers; is this actually necessary?

    • I dont know for sure but I think it sets better. I didnt close the lid like it says too and mine set pretty well. When you stir it the next day, it is real thick on top but the more you stir, the thinner it gets.

  48. I’m considering adding both liquid Castile and sal suds to the original ingredients. If adding to the 5 gallon batch, how much of each do you think is safe for a front loader? Also, how much EOs do you add to actually give the laundry a scent? Thanks!

    • I would add 1 cup of the sal suds and 1/2 cup of the dr bronners. As for the EO, I would skip that and use distilled white vinegar as a fabric softener and add 3-4 drops of EO to it for scent. You would need more than a bottle to add to 5 gallons to get enough of a scent.

  49. I just made this for the first time a couple days ago. I did a few things different to the liquid batch which may help some people. I added 1/2 cup more washing soda and borax and less liquid. I only added 4 gallons instead of the 4.5. This was pushing the rim of the bucket and I had yet to add the 2 quarts of water with soap. I used a almond soap which I will not use again, I will use the fels naptha. Bar soap doesnt clean as well. I did not close the lid because it traps moisture and doesnt allow the liquid to evaporate properly which is why some people may have more runny batches. I left the lid on, but only half way on to keep dust from getting in it….and toys and mini hands, you know…the usual. My liquid batch was very thick on top after setting overnight but once you stir it, it does thin out and become chunky. I added Downy to my detergent to boost the smell. When I do the powder, I am going to add the purex crystals and baking soda. I dont think it cleans as well as tide or gain, but it does do it’s job. I suggest keeping a name brand detergent around the house for those really dirty kids clothes. I found that this detergent doesnt get the dirt and food out of clothes as well as the other detergents and lets face it, if you think moms like me have time to take Shout to all my clothes and soak them before I wash them, I dont. So, my take on this detergent is that it works great but you have to get the feel of it and figure out what works for you.

  50. I made the liquid laundry soap today, but I’m not sure how much a ‘cup’ is. I put in 125 g each of borax and washing soda and I’m hoping this will be okay! Please could you give me some indication of the weight of a ‘cup’ – grams or ounces is okay – I may have to add some more.

    Thank you for your amazing website. I found it about a month ago and have started making my own cleaning products and toothpaste from your recipes and they all work brilliantly! It’s not always so easy to get the products in the UK (e.g. no borax on the supermarket shelves), but thank goodness for the Internet.

    • 1 cup = 8oz

      • Thank you, Stephanie.

  51. Great recipe! I love your blog! Just wanted to know how much of the optional ingredients you are adding.

  52. I would love to try this recipe as well but would like to know what measurements to use for the 3 optional ingredients you mention in your recipe before I do. Sal Suds, Liquid Castille Soap and Essential Oils.

    Thank you!!

  53. Hi Katie,
    I was just wondering how much of the optional ingredients I am supposed to use? I wanted to add all of them, and bought all of them, but I wasn’t sure how much of the sal suds, liquid soap, and
    essential oils to add. Thanks!

  54. I made the liquid laundry soap and it was chunky & slimy so I added a 1/4 cup more of both the borax and washing soda and a few tablespoons of baking soda then I mixed it with a mixer attachment for a drill and after a while it was not chunky or slimy. I am thinking that for those who are saying it’s chunky or slimy that its not mixed enough. And can this same detergent be used to wash dishes? I think its almost the same recipe.

  55. I kept it simple and made it dry. It was so much easier to make, use and store. I used the “S” blade of my cuisinart to grate the soap and processed the other 2 ingredients to the soap to make it powdery. I use 1 T. Per load. So far, so good.
    Love you Wellness Mama for this great idea!

    • I’m glad you like it! Thanks for reading!

  56. Im going to try this recipe for the first time. I wanted to add a scented oil to it but Im not sure how much to add to the mixture. Which oil ( if you use any) would u recommend?

  57. We currently use commercial laundry detergent and use baking soda and vinegar instead of softener. I’m planning to make this recipe with Ivory soap but was wondering if a fabric softener could be added to the mix. Could you add vinegar to your recipe as a grease cutter and softener? If not, what would you recommend?
    Thank you in advance for your comment and suggestions and thank you for a great site!

    • I was also wondering if you could use vinegar as a fabric softener (if needed). I believe I read Castile soap and vinegar form white flakes. Also, someone above mention the long term effects of the detergent with a washing machine. Have you had any problems?

  58. can you please tell me how much essential oil to put into your liquid laundry detergent recipe to fragrance it well.

  59. Hello! Could you please tell me what essential oils your like best for this soap? Thanks so much

  60. The “optional ingredients” provided in your ingredients list – are these ingredients to be added along with the standard ingredients listed, or to be used in place of the standard ingredients?

    Is it going overboard, to combine all the standard ingredients and the “optional ingredients” together into one batch? If ok to combine all ingredients, what should the proportions of all the ingredients be?

    Thanks ahead of time, for your advice.

  61. what would the measurements be if using a liquid soap instead of bar soap and no borax?

  62. I’m a newbie at this so I probably have a silly question. Can I use a regular sauce pan that I cook with or do I need to use a dedicated sauce pan? I guess I’m wondering if the melting process will affect the pot in any way. I know it’s just soap and it seems reasonable that it would just rinse out but I want to make sure before I use one of my cooking pans. Thank you. 🙂

  63. I have made homemade soap and it works great. I added lavender scent essential oils and love it. I have a front loader and I do everything the normal way. I haven’t had a problem yet after 2 yrs. I do the normal maintanance recommended by manufacture.

  64. Thank you for sharing the recipe. I find myself smiling when I walk past the $17 dollar tide detergent at Walmart. I would appreciate suggestions to get out oily stains left behind from things like men’s deoderant. My husband’s white undershirts are looking dingy and honestly I’m tired of buying new undershirts all the time.

  65. Katie, I thought I would share my results in case anyone had the same concerns that I did.

    I have used this for a couple of months now. I wanted to try it for a long time, but was concerned about the effect on my HE washer and septic system. I also have extremely hard water. Even with a softener system, there is a lot of iron and calcium in the water.

    I made the recipe but used about 4 gallons total of water. I was afraid of spilling it all over if I used more. I use 1/2 cup in the washer. I used fels-naptha, because with hard water, I figured the best bet was to use a laundry bar. Castille soap tended to leave a sticky film when I tried to use it in other homemade cleaning concoctions. Fels-naptha has a strong fragrance but doesn’t leave it in the clothes. I may try white Zote soap next time because it has a milder fragrance (remind me of Ivory soap.)

    It works pretty well but I did find that my whites came out looking as dirty as when they went in. I went back to commercial detergent for whites. I did notice that some of the really dirty/muddy stuff didn’t come all that clean so if I have some really muddy clothes, I use unscented detergent. I would say that I wash about 3/4’s of the laundry with the homemade detergent.

    I did see some build up inside my washer and on the door. Soap reacts with calcium and magnesium in hard water which results in “soap scum.” It came off the glass door with white vinegar and seems to be gone from the drum after I ran the maintenance cycle.

    I would also mention not to not worry about the homemade stuff separating. Commercial detergents have added chemicals to prevent this. Next time I make it, I will make sure to leave some room to shake it up when I put it in the gallon jugs.

    A word about my least favorite topic. Septic systems. I have a contract for my septic system where it is checked twice a year. Mine has a filter system. I was advised to avoid powdered detergent when we had it installed to avoid clogging the filters. Every couple of years we need the filters changed and it is not cheap (about 300 dollars). I just had it done this past summer so if I need them changed this coming summer, I will be switching back to commercial detergents. I have never needed the filters changed in consecutive years and I am doing less laundry since my oldest went to college this fall. Septic systems cost a fortune to install and maintain so if soap instead of detergent is a problem, it makes no sense to use it in my case. Also, the overall cost of a septic system in this area has skyrocketed in the last several years. If I had to replace the whole thing, I would be lucky to get it done for less than 20 thousand dollars and some are as much as 40 thousand dollars. You don’t get to pick a system, the health department tells you what you need. In short, anything that decreases the life of the septic system gets a thumbs way down around here. I have had to replace 2 septic systems. One in a house we were selling in another state and again about 4 months later in a house we moved into. I was lucky (although it sure as heck didn’t seem like it at the time) to have done this before the requirements changed in the state I now live in.

    To conclude, I really like the homemade laundry detergent. It saves a ton of money and works well on most laundry. It is excellent at removing odors and leaves no fragrance behind, which is a big plus for me, since many fragrances make me queasy and few actually trigger migraine headaches in my case.

    • I would love an update! How is your septic system doing with this soap?

  66. I’m really looking for a DIY, natural laundry soap that I can use on everything including cloth diapers. Do you have experience in using this with CDs as well? Also, what are your thoughts on using BORAX as an ingredient? I have been wanting to try multiple recipes, but I don’t feel confident in that ingredient. It is rated as an F on EWG’s guide to healthy cleaning:(

  67. I love this recipe. I’ve been using it for about 6 months. I’ve had a couple of issues, though. 1) I’ve found I need to use a half cup for a small load, one cup for average & one & a half for large. 2) I’ve found that I must shake it up every time I use it, because it tends to separate. But today, I watched the video tutorial & realized I’ve been putting the soap in before I heat the pot. I’ll do it different today. ALSO: You mentioned Dr Bronner’s liquid soap. How much of it would you suggest using in your recipe?

  68. I would love to use essential oils but I don’t know how many drops to use. I’m assuming you add them per half cup of detergent you use since a 5 gallon bucket is huge! Can you please tell me how you add your essential oils?

    • I typically add as I put in the laundry. You can just omit it if you don’t want to use it though.

  69. why is myn not thickning?

  70. Did you leave it overnight to cool down? Mine looks watery until the next morning when it is thick enough to stand a long wooden spoon in it. Then, I have to stir the heck out of it until it is thin enough to put into jugs.

  71. How much of Sal Suds or “optional” ingredients do I use in this recipe? Do I use Sal suds instead of the Bar Soap. Does this recipe leave a residue on the clothes and is it color safe? I am having a hard time with the soap I use now not only lighting my darker clothes, but they feel really starchy and hard, and I do use a lot of vinegar in the rinse cycle.

  72. I was wondering if you can add vinegar to a load or if it has an adverse or canceling affect?

    • I believe that adding vinegar with the soap at the same time does have a negative effect. I know that I read that somewhere but whether it was here or someplace else, I can’t remember.

  73. I have just read through all the comments and replies, I’m still confused about what to substitute the dr bronner’s castille soap for. In the directions, you say you can substitute it for the borax and in one of the comments, you mention you can substitute it for the bar soap. I’m super excited about this recipe, but want to make sure I’m not adding too much soap.

  74. How much Liquid Castille Soap is recommended?

  75. Would the liquid laundry soap recipe work if I used Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap instead of the bar? If so, how much would I need?

  76. Dear Katie,
    Please let us know how much of the optional ingredients… The sal soap and liquid Castile. I have read through ALL the comments and found one person responding with 1 cup sal suds and 1/2 cup liquid Castile but what do YOU use?
    Thanks for a wonderful blog!!

    • I use about 1 cup sal suds (for an extra strong detergent) and don’t always add the liquid castille, but when I do, I add about a tablespoon directly to the load, especially with the scented liquid castile, since this gives a light scent to the clean laundry.

  77. I LOVE this recipe and have been using it for well over a year. However, I cannot get my whites clean! I saw on another post (HE laundry detergent) you use an oxy booster. Any recommendations on when to add that to the liquid? Should I just put it in the “bleach” compartment of my washer? I have an HE washer.

    Thank you!!! Love your site and use MANY recipes! 🙂

    • You can just add the oxy bosster to the wash load directly or to the bleach container 🙂

  78. Katie, I noticed that this recipe is very similar to your All-Purpose Cleaner recipe, with some variations in proportion. It would be amazing if I could use the laundry recipe for both. This comes out to 1.33 tsp of Borax and washing soda (each) per quart of solution, while the cleaner recipe calls for 1 tsp Borax and 1/2 tsp washing soda per quart. Could I use a portion of the laundry soap as is for an All-Purpose Cleaner or would you recommend diluting it (or otherwise altering it) to be closer to your All-Purpose recipe?

  79. Is this safe to use with a septic system?

  80. Yes. I have been using it for about a year. I started after having a bunch of routine work done on my septic system (filter change, pumped out-all the fun$$$ stuff). After the last routine check a month or so ago, I asked the guy who checked it how it looked because I had changed laundry soap. He said everything looked good. I had my septic system replaced about 15 years ago and sometimes after looking in there, the guys have asked me if I changed detergents because of what was going on. We have a contract where they check it twice a year and let me know what needs to be done and it covers labor when something breaks.

    So, to make a long story short, it works great with the septic system.

  81. I have made my own laundry soap for years and I love it! However, I only use 1/2 cup borax. And I store it (as much that will fit at a time) in a 3 gallon beverage dispenser on top of my dryer. Works perfectly! And when I need more, pour more in!


  83. So I’ve tinkered with all of the laundry soap recipes on WM and a few other sights and the way I do it is: fill up my electric tea kettle to the max (which is 4 liquid cups from a large Pyrex 4 cup measuring cup.) And bring to a boil while I measure out 1 cup rack of washing soda and borax (you’re free to use something other than borax) into a 10qt container. I pour the boiling water over the 2 soaps, stir and let it sit for 30 minutes. I then put enough ice to reach the 2 cup mark and then fill with water until the water line with the ice is at 2 cups. I pour that into my 2 soap mixture and stir until all the ice is melted. Then I add 1 dry cup measure of Dr Bonner’s Baby Liquid soap and use my hand mixer to mix until it becomes the consistency of mayonnaise. It’s the strength of a laundry pod so you only need 1 tablespoon or ¼ of a cup for heavy soiled laundry. To make it liquid instead of pod like gel, add 2 tablespoons of rocked sea salt or pink Himalayan salt in rock form. This makes the water soft and it will not make an emulsion that’s saucy, but a pour-able liquid. Either way works wonders. I get hives from everything, even Dreft and soap nuts aren’t economical for my family. Thought I would share. Hope this clears up the bar soap vs liquid soap question I see everywhere.

  84. Hi, first thanks for posting these laundry detergent recipes. Two questions:

    1) Why not just use liquid soap instead of grating a soap bar? Is the issue price — as in liquid soap costs more than bar soap?

    2) Can these laundry detergent recipes be used in a cold water wash? That’s almost exclusively what I use to save on heating water and not wash out the color in our clothes. I would think that the washing soda would require hot water to be effective.

  85. Dear,
    i’m interesting your laundry detergent recipe, and i want to make liquid detergent laundry soap.
    where can buy Borax ?
    can i make detergent liquid soap with out Borax ?
    i have a small and new soap factory enterprise that’s why i’m asking you please

    waiting your reply

  86. Hey there!
    Sorry if you answered this already. I don’t have time to read through all of the comments. How much of the Sal Suds or Castille soap would you add? Thanks!

  87. Would this be safe to use on infant clothing? My daughter is 7 months old & am currently using Dreft. Live in a rural area, so I don’t have many choices to a healthier alternative.

  88. In my search to the best recipe for liquid laundry detergent i came across this page. I am from the Netherlands and also the Dutch like to make their own natural homemade laundry detergent. The Dutch recipes are almost the same, but your recipe uses a lot less soap. And i like to know why. 😉

    To compare and for me to understand i converted the US cups, -ounces and -gallons to grams and liters. I used an online conversion tool – volume/weight based on the different ingredients. The Dutch recipes are without borax (not sold here), so i added an extra 1/2 cup washing soda as suggested by you.
    And now the differences and my confusion about the amount of soap used… 😉

    Your recipe:
    – 210 grams washing soda (1,5 cup)
    – 100 grams natural and organic soap (3,5 oz)
    – 17 liters water (4,5 gallon)

    Dutch recipes:
    – 205 grams washing soda (some recipes even less to zero soda)
    – 270 grams natural soap (Marius Fabre Savon de Marseille à l’huile d’olive)
    – 17 liters water

    More than 2,5x the amount of soap in the Dutch recipes i found. I wonder why? Is there a special reason you use so much less soap?
    Thank you in advance, and if i missed something, misread or my conversion went all wrong, i apologize and you may remove my comment.

  89. Re: Liquid Coconut Oil laundry soap

    I made your 1% coconut oil soap and then I used your recipe to
    make liquid laundry soap,
    The recipe called 4 bars @4.5 oz each. Grade each bar and add
    to water and warm on stove till melted.
    This is where I don’t what else goes into the recipe.

    Please help its a great laundry soap.

    Thank Lynette


  90. Hi there! I own my own bath company and was testing this out to see if it would be good to sell in my store. When I made it and added my fragrance oils in however, it started to separate and some of the mixture started to settle to the bottom. Is there a way to prevent this from your experience or something I’ve done wrong? If this is jus the way it is then No problem! I can just add a “Shake well” tag to my bottles for my customers.

    Thanks so much!

  91. Great site…I just found it for the first time! I didn’t have time to read all the comments, so I don’t know if this easy-to-mix method has been mentioned. I’ve been using the washing soda/Borax Booster/ground Fels Naptha bar formula for several years after my daughter introduced me to it. It works very well, and it’s very low-cost. I just mix the three ingredients (1 cup of each–or 2 if making a double batch) in a large jar and don’t add any liquid–I just store it dry in the jar. When washing I scoop 1 to 2 tablespoons into the water as my machine fills. It all dissolves well, there isn’t any odor in the clothes, and it cleans as well as any store product. The jar doesn’t take up much space, and there isn’t any pouring mess, nor any shaking before using. Why go through all the extra work when it really isn’t necessary? I will be perusing the WM site for more great, natural ideas.

  92. Could you just make the 2 quarts soap mixture & use it like a concentrate instead of adding it to the other 4.5 quarts of water?

  93. I love this recipe, I use my own 100% coconut soap, however, I only used 6 cups of just boiled very hot water, dissolve graded soap, add Borax, stir to dissolve, add washing soda, stir to dissolve, allow to cool all the way, it will be a very hard thick gel. Whip with a stick blender and place in 2 quart size jars or a plastic storage container tub. Only use 1 tablespoon per load. No need for any big buckets and this stuff works amazing! Much more space saving.

  94. Hi , your liquid laundry receipe is similar to one I make , but I’m interested in the quantities for the optional ingredients , dr bronners liquid castile soap and sal suds . How much of these do we add to the original receipe please

    • I like to add 1/2 cup of Sal Suds for a really heavy duty soap, and it can also be used directly on really tough stains.

  95. Is there any material that shouldn’t be washed with this recipe? Someone mention their spandex deteriorating because of it…? Anybody experience the same thing? Does it wear out Jeans cotton polyester

  96. Will this work in cold water? I don’t have hot water to my laundry right now.

  97. Hello,
    How much of each of the optional ingredients do I add to mixture? Thank you for all the great recipes that you share.:)

    • I usually add just a few drops, or whatever your preference 🙂

  98. Hello again,
    How many drops of essential oil do I put in this 5 gallon bucket? I made this before and I put in 60 drops of lemon and nobody can smell the lemon. Thanks again!!

  99. Regarding the bar soap, which of these 2 make for a better laundry detergent: original Castile soap (just olive oil, lye and water), or Dr. Bronner’s bar soap (with more oils and additional ingredients)? Thanks!

  100. Looking forward to trying this…but do I need to heat up the soap if I choose to use the liquid instead of the bar?, or just mix and stir??

  101. Quick question!! I am making it now and I wanted to make less amount. Would you be able to give me measurements for one gallon of laundry liquid soap instead??

  102. How much Sal Suds would you use if substituting it for the bar soap? I’m not concerned about losing the thickness. Thanks!

    • About 1/2 cup for regular and 1 cup for heavy duty (and then use the same amount per load)