How to Make Laundry Soap (Liquid or Powder Recipe)

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Liquid or Powder Natural Laundry Detergent
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Making your own natural, homemade laundry detergent is one of the easiest parts of a transition to natural living. This natural laundry soap recipe a great way to save money on laundry detergent and is incredibly easy to make. This homemade laundry detergent post is an updated version of this recipe that addresses high efficiency washers and borax safety.

Why Switch to Natural Laundry Soap?

Conventional laundry detergent is loaded with chemicals like sulfates, fragrances, phenols and more. Many brands contain things like petroleum distillates, which are linked to cancer and lung disease. Fragrances in these detergents are made of a mix of harmful chemicals. (This is also why I make my own linen spray.)

Luckily, making your own laundry soap is an easy and fast process! You only need three basic ingredients to make either a powdered or liquid laundry soap:

DIY Laundry Soap Ingredients

  • Washing Soda (Arm and Hammer Brand available at most stores)Borax Powder
  • Borax (20 Mule Team Borax available at most grocery stores)
  • Bar Soap (Dr. Bronner’s,  Ivory, or other natural, unscented bar soap)

Washing Soda and Borax should be available at your local grocery store on the laundry aisle. Natural bar soaps are in the health, beauty, or organic sections of the store, or online. You can also add a couple tablespoons of baking soda to help freshen clothes.

Wonder What’s in These Ingredients?

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral made up of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. It is an ingredient in most of the natural soaps available now (Seventh Generation, etc.) but it is much more inexpensive to make yourself. There are some concerns about the safety of Borax, but here’s why I feel comfortable using it, especially for laundry.

Washing Soda

Washing Soda, sometimes called sodium carbonate or soda ash, is made from common salt and limestone or found as natural deposits. If you can’t find this locally, you can make your own from plain baking soda with this tutorial. Here are some other great household uses for washing soda.

Dr. Bronner’s soaps are fair trade and made with vegetable castile soap and pure organic oils.

Liquid or Powder Natural Laundry Detergent
4.13 from 64 votes

Natural Laundry Soap Recipe

This homemade laundry detergent recipe is easy and very inexpensive to make, plus you avoid the chemicals of conventional detergents.
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Yield: 2.5 cups
Author: Katie Wells


  • 1 bar soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Bar Soap or homemade coconut oil soap)
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax


  • Grate the bar of soap or chop it in a food processor until finely ground.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the grated soap, washing soda, and borax.
  • Store in a sealed container.
  • To use: add 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup of soap per load of laundry.


See below for instructions on making a liquid version of this laundry soap.
Homemade liquid laundry soap recipe

How to Make Liquid Laundry Soap

  1. Grate one bar of soap with cheese grater or food processor.
  2. Put grated soap in pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.
  3. Put 4.5 gallons of really hot tap water in a 5-gallon bucket (available for free in bakeries at grocery stores, just ask them) and stir in 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of Washing Soda until completely dissolved.
  4. Pour soap mixture from pan into 5-gallon bucket. Stir well.
  5. Cover and leave overnight.
  6. Shake or stir until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers.
  7. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load.

These recipes are also a great way to save money on laundry. By my calculations, I am saving over half on my laundry bill by switching

A Note About Soap vs. Detergent

All Natural Laundry Soap Recipes - two ways

As mentioned above, there is chemically a difference between soap and detergent. The advantage of conventional laundry detergents is that they are formulated to work specifically in washing machine environments. Many soaps are designed for skin and are not as strong. Some sources suggest that over time, natural soaps can leave buildup in washers.

I’ve found that while this recipe works well for me, it isn’t suitable for all water types and washer types. If you’ve used natural laundry soap and experienced clothes getting dingy, this may be the reason.

I’ve found one natural detergent that works brilliantly and can be used alone or in combination with homemade laundry soaps like this one. I often add 2-3 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronners Sal Suds per load as a natural detergent. Sal Suds gets out tough stains and odors and is still a natural product (though technically a detergent/surfactant and not a soap).

Don’t Want to Make it?

Homemade Natural Effective Laundry Soap Recipe

We usually make our own detergent, but for times when we are traveling or I haven’t had time to make it, I’ve found a few good brands of eco friendly laundry detergent that actually work (all received an “A” by the Environmental Working Group):

  • My Green Fills Laundry Detergent – Just a warning… after you try this laundry soap, you may be ruined for DIY forever. This is the best smelling non-toxic laundry detergent I’ve tried and it works well on tough stains and dirt. Similar to my favorite all-purpose cleaner, a huge bonus is their eco-friendly approach. The detergent comes concentrated in a small refill packet (hence the name) which you add to warm water in the provided bottle. Super smart!
  • 2 tablespoons Sal Suds + 1/4 cup Baking Soda or Washing Soda (highly effective and super simple!)
  • Ecover Zero Laundry Detergent– Works well, relatively cost effective and low/no risk of developmental or reproductive toxicity and cancer according to the EWG.
  • Emma Eco Me Detergent – Also rated well by the EWG and cleans up to 64  loads for $12. Good scents.
  • Planet Natural Detergent –  Relatively eco-friendly and cost effective at $9 for 32 loads.

Obviously, the most frugal option is to make your own, but these natural alternatives are a good choice if you aren’t able to make your own or don’t want to.

Have you tried making your own laundry detergent? What ingredients did you use?

This homemade laundry detergent recipe is easy and very inexpensive to make, plus you avoid the chemicals of conventional detergents.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


898 responses to “How to Make Laundry Soap (Liquid or Powder Recipe)”

  1. Vickie Harding Avatar
    Vickie Harding

    I feel like the finished liquid laundry soap is a bit runny, did I do something wrong or is that what it is supposed to be like?

  2. Gilbert Avatar

    You should revisit the use of borax in your laundry detergent. Its toxic! I can tell you care about your followers, that’s why i reached out to you.
    Health issue

    Level of Concern

    May damage fertility.


    EU GHS Hazard Labeling Codes: GHS Hazard Codes
    May damage the unborn child.


    EU GHS Hazard Labeling Codes: GHS Hazard Codes
    Clear evidence of endocrine disruption in at least one animal study


    EU Endocrine: EU Endocrine Disrupters
    Causes dermatitis, skin allergy


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
    Causes respiratory irritation


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
    Causes skin irritation


    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards

  3. Lisa Avatar

    If using the Sal Suds, can it be added to the mix from the beginning or does it affect the mix?

  4. S Rose Avatar

    That’s a beautifully informative comment, as useful today as it was seven years ago. Thank you.

  5. paula mcwhirter-buck Avatar
    paula mcwhirter-buck

    I’ve used the liquid detergent recipe for years (Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap, washing soda, borax), puting that in the detergent despenser, and vinegar in the fabric softener despenser. It’s worked well.
    But I see now that I can use Sals Suds straight (YAY!! NO MORE MIXING STUFF UP).
    BUT…..when using JUST Sals Suds in the HE washing machine, would one put the Sals Suds in the detergent despenser (I assume) and then the washing soda in the booster despenser? Or would one put them together in the detergent despenser (sounds like a bit of a mess….but, hey….I’m trusting you).

    I love most all your recipes!!

  6. Steph Avatar

    5 stars
    Hi, I’m looking all over the comments for Borax alternatives and haven’t seen it. I moved to South America and it’s not easy to get Borax in the town I’m in. Help please!

    I made the liquid detergent recipe yearss ago and loved it and want to have a toxic free option where I am now.


  7. Akshay Gavai Avatar
    Akshay Gavai

    The Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds that you recommended contains Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. I’ve read before that this is not a good ingredient when used in skin care products. What do you think of its safety as a laundry detergent?

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      Sodium lauryl sulfate is really good at stripping away oil. That can be harmful to the natural protective oils on skin and hair, but a good thing when it comes to cleaning things like dishes and laundry.

  8. julie Avatar

    I just found this recipe. I’m going to make some. Can I use only half the amount of water to make it more concentrated, then use half the amount per load of clothes? Would that have any effect on the ability to clean? Thanks

  9. Bethany Ellis Avatar
    Bethany Ellis

    Hi, I realize this is an older post but I’m just finding it so I hope I can get an answer. The instructions for the liquid version say to stir in 2 cups borax and 2 cups washing soda to the 5 gallon bucket. This is how my children and I made it. Then I watched the video, and it said to only use 1 cup of each (as listed on the original powder recipe). Will it still be ok to use this? I hope so since we have a huge amount now.
    thank you!

  10. Mariah Rutherford Avatar
    Mariah Rutherford

    I was wondering if your recipe for liquid laundry detergent could be modified and made using Dr. Bonner’s liquid soap, or if the bar soap is necessary?

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      The bar is more concentrated and since it wasn’t tested with the liquid I’m not sure how much would be needed to substitute. I think the simplest option here is to just use the bar.

  11. Mindy Avatar

    Can I use liquid Castile soap for the liquid laundry detergent instead of a bar? I’m out of bars…

  12. Hayley Avatar

    Last time I made this I couldn’t mix it in the AM because it was so thick. I didnt use enough water because I have a 3.5 gallon bucket. Can you skip the leave overnight step and just jar up the liquid detergent and shake it the next day??

  13. Glory Avatar

    I have a question… Maybe I’m confused. For the powder detergent it says to use 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts borax and 1 part grated soap. And that you use 1 cup each of the WS and borax with 1 bar of soap. When I grate 1 bar of soap it comes out to about 1 cup. If I then used 1 cup each of the other 2 ingredients it would be 1 part each. Not 2 2 and 1. I’m just using a standard size bar soap. Thank you so much for all you do. I use so many of your recipes and love them!

    1. Abigail Avatar

      I have the same problem. One bar of dr bronners Castile soap equals almost 2 cups once I grate it. I’m just going to follow the 2-2-1 ratio and assume the soap she uses must be an exceptionally small bar of soap. For me, I’m using a whole bar of dr bronners (=about 2 cups), 4 cups washing soda and 4 cups borax. Hopefully that works – good luck with your ratios!

  14. Emily M Avatar
    Emily M

    Please highlight that this is not safe for high efficiency washing machines and add a disclaimer. I have used this recipe for about 2 years and I started getting dirt spots on my clothes. I ended up calling an appliance repairman who discovered scrud and told me scrud is due to not using a high efficiency detergent. He cleaned the washer the best he could but it destroyed my washer. Now I’m paying hundreds to replace my washer because I just didn’t realize this detergent was not suitable for high efficiency washers.

    1. Nancy Avatar

      I’ve been using this recipe (though at least half of the time I’ve left out the soap and added Soap Nut Liquid instead) with my high efficiency washing machine for years. Sometimes the interaction of water (hard/soft) and the cleaning solution may make a difference. We have a water softener, because our water is really hard. I’m sorry your machine was destroyed, according to the repair person. But in my experience, this recipe may not deserve the blame.

      1. Emily M Avatar
        Emily M

        Thanks for everyone’s feedback! I live in the city so could be that a water softener would help things, not sure how to detect exactly how hard my water is but that certainly could be a factor. I do see the disclaimer about high efficiency machines, I may have overlooked it when I initially got the recipe a few years ago, may not hurt to bold that or make the statement stand out for others. Thanks again for the replies!

  15. Regina Avatar

    Hi! I just made the recipe for liquid laundry soap.

    On the written recipe it says ” 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of Washing Soda”, however on the video says 1 cup of each, instead of 2.

    Which one is correct?

  16. Chantal Avatar

    Hi Katie,

    Would it work to mix the Sals Suds with washing soda and borax ahead of time so it’s ready to go? Do you know the ratios? Thanks!

  17. Christina Avatar

    DO I have to use borax? I use oxygen bleach plus (sodium carbonate) and pure virgin coconut oil I scented soap.

    1. Jackie Avatar

      Great recipe! Thanks!
      I went one step further & processed the combined ingredients through the food processor one last time. I thought it might increase the chance of equal distribution of ingredients. I also like the fine powder it created.
      Thanks for the helpful, safe & healthy tips, tricks, recipes & information!

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