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. Robin Avatar

    The box of borax says 1/2 cups per load in addition to a laundry detergent. Similar is found in the baking soda. How is 2TBSP-1/4 cup an effective powder amount?

  2. Debra Taylor Avatar
    Debra Taylor

    What amount of zote soap would I use if that’s all I had?

    1. Rebecca C Avatar
      Rebecca C

      When making the liquid version of laundry soap, is it possible to use liquid Dr Bronners instead of melting/dissolving grated bar soap? If yes, what would the measurement be of liquid Dr Bronners castile soap to replace the bar soap + water in the recipe?

  3. Kim Kordela Avatar
    Kim Kordela

    I’m shocked that you would recommend Sal Suds when the first ingredient is water and second ingredient Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. There must be better options that work.

    1. Merlinda pitulan Avatar
      Merlinda pitulan

      Hello everyone goodday and evening ‘ I am from Philippines ?? so hard for me finding by onzes most here goes by mL or cups so how many cup for borax and washing soda and baking soda if I’ll make my homemade soap laundry detergent soap thank you

  4. Jessica Avatar

    Can you use essential oils or anything to help clothes smell fresh? If so when would you add them and how much?
    That is my only negative to diy…being spoiled with the smells of conventional. We have been using your recipe for years now (thank you so much!!) so we will continue to pick “healthy” over “smelling good“ any day…But if there is a way to have both it would be great!

    1. Lyn Avatar

      Hi I use essential oils to good effect: My favourites are Lavender and Lemon or Lavender and Sweet Orange. 10-12 drops in total in a mix using double the above ingredients. I hope this helps 🙂

      1. Jessica Avatar

        Thank you so much! I will try that. Do you think it would work with homemade liquid laundry soap as well?

    2. Diane Mesiti Avatar
      Diane Mesiti

      I put about 10 to 20 drops in the dry ingredients after they are all mixed. I use cloves and orange.

  5. Esther Nyarinda Avatar
    Esther Nyarinda

    When using a cup to measure the amount of washing soda and borax used, what should be the volume of the cup being used?

  6. Virna Avatar

    Hi Everyone, is there a link to the specific rating of MyGreenfills on EWG? I could not find it. Thank you!

  7. William Johnson Avatar
    William Johnson

    Hello my wife and I want to make the powder laundry detergent, but we have a few questions. Generally will this recipe work with well water? Also you stated “In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts Borax and 1 part grated soap. I use 1 bar of grated soap and 1 cup each of washing soda and borax.” So 1 cup equals 2 parts? I’m guessing this would fit easily in a qt jar. So for a 1/2 gal jar the recipe would be 2 bar of soap, and 2 cup of each washing soda and borax? Thank you

    1. Lyn Avatar

      I used homemade laundry detergent with well water for 6 years. It works well.

  8. charleigh Avatar

    I made the Liquid laundry soap and I am excited to try it but it ended up super goopy and thick. Which agent causes the thickness? Because I will just add less of that ingredient next time.

  9. Darlene Avatar

    Please help. I mixed this up and it is lumpy and slimy. It will not get smooth even with lots of stirring. What did I do wrong? Thanks.

    1. Diane Mesiti Avatar
      Diane Mesiti

      I put about 10 to 20 drops in the dry ingredients after they are all mixed. I use cloves and orange.add some white vinegar.

  10. Sarah Avatar

    I’m all about saving money and living naturally, but I live with a guy who can be kind of stinky sometimes as he works in a very hot kitchen all day, will this work to unstink the clothes? For myself I would jump right in and experiment, but he’ll be pretty unhappy if I were to try it and out clothes still came out smelling.

  11. Jeni Avatar

    Hello, Has anyone made it with half of the water so that the detergent is 2x concentrated?

    1. Emily Avatar

      Hi Jeni! I’m considering trying this and wondering if you ended up trying it with success?

  12. SUZANNE Avatar

    Hi Katie,
    I’ve read many of your articles on your website. I am going to make the liquid version of your laundry soap. I have a question though.
    Amazon offers Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap in a liquid version. I need to know how much of this would go into the recipe versus the grated bar soap.

  13. Danidee Avatar

    Haven’t tried it yet but am in the process of of mixing it now ….was wondering if lemon juice can be added…….

  14. Yen Avatar

    When I make the homemade detergent. Do I use under cold or hot water

  15. Linda Avatar

    Hello. I find this very interesting and want to try this but I have a front loading washer and am concerned about residue. I also add vinegar to my prewash dispenser which helps my washer to eliminate odors. Have you any experience with this soap and front loads?

  16. Katebe Avatar

    Am happy for this article. You am interested in setting up a soap business so this will be of help

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