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How To Make Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

by madaise · 54 comments

in Handmade Soap Recipes, How-to

(This recipe is for Liquid Laundry Soap. Here’s a Powdered Laundry Soap Tutorial.)

Have you ever wondered how easy it would be to make your own homemade liquid laundry soap? This recipe is not only easy, the cost is less than a few dollars per batch and each batch makes enough for 110 loads of laundry.


This liquid laundry soap works Great for High Efficiency washers as it’s not a super sudsy soap.

The ingredients you’ll need should be available at your local grocery stores or maybe big box stores.

1 cup – 20 Mule Team Borax
1/2 cup – Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 bar of ivory soap (I used my own handmade soap and part of a bar of castile)
Large clean bucket enough to hold 3 gallons of water easily – I used a 5 gallon bucket we acquired from a fast food restaurant – it used to be filled with bags of pickles.. we got it free.
Water
Essential Oil or Fragrance Oil (optional)
– 1/8 ounce to 1 ounce

The ingredients are simple enough. Should only cost maybe $10 if you are purchasing the boxes for the first time. The two boxes of powders will last you through several batches (or use to make powdered laundry soap, or even liquid hand soap).

First, shave your bar of soap using a peeler. I used 1/3 bar of castile and a 1/2 bar of handmade soap

Once your soap is in small pieces, place a pot on the stove big enough to hold 5 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil. When it begins to boil, lower heat to simmer and put the soap in the water. I covered with a lid and let it sit.

While your soap is melting, add 3 gallons of hot water to your bucket. For ease, I used a 2 qt pitcher to fill it.

To the hot water, add 1 cup of Borax and 1/2 cup of Washing Soda. Stir with long handled spoon until dissolved.

Add the melted soap water to the bucket and stir well. If you want to add any fragrance, add it now. Since I make soap, I have tons of fragrances around. I used one called Eucalyptus Thymes – I got from a place called Sweet Cakes (their eucalyptus is the best clean smell – not like medicinal eucalyptus). Or add essential oils. If you plan to make your soaps regularly and want it fragrances, I’d suggest finding a good soap/candle supply company (maybe one local to you?) and order it – it’s Much cheaper to order your essential oils and fragrances rather than purchase from the health food store or craft store.

How much Essential Oils or Fragrance oils:
I would say it’s up to you.. but somewhere between 1/4 ounce to a full ounce.. completely depending on your sensitivity, preferences and the scent. Remember, some scents are stronger than others and adjust accordingly.  You need less essential oils than fragrance oils.




Cover the bucket and set aside for 24 hours. Your soap may be watery or gel up in areas, may be slightly lumpy in areas. This is normal and nothing to worry about. Make sure to smoosh up the clumps when you add it to the washer. If you have smaller containers to put your in, it may be easier to handle – I have old detergent bottles and filled mine with my “new” soap. My soap is very watery – but very soapy.

This makes over 110 loads of liquid laundry soap – and you only need to use about a 1/2 cup.

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Kay June 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Hey, Momma, I’am just getting ready to make a batch of your laundry soap.I will sure. let you know how it works, This is my first time for this. Thanks, Kay

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Carolyn July 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

Hi, I am getting ready to make your laundry detergent. How much essential oil am I to use in order to have fresh smelling clothes? Thanks a bunch! BTW – my husband’s neice makes your soap and loves it. She told me that stains are a thing of the past in her family.

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Judi / Momma Muse July 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm

I used a tablespoon or so (if I remember correctly)… that sounds like lot and it likely is, but I wanted the clothes to smell even after washing… But the clothes still don’t smell. I have store bought fabric sheets… but I was thinking of getting liquid and rather than putting it in the wash with the clothes, put it on a wash cloth and throw in the dryer. It works well and the bottle with last forever. Or, maybe I should see about a homemade softener. I do use vinegar in the wash too.

I’m glad your husbands niece likes the soap – it is really good for stains.

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Julia August 5, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I have a question..I have never made soap, or detergent and am curious to know if it will brighten, whiten and get out stains the way a store bought detergent will? I would like this answered first before I try to make the detergent. Thank you.

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Judi / Momma Muse August 5, 2010 at 10:58 pm

Julia ~ I can certainly understand your concern. If you want, add a 1/4 c. of Oxygen Bleach to the recipe – it’s safe to use on just about any fabric and colors (it works slower than chlorine bleach. Here’s what about.com says about it:

Oxygen-based or All-Fabric Bleach works more slowly than chlorine bleach and contains sodium perborate, sodium precarbonate or hydrogen peroxide. It is safe for use on almost all washable fabrics and colors.

When this bleach is used in the wash, the chemical ingredient oxidizes to help remove soil and organic matter brightening the fabric and removing stains.

It’s not very costly to make. You could try a batch, and if you don’t like the way things turn out, use it for old play /work / gardening clothes or rags.. Or add a little regular bleach with your laundry.

For a “stain remover”, I pre-treat just using a bar of my handmade soap – it’s awesome for getting stains out. If you don’t want to make soap and don’t know where to get any locally – you could probably find “Kiss My Face” at the store… or look for bar soap. The key word being SOAP. If it doesn’t say SOAP, it isn’t real soap. Anyway, my bar soap will even get splattered grease and melted butter out of clothing.

Hope this helps you make a decision.

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Beth July 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I used the oxi clean with it and it foamed up and ran over my pan. Has anyone else tried this?

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madaise August 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm

I would add the oxi clean to the mixture after you’ve added the extra water.. at the very end.

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Veronica November 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

This is great advice, Laundry detergent is so expensive now and include some harsh chemicals. I like simple ingredients.

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jenn @ t1 service January 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Wow, that’s a pretty awesome way to save money! Apart from the 24 hour cure time, what’s the total prep time? I have a feeling I might be way too lazy to try this.

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sandi February 18, 2011 at 8:28 pm

This is awesome. How do you make powdered laundry soap. What is the recipe? Thanks!!!

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MaryLea @ pink and green mama February 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm

This is great thank you so much! I also have a High Efficiency machine and dind’t know how to make liquid soap for it!! Thank you!

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Rusty - Camping Crossroads April 4, 2011 at 10:04 am

Great post – I’ve never tried making soap or laundry detergent but it looks easy enough, plus it gives you the option of adding whatever scent you like. I’ll have to check out your handmade soap post too it sounds like great stuff – gets out butter even, wow! :)

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Dorris April 7, 2011 at 9:47 pm

I made my first batch of LIQUID laundry soap. But after it set for 24 hrs. it has to be spooned out. It is like a very stiff jello. What did I do wrong?

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Judi / Momma Muse April 7, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Honestly, Dorris, you probably did nothing wrong. Mine never really set up at all.. it turned out very watery. I just use a little extra if I think a particular load needs it. It’s suppose to be a little thick, I think like jello – but stiff jello might be hard to dissolve.

If it doesn’t feel like it will dissolve in the wash, you could try adding some hot water to your batch and see if that thins it out some. I’d like to hear what you do with it and how it turns out…

Next time I make it, I’m planning to use my own homemade soap. I really need to get some made soon. I think we’re using slivers of what’s left of all my soap.

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Annie April 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Thank you for this – Liquid hand soap is usually quite expensive – this is a great easy and cheap alternative. Thanks again!

Annie

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Cheryl Therrien June 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Dear Momma,

I am going to make your liquid laundry soap. How much should I use for an average load in an average sized top loading washer -and should the Ivory and Castille bars be small or large?

Thanks

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Judi / Momma Muse June 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Hi Cheryl, I know, lots of information all at one time. Just for future reference though, the amount it makes and how much to use per load are at the bottom of the article. But for ease right now, you only need about 1/2 cup.

My recipe turned out very liquid-y.. and not thick at all, so sometimes I do use a little more than that. YMMV

As for bar size.. I used my own soap bar and it was about a 5 oz bar. I used 1/2 or a little more. I think I’ve only seen one size of castile at the store, but I’d suggest using about a 1/3 – 1/2 bar of that.. maybe 2 or 3 ounces, roughly.

Just like with any recipe, don’t feel that you must use everything to the exact. It’s ok to guesstimate a little, so don’t sweat it. :)

If you have more questions, please let me know.

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katie June 25, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Hey: Why only use portion of castille soap, How much of shaved soap altogether around a cup? Also as an alternative “oxygen” can you add hydrogen peroxide to recipe, if so how much? Would that be ok for both colors and whites. Do you put the vinegar in the fabric softener section? Should we add EO to that too in order to retain smell after wash? This is a great site. Thanks for the insight

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Julia F. July 4, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Hi, I just read everything you made and I am planning to make my own detergent this week. Wish me good luck.

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Judi / Momma Muse July 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Did you get around to making your own laundry soap? If so, how’d it turn out? Did you like it, or not?

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Melinda July 12, 2011 at 11:28 am

Hi there, I am allergic to Ivory soap. So is there any other kind of soap that i can use? I’m also wondering how well this “new” detergent cleans? What I’m asking is, is it as well or better than the national brands that I already buy?

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Judi / Momma Muse July 12, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Hi Melinda – Well, it’s the difference of using a laundry soap – which you know and understand the ingredients, rather than using a detergent, which contains harsh chemicals that may cause allergies or other issues down the road.

It is, of course, up to you. It is much easier to just buy a detergent from the store, than to make up your own, so time is definitely a factor. But in this day and age many, many people are concerned with the chemicals all around us, and what those chemicals will ultimately do to our bodies.

As for an ivory soap alternative, you can use any real soap (not a moisturizing bar, or deodorant bar, but real soap). I use my own handmade soap (as I mentioned in the above recipe). If you want to try making handmade soap yourself, I do have instructions for making crock pot handmade soap. And any of my soap recipes can be used in the crockpot.

As for how well handmade soap, or homemade laundry soap works, I think it works great as do many others. I do use my own bars of handmade soap to pre-treat stains.

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Sharon August 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Made a batch and I am loving it! It did solidify to a gel consistency overnight but I just used a long handled wisk to break it up.

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Carie August 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Making my second batch of homeade liquid laundry soap today. First batch was great. Think my clothes are whiter using this. Even my husbands work clothes do very well coming clean.
Thanks for the information and sharing your experiences. I found another frugal way to replace fabric softner sheets and save.
I cut up some old tshirts into strips, placed in 1 qt mason jar with wide mouth and poured liquid fabric softener over them til wet. I did it in layers. I used very little softener. Just throw one strip in dryer with clothes and them place back in jar to dampen again for next load. Working great and cost effective.

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Judi / Momma Muse August 18, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Carie – I’m glad it works for you! That’s awesome. And thanks for the idea about using liquid fabric softener on tshirt strips. I used to do this on old wash clothes – but I just got the rag semi-wet.. didn’t put them in a mason jar. Sounds like a great idea!

fyi, vinegar should help soften laundry too.

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Crystal August 18, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I am going to try to make this soap……is there a reason that you use ivory?? Could you use any bar soap?? And I am curious to know if anyone had problems using this in their He washers…….. I am going to try to get some fragrance as well…..what have people used and had good luck with making their laundry smell nice?? (And how much do you use?) My husband has a job where he works outside daily and I want his clothes to retain a good smell for as long as possible……thanks for all the help

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Judi / Momma Muse August 18, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Hi Crystal… I know there is a lot of information in the post, but I think your questions are answered through out it.. maybe take a minute to read it (again)?

And just for clarification… I say in the post that I used my own handmade soap, rather than ivory. 1) it was already scented, 2) it’s handmade and I know what’s in it. You could use other soap if you wanted, just make sure you are using real soap (just because it’s shaped like a bar of soap does not make it soap). You don’t want to use deodorant bars, moisturizing bars, body wash bars – none of those are actually soap.

I have an He washer – and like I wrote, it works great in it, as it’s not super sudsy (which is one of the issues with some detergents).

Good luck!

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Crystal August 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I made this detergent and the only thing I take issue with is that adding fragrance to it doesn’t seem to make a difference……I even added a little more than suggested……I would like the clothes to remain “smelly” (in a good way) after washing……any suggestions??

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Judi / Momma Muse August 29, 2011 at 8:57 pm

First, how much did you use? You say you even added a little more than suggested.. but I didn’t list an amount to use. When did you add the fragrance and what did you use? All these play a factor in the end result.

1) If you added when the mixture was too hot, you could reduce the potency of the the fragrance – regardless of what type you use.
2) If you only added a few drops, that won’t be enough. Likely, you’ll need a few to several tablespoons.
3) Some fragrances will be stronger then others.

It might be that you just aren’t going to like it no matter what you do.. that’s ok. Or, it could be this recipe. Maybe search around for other recipes – I’m sure there are others out there. Try something different. Or, just use regular store-bought detergent and find a different area to use handmade — I just used a couple of my bars of soap to make dish soap (not dishwasher, but dish soap) today as I was out.. you might be able to compromise in other areas, and laundry detergent just isn’t one of them. That said, I’m not trying to discourage you from trying again. :)

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Meari September 8, 2011 at 5:04 pm

I think there’s something wrong with the math on this.

5 c. water = 80oz.
3 gallons water = 384oz.
Total = 464oz give/take of liquid soap at the end

Divide by 1/2 c. (8oz) = 58 loads.

How did you come up with 110.5 loads?

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Judi / Momma Muse September 10, 2011 at 11:29 am

@Meari – you may want to check your conversions again. 1c. = 8oz

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Meari September 10, 2011 at 11:43 am

Ooops. You’re right! I looked it up online the first time. I must’ve looked at something wrong. *blushes* So sorry!

I did make the soap, though, and used it on my sheets. They look and smell clean :) I didn’t have any essential oils, so it’s unscented which is fine with me.

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Judi / Momma Muse October 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I do that all the time Meari, My brain mixes things up… and then I type things backwards too. And I don’t even have the excuse of being dyslexic!

I wish my last batch had been unscented… I didn’t like the fragrance and I’ve been slow to use it up.

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Inge Simms September 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Hi,
I like your opinion on this recipe, please.
I have been making hot and cold soaps but not liquid ones yet. I need to use up tons of oils and wonder if I can make liquid soap with these oils and then use it for my home made laundry detergent instead of shredded soap bars? I know I have to use KOH for liquid soap.
Thanks
Inge

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Judi / Momma Muse October 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Inge – Making liquid soap has always been on my wishlist to do eventually. But I’ve never gotten around to it. It’s different enough from making bar soap that I wouldn’t be able to comment on any recipes. Good luck!

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Kim October 27, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Have made a couple of batches of soap and like the way it works. I am having a problem with leaks in jug. After it sets for day or two the jugs leak. I have been trying to use milk jugs. Help please.

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Judi / Momma Muse October 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Honestly Kim, I’d call around to a couple of the fast food places near you and see if you can get a couple (or one) of their 5 gallon jugs. I’ve always had that issue with milk jugs – I like to fill them up with tap water and use them to water the plants.. Or ask friends for their old detergent bottles and recycle/reuse!

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meagan January 2, 2012 at 2:28 am

Hi. I want to make a batch of this very soon and I was wondering if you think it would be okay to use Aveeno brand bar soap? The reason being both my kids have excema and are very sensitive to just about every laundry soap I have tried. Aveeno is one thing that does help their skin, so I’m wondering if it would be good for their skin in a laundry soap? If not, what would you recommend? Thanks for your help, I hope to have a batch made in the next day or so :)

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tira raines January 22, 2012 at 9:12 pm

how much essential oils do u add to this recipe for fragrance?

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Judi / Momma Muse January 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Good question! With this recipe I used about a tablespoon of fragrance oil. Since I’ve been making soaping for several years, I was use to using a bit more fragrance oil, whereas when using essential oils, you usually use less… up to 1/2 as much.

I would say it’s up to you.. but somewhere between 1/4 ounce to a full ounce.. completely depending on your sensitivity, preferences and the scent. Remember, some scents are stronger than others and adjust accordingly.

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Brittany April 2, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Hi mama
I’m making my own soaps now but don’t have the space to keep large quantities of it. Any ideas on breaking down the recipe to maybe a gallon size at a time???? Plse help and reply!!!

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grace combs April 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Could you use Lever 2000 original instead of Ivory?

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rick fernando June 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I did follow the instruction of making a liquid laundry soap but after 24 hrs.,I noticed there is water at the bottom. Is this normal?

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madaise June 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Yes, it sure is!

Cover the bucket and set aside for 24 hours. Your soap may be watery or gel up in areas, may be slightly lumpy in areas. This is normal and nothing to worry about. Make sure to smoosh up the clumps when you add it to the washer.

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Chrissy August 13, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for the recipe! I am getting ready to embark on my 1st batch after trying some of a friend’s batch (and being disgusted at the cost of safe/ natural products tithe store). Just wondering if you know if this is okay as baby laundry soap- especially for washing cloth diapers. The cloth diaper folks seem pretty particular about detergents but I suspect that is b/c of additives like softenersm fragrances etc. Any thoughts? Thanks again!

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madaise August 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Yes! Should be a good alternate soap for baby clothes too. :)

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Holly Vaughan October 10, 2012 at 1:45 am

I tried this recipe for my HE washer and it works great! It is so simple and i love how i can reuse those huge detergent containers instead of buying new ones.

Thanks Momma!

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Donna D November 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Thanks so much for the tips I’m trying it today!! Can’t wait to see how it works!!! Will let you guys know how it goes.

Thanks So Much!

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Donna D November 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm

I had one quick question I just made my first batch of liquid laundry soap and I was wondering if it was suppose to be really thin or did I do something wrong. I followed the reciepe to the T.

Thanks.

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madaise January 14, 2013 at 12:48 am

Mine turned out that way too. Then, parts of it is like chunks of slimy stuff. Just shake it well before you use it and it will be fine.

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MARY February 14, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Can this recipe be used in a front load washer like HE detergents? I am sooo ready to try this.

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madaise March 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Of course it can! My washer is a front loader.

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teri evans November 14, 2013 at 4:13 am

I’m planning on making the laundry soap tomorrow but was wondering if there is a way to add fabric softer to it?

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madaise November 14, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I don’t know if adding vinegar to it the soap itself would be ok, but you could add it to the wash water each time you put in a load.

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