Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

Not sure why I picked today to make homemade laundry soap and natural hand soap (I will blog about that project soon). Sweet Baby has been sick and the last 4 nights have been some of the worst sleep in recent history.  I think I needed to feel like I was accomplishing something outside of soothing a sick baby. I also think the 5 swallows of leftover Starbucks coffee this normally non-coffee drinker had might have been to blame.

Ingredients

Half of a bar of Fels-Naptha

1 cup-Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)

1 cup-20 Mule Team Borax

2 gallons of water

 

Odds and Ends

Big pot OR small pot and bucket

Cheese grater

Big spoon for mixing

Funnel (if putting finished product in something with a small opening)

Old laundry soap containers, clean bucket with lid, jar, etc. Something that is shakeable would be easiest since this tends to separate.

Steps

1) Cut bar of Fels-Naptha in half and grate. You can put other half in a zipper bag for later. Looks an awful lot like cheese…keep kids out of it!

2) Melt Fels-Naptha in a pot with 6 cups of warm water. Use low-medium heat and stir almost constantly.

3) Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of washing soda. Mix in and then add about 6 more cups of water. Mix again.

4) At this point you can poor laundry soap mixture into a big bucket if you have one and add remaining water totaling 2 gallons.  If you already used 12 cups total you can add 4 more cups (16 cups in a gallon), and then another gallon of water.  I used an old vinegar jug to measure my gallons and store some of my finished laundry soap.  However you do it just make sure to mix or shake in your remaining water so that it all gets mixed.

Here is a shot of the mixing and melting of the ingredients before adding more water.

Hubs helped me funnel it into the big jug (old 1.5 gallon Costco laundry soap bottle) while I chowed part of a sandwich and took pics.

Ta DA! Over 2 gallons of laundry soap for super cheap!

Here is a rough idea of the cost to get started. I spent about $9 on the 3 materials and only used a small fraction of the Borax and washing soda.  I have half of bar of Fels left to use next time and then I will need to buy more. It is only about $1.50 a bar.

I took a picture of the prices at the store on my camera and it is GONE.  Sweet Baby might have had something to do with that.  I saved the receipt, but the twins might have ripped it in half after carefully lifting it from the bag with their sweaty little toes. It is now on the floor in the back of the van.  How is that for blog sabotage?  When I care enough to dig it out of the van and do the math you will be the first to know.

I wanted to make an all natural batch, but could not find a recipe that got great reviews.  I heard that using the castile soap might cause your clothes to fade and did not work well for some people.  Let me know if you have found one you liked!

Now off to do some laundry and see how this stuff works! Thanks to my friend Vi for the sample of her batch and the encouragement to try it.

Have you ever made you own? Give it a try! It is super easy!

 

43 Responses to Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap
  1. Jeni Huntington
    April 5, 2012 | 3:07 pm

    Kari,

    Do you have an energy efficient washer? I am wondering if your recipe would be ok to use in an HE only type of machine.

    Thanks,

    Jeni

    • Kari
      April 5, 2012 | 3:29 pm

      Hey Jeni!
      I have heard that you can use homemade laundry soap in a HE machine because it is “low sudsing”. You might want to do some more research on your own to make sure you are comfortable trying something different if you have a shiny new machine. The process is so satisfying though. Hope you are able to try it. Come back and let me know how it worked for you! Next time I will be trying “Zote” soap instead of the Fells-Naptha. If you can find it, I would recommend using that soap.

      • Dan
        July 26, 2013 | 2:44 pm

        I think they sell the Zotes at Big Lots(if in your area)

        • Kari
          July 26, 2013 | 4:06 pm

          Wow! Great tip! Thanks Dan!

      • Lynn
        July 26, 2013 | 3:14 pm

        HI Jeni,
        I’ve been using this recipes in my HE for about 2 and half years. No problems at all.

        • Kari
          July 26, 2013 | 4:06 pm

          Great to know! Thanks Lynn!

    • JAMES R.
      July 26, 2013 | 8:03 pm

      This recipe will work in ANY washer(speaking from experience), with ANY water(hard or soft & everywhere in between) and it will do so with excellent results…again, I am speaking from experience. My wife & I have a HE washer, & we also have semi-hard water.

      our clothes have never failed to come out cleaner with this homemade recipe than with the store bought detergent.

  2. pat
    July 26, 2013 | 11:52 am

    I made this last night and just put it in jugs. I found it to be very messy but easy to clean up. :-) Can’t wait to try it in my laundry. One thing I wish I had had was a long mixer attachment for the drill. It’s very hard to mix up but this would help tremendously. Would I make it again? In a heartbeat.

    • Kari
      July 26, 2013 | 3:59 pm

      Great idea on using a drill to mix it, Pat. Let us know how it is working out for you!

    • Karen
      July 27, 2013 | 5:27 pm

      I bought a paint mixer from Harbor Freight for like 2.00 works great . Used it with a 18 volt drill.

      • Kari
        July 27, 2013 | 7:09 pm

        Great suggestion. Frugal too! Thanks and visit again!

  3. Amanda
    July 26, 2013 | 1:07 pm

    I make mine by the 5 gallon bucket with 1 bar of kirk’s Castile soap. It cleans really well and does work on HE washers.

    • Kari
      July 26, 2013 | 4:02 pm

      Kirks sounds like another great option! Have you had any trouble with discoloration of your laundry? Someone mentioned having that issue when using Castile soap in their detergent. Thanks for chiming in!

  4. Patricia Bolin
    July 26, 2013 | 1:16 pm

    I have seen this reciepe in the past but failed to copy it. Thank you I will start doing this soon as my store bought detergent is gone. I do want to tell you about my recipe for the most awesome spot remover. This was taught to me by an elderly neighbor more than 30 years ago and I still use it today. You need to have a jar with a wide enough mouth to accept Fels-Naptha. Cut the bar in 1/2 and put the whole thing in the jar fill it with water put on the lid. The bar will SLOWLY dissolve I use less than 2 bars a year! It will form a snotty looking liquid that you can put in a spray bottle or pour. It has never faded or destroyed any of my clothes, but it does remove every stain I have put it on. I used it to remove black mold stains on an antique white lace table cloth. It took 3 washings to do it but it was completely gone.

    • Kari
      July 26, 2013 | 4:03 pm

      Patricia, Wow! What a testimony! I will have to try that stain remover! Thanks for sharing and hope you enjoy the detergent! Let me know how it works for you!

  5. Tamara
    July 26, 2013 | 1:35 pm

    Hi, you we mentioned how you like to scent your detergents, can you please tell me what kind of products you put in the detergent to make it smell nice without staining clothes? Thank you, and thank you for this article, this is going to help lots!
    Tamara

  6. Terri
    July 26, 2013 | 1:56 pm

    I have used this recipe for 6 months plus. I use it in my HE washer with NO problems! I used my hand mixer to mix it up and I dont have to shake it no more. Will be making another batch soon. And I share with all my friends. I didn’t have a funnel big enough so I cut a 2 liter bottle and used the top part as my funnel worked like a charm.

    • Kari
      July 26, 2013 | 4:04 pm

      Great trick to use the top of a 2 liter bottle as a funnel! Thanks for the tip Terri!

  7. Julie
    July 26, 2013 | 2:07 pm

    I have used this recipe for a few years. I have an HE only washer. It works just fine. I also have a septic system and the fels is not a problem with the septic system either. By the time the Fels gets to the septic tank it has been diluted many times.

    How did the Zote soap work?

    • Kari
      July 26, 2013 | 4:05 pm

      Great to hear from you Julie! Your experience is unique and answers questions readers often have that I have not dealt with. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Lilyangel
    July 26, 2013 | 3:19 pm

    I made some of the laundry soap up (not liquid) over Memorial Day weekend. The bucket hardly shows any missing so I am thinking it will last a long time. I used the Zote and grated it. I think I will make some of this liquid soap also as soon as my store bought container is empty.

    • Kari
      July 26, 2013 | 4:07 pm

      Glad to hear it is working for you Lilyangel! It is so worth the small amount of time it takes to make! P.S. This post really blew up this afternoon! Can I ask how you found it?

  9. April Emigh
    July 26, 2013 | 4:08 pm

    I have made both the liquid and the powder version of this and I also have an HE washer. I like the power version best because its easiest. It doesn’t clump up. They both clean the same. No issues whatsoever with the HE washer.

    • rachel
      July 26, 2013 | 7:57 pm

      I made 1/2 batch just now….how much do you use for a load of laundry?????

      • Kari
        July 27, 2013 | 1:10 pm

        1/4th cup to start. Hope you love it! Come back and tell us how it works!

  10. K Komala
    July 26, 2013 | 4:55 pm

    I use one bar of Fels to 3 cups borax and 3 cups washing soda. I grate the Fels very fine and mix them all together and then place them in a plastic container with an 1/8 cups scoop. I have used this dry mix for years for a large family and only use one scoop for each HE washer load unless they are heavily soiled items like barn clothes. I easily add bleach if needed but brightens well without. Works in cold water, too!

    • Kari
      July 27, 2013 | 1:13 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing!!

  11. Jeanneth Lopez
    July 26, 2013 | 5:53 pm

    What amount if detergent fo you use per load? Instead of melting & diluting, can I use just the powder?

    • Kari
      July 27, 2013 | 1:13 pm

      1/4 cup (I actually just guess). And I am guessing you could use it as powder. I prefer knowing my soap is already dissolved and can get to work right away and disperse evenly throughout my load. Either way would probably work great. Others have recommended recipes above and below you could check out.

  12. Peggy
    July 26, 2013 | 7:10 pm

    I have been using this for about 6 months. I think it does a great job of cleaning the laundry. I figured out the price for what I paid for everything and it is about 60 cents a gallon. I get all my supplies at wal mart.

    • Kari
      July 27, 2013 | 1:11 pm

      Wow! Thanks for doing the math on your version. I am sure the price is close. It mainly depends on what type of bar soap you choose to use as you go through that faster. Thanks again for commenting!

  13. JAMES R.
    July 26, 2013 | 8:13 pm

    Now for my 2 cents on this laundry soap recipe.

    For those that would rather have a powder as opposed to a liquid(not condemning this recipe, just offering an alternative), I do not use water in mine, but leave it as a powder.

    This is how I make my laundry soap:
    1 Cup or Borax
    1 Cup of Washing Soda
    1 whole bar of Fells Naptha
    1 Cup of Baking Soda

    Mix all ingredients well, then store in a container that is easily accessible & if needs be, easy to carry from point “A” to point “B”.

    use 2 tablespoonful per load…
    if you have really dirty, nasty smelling laundry(like you may have when working with animals all day), use 3 tablespoonful.

    that’s it!
    just shake or stir before each load to make sure you’re not getting all borax, or all washing soda, or etc…

    • Kari
      July 27, 2013 | 12:51 pm

      Thanks so much for sharing! Very helpful!

  14. lilyrose69
    July 27, 2013 | 2:59 am

    Cant wait 2 try this and the stain remover Patricia Bollen posted. Thank you. I always like trying new easy money saving ideas. And in reply to the question to lilyangel were she found this cuz you suddenly had many post, it showed up on my facebook page from homestead survivalist.

    • Kari
      July 27, 2013 | 12:50 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! Come back and let us know how it works for you! I eventually figured out where all my friendly visitors were coming from after checking my analytics to see where the traffic was referred from. Thanks for the help!

  15. DEBBIE G
    July 27, 2013 | 4:50 am

    OKAY, IS IT POSSIBLE TO KEEP THIS AS A DRY SOAP? IF SO, WHAT WOULD THE MEASUREMENTS BE?
    THANK YOU FOR THE RECIPE

    • Kari
      July 27, 2013 | 12:49 pm

      Hello! Many others have commented with suggestions for a dry option. I am guessing you could either use this recipe dry, or try the others with great results.

  16. terry
    July 27, 2013 | 8:28 am

    how much do you use per load?

    • Kari
      July 27, 2013 | 12:46 pm

      I don’t usually measure, but I would start with 1/4th cup and go from there based on how your laundry is looking. This recipe is a bit more concentrated than some others that I have seen. Great because it does not take up as much space. I don’t really have room for 5 gallons of detergent in my laundry room :)

  17. Mary schroer
    July 27, 2013 | 1:02 pm

    Got to try the soap and stain remover, they sound fantastic. NOW anybody have recipe for easy fabric softener togo with?

  18. Loretta
    July 27, 2013 | 4:04 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I am really enjoying seeing the additional suggestions in the comments.

    But, the one question I don’t see an answer for is essential oil use. How much to use when creating the liquid recipe? And do you add during Step #2, #3, or #4?

    Thanks again for sharing! And thanks to the Homestead Survival page on FB!

  19. Debbie
    July 29, 2013 | 2:43 pm

    I just made some Liquid Laundry Soap. I just put a load of towel in my washing machine. I am using my homemade Liquid Laundry soap. I have a questions are there suppose to be suds in my machine. I don’t see any.

    • Kari
      July 29, 2013 | 3:05 pm

      Hi Debbie! This is “low sudsing” so don’t be concerned when you don’t see many bubbles in your machine! We have come to expect bubbles in all of our cleansers and soaps, but many liquid soap type items have artificial ingredients to make them suds up (this does not include ALL natural traditional bars of soaps…those should and will suds up). Dr. Bronners however, is a different type of natural soap and does not tend to suds. Sorry for the ramble. :) Hope that helps!

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