Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

I wasn’t happy with the recipes for homemade laundry detergent I was finding so I played around a little with the measurements & made my own. I’ve been using this for several years & have converted many of my friends too. 5 gallons cost you less than $2, & you just can’t beat that. 

For a little extra cleaning power, you can add OxiClean to the wash with it – and for Tide fans, please check out this version!

For extra scent, you can mix in a bottle of one of the many laundry scent boosters on the market (or add it individually to each load, that’s what I do actually). You can also use a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the rinse load of your wash load. 

Make sure you check out my Homemade Fabric Softener & my Homemade Dryer Sheets! 

Buying laundry detergent can put a big dent in any budget, and making my own is one way where I save the bucks.

If you bought 5 gallons worth in the store, you’d be paying around $100!! Maybe even more than that depending on the brand.  But, when you make your own – you can make 5 gallons for less than $2!!

When I buy all the ingredients for the first load – it comes out to $6.95 – but there is still lots of borax & washing soda left, so all that I need to buy for the next few batches is the Fels Naptha soap (which is really cheap!).

That makes 20 gallons for under $10!

Making your own detergent accounts for some enormous savings!

I buy my ingredients at WalMart, which I’ve found to be the cheapest place to buy them at.  Let me break down my costs for you (in Central NC – stores in your area may be different)

  • Borax: $2.99
  • Washing Soda: $2.99
  • Fels Naptha: $0.97

You can also purchase the ingredients on Amazon, but I’ve found that they are more expensive this way for the borax & washing soda. However, the Fels Naptha price isn’t bad on there.

You can also use essential oil for scent, but that’s completely optional.  The essential oil adds nothing to the cleaning power, but does give it a nice smell if you’d like to have it.  If you do want the added scent, I really like using orange essential oil because of the clean smell that it has.  Plus, it’s also the one that I recommend for using in my homemade carpet powder. If you purchase it onAmazon (which has a great price on it), it runs about $5.00 for 4 ounces.  You only need 1/2oz to 1oz for a 5 gallon batch (depending on how much scent you want) so it lasts for a good while, and doesn’t add much to the final cost.  Still way cheaper than store bought.

If you’re a Tide detergent lover – click here for the version which includes the power of Tide!

So, are you ready to make your own laundry detergent & rack up the savings? I’ll walk you through how I make mine.

Here’s what you need:  (printable version of this recipe at the very bottom of the post)

  • Borax
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
  • 5.5oz Fels-Naptha Soap (you can also use Zote or castile soap – about the same amount, you don’t have to be exactly precise)
  • water
  • 5 gallon bucket

First, you grate up your Fels-Naptha soap.  Or you can substitute Zote (which will make your laundry detergent pink for all your girly-girls) or pure pure castile soap.

Add the soap shreds to a pot with 4 cups of hot water.  Put the heat on medium-high, and stir until completely melted – about 10 minutes.

Fill up a 5 gallon bucket halfway with hot water.  Pour in the melted soap mixture.

Then, stir in 1 cup of borax & 1 cup of washing soda.
 

If you’re using the essential oil, now is the time to add it.  You add in 1/2oz to 1oz, depending on how scented you want it.  Although, I never really measure it anymore – I just shake in enough drops to where I feel satisfied, and stir.

Now, fill up the bucket with warm water all the way to the top – and stir again.  If you don’t have a utensil long enough to reach the bottom, just put on a pair of rubber dish gloves beforehand.

Snap on a lid, and let it sit for 24 hours to gel up.

***Note: it will be more of a gloppy gel than purely gel, and this is completely NORMAL – and what it should look like. Sort of like egg noodle soup – liquid with gel glops in it.  Also, if it is a humid day or you make a minor error in making the recipe – your laundry detergent may remain of a liquid state.  This is completely fine, and you should continue to use it as directed.  It will make no effect on the cleaning power of the detergent! However, if you prefer to have a smoother consistency, more like the store-bought detergent – you can mix it with an immersion blender at this point to smooth it all out.  This is only a personal preference though – I don’t do this myself, but a lot of my readers like to do this ***

At this point, you can divide it up between different containers (empty laundry detergent containers, milk jugs, etc).  I prefer to save 1 laundry detergent container, & refill it as needed to save on space.

A lot of people like to dilute it even more at this step (therefor turning the 5 gallons into 10 gallons) – filling their container halfway with the gel & then the other half with water.  You can choose to do this if you like.  However, my family seems to produce pretty dirty clothes, and I prefer to not dilute mine further.  I feel like the cleaning power is stronger this way.

For HE front loading washers, use 1/2 cup for a large load.  For regular top-loading washers, use 1 cup for a large load.  You can use stain removers or oxi-clean with this too if you would like – just the same as you would use them with the detergent you buy in the store.

love this detergent, and have compared it to store-bought & I can’t tell a difference.

***If you are a fan of TIDE, check out this version I created with the power of Tide – you’ll love it!***

You can leave your homemade detergent in the bucket, or you can split up the large batch between empty detergent containers, milk jugs, etc.

By the way, I created this pretty printable label for your homemade detergent containers too.  Just right click to save to your computer to print, or use the printer friendly button at the end of this post.  You can find the printable version of my homemade laundry detergent at underneath it 🙂

Want to get some more recipes for making your own store-bought products?  Click here to see the Mrs’s other make-your-own recipes!  Interested in more ways to stretch your dollars?  Then make sure you take a look at the Frugal Living category as well!

5 from 1 reviews
Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
Serves: 5 gallons
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT baking soda!)
  • 5.5oz Fels Naptha soap (you can also use Zote or castile soap - about the same amount, you don't have to be exactly precise)
  • water
  • 5 gallon bucket with a lid
  • essential oil for scent (optional)
Instructions
  1. Grate the Fels-Naptha soap. Add the soap shreds to a pot with 4 cups of hot water. Put the heat on medium-high, & stir until completely melted - about 10 minutes.
  2. Fill up a 5 gallon bucket halfway with hot water (I like to use the shower for this, it's easier in my opinion). Pour in the melted soap mixture & give it a quick stir. Stir in the borax & washing soda. If your'e using essential oil, now is the time to add it. You add in ½oz to 1oz, depending on how scented you want it. Although, I never really measure it anymore - I just shake in enough drops to where I feel satisfied. Stir the contents again.
  3. Fill up the bucket with warm water, all the way to the top - and stir again. If you don't have a utensil long enough to reach the bottom, just put on a pair of rubber dish gloves beforehand.
  4. Snap on the lid, & let it sit for 24 hours to gel up. It will have the consistency of egg noodle soup - watery with glops of gel.... This is what it should look like! If you would like a smoother consistency like the store-bought brands, you can use an immersion blender at this point to smooth it out. I don't bother with this step though personally - the 'glops' dissolve just fine in the wash - and having a smoother consistency has no effect on the cleaning power or finished product.
  5. At this point, you can divide it up between different containers like empty laundry detergent containers, cleaned out milk jugs, etc. I prefer to use 1-2 empty containers, and leave the rest in the bucket to save on space - refilling my containers as necessary.

The BEST homemade laundry detergent!

I wasn’t happy with the recipes for homemade laundry detergent I was finding so I played around a little with the measurements & made my own. I’ve been using this for several years & have converted many of my friends too. 5 gallons cost you less than $2, & you just can’t beat that. | MrsHappyHomemaker.com @thathousewife