Making Laundry Soap (liquid)

A few weeks ago I went to reach for another jug of laundry soap and quickly realized I was dangerously close to running out. Then I proceeded to forget I was almost out and went about doing other things. I did some laundry the other day and was quickly reminded when I realized I had enough for the load I was doing…that is LOW on laundry soap!

Getting started

I rounded up the ingredients: bars of homemade soap, Borax & Washing Soda and got started.

This is a very simple laundry soap recipe to follow and I first saw at a blog called Down–to–Earth.  I think there are many ways to do this and I have seen many variations out there for both liquid laundry soap and powdered laundry soap. I like the liquid and so that is what I continue to make. You can also check out this post over at Towards Sustainability on powdered laundry soap.

Liquid Laundry Soap
Makes 10 litres

You will need:

  • 10 liter bucket
  • sauce pan
  • spoon
  • 6 cups water (to start)
  • 1 bar of soap – grated  (I use the soap I make) the original recipe calls for 1 cup of grated soap
  • 1/2 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup Borax

Put grated soap and water in sauce pan. Turn on medium heat and stir until all the soap is dissolved. Watch your heat. This will start to get sudsy and you don’t want it to boil over. I notice as it heats and dissolves the liquid will turn from a cloudy liquid to a clear darker liquid. I think the dark clear color is base on the type of soap I used. You want to make sure this mixture is completely and thoroughly dissolved or it may separate as it cools.

Once your soap is completely dissolved, remove your pan from the heat and add the borax and washing soda. Stir this until the mixture thickens. I have noticed when I use my homemade soap the mixture does not thicken. It still made a nice laundry liquid, but it was as runny as water. This time I added more washing soda and borax until the mix was slightly thick. I would guess that I added an additional 1/4 cup of each.

Liquid is starting to thicken as it cools

Now you are ready to pour this soapy mixture into your 10 liter bucket and add you hot water. I stir as I add the water to start combining the ingredients. Add enough water to almost fill your bucket. My bucket is an eleven liter bucket with the markings on the inside. I filled mine to the 8 liter mark. You can see in the photo, I have left a few inches of room. You don’t want it so full that you can stir it without spilling it, but you want enough water in there to make a nice big batch or laundry soap.  I usually leave the bucket on the counter for a day, stirring it every time I walk by it. You will notice as it cools, the mixture will start to thicken up. Then I leave it set there over night and bottle it all up in the morning.  The first time I made this recipe with Pink Zote soap and the mixture was so thick (like jello) I used my immersion blender to liquefy it again to get it into containers. I used the whole bar or soap when I should have used 1/2 bar or 1 cup grated soap. I have found when I use my homemade soap the mixture doesn’t thicken like that at all. The bars I used where rather small so this time I used two of them and increased the amount of borax and washing soda.

This detergent doesn’t take a lot of time to make and is a fraction of the cost of the detergent you will buy in the store, less all the chemicals. If you are using your grey water to water your garden or plants, skip the borax.  Also keep in mind that this laundry soap will not create a lot of suds, if any, but you will notice as you clean your pan and bucket it does get quite sudsy. You will only need to add 1/4 cup to each load.

Bottled and ready to use

The batch I just made was only slight thick. I liked it a lot better than the jello mass I first created and a lot better than the runny batch I last made. That is just personal preference. You might want to give you bottle a shake before you use it just in case the liquid as separated.

I have been using this detergent in my front load washer for close to two years now and it works fine. I use a cold water wash and I put white vinegar in my bleach and fabric softener compartments.

This makes a lot of laundry soap. I filled all three of those containers in the last photo.  I won’t have to make this again for many months. I have even filled a container near the kitchen sink to use it as hand soap and dish soap this time too.

Sincerely, Emily

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16 Responses to Making Laundry Soap (liquid)

  1. Impressive! I have not braved making my own soap yet, though I have said I was going to do this many times. I am still buying the expensive natural laundry soap, which I like because it does not create so many suds, like the homemade.

    -Brenda

    • Hi Brenda, I was so amazed at how easy this is to make….just start saving your old containers to re-use them for your homemade soap. By making my own, I am thrilled with the money I save and thrilled to reduce the amount of chemicals in the store bought stuff.

  2. Zonnah says:

    I am going to have to try this as soon as I start running low on detergent!

    • I hope you enjoy it. Remember to save your empty laundry soap containers to re-use them for the homemade stuff. This recipe makes a lot so you might even need a few other containers too.

  3. amy manning says:

    If you go to your local feed store, they may have both sodium carbonate and borax in 50 pound bags which are way cheaper than the little grocery store boxes. If not, they are likely to have sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), which you can make into sodium carbonate (washing soda). See this post for more information: http://www.mysuburbanhomestead.com/homesteading-notes-homemade-washing-soda-aka-soda-ash-sodium-bicarbonate/

    • Hi Amy, I remember your post on that and have it book marked. Funny, I bought these boxes about 3 years ago and I have even shared some with a friend to make laundry soap and I still have enough left for many more batches. You are right though, it is a good idea to check local feed stores for larger bags to get a better deal on the cost. Thanks! Emily

  4. I’ve been making this soap since last year and love it! I even add a few drops of lemon grass oil to make things smell nicer.

    • Oh I love lemon grass. I think a few drops of lemon grass oil would be a great addition to the laundry soap. It is such a fresh clean scent. The soap I used had rosemary and spearmint in it and there is a light scent left, but I could have bumped it up a bit with a few drops of each. I used to have two huge lemon grass plants growing in Palm Springs, I have missed it. I just planted two plants here and hope they do well.

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  9. karen says:

    can you tell me if this recipe works with a Hi efficiency washer?

  10. Monica says:

    Finally!! Thank you!! This is the first post I’ve found that explains why my other attempts at making liquid laundry detergent have failed. It doesn’t thicken up at all. I’m using my own handmade soap scraps. I’ve followed your instructions and it has worked perfectly! Thanks again for this post.

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