Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe

May 5, 2015 · 4 comments

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How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent (HE)

You can easily make liquid laundry detergent for HE washing machines but it is a little more tricky to make than our powered recipe, although the powered recipe cost more than double per load. If you want a quick and easy detergent go to our powder laundry soap/detergent. It works just as well as the homemade liquid laundry soap and we think it works better than the liquid for getting out things like urine smells or grass stains.

I promise you will be surprised at how easy it is to make homemade liquid laundry detergent.

If you are ready to make homemade laundry soap (liquid), here is the recipe:

2 1/2 Gallons (10 Liters) of Water

Distilled water is the best but we don’t use it and don’t think you need to either.
Plain tap water will work just fine.

1/2 Cup (125ml) of Washing Soda or Baking Soda

Soda Crystals Washing Soda(read below to transform baking soda into washing soda)

Washing soda (a water softener and food additive) is nothing more than sodium carbonate also known as soda ash. It can either be extracted from the ash of burnt plants or made synthetically from salt (sodium chlroide) and limestone.

Washing soda is usually sold under the brand name “Arm & Hammer” in North America, “Lectric” in Australia and “Soda Crystals” in the United Kingdom and Europe.

It is most often located in the laundry detergent section of your grocery/drug/department store.

It is usually not too hard to find if you have access to a large grocery/drug/department store but we have heard others say they cannot find it at all locally.

washing soda for he laundry soap

Even if you are not a chemistry major you probably have noticed that washing soda (sodium carbonate) resembles baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Both products are very similar.

Use baking soda as a substitute for washing soda in he laundry detergent.If washing soda is hard for you to find simply make your own washing soda by heating regular ole’ baking soda in an oven.

Simply spread out the needed amount or 1/2 cup of baking soda on a cookie sheet and bake it in your oven at 200 degrees F for about an hour.

This will remove water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) leaving you real washing soda that is cheaper than store bought washing soda.

1/2 Cup (125 ml) of Borax

Borax is a naturally occurring white powder also known as sodium borate. It is mined underground and is used for a variety of things including cosmetics, food additives (yes you probably have eaten Borax), fire retardants, anti-fungals and detergents/soaps.

Some folks are concerned about using Borax.

If you are looking for a homemade liquid laundry soap recipe without Borax, simply leave it out.

We have used Borax and purposely left it out with very little difference. Borax mostly makes the ph better for cleaner clothes but you can always add about 50% more soap and 50% more washing soda if you would rather avoid it. We have no issue with Borax but some folks do. If you don’t like, don’t use it!

Borax works very well as a laundry whitener and deodorizer. It is another one of those items that can be difficult to find. It is found in the laundry section of some grocery/drug/department stores and might even be a little harder to find than washing soda. The most common brand is 20 Mule Team (North America) but is also available as Natura (Canada) and G. Baldwin and Co.(United Kingdom). We can buy a 76oz (2kg) box for $5.49.

Using Borax HE Laundry Soap

Homemade laundry soap fels naptha or other brand

1/4 Bar Laundry Soap

Laundry bar soaps are available in the following brands: Fels Naptha, Ivory, Zote, Sunlight and many others. They all seem to work fine and are all different sizes. The first time you use a new bar you can go by the weight (or volume) when after it has been grated.

We use a no-name laundry soap bar from a bulk foods store at a cost of $2.79 per bar. Some of these bar soaps can still be found in the laundry section of your local grocery store. We also use the Sunlight brand when the no-name is not available

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Fels Naptha seems to be a very popular choice for homemade laundry soap.



STEP 1 Grate the bar soap and place in a pot large enough to hold 2 1/2 gallons.

STEP 2 Add 6 cups (1 1/2 liters) of water to pot and heat on high

STEP 3 Stir in Washing Soda and Borax

STEP 4 Keep stirring until everything is dissolved

STEP 5 Add 34 cups (8 1/2 liters) of water and stir

STEP 6 Remove from heat and allow to cool. The detergent will gel.

STEP 7 Pour into preferred container. If detergent is too thick, stir in a little water and shake hard.

STEP 8 The liquid detergent will tend to gell or clump after sitting for a day or two. If this happens simply shake really hard until the smooth consistency is returned.

STEP 9 Use 1/2 cup (125ml) per load.

The Cost of Liquid Homemade Laundry Soap/Detergent for HE Washer

2 1/2 Gallons (10 liters) Water – Free

1/2 Cup (125ml) of Washing Soda – $0.54
(based on 55oz or 3kg for $5.95)

1/2 Cup (125 ml) of Borax – $0.61
(based on 76oz or 2kg available for $5.49)

1/4 Bar Laundry Soap – $0.70
(based on one full bar bought for $2.79)


EACH BATCH IS GOOD FOR 40 LOADS (10 liters divided by 125ml)



If you think you have found the best homemade liquid laundry detergent please share with us below.

Or if you have found an easy homemade liquid laundry detergent please share with us. We would really appreciate it.

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosita Campbell October 20, 2015 at 11:24 am

Started using this formula a year ago. Has saved me lots money on laundry soap. Also works better than store bought in my front loader. Husband allergic to most store brands….not this! Love the idea of home made, just didn’t know how till I found your sight. Thanks for sharing! Oh, and I only pay .98 cents for a bar of fels-naptha at the local Wal-Mart. so even cheaper for me. As for the time or mess spent making it….(you get out what you put in) not bad for the great results! Besides I make more mess and take more time just cooking a meal each day, so whats a little soap on the counter…wipe and move on.


Jody Graham October 29, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Thank you so much for the kind words. I found it a nuisance to make in the beginning as well but now it is just part of our routine. We make it (a double batch) once a month or so and love it. Sometimes we add an essential oil for scent but not usually.

Again, thank you Rosita for your kind words and keep up the good work…Jody


Robert June 18, 2015 at 4:22 pm

What works for us is simply diluting regular laundry detergent (we dilute both our detergent and fabric softener 1:3 (1 unit of full strength detergent/softener + 2 units water). I just checked the price of the detergent we use – $13.00 for 200 loads, by diluting, it takes it to 600 loads for a cost of 2.1 cents per load. I can’t tell if your recipes have the secret ingredients of fabric softener in them (which would make your recipes more cost effective compared to my detergent plus softener – unless you choose not to use softener). You certainly have the leg up on not using petroleum based detergent making your recipes better for the environment.

Also, I need to check to make sure that we are not running the extra rinse cycle you mention – I have noticed that loads often take longer than the time advertised when they start, so maybe that is happening. If our machine is using 1/10 the water of old style machines, maybe we need to go with even higher dilution.

The big advantage that I see for dilution compared to your recipes is that it is a lot less work than the liquid recipe you have described and there are no issues with gelling over time. Our machine has a liquid only dispenser, so I don’t think we could use the powder form.

Thanks – this is just my opinion and experience, I know others have different experiences. Just found this site – it looks really interesting and I hope to learn a lot here.



Jody Graham August 20, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Thanks Robert,

I agree. To make homemade liquid laundry soap is a fair amount of work. The reason we do it is that a few of our children are very sensitive to phosphate, sodium laurel sulfate, and a bunch of other words I can’t spell or pronounce. The other reason of course is the damage to our septic system and the environment from the off-the-shelf liquid laundry detergents.

If your washer is designed to only use liquid than liquid is the best way to go. Wouldn’t want to give them an excuse to void the warranty. Your dilution idea is a great way to save money but we would just have so many skin problems with our two children from Haiti. They constantly struggle from dry skin if we end up visiting someone and using their detergent or using hotel provided detergent.

Thank you for you comment and kind words about our website…Jody