DIY Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe

It costs so much to buy a jug of laundry detergent that barely lasts a month. But it’s easy to make DIY homemade liquid laundry detergent for a fraction of the price!

Homemade liquid laundry detergent in glass jug

With this recipe, you can make a homemade liquid laundry detergent that not only saves you money but is also better for the environment. And better for sensitive skin! There’s even a fragrance-free option.

Say goodbye to expensive detergents and hello to an eco-friendly and budget-savvy solution! And if you prefer it, you can check out our powdered laundry detergent recipe.

The Benefits of Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

There are so many benefits to making your own liquid detergent. One of the big ones is that it’s so cost-effective.

Store-bought detergents can be expensive, with some brands costing up to $0.25 or more per load. But when you make your own detergent, the cost per load can be as low as $0.02 or $0.03.

It’s also a healthier alternative for your family and the environment. You can avoid many of the harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances that irritate sensitive skin. 

This homemade recipe uses low-chemical ingredients (what people often refer to as “natural ingredients”) that are gentle on skin and safer for the environment.

Making your own laundry detergent also lets you customize the recipe based on personal preferences like scent. Add some if you want – or you can make this one without fragrance at all.

Additionally, creating your own product reduces waste since it eliminates plastic containers used by store-bought detergents.

Ingredients for diy liquid laundry detergent

The first step in creating your own liquid laundry detergent is gathering the necessary ingredients. While some of the items may already be in your kitchen, others may require a trip to the grocery or health food store.

Here are the main ingredients you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 1/2 cup borax
  • 1/2 bar of soap (castile, Fels-Naptha, or Zote), grated
  • 3 gallons water (plus some cups of water for liquifying the soap)
  • Essential oils (optional)

You can find washing soda and borax in the laundry aisle of most major stores. Castile soap is available at health food stores or online, while Fels-Naptha and Zote can be found in some grocery stores as well as online retailers.

Fragrance-Free Option:

Make this recipe fragrance free by using unscented castile soap, like Dr. Bronner’s. For sensitive skin members of the household, you can use any soap their skin tolerates well.

Can’t You Just use Liquid Castile Soap?

You can, but it makes for a much thinner consistency, which completely changes how much you’ll need to put in your washer. If you’re okay with that, go for it. If you want the thick consistency, stick with the grated bars.

Tools to Make DIY Liquid Detergent

You’ll need:

  • Grater
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Enough old milk jugs or other containers to hold 4 gallons of liquid
  • Paint Stirrers
  • Labels and markers (if desired)
  • Knife for cutting soap

How to Make Your Homemade Laundry Detergent

Liquifying the Soap for Your Detergent Base

One of the most important steps in creating your homemade laundry detergent is turning a bar of soap into a liquid form that will dissolve easily in your washing machine. Different types of bar soap can be used, including castile soap, Fels Naptha, or Ivory.

  1. Cut your soap bar in half
  2. Grate one half of the soap bar onto a paper towel or flexible silicon cutting board (easier for pouring into the pot)
  3. In a saucepan on medium heat, boil 3-4 cups of water
  4. Once you have boiling water, add the grated soap
  5. Stir with your paint stirrer until it melts and dissolves completely in the water. This can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how finely you’ve grated your bar soap.
  6. Now add the borax and washing soda.
  7. Fill your bucket with 3 gallons of water
  8. Add a few drops of essential oils for fragrance if desired
  9. Pour the mixture into the bucket of water and stir well
  10. Let it sit for 36-48 hours.
  11. Pour the mixture into your containers.
  12. Cap the containers and label them, if desired.

Essential Oils Make Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Smell Nice

One of the best parts of making your own laundry detergent is that you get to customize the scent to your liking. While unscented detergent can be great for those with sensitive skin or allergies, many people prefer a fresh, clean scent on their freshly laundered clothes.

Essential oils are a popular choice because they add a lot of fragrance without adding a lot of harsh ingredients.  Some popular essential oils for laundry detergent include lavender, lemon, tea tree, peppermint, and eucalyptus.

Lavender is known for its calming properties and can help create a relaxing bedtime routine. Lemon has a bright and fresh scent that can help boost energy levels in the morning.

Tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties that can help kill bacteria and fungus in your laundry, but keep in mind it can irritate sensitive skin. Peppermint oil can provide an invigorating and refreshing scent while also helping to repel insects like moths from your clothing.

Eucalyptus oil has a natural deodorizing effect that makes it perfect for gym clothes or other heavily soiled items.

Storing Your DIY Laundry Detergent

Once you’ve created your own homemade liquid laundry detergent, you need to store it in an airtight container that is kept in a cool, dry place. Old milk jugs are perfect. So are beverage dispensers.

Don’t keep detergent in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures, since this can change the consistency and potency of the detergent over time. Stored properly, your homemade detergent should last for weeks or even months!

How Much Homemade Laundry Soap Do You Use?

You use about the same amount of detergent with this homemade recipe as you would have used for store-bought. Although sometimes commercial detergents tell you to use more than you need.

If you’ve been following the instructions on detergent and now think maybe you’ve been using too much, start with a small amount and gradually increase as needed. Too much detergent can leave residue on your clothes and in your washer.

As a general rule, if you’re washing lightly soiled clothes or a small load, aim for 1-2 tablespoons of detergent per wash. For larger or dirtier loads, use up to ¼ cup. Keep an old lid from a detergent container, and use it to measure the detergent just like you would have with the store-bought.

As a general rule, if you’re washing lightly soiled clothes or a small load, aim for 1-2 tablespoons of detergent per wash. For larger or dirtier loads, use up to ¼ cup.

Always follow the care instructions on clothing labels. Most fabrics can be washed in cold water and don’t require hot water or extended wash cycles unless they are unusually dirty.

Troubleshooting Your Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

Here are some common issues you may run into with making this detergent, and how to fix them.

It’s too thick. This can happen because brands of soap give you different densities. Just add more water and stir it in.

It’s too thin. This really isn’t a problem, because you can just use more and it will get clothes clean. For your next batch, try adding more soap to the mixture and stirring well.

It’s also possible you didn’t let it sit long enough. You can also let it sit for a few hours or overnight to thicken up.

Clothes don’t seem as clean. This detergent really does work, so if you notice clothes seeming less clean, you may just need to use more detergent, especially if you have hard water or larger loads of laundry. 

Second, check that you’re letting the detergent dissolve in the water before adding clothes. Finally, you can add a booster such as baking soda or OxiClean.

Saving Money When You Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

One of the most significant benefits of making your own liquid laundry detergent is the money saving. A 64 load bottle of liquid laundry detergent may cost anywhere from $10 to $20 or more, while the ingredients needed to make one gallon of homemade detergent (which can wash up to 64 loads) may cost around $5.

That’s quite a significant saving! Plus, with just a few simple ingredients, you can create multiple batches and have enough detergent for weeks or even months at a time.

Why this is the Best Homemade Laundry Detergent

Making your own liquid laundry detergent is not only cost-effective but also healthier for you and the environment. Instead of using harsh ingredients, your homemade detergent can use low-chemical ingredients and optional essential oils.

That lets you create a detergent that not only cleans your clothes but leaves them smelling fresh and feeling soft. Don’t be intimidated by the process – take the time to gather your ingredients and follow the steps outlined in this article.

Once you see how easy it is to make your own detergent, you’ll never go back to store-bought brands again!