Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

I finally got around to making and trying out my own liquid laundry soap a few months ago. And, like the powdered laundry soap I posted about four years ago (!) it’s kind of a life-changer.

This recipe takes a bit more time and effort – the whole process takes about a day and a half, but it’s mostly sitting time, and there’s only about 15-20 minutes (if that) of actual labor on your part. However, it makes a heck of a lot of laundry soap that lasts months, rather than weeks. Also, I find it easier to make than the powdered kind, since I don’t have to grind the soap in such fine shreds. Huzzah!

So, if you’re looking to reduce or eliminate plastic waste from detergent containers, and get a ton of laundry soap on the cheap that actually works on your clothes, give this recipe a try. I’ll walk you through with a picture or two, since I would’ve appreciated some pictures when I first made this, and as always, the short recipe is at the bottom of the page.

On to liquid laundry soap!

Liquid Laundry Soap

Okay, so firstly, you need a blessedly short list of ingredients:

  • Borax
  • Washing Soda (NOT baking soda. You can find washing soda in the laundry or cleaning supplies section of most grocery stores)
  • 1 bar of good-quality solid soap. I use Dr. Bronners hemp soap, which is safe on most materials. Others use Fels-Naptha or other varieties. You do you.
  • Water
  • Optional essential oil for tasty-smelling laundry

You’ll also need a 5-gallon bucket with a lid for mixing and storing the soap, as well as smaller containers for diluting and using the soap when needed. You can find 5-gallon buckets at home improvement stores, but you can also ask around, especially people who work in contracting and construction – they usually have a gazillion of extras just lying around.

As for the smaller containers, we like using gallon-sized vinegar jugs, like this one:

You can also use empty, clean gallon milk jugs, or even clean, empty laundry jugs (hah!) as well.

Onto the steps!

Step 1

Shred the soap. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the soap in hot water, stirring frequently.

Step 2

Fill your five-gallon bucket half-full with hot tap water. Add borax, washing soda, and the dissolved soap, and stir well. Cover, and allow to sit overnight (about 8 hours) to set. You’ll know it’s ready when it gels and looks a little something like this:

Mmm, goopy.

Step 3

Add essential oil, if using. When ready to use, fill your desired small container half-full with the gelled laundry soap, and dilute the rest of the way with water. Shake well before each use. I keep an old plastic measuring cup marked with the correct measurement in the laundry room so I don’t have to run and use my good cooking cups every time I do laundry.

So, in the end, you’ve made yourself about 10 gallons of laundry soap for $20 or less. Whaaaaat. We wash cloth diapers successfully with this stuff, as well as the rest of our laundry, so we know it works.

Go forth and launder!

Liquid Laundry Soap

  • Print

This makes 10 gallons of laundry soap, which you will dilute twice in the process. You’ll need a 5-gallon bucket (you can find these at most home improvement stores) as well as smaller containers (such as empty laundry, milk, or vinegar jugs) to hold the finished product.

you will need:

  • 4 c hot water
  • 1 good-quality soap bar, grated (I like Dr. Bronner’s, and others like Fels Naptha – just be sure to choose a good-quality soap)
  • 1 c washing soda (NOT baking soda)
  • ½ c borax
  • 10-20 drops scented essential oil of choice (optional)


  1. Pour hot water into a saucepan. Add the grated soap to the hot water, and stir frequently over medium heat until the soap is completely dissolved.
  2. Fill your 5-gallon bucket half full with tap water, and add the melted soap, washing soda, and borax. Stir well, cover, and allow to sit overnight to thicken (it’ll look and feel a little like loose jelly when it’s finished). Stir in essential oil, if using.
  3. When you’re ready to use for laundry, fill your desired smaller container halfway with the detergent, and dilute with water (half detergent, half water). Shake well before each use, and measure out ¼ c for smaller loads, and ⅝ c for large loads.

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