Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Make Your Own Liquid Laundry Detergent

Don't they just crack you up? Maybe laundry would be more fun if I invited 5 friends over to help me. Any volunteers?

Yesterday I shared a recipe for homemade powdered laundry detergent and promised you a recipe for a liquid detergent.
I have to admit that I have not yet tried the liquid version because I prefer powder (easier to store). I searched all over the blogosphere for the most popular, well-reviewed homemade liquid detergent recipes and what I found were many with varying amounts of pretty much the same ingredients: borax, washing soda (not baking soda), and bar soap. To make 2 gallons of detergent, most recipes called for 1/2-to-1 full bar of Fels-Naptha, Zote, or Ivory soap, 1 cup of the washing soda (Arm and Hammer is the only brand I have seen), and 1/2-to-1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax. The varying amounts of bar soap and borax seem to be related to whether the water you wash your laundry in is hard or soft. You may have to experiment a bit to see what works best for you.

If you like a scent to your laundry, you will also want to add 10 to 15 drops of an essential oil (lavender, orange, rosemary, or whatever scent you prefer), which can usually be bought at speciality grocery stores like Earth Fare, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's. If you are worried about germs, you can add 15 drops of tea tree oil, which has antiseptic properties.

Here's where you make it liquid-y: first, grate the soap. If using the Ivory soap, you will definitely want to use the whole bar, and perhaps even 2, as it is not quite as strong as the bars made specifically for laundry (Fels-Naptha and Zote). Just as I suggested for the powdered version, use your food processor; it is much easier (not to mention kinder to your knuckles!). While you are grating, pour 1 gallon of water into a large pot and start heating on the stove. Add the grated soap and stir. When it looks like the soap has melted, add the borax and washing soda, stirring until the mixture boils; it will begin to thicken. Remove from heat, add 1 gallon of cold water, and stir well. At this point add the essential or tea tree oil if you wish. Pour into two 1 gallon containers (using a funnel so you don't pour it all over your counter instead). You can reuse empty vinegar, milk, or bleach jugs for this - just wash well beforehand.

That's it. Just to warn you, I read that it will thicken up some more over the first 24 hours, so don't worry if it looks too thin at first. Use 1/2 cup for a load of laundry. If you try this, let me know how it works!

Tomorrow I will share a recipe for a homemade OxiClean-type stain treatment. Exciting, I know:)


  1. Did you see anything written about whether this works for machines that need HE detergent?

  2. If uou use an emulsion blender it stays a kice consistency! And I have a HE washer & make my own problems.