Recipe for laundry detergent (liquid)

Frugal Friday Recipe: Make your own liquid detergent

I know what your thinking, how ridiculous to make laundry soap. But let me assure you it is very much worth the minimal effort you put in. Here are my top three reasons to make your own detergent:

1-easy, easy, easy

2- lots of fun, it’s like creative license to make goop in your kitchen

3-very economical.

If you average 4 loads a week you will save approximately $37.41  a year.  Sounds like a fun date night to me 🙂 (geeky calculations at the bottom of this post)

This recipe is one that I find to work best, modify as needed I fiddled with a few different ones to come up with my favorite combination ( it is hard to mess up soap so be brave!)…

This recipe is enough for almost 200 loads of laundry!



  • 1/3 bar of soap

-laundry soap bars work best…we love using Fels Naptha Laundry Soap but it does have a lemon smell, be sure the gar soap isn’t mostly detergent or moisturizer, I heard ivory works good too-

  • 1/2 cup washing soda

-found in the laundry aisle of your supermarket. If yours doesn’t have it you can make your own by changing the chemical compound of baking soda (can you tell I’m married to a chemist?). Bake baking soda in the oven at 425 for 2hrs. WARNING: emits fumes so do in a well ventilated area / during the summer when windows and doors can be open!)

  • 1/2 cup Borax

-this is a common “green cleaning” ingredient and you can find it in the laundry section of pretty much any grocery store.

  • Essential oil for added scent (if desired)
  • 4 gallon bucket (with 2 gallons marked approx on the outside (just guess!)
  • Empty milk jugs or empty old detergent bottles for storage

How to create your soap:

  1. Using a vegetable peeler or grater grate 1/3 of your soap bar into 6 cups of water (in a pan). Heat on a low-medium heat until the soap is dissolved.
  2. Add your borax and washing soda. Stir until mixture becomes the consistency of pudding (or honey)
  3. Put approximately 4 cups of warm water in your four gallon bucket. Add your soap mixture and stir.
  4. Fill the bucket to the 2 gallon mark with cold water.
  5. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Every 15 minutes stir the soap
  6. After 1 hour set the timer for every 10 minutes and stir the soap every 10 minutes.
  7. When cool add a few drops of essential oil (if desired) and pour into milk jugs or into old liquid detergent bottles.  Use 1 tbs/ load of wash.


CALCULATIONS: How I know its a savings…

Approximate start up cost (buying materials to make = $10) You’ll have enough though to make lots and lots of batches!

I priced out the costs and factoring in .40 cents for the amount of energy used to heat the soap on the stove for 15 minutes (a bit generous) it comes out to just under 2 pennies a load. Compare this to Sams Club price $.14 / load (this is for concentrated detergent).  If you average 5 loads a week that is $37.41/year. Of course our family washes more then 5 loads a week and we use slightly less then called for so our savings is even greater (yeah!)