Eco-Friendly, Homemade, Liquid Laundry Detergent

by Krista Davis on April 23, 2012

A few weeks ago I mentioned making an inexpensive powdered laundry detergent, since it is very tough on stains, it could be difficult on people with sensitive skin  and on the environment, since it gets into our water systems. For an eco-friendly, gentle, alternative I have a homemade liquid laundry detergent, that costs around $7 to make and can be used in 64 loads.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bar soap (Any kind, but “Tom’s Natural Soap” and “Ivory” are good natural choices.)
  • 1 box of Borax
  • 1 cup of Arm & Hammer washing soda
  • A pot that holds at least 3 gallons (I use a 4 gallon canning pot.)
  • A grater
  • A funnel
  • A long Spoon
  • 2 empty gallon jugs/containers

In pot,

  1. Grate bar of soap.
  2. Pour 1 gallon of water into pot.
  3. Cook until grated soap is dissolved.
  4. Add washing soda and Borax.
  5. Bring water to boil. The liquid will coagulate.
  6. Turn off heat.
  7. Add 1 gallon of cold water.
  8. Stir well.
  9. Using funnel, pour 1 gallon of detergent into each container.
  10. Use 1/2 cup per load.

Hint: You might need to stir the liquid laundry detergent before using.

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Written by Krista Davis

Krista Davis

Krista is a self-proclaimed “health nut” and eco-friendly enthusiast.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

tattoo voorbeelden September 17, 2012 at 8:10 AM

I think this is a powerfull blog with much interesting blogposts about this stuff. And i just wanna say thanks for this. I’ll subscribe to your blog to see if you post more stuff like these!

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Reginald October 6, 2012 at 6:16 PM

Hmm- I’ll have to try that. Usually I use the little cup-lid and add some hot water to the bltote, diluting it and rinsing it all away, then pour the whole thing into the wash for 1 more load, but if your way gets me two …then….. yippee. with 6 daughters you will now believe how much laundry I do.

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Krista Davis October 6, 2012 at 7:02 PM

Trust me; making your own laundry detergent will save you money. I have been using the powdered laundry detergent since last December and the liquid should last me another 10 months.

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Dana April 26, 2014 at 9:05 PM

just wondering why no one has addressed the use of liquid castile soap instead of melting down bar soap. i use dr bronner’s liquid soap (diluted) as a dish detergent, bathing, pet bathing, etc. would it still work or is there something in the liquid version that would not be desirable? would it still be cost effective?

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Krista Davis April 26, 2014 at 10:36 PM

Dana,
Liquid castile soap could be used. It does have different ingredients than the bar soap. Dr. Bronner’s castile bar soap is more moisturizing and has salt, which helps with hard water and separating oils. Here is information on the difference between the two, http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=675.

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Dana April 27, 2014 at 12:02 AM

Thank you for the quick response. This is helpful.

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Cynthia July 12, 2014 at 7:48 PM

If using the liquid castile soap what would be the measurements? This recipe seems more cost effective for me.
I really wanted to make the powder laundry soap that you have especially after your story about the greasy mess on your husband’s clothes but the Dr Bonners soap are super expensive(over $4 each) and isn’t cost effective when adding the other ingredients. Plus I would have to use 2 tbls every load so that would be 100 loads which is the norm in buying the typical soap at the store.
Are there other soaps I can use instead of dr bonners?
Thanks in advance for any resolutions and for providing these awesome alternatives. Great job!

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Krista Davis July 13, 2014 at 3:32 PM

Cynthia,
Liquid castile soap could be used. It does have different ingredients than the bar soap. Dr. Bronner’s castile bar soap is more moisturizing and has salt, which helps with hard water and separating oils. Here is information on the difference between the two, http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=675. The linked site says 1 cup of liquid is equal to 2/3 of a bar. I’m sure other types of soaps could be used, you would just need to read ingredients and do your research. Dr. Bronner’s is what I am familiar with.

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Dianne Shaw September 18, 2014 at 4:34 PM

You are a lady after my own heart. I was one of the first environmental educators certified in Texas, and recycling , up-cycling, reducing, and reusing have always been part of every curriculum I influenced as a teacher, Head of School. (Master’s from SFA,) then as an educational consultant. Ironically, I was exposed to a toxin in the workplace which triggered several auto- immune diseases. They neglected to inform me that I was correct, my office, separate from the rest of the school, was making me sick. The lady who took my place was older, and had to be hospitalized. They tested and remediated the problem when the school was empty . I found out by accident 9 years later what happened. Too late to prove anything and those in. “The know” were paid off. So I am doing what I can (my brain is functioning so far) to help people live safer , healthier lives. I ‘m in a wheel chair , but do organic container gardening , have two worm farms , compost , etc . Have little trash. Still.feel plastics are dangerous. Use glass and make padded covers to prevent breakage or contain it if it were to happen. Lots of precious grandchildren, so always worry about safety. Little bodies are much more inclined to absorb toxins. Love Essential Oils, but was so glad to see your philosophy matches mine–dangerous for babies and small children!
My question, have you used your laundry soaps in front loading machines? I love Dr.Bronner ‘s (don’t use peppermint with children,) but wonder how it would do in my front loading machine. I put vinegar in cups for for bleach and softeners. Add EO–lavender and 2 drops tea tree in with soap when I know just adults will use. Re-wash if kids are coming. I wash my organic wipes by hand (throw away if too messy,) then boil them for 10 minutes in stock pot for that one purpose. Very easy to contaminate the whole wash! Thanks for a great site!

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Krista Davis September 19, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Dianne,
Thank you for your kind words. I’m sorry to hear how negative environmental impacts affected your health, but happy to hear you are educated and not just ignoring the health dangers present.
In answer to your question, yes, I have used the laundry detergent in front load washers. Since we travel for work, if I can’t wash by hand, I have to use whatever laundry facility is available and I’ve used it in my mom’s front load washer several times.

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Chris November 4, 2014 at 12:10 AM

Krista,

I originally found your site when looking for an eco friendly laundry detergent. The post I found was for your powder detergent found here: http://cleaningouttheclutter.com/2013/10/eco-friendly-all-natural-homemade-laundry-detergent/
That led me to your recipe for liquid detergent. I read the issues you had with the powder soap containing washing soda (which I assume lead to its omission in your powder soap). I also noticed that it is still listed as an ingredient in your liquid soap. I have very sensitive skin, so this raises a concern for me. Ideally, I am thinking that if I just replace the washing soda with regular baking soda that the recipe would work fine. Or would I need even need to bother with the substitution?

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Krista Davis November 5, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Chris,
My family members with sensitive skin and I haven’t had any trouble with the liquid version of washing soda, since it is cooked and the powder is not in direct contact with skin. If you do have trouble with it, you might try substituting with baking soda.

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Chris November 9, 2014 at 5:41 AM

Krista,

I have one more question for you about your liquid detergent explained here… If I understand the recipe correctly, it yields 2 gallons. You also say to use 1/2 cup per load. That works out to be 64 loads. However, in the description, you say that you can use it in a little over 570 loads. If my math is right, that would require just under 18 gallons to be made. So, I am a little confused.

The cost of $7 to make is pretty much spot on for making 2 gallons… So, again, a bit confused on how you get that many uses out of your detergent. This is totally based on the information you provided so please, don’t think I am trying to make a dig- I just want to make sure that I don’t end up with some kind of huge mess when I go to try this out.

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Krista Davis November 10, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Chris,
Thank you for pointing that out. I must have been calculating two different things at the time and used the wrong number. Your math is correct. I will edit the recipe description.

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Jamdvm November 15, 2014 at 8:30 PM

Hi Krista,

Thanks so much for the information! Can this liquid detergent be used in high efficiency washing machines?

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Krista Davis November 16, 2014 at 7:24 PM

Yes. I have used it in a variety of type so washing machines and several family members have used both my liquid detergent and powdered detergent exclusively in HE machines.

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adina December 30, 2014 at 9:50 PM

I’m not sure if you’re still checking this post but i have had a couple of issues with the detergent and am wondering if maybe i goofed somewhere. my detergent started out perfect but then turned into a hard gloopy mess after i poured it up and it cooled down. any advice you can give? was this something you also dealt with before?
other than that issue, it cleans really really well.

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Krista Davis March 3, 2015 at 7:51 PM

Adina,
The only issue I had was the separation on ingredients. It would be thinner at the top. I took a wooden spoon and stirred the liquid detergent around before each use. I now use homemade powdered laundry detergent instead, due to the ease of use.

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