Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent: 2 Cheap and Effective DIY Recipes

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Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent DIY

Our powdered laundry soap is already popular and now these 2 homemade liquid laundry detergent recipes let you choose DIY powder or liquid.

I make homemade laundry detergent powder and it costs me very little. But I really like the convenience of liquid laundry soap. I never need to worry about whether it will dissolve all the way. And as a bonus, I can spot treat stains with liquid soap!

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe 1

This recipe mixture is very simple. It has only two ingredients with an optional third.

  • 1 cup liquid soap (make your own with this recipe)
  • 64 ounces warm water or hot water
  • optional: 20-30 drops essential oil (for scent)

Mix the liquid soap and water together and pour into an old laundry detergent bottle. Add the essential oil if desired and cap well. Shake to blend. To use, go by the markings on the cap for the detergent. This is usually about 1/4 cup per load. Shake before each use. It may seem very thin, but you don’t need a thick liquid soap to get your laundry clean.

Liquid soap made with the recipe above will cost around $.12 per load, less if you buy your soapmaking materials in bulk.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe 2

This recipe will take a bit more work, but will still be very inexpensive to use.

Step 1


  • 1 bar of soap, about 6 ounces
  • 1-quart hot water (or even boiling water)


To make this homemade liquid laundry detergent, shred the soap using a box grater (cheese grater) and stir the grated soap into the water. You can let this soap mixture sit for a few days, stirring once in a while, or you can boil it on the stove for an hour or so. Don’t use glycerin soap, it won’t fully dissolve and it gets really “stringy” or slimy. Once the soap is melted, you can add it to the ingredients in step 2 below.

Step 2


  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 1 cup of borax
  • 2 quarts warm water
  • 20 drops or so of essential oil (for scent)


Mix everything together really well and pour this homemade liquid laundry detergent into a gallon jug. Old milk jugs work great for this. It may take a while to fully dissolve everything, but once it does, you won’t need to mix it again. The oil should incorporate into the soap as it will be thicker than water. If it does separate, just mix it well before you use it. Top off with more warm water until the gallon jug is full. Shake once or twice. If there is any settling, you can just shake it again.

To use, 1 cup per regular load is usually good and you can use 1/2 cup for HE washers. I’ve found that half of this will usually clean a regular load of laundry but you may find that you need the full cup.

Essential Oils to Scent DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent

I use Orange and Ylang Ylang essential oils, but Lavender is nice as well. Sometimes I vary it a bit and use Cedarwood. Just about any essential oil will work. You may need to experiment to find the amount of oil that you need. I find Cedarwood a bit heavier, so I only use 15 drops of that.

No Chemicals in This Liquid Detergent Soap Recipes

One of the best things about both of these homemade laundry soap batches is that neither contains unnatural or otherwise chemical ingredients!

Is Borax In Homemade Laundry Detergent Toxic?

After thorough research, I have concluded borax is only as toxic as baking soda or table salt; if you ingest it in high quantities, it may make you sick. If you use it as described in our recipes, it poses no toxic threat.

Just make sure you don’t confuse borax with boric acid, the two are NOT the same. Use borax (I recommend 20 Mule Team brand), and steer clear of boric acid.

For those of you who want more info, read this excellent Crunchy Betty article where she expounds on the toxicity levels of borax; I couldn’t have said it better myself – thanks, Crunchy Betty.

At the end of the day, decide for yourself to use it or not, and afford others the same courtesy.

Clean Your Washing Machine and Other Tips

Remember, a clean washing machine will help make your homemade liquid laundry soap more effective. Whether you’re using high-efficiency washers or old-school top-loading washers the DIY laundry soap recipe will work better if your washer is clean.

Clean Your Washer

Other Laundry Tips

Follow the information in these other laundry articles to make your diy liquid laundry detergent even more effective!

Making homemade liquid laundry detergent is quick and easy! Why buy commercial brands?


About Debra Maslowski

Debra is a master gardener, a certified herbalist, a natural living instructor, and more. She taught Matt and Betsy how to make soap so they decided to bring her on as a staff writer! Debra recently started an organic herb farm in the mountains of Western North Carolina. You can even purchase her handmade products on Amazon!

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  1. Deborah A Jones says

    I have all the ingredients for recipe #2 and I’m definitely going to make this! I used to use the DIY powdered detergent and didn’t mind it. But hubs and kids insisted that clothes needed the blue stuff in the orange bottle, so I made them buy it. I gradually ended up using it because liquid seems more convenient than powder. With the price of EVERYTHING going up, if this works, this will be my new detergent!

  2. Christine D Golcher says

    Hi Debra. I was very excited to see your recipe for liquid laundry detergent as that is better for the kinds of washing machines we have here. So I made the second recipe and followed the instructions to the T and I ended up with a solid chunk in my glass gallon jar. Any suggestions on how to salvage this? I don’t want to waste it. Thanks.

    • Debra Maslowski says

      Hi Christine! That will happen sometimes with harder soaps or solids that haven’t dissolved completely. All you need to do is add more warm water when you get to that point. I use what I can from the jug, then when I get to more solid stuff at the bottom, I add more water. Swirl a bit, but don’t shake it. You’ll get lots of suds. It’ll eventually dissolve, even if you need to do this a few times. Hope this helps!

  3. Darcey says

    Do you have suggestions for what kind of bar soap to use? Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge with us.