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Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent for Pennies a Load!

I’ve been tweaking our family recipe for homemade laundry detergent since I published the powder recipe some time ago.  We have a new HE machine now that uses WAY LESS WATER and the powder would not have a chance to dissolve completely during the regular wash cycle.

In this variation I am using Castile Bar Soap which dissolves quickly in a pan on the stove and is decidedly cheaper than the Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap that I had been buying with equally good results.

For folks who can find Borax at their local grocery mart and Washing Soda (which is not the same as Baking Soda!) at one of the discount stores you can make this recipe for just over a penny per load!

Here is an example breakdown:

Cost estimates for buying locally

(prices obtained January 2011)

  • Borax at KMart = $2.50 for 76 ounces = 3 cents per ounce = 1 cup is 24 cents
  • Washing Soda at Ace Hardware = $3.79 for 55 ounces = 7 cents per ounce or 1 cup = 56 cents
  • Castile Soap $1.00 (couldn’t find at a local store but only a buck on the web)

Total cost for 2 Gallons = $1.80

With 128 loads (2 ounces each) the cost = 1½ Pennies per Load!

What if you can’t find the items at your local stores?

Frankly, because of my own chronic illness and inability to get out and shop, I buy the bulk of our groceries and household products online and I still save money over buying commercial detergents.

Cost estimates for buying online

(prices obtained January 2011)

Total cost for 2 Gallons = $6.07

With 128 loads (2 ounces each) the cost ~ $0.05 Pennies per Load!

Only a thin nickle a load even if you had to buy everything online.

But does it work?

Well that depends on what your criteria is.  It certainly works well for me since I put a high value on eco-friendly and when you are on a fixed income cost savings are key.  So yes, it saves money and it is better for the environment with no harsh chemicals, dyes, fragrances or new plastic bottles each time we buy detergent.

Does it get clothes just as clean as commercial stain-lifting — de-greasing — whitening products?  Nope, that is not my experience.  But none of us are working on a farm and we don’t have really small children smashing tomato-puree into their clothes.  So it works just fine for us.

Recipe from the video above:


Place unwrapped bar of castile soap in a pot on the stove and add 8 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally until the bar is completely dissolved.

In a large bucket (we use an old five gallon paint drum), add the solution from the stove and mix with one cup each Borax and Washing Soda.  Stir gently until the powders are dissolved.

Add 1½ galons of water to the bucket (24 cups) and stir again.

If you are using the aromatherapy blend (see my Youtube video on making this medieval oil blend for use around your home) you can add about a half cup.  This step is optional.

Pour your mixture into storage containers and use only TWO OUNCES per load (that is ¼ cup).

Better for you, better for the environment and better for your budget!

9 comments to Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent for Pennies a Load!

  • Sue5boys

    In doing this I used Fels Naptha soap. It really gels up. Do I need to add more that 24 Cups of water? I shake it us before using & it seems to be okay. Just checking since it’s my first attempt.

  • Ma

    If it seems too thick, or it is not rinsing completely, then yes I do add more water. And I use more or less with each load depending on what I am washing and how dirty the clothes are.

    Good luck!!!! Hope you find something that works for you and your family.

  • […] Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe from Ma and Pa Parker […]

  • ALB

    Hello Parkers! =0) Thanks so much for all the wonderful & EASY tips on cleaning. I just have a few questions, really it’s only one I guess, but has multiple items involved. . . here goes: What do you do about body soap, deodorant, dish soap and carpet cleaner?? I’m really wanting to add these things to the list of natural and non-invasive chemical-less cleaners.

    As for deodorant, I’m really having issues with the aluminum that’s in almost everything out there so any suggestions would be fantastic!

    Also, I just made the homemade Thieves (on my 3rd batch :) and will be taking the recipe and a sample to share at my ladies’ luncheon today ~ LOVE IT! I also am going “Poo” free and “washed” my hair yesterday with the baking soda and vinegar recipes. All I can say is WOW!! I didn’t realize how quickly “back to normal” could be. My hair feels cleaner and is softer than I can remember! Thank you so much! I would have done this years ago had I just known this simple recipe! Blessings to you and look forward to hearing from you soon.

  • liss.bridge@gmail.com

    This recipe is great! I usually buy my detergent bulk, but I am going to tey making it this week. i’ll let you know how I go. Thanks, so much. (Australia)

  • Melissa

    Thank you SOOO much for your website. I have been using Melaleuca for a long time and it is getting way to pricey for me. I have been searching for over 2 months now for a “natural” source of homemade products for my home. I am so excited about your web site! Thank you!!

  • lathamdm

    Have you tried using liquid Castile soap instead of the bar soap? If so, how much would you substitute…equal ounce for ounce? I’ve been making powder detergent for awhile, and it works well for us, but I find the smell of the baking soda to be too strong, and it becomes air-borne when I put it into the washer. I’d like to try making the liquid instead. I also use straight white vinegar as fabric softener, and find that it works really well. I just pour the vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser at the beginning of the load.

  • I’ve used castile bar soap and melted it down in a pot of boiling water. I like to use a liquid in the washing machine too. My current favorite bar soap to use is Octagon. http://www.amazon.com/Octagon-Purpose-Laundry-Soap-Colgate/dp/B000GCOLQ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332958876&sr=8-1

    It melts well. Then I add my washing soda and borax to the water and I have a liquid soap I can use.

  • Well this is the third time I am making my laundry soap. I have been so happy in doing this for I only have to make it like twice a year. This batch I used Kirks Castile Bar soap with my homemade thrives. Can’t wait to try it! Thanks again for helping me out on this! <3

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