Saturday, April 25, 2009

Homemade Liquid-Gel Laundry Detergent

Although I still have plenty of homemade powdered laundry detergent to use, I was in the mood to make a batch of homemade liquid laundry detergent.

The measurements in this particular recipe will yield you 5 gallons of detergent. I don't know about you, but this will keep our family clean for quite awhile. It's so much cheaper to make your detergent than it is to buy it.

One box of borax and one box of washing soda will last for several recipes so let me break it down on the cost. I had the borax & washing soda on hand so all I bought was the ZOTE bar for $.77 cents. So deducting the amount of powder used from the original cost of the products and adding in the ZOTE bar, this double recipe cost me $2.49 for 5 gallons of liquid detergent. Now, how much per load does this break down to...let's 1/4 c. per load you should be able to get an easy 400 wash loads out this batch. So that makes each load cost us $0.006225. Yes, you read correctly...that's less than a penny per load!

Here's what you'll need...

1 bar Zote soap
1 c. borax
1 c. washing soda
5 gallon bucket with lid

Cut ZOTE into large chunks.

Then using the grating blade of your food processor, grate soap. If you don't have a food processor, you can always grate the soap by hand.

Place grated soap into a heavy stock pot.

Pour in 12 cups of hot water. Heat mixture over med-high heat until soap dissolves.

Stir often using a long handle mixing spoon or whisk to keep soap from clumping on you.

Measure out your washing powder & borax powders.

Once ZOTE is completely dissolved, pour in borax and washing powder. Stir well as powder is added to soap water.

The mixture will become "tight" feeling and heavy. This is normal. Stir continuously allowing heat to dissolve powders. Remove pot from heat.

To your bucket, pour in 8 cups of hot tap water.

Slowly pour in hot soap mixture. Be careful not to splatter and burn yourself. Stir vigorously to mix well.

Continue adding 40 cups more of hot tap water to your bucket as you stir mixture.

Let soap cool completely. During the cooling process you can come back and stir the mixture every so often if you care to, but it's not necessary.

As the soap cools it will begin to coagulate and become more gel like. If your mixture is partially gel and partial water consistency after it cools completely, this is ok. Just stir before each laundry application if you care to. Soap will dissolve in the laundry water just as would store bought detergent.

To use: For lightly soiled laundry, use 1/4 cup or less of detergent per wash load. For heavily soiled laundry, use 1/3 - 1/2 cup of detergent per wash load.

Cook's Note: The second time I made this (almost 5 months later, as it lasted that long) we used a mixing attachment for the drill to stir the detergent in the bucket. This is a very inexpensive attachment piece that you would use for stirring tile grout for application, mixing cement, etc. Since this gives it a more mechanically stirred effect than hand mixing it seems to have a better holding ratio (meaning, it will still gel up regardless of what stirring/mixing method you use, but the gel will need to be stirred more often it seems if it is hand mixed versus electrically mixed.) You do not need this mechanism to make the product, but I wanted to let you know the result we had with it.
(I really think this was a ploy by Mr. M to be able to use his power tools in the's a guy thing. But hey it really did work!)

Click HERE for printable recipe


Mrs. B, a very peculiar person said...

May I ask, where did you get your 5 gallon bucket?


Carrie of Farming On Faith said...

I make this recipe~only I use Fels-Naptha soa. I also add Downy scent.I sometimes switch to different scents such as lavender vanilla.
I also make my own Fabric Softener. I love them both! My recipes are on my site! It is so cheap and takes no time at all! I am a believer!

Evening Shade Morning Latte said...

Mrs. B ~
The bucket came from Walmart. I was going to get one of those orange multi-purpose buckets from Home Depot but got this one instead.

Carrie ~
Thanks for the heads up on your tips and recipes. I am definitely going to try your Downy tip.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a long process but interesting. I've never made anything like this before. Is it as difficult as it looks? Also, I like the idea of adding scents to the laundry soap. If I was going to do that, at what step would I add the scent?

Evening Shade Morning Latte said...

Mrs. Lady Sofia ~

Oh by no means is this a complicated or hard process. It may look like it but this was super easy. from start to finish (not counting the cooling time for the bucket to sit and gel up) took me about 10 minutes. All it really is is melting, measuring, adding water and stirring. Easy as pie!

lady m's lavender cottage said...

This recipe looks quite easy...I am definitely going to try it. Thank you for sharing. Your site is full of good information.

lady m

Evening Shade Morning Latte said...

Lady M~

I am so glad you are finding things of interest to you on my blog. My prayer is that in some form or fashion each reader is blessed with a little nugget of something.

~Blessings & Warm Cozy Wishes

Amanda said...

Hello again, I have been wanting to make a homemade liquid laundry soap recipe. I saw this one, and another on the duggar family recipe page. The measurements are pretty much the same except they call for 1/2 cup borax. AND the yield says 10 gallons. I am wondering which is the way to go. any suggestions ideas?

Evening Shade Morning Latte said...


That is a great question. I use 1 cup of borax but in actuality you can use 1/2 a cup and get the same results in cleaning power. So it's just a matter of personal preference.

I read and re-read the Duggar's recipe and I can't see how it makes 10 gallons. She starts by saying that she uses a 5 gallon bucket. So my thinking is that it might be a typo on the 10 gallon yield.

I will say this though...I use ZOTE soap because I can get it for around $0.78 a bar versus Fels-Naptha that averages $1.29 a bar in our area. So this is again a personal choice. Also, Hubby gets his work clothes really grimy and dirty and it cleans wonderfully! He remarks at how much he likes it. He also really likes the homemade fabric softener. His work uniforms are really heavy material and he says this makes it feel softer than store bought fabric softeners do.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you make it. I am sure you will like it though.

~Warm Cozy Wishes

Amanda said...

The Duggar recipe makes 5 gallons but she says it is a concentrate and you when you move it from the bucket to the washer, or you are reusing a laundry container, you add 1 part water, and 1 part liquid laundry soap. (A friend of mine makes it with success) I make the recipe you have on your site and love it. Either way you will save money and even have a little fun making it. The kids love that we make our laundry soap!

jessprof said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog. I really like it so far. I tried making liq. laundry detergent for the first time, but it didn't gel. Also, my clothes came out with whitish areas on them. I used Dove sensitive skin, b/c my boys have eczema. Any thoughts on what I did wrong??