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Making your own homemade liquid laundry detergent is a simple process that can save you a lot of money. Not only is it cheaper than store-bought detergents, but it’s also better for the environment!

Homemade liquid laundry detergent is simple and easy to make. With just three ingredients – you can whip up a batch of detergent in no time.

This tutorial will show you how to make safe, effective liquid laundry detergent that removes stains and leaves your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Guide to Making Liquid Laundry Detergent

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to make some detergent! The recipe we’re sharing today makes about 2.5 gallons of detergent (about 40 cups), enough for up to 80 loads of laundry!

ingredients for homemade liquid laundry detergent spread out on counter



  • Cheese Grater
  • Large pot
  • Whisk
  • Large wooden spoon
  • Measuring Cup
  • Bucket or Large Stock Pot with lid (for letting the detergent rest)
  • Container with cover for storage (I like to split my detergent into two smaller buckets that are easier to handle)


  1. Grate your Fels Naptha Soap using a cheese grater.
grated fels naptha for liquid laundry detergent
  1. Add 4 cups of hot water to a medium to large pot.
  2. Add grated Fels Naptha soap to water in a pot and set on the stove at medium-high heat. Stir until the soap is melted completely (approximately 10 minutes).
melting fels naptha into water for homemade liquid laundry detergent
  1. Fill your five-gallon bucket 1/4 with hot water or a 2.5-gallon bucket halfway (about 20 cups of water).
  2. Pour in the soap mixture and stir until it is well incorporated.
  3. Add Washing soda (or borax) AND baking soda; continue to stir until they have dissolved.
pouring powdered ingredients into liquid laundry detergent blend
  1. Add essential oil if desired (1/4 ounce or less).
  2. Add more warm water until the 5-gallon bucket is half full or the 2.5-gallon bucket is almost full (another 20 cups). Stir again, then secure the lid and let the mixture sit for 24 hours.
stirring homemade liquid laundry detergent
  1. Once the mixture has rested for 24 hrs, give it another stir (there may be some gloppy separation, but that is just fine).
  2. If desired, separate a small amount to keep right next to your washing machine and keep the rest in the bucket.

How to Use Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Use 1/2 cup of homemade liquid laundry detergent per load for high-efficiency washers. For regular washers, you can use up to 1 cup, especially for larger loads or particularly dirty clothes.

Cold water wash is best for all loads, especially when using washing soda (cold water for your laundry is a great way to save energy!).

You can also pre-treat stains by soaking them in a tablespoon of homemade detergent for about 30 minutes before washing or rubbing them with a bar of Fels Naptha soap and letting them sit for a few minutes or up to a few days.

Why make your own liquid laundry detergent?

There are a few reasons why making your own laundry detergent is a good idea. For one, it’s cheaper than store-bought detergents. This recipe makes 2.5 gallons of laundry detergent (up to 80 loads) for less than $2.00! You must spend about $10 on the supplies, but they will be enough for multiple batches.

Second, homemade liquid laundry detergent is better for the environment. Many store-bought detergents are filled with harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances that can harm the environment.

Lastly, laundry detergent is often sold in large plastic containers that end up in the landfill. These containers are unnecessary because much of what they contain is just water!

By making your own laundry detergent, you can avoid these toxins and help protect our planet by reducing your plastic use.

About the Ingredients

We chose three ingredients for our liquid based on two criteria: they had to be natural and non-toxic, and they had to come in non-plastic packaging.

  • Washing soda is a household cleaner and laundry booster that has existed since the early 1800s. It’s a natural mineral that helps remove grease and dirt and neutralizes odors. It can be used as a standalone laundry detergent if you only want powder or as a pre-soak treatment for stains. As a bonus, it comes in a cardboard box!
  • Borax (option 2): Borax is another natural mineral that helps to clean and deodorize clothes. It also acts as a fabric softener, helping to prevent static cling and keep clothes feeling smooth and soft. Borax also comes in a recyclable cardboard box.
  • Fels Naptha is a traditional laundry bar and stain remover used for over 100 years. Made with natural ingredients, it contains no phosphates, chlorine, or optical brighteners. In addition to being great for removing stains, it also helps to soften clothes and remove odors. Fels Naptha comes in a simple paper cover that is easy to recycle.
  • Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can be used to neutralize tough smells in both laundry and the kitchen. It also helps to remove grease and dirt, making it a great choice for cleaning. Baking soda comes in a recyclable cardboard box.

Enjoy your fresh, clean clothes – without all the harsh chemicals!

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Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.

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