Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap (1 cent per load!)


We’re in the process of implementing our newly-created budget.  I’m finding that I REALLY don’t like to spend money on boring stuff because that takes away the money we can use to do fun things (or to pay down our mortgage)!  A few of our biggest and most boring “budget-busters” are dishwashing detergent, dog food, organic milk ($15 A WEEK…the boys drink SO MUCH milk), and laundry detergent.  I can’t ever seem to find good deals on these items and it drives me crazy!


When I ran across the idea to make homemade laundry soap for basically one cent per load…I was ecstatic! I used the recipe found on the Duggar Family site.  I’ve never watched the show (since we don’t have cable), but I figured they were experts with the number of loads of laundry they do with all their children!

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to pick up:

  • Borax ($2.99 at Walmart or Target–in the laundry aisle, or here)
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda–$2.99 at local grocery store in laundry aisle, or here)
  • Fels-Naptha Soap Bar ($1.56 at local grocery store in laundry aisle, or here)
  • 5-gallon bucket with lid (around $4 at Home Depot)
  • 10 gallon milk jugs (or other containers) that have been cleaned and rinsed (the concentrate will disperse more evenly if you go ahead and divide it up.
  • OPTIONAL:  Essential Oil Drops for fragrance (we did not add this, so I am not sure how much it costs)

*I could not find the washing soda OR the Fels-Naptha soap at either Walmart or Target.  Look at your local grocery store IN THE LAUNDRY AISLE.

Grand Total:  $11.54 for 640 loads (180 loads in a top-loading machine).  That’s a little more than 1 cent a load!  And the savings are even greater the next time you make this because the only thing you’ll have to buy is the Fels-Naptha soap bar!
1.  Grate the entire bar of the Fels-Naptha soap.
(As you can see, I started off grating it very fine, but realized it was taking too much time.)
2.  Put in a pot with 4 cups of hot water.  Stir continuously over medium-low heat until all of the soap flakes have dissolved and melted (about 10 minutes).
It should be slightly foamy with no “chunks” or flakes to be found.
3.  Fill a 5-gallon bucket half-full of hot water.
4.  Pour in the soap mixture.  Add 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and 1/2 cup Borax.  Stir.
My husband happened to have a paint stirrer that goes on his drill, so that helped.  But if you don’t have one of these, just use the end of your mop (or something that can reach to the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket).
5.  Fill the rest of the 5-gallon bucket with water until it is full.  Stir again.
6.  Cover and let it sit overnight.
7.  When you open the top up the next day, it should have gelled and thickened slightly.  Stir again.
8.  Use a funnel to fill a clean laundry detergent container (or gallon-size milk jug) and fill it HALF way with the soap mixture.  Fill the other half with water and shake.
Optional:  Attach a homemade tag using packing tape (especially if giving as gifts)


NOTE: On the second batch that I made, I wanted the concentrate to be more evenly distributed, so I just saved up our gallon milk containers for a couple weeks and then measured out 8 cups of soap and 8 cups of water, making sure to mix well after filling each gallon.

I also made some labels with instructions for use to stick on the front of the milk jugs (which will also ensure that no one accidentally tries to drink it).  :)  Download the labels here.

And in case you’re wondering how this laundry soap performs on tough stains, I thought I would do a little experiment using Prince Charming’s old undershirts.

I poured mustard on shirt #1 and then washed it in Tide Free & Clear.
This is the result.
I then put mustard on another shirt and washed it on the same settings using the homemade laundry soap.
This was the result.
As you can see, they did a similar job washing the shirt.  Neither detergent got the stain out completely (which of course you would use a stain remover on a stain that tough normally), but there isn’t a huge difference in the two.
Once you’re ready to use the laundry soap, shake it in the container first.  Then add:
-5/8 cups for a regular top-loading machine
-1/4 cup for a front-loading (HE) machine
(revision note:  I have been using this for over a year now and found that it works best with 1/2 cup in my HE machine)

This took us probably around a combined total of only 45-minutes to make!

I have an high-efficiency (HE) machine and have used and will continue to use this laundry soap.  I e-mailed LG, the manufacturer of our machine to see if they “approved” the use of this laundry soap.  Here is the reply I received:


Dear Customer,

LG always recommends to use detergents which has “he” logo on it. Even we do not recommend if its written ” he compatible”.
Because oversudsing can create residue buildup in drum, it will be necessary to perform cleaning to remove this residue.
So until we do test in our labs we cannot assure the detergent you make at home is advisable.  It might effect washing performance.
Best regards,
LGE – Dubai
However, I also found this somewhat contradictory information:
“The above recipes will NOT make suds in your washer so don’t be alarmed.  Fels Naptha Soap is a pure soap and typically makes little or no suds in the water.  This makes it perfect for use in the new HE washers as well as traditional washers.  You will also notice the need to either reduce your laundry softener or in most cases you can even eliminate the use of softener completely.” -From SoapsGoneBuy.Com
If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, the decision is yours as to whether or not you want to take the risk and use it.  Personally, because this soap doesn’t sud at all, I would conclude that it is just fine.  I’ll be using it!  And from what I’ve read, it seems as though this soap can be used on cloth diapers too.

*Go here for the printable version of the instructions.



Now that we’ve tackled homemade laundry detergent…does anybody have a recipe for homemade dog food???  (Just kidding!)

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Filed Under: MAKE IT, Recipes


  1. Michael butler says

    I made my first batch of home aide laundry detergent followed the recipe to the letter works great would have liked it a little thicker like the store bought any suggestions.

  2. Barb says

    I was wondering what would happen if I just left the mixture in the five gallon bucket and only mixed a bottle at a time as I use it. It would be easier for me to store it in the bucket than to store ten individual containers.

    • Stacy says

      I mixed mine up in a 5 gallon bucket and just fill my jugs as needed. Just be sure to stir the bucket contents before filling jugs as it does separate a bit. Our bucket sits in the corner by the washer. I just finished up our first bucket and love the savings and actually think our clothing is cleaner than with the store-bought stuff. I have noticed that with our front-load HE washer that I had to use less of the store-bought detergent because things came out feeling soapy, not with the homemade stuff.

  3. Carol says

    I also use this detergent and I dont have to use the cleaner to keep the bad smell out of my he washer. the detergent keeps it nice and clean and smelling so so good.

  4. Sarah says

    I made this about 3 weeks ago and we absolutely love it! It was easy to make and we are loving the savings. :) This will be our detergent from now on. Thanks Jenae!!

  5. Judy says

    WOW – this is awesome!!! I have been using Tide for close to 40 years (yes, I’m not new to laundry) and I have to say I will not go back. At first I thought “OMG what am I going to do with 10 gallons of laundry detergent.” Was skeptical about gifting; but, after using for couple of tough loads, I am proud to be bottling gifts for relatives, friends, neighbors, and even wait staff at our local café. Also, I make sure to pack some when I take an extended vacation. THANKS for sharing the wonderful, easy to follow instructions. No changes are needed.

  6. Lori says

    Hi! I was wondering if I could use aluminum foil to cover a mop bucket or if it needs to be more tightly covered than that. Thanks!

  7. Ben says

    We just ran out of our first batch and it took us almost 2 years! One advice is do not use milk jugs, period! Here is two stories…

    1. We recommended this to one of our friends and she made it. She stored the milk jugs on top of her cabinets in the laundry room. One morning she walked in and opened the cabinet, HUGE DAMAGE inside! What happened was the milk jugs sprung a leak and made the wood weaker and weaker until the jugs fell through. She had to replace her cabinets.

    2. Few weeks after our friend’s unfortunate incident, it happened to us! Fortunately, we caught the leak and dried the wood before anything happens.

    So we would recommend using 1 gallon vinegar bottle or re-use laundry soap bottle. :)

  8. Shelley says

    Our family doesn’t have any allergies, but we get a terrible rash when we wear clothes that have been washed in this detergent.

  9. Lauren Neher says

    I made a similar recipe of 3 gallons using the three ingredients listed. I was disappointed though, as when I would sweat my shirts smelled not so fresh. So the next batch I used 2/3s bar fels naptha soap, 2 cup each of washing soda and borax, and a cup each of lemon juice and dawn detergent. MUCH better.

  10. sherri says

    Ive found the fels Napha soap at Weis markets before.. soap that my sons dr recommended for his poison two summers ago. Would like to try this laundry soap.. it sounds like a winner

  11. says

    hola soy chilena y esos productos no se encuentran, tendré que importar solo el jabon. porque los otros productos se encuentran en tiendas de quimica:
    Arm & Hammer super sosa (también conocido como CARBONATO DE SODIO, SAL soda, o carbonato de sodio

    I´m chilean and and these products are not, have to import only soap. because other products are in stores chemistry:
    Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda = AKA SODIUM CARBONATE, SAL SODA OR SODA ASH
    borax = sodium borate or sodium tetraborate

  12. Brittany Small says

    I guess I am confused as to how the contents of a 5 gallon bucket filled up 10 gallons of milk jugs?

  13. says

    Thank You immensely for the “hear ” spots to see where to get hard to find ingredients. I’ve been having a hard time finding “Fels-Naptha. Thank god! Thanks to your info on it being made by Dial, I will use something else. Have been very allergic to Dial soaps since I was a kid. Thank you again for being so thorough!

  14. kyla says

    I thought I was the only person out there allergic to Dial! Has anyone had any problems with allergies and this laundry soap?

  15. Kay says

    There should not be any allergic reaction if you use Fels. The reaction comes from the perfumes they put in soaps and Fels is a natrual soap with no additives.

    I have been making my own detergent for over 3 years now and a friend of mine about 2 years ago came to visit me and when I did her wash with my soap (she forgot her way expensive detergent) she was scared that she would react and nothing. She now makes her own detergent and has had no problems.

    ON a side not if you have poision ivy, oak or sumak (sp) that soap will help dry/clean it up.

    Good luck

  16. Carleen says

    I’ve been doing this for months before I even saw this page, I use 1 1/2 cups of fabric softener, I stir it in about 6 hours into it cooling then allow it to cool for the rest of the night


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