Laundry Detergent Recipe

laundry detergent recipe

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through these links.  There is no cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 

Liquid Laundry Detergent
home made liquid laundry detergent from natural ingredients
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0 calories
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
459 g
60420 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
459g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 0
Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 60420mg
2518%
Total Carbohydrates 0g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
1%
Iron
0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. ½ cup baking soda
  2. ½ cup washing soda
  3. ½ cup liquid castile soap (note 1)
  4. 5-6 drops each lemongrass, lavender, tea tree oil (note 2)
  5. enough water to equal 12 cups/96 oz/ ¾ gallons
Instructions
  1. 1. Heat about 2 cups water in a glass measuring cup or bowl that has a capacity of at least 3 cups. I microwave about 2-3 minutes.
  2. 2. Add baking soda and washing soda to hot water and stir until completely dissolved. You can put the whole mixture back in the microwave to heat if the baking and washing sodas do not fully dissolve.
  3. 3. Pour the water-soda mixture, castile soap, and enough water to equal about 96 ounces (3/4 of one gallon) into a large container. Stir gently. Add essential oils and gently stir again.
  4. 4. Pour your laundry detergent into whatever well-sealing container you have chosen to store it. I used old glass bottles because they seal well, pour well, and I had them laying around.
Notes
  1. 1. I used some of my liquid soap made from bar Kirk's Castile soap, but recommend using a liquid castile soap like Dr. Bronner's or my potassium hydroxide liquid soap for better cleaning power
  2. 2. Provides VERY mild scent and antiseptic properties.
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As with most things, I have had sensitivities to laundry detergents for much of my life.  I finally found one commercially available detergent that didn’t make me itch – All Free & Clear.  For a while I was ok using that.  Until I started finding strange stains on my clothes that I could not remove.  It was mostly in cotton shirts, and they got a splotchy slight color discoloration.  What really got me searching for something new was when I washed my jacket and it ended up with one of those stains very prominently in the front on the chest.  I was not pleased that my year-old winter coat was permanently stained.  Plus, this makes it look like I spilled something down my jacket.  I know I am a mega klutz, but I rarely spill on myself, I don’t need my laundry detergent making me look guilty of this!

laundry detergent recipe
stain from commercial laundry detergent

I took this opportunity to find something not only better for my clothes but better for me and for the environment, too.  I perused the internet (ok, Pinterest…) and found a liquid laundry detergent recipe from Coconut Head Survival Guide that I liked.  Simple ingredients that I already had on hand, and use in my other natural cleaning products.  I also liked liquid versions better than dry because I almost always wash with cold water and was concerned that the dry detergent may not dissolve well enough in the cold water.  I modified the recipe to make it more concentrated (but not too concentrated, high school chemistry taught me that water can only be saturated so much with solvents), and to use essential oils that I already had.

My Laundry Detergent Recipe
Ingredients

½ cup baking soda

½ cup washing soda (Penniless Parenting explains how to turn baking soda into washing soda, in case you can’t find washing soda)

½ cup liquid castile soap – I used some of my liquid soap made from bar Kirk’s Castile soap, but had better results (better cleaning power and less separation) with liquid castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s or my home made liquid castile soap

5-6 drops each lemongrass, lavender, tea tree oil.  For VERY mild scent and (possibly) antiseptic properties.

enough water to equal 12 cups/96 oz/ ¾ gallons

Instructions
  1. Heat about 2 cups water in a glass measuring cup or bowl that has a capacity of at least 3 cups.  I microwave about 2-3 minutes.  
  2. Add baking soda and washing soda to hot water and stir until completely dissolved.  You can put the whole mixture back in the microwave to heat if the baking and washing sodas do not fully dissolve.  
  3. Pour the water-soda mixture, castile soap, and enough water to equal about 96 ounces (3/4 of one gallon) into a large container.  Stir gently.  Add essential oils and gently stir again.
  4. Pour your laundry detergent into whatever well-sealing container you have chosen to store it.  I used old glass bottles because they seal well, pour well, and I had them laying around.
Use

I use 1-2 tablespoon per laundry load – this should be roughly the same amount of the cleaning agents per load as the blog I originally found.  For extra large loads, such as washing sheets and towels, I use 2-3 tablespoons.

laundry detergent recipe
Alternate Ingredients

I put the detergent in the washing machine before adding laundry.  I have been using this detergent for several months.  My clothes get clean, and are left with pretty much no scent, but it smells clean.  I have had no skin sensitivities, and no stains on any of my clothes!

laundry detergent recipe
My finished laundry detergent

I found some old glass bottles to store my detergent.  Easy to pour, and cute!

Liquid Castile Soap from Bar Soap

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation if you make a purchase through these links.  There is no cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information. 

I’m going to be nice and give you the recipe right from the start 🙂

Update 12/1/2016: I now make my liquid soap using potassium hydroxide lye and am much happier with that product.  You can see how I make that improved liquid soap here.

Liquid Castile Soap from Bar Soap
How to make liquid castile soap from a bar of castile soap
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124 calories
0 g
0 g
14 g
0 g
1 g
2858 g
114 g
0 g
0 g
12 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
2858g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 124
Calories from Fat 124
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g
22%
Saturated Fat 1g
5%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 10g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 114mg
5%
Total Carbohydrates 0g
0%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
9%
Iron
0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1-4oz bar castile soap
  2. 1 tbsp glycerine
  3. 3/4 gallon (96 oz) water
  4. Optional, 1 tsp liquid vitamin E
  5. Optional, a few drops of essential oils
Instructions
  1. 1. Grate the bar soap. You can get a good arm workout in grating by hand with a cheese grater. Or you can chop up the soap into 4-8 pieces, toss in your blender and pulse until you have small crumbles. I used the blender.
  2. 2. Pour water into a large pot. Ensure there is at least 2-3 inches between the top of the water and top of the pot. Boil the water for one minute (See Note 1). Turn burner to low.
  3. 3. Allow the water to cool for a few minutes, then pour in the grated soap. Gently stir to dissolve the soap into the water. It should dissolve in a minute or two unless you had large chunks of soap. Those took about 5 minutes to dissolve. Turn off the burner.
  4. 4. Add the glycerine, vitamin E and essential oils if using. Stir to distribute.
  5. 5. Let sit several hours or overnight to cool. The soap will remain very watery, but still works like soap! Some of the soap may separate (cloudy at the bottom of the bottle), just give it a quick shake before using.
  6. 6. Pour into your soap dispenser and enjoy!
Notes
  1. Note (1): According to the Center for Disease Control, boiling water for 1 minute will make it safe to drink. While I think my tap water it pretty safe (I have been drinking it for 6 years), I boil the water to kill anything that may be living in it, so my soap doesn’t start growing things. If you use distilled water, you can turn off the heat as soon as the water comes to a boil.
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calories
124
fat
14g
protein
0g
carbs
0g
more
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Before I started my healthy/natural kick, I had another problem.  (Ok, I have a lot of problems.  We’ll just tackle one at a time…)  It seemed for every gift giving occasion, someone (or multiple someones) gave me some fancy bar soap.  Are they trying to tell me something?  Do I really smell that bad?  Self-doubts aside, my problem was that I don’t really like bar soap.  It’s too difficult to keep looking nice and clean next to a bathroom sink, and I don’t like how it feels like it’s leaving residue on my skin when I use bar soap in the shower.  I am definitely a liquid hand soap/body wash girl. 

Update 4 Jan 2017: I have learned that “real soap” – castile soap and the home made ones without chemicals do not leave that residue on my skin, the sink, the shower…and I now love bar soap.

So, what to do with all this bar soap?  Per my usual, I turned to the internet (specifically Pinterest, my weakness).  I found a recipe that involved grating up the bar soap and adding it to heated water until it dissolved.  I tried it.  Worked great!  I used this lovely almond scented soap as a hand soap in my bathrooms for a couple months.  Then one day I ran out of body wash.  Body wash is just glorified liquid soap, right?  So why not use this lovely smelling liquid hand soap?  BECAUSE YOU’RE ALLERGIC TO EVERYTHING, IDIOT!  Well, apparently I forgot about that at the time.  Or I thought because it was ok on my hands it would be ok everywhere.  But I was very wrong.  I got contact dermatitis all over my body (have you ever gotten poison ivy? Yup, it was that reaction).  It took over a week for the contact dermatitis to go away.  That was not fun, but at least I did this stupid experiment in the winter when it was easier to cover up.  

This lovely adventure in discovering a new allergy led me to determine that I needed to get rid of chemicals.  I could not handle being allergic to soap.  So I turned back to the trusty internet.  This time I was smarter, and looked for recipes for fragrance and chemical free soap.  And this is when I learned about  castile soap.  The liquid stuff looked great, but over $15 for 32 ounces?  That was not going to be affordable as an every day and and body soap.   (I did purchase Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid castile soap for a face wash and I do really like it.)  I immediately went out and bought the first castile bar soap I could find. It was Kirk’s Original Coco Castile, which I found at Walmart.  

Kirk’s soap is vegetarian (actually vegan) and contains no artificial ingredients.  Ingredients: coconut soap, water, vegetable glycerin, coconut oil, natural fragrance.  According to the the FAQ’s page of Kirk’s website, the answer to “What kind of fragrance do you use in your soap?” is “The fragrance is less than 1% of the total ingredients in Kirk’s products. The fragrance is a combination of essential oils from the pine and citrus family and is Phthalate-Free. For those with highly sensitive skin we recommend our Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Fragrance Free Bar.” 

Since I have not had sensitivities to and of the listed ingredients, or pine or citrus, I guessed (correctly) that this soap would be safe.  It is so gentle that I can, and do, use it on my face.  

I use this soap as a hand soap, face soap, body wash, and any time my home made cleaning recipes call for liquid castile soap.

If you’re looking for a super-sensitive liquid soap that is less expensive than liquid castile soap, or just want an inexpensive liquid soap, here’s how to make your own!  

Recipe:

1-4oz bar castile soap

1 tbsp glycerine

3/4 gallon (96 oz) water 

Optional, 1 tsp liquid vitamin E

Optional, essential oils

Liquid_soap_1

Instructions:

1. Grate the bar soap. You can get a good arm workout in grating by hand with a cheese grater. Or you can chop up the soap into 4-8 pieces, toss in your blender and pulse until you have small crumbles. I used the blender.

Liquid_soap_3     Liquid_soap_5

2. Pour water into a large pot.  Ensure there is at least 2-3 inches between the top of the water and top of the pot.  Boil the water for one minute (See Note 1).  Turn burner to low heat.

Liquid_soap_6

3. Allow the water to cool for a few minutes, then pour in the grated soap. Gently stir to dissolve the soap into the water.  It should dissolve in a minute or two unless you had large chunks of soap.  Those took about 5 minutes to dissolve.  Turn off the stove. 

Liquid_soap_7

4. Add the glycerine, vitamin E and essential oils if using. Stir to distribute.

5. Let sit several hours or overnight to cool. The soap will remain very watery, but still works like soap!  I think it could even be watered down more and be just as effective – I’ll update as I experiment with this.  

6. Pour into your soap dispenser and enjoy!  If the soap appears to settle with time, just give it a quick flip/shake and it should be as good as new!

Liquid_soap_9

Note (1): According to the Center for Disease Control, boiling water for 1 minute will make it safe to drink.  While I think my tap water it pretty safe (I have been drinking it for 6 years), I boil the water to kill anything that may be living in it, so my soap doesn’t start growing things.  If you use distilled water, you can turn off the heat as soon as the water comes to a boil.

I chose not to add any essential oils due to my skin sensitivity. If you want scented soap, add just a couple drops at a time. You can always reheat soap in small batches and add oils to your smaller batch.

My first try, I used 1/2 gallon (64 ounces) water.  After the soap sat in a bottle for a month, it was too thick to pump out of a regular soap or lotion pump.  I’ve re-made this soap with more water, and I like it much better.

Odds are you have a hand soap pump bottle in your house.  I am all about reusing, so go ahead and keep using what you have!  Or, get creative: I have found that some lotion bottle pumps fit on glass beer bottles. The threads on the bottle and cap don’t align quite right so it will leak if turned on its side, but it fits well enough to use.  

Insider tip #1: Don’t go adding extras to your whole 1/2 gallon batch of soap. I decided to add that Aveeno Oatmeal bath stuff (which I bought to help with that fun contact dermatitis – works great for that application!). To my whole batch. Thought it would make it softer and soothing. All it does is separate and make my soap cloudy, and clog the pump.  And it took me over a year to go through a 96 ounce batch.

Insider tip #2:  As you’re making your soap, at step 3, you might think it is a good idea to use your hot water to dissolve the soap that is stuck in your blender.  If you chose to do this, please use extreme caution!  Because if you fill your blender ⅓ with water, and blend, the entire volume of your blender is instantly filled with beautiful white suds!  These suds are pressurized!  When you open the blender, warm soapy water will spray everywhere!  If the water is too hot, you could burn yourself, and I really don’t want that to happen.  If you insist on making a mess, please ensure that the water has cooled first.  

 

Cost breakdown:

Water: $0.0075 (My water rate is roughly $0.01/gallon, so cost here is 3/4 of one cent. I’ll round up to $0.01 for simplicity in this calculation. )

Kirk’s bar soap: $3.28 + 7% sales tax = $3.51 for 3 bars = $1.17

Vegetable glycerine: $2.99 for 4 oz bottle, ½ oz used in this recipe = $0.38

Total cost for 96 ounces: $1.56

I had been paying $3.97 + tax for 56 ounces of store brand hand soap 

Mine: 1.625¢/ounce

Theirs: 7.09¢/ounce

 

Where to buy ingredients:

Kirk’s bar soap can be found in a 3  pack in the soap aisle at Walmart ($3.28 for a 3 pack currently), or on Amazon

Glycerine can be purchased from a pharmacy.  It is not prescription, but behind the pharmacy counter.  I bought my NOW solutions vegetable glycerine on Amazon because I wanted to ensure it came from vegetable sources.  

Vitamin E capsules can be purchased at almost and drug store, grocery store, Walmart, Target, etc. in the vitamin aisle.  You can just pierce the gel capsule and squeeze the liquid into the soap.  Or purchase liquid Vitamin E on Amazon 

Essential oils can be purchased on Amazon (I like NOW brand), or from other companies like doTERRA and Young Living.  I have used doTERRA with success as well.  

Credits: I got the idea for making liquid soap from a bar from One Good Thing by Jillee