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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Homemade Laundry Soap Using Liquid Castile Soap

Have you ever tried making homemade laundry soap?  I have, many times, with varying results.  I finally found a recipe that works for me that I'm going to share here.  Most recipes use simple, easily obtained ingredients that are sold in either local grocery/department stores or available online. I like being able to make my own laundry soap because it gives me a sense of accomplishment that I've made something useful.  (I am woman, hear me roar and all that!)  I also like knowing that, in a pinch, if I need to, I can whip up something to do a load or two of laundry in case I run out of laundry soap. 

I've found, however, that homemade laundry soap is one of those things that people either love or hate.  They have mixed reasons for trying it.  Some people do it for economic reasons, some for environmental reasons, and some for personal reasons such as having sensitive skin. Other people have tried it and rejected it because they felt it didn't clean their clothes well, it didn't smell right, or it was more work than they were willing to do.  If you are willing to stick with the process, you can often adjust the ingredients to develop a laundry detergent that works for you and your situation. 

Most recipes call for a grated bar of some sort of soap such as Fels Naptha, Zote, Kirk's Castile soap, or Ivory Soap along with water softeners and laundry boosters such as washing soda or borax.  Grating a big old bar of soap can be tedious, even with a food processor, because once everything is mixed, most people prefer to run it through the food processor yet again to grind the mixed ingredients into a fine powder. That's kind of pain.  If you don't have a food processor, you'll have big curls of soap shavings in your dry mix.  That is unless you use the liquid soap recipe.    That tends to make a big, gooey bucket of laundry soap akin to slime.  However, there are recipes using liquid soap that are very easy to make, work well, and are very gentle.  

My favorite recipe uses Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap.  It comes together very quickly.  It's easily mixed, it's not messy, it's not slimy, and it is has concentrated cleaning power in a very pourable consistency.  The recipe is below, with some notes.  

1 cup very hot water
1 cup Dr. Bronner's castile soap, any scent 
1/2 cup washing soda*
1/2 cup borax*
1 gallon clean, empty container

INSTRUCTIONS:  Place borax and washing soda in a small pitcher or cup (easier to pour).  Add 1 cup very hot water (or more) and stir until washing soda and borax have dissolved.  Pour into gallon container.  Add castile soap.  Do not shake!  Cap container and tilt back and forth to mix soap, washing soda, and borax.  Remove cap and slowly add cold water until container is full, leaving enough room to mix.  Again cap container and tilt back and forth to mix.  Allow to cool, shaking periodically to blend.  This will be a very thin, watery detergent, but it works very, very well and has a wonderful scent.  

If you shake the ingredients before filling the container with water, it will make suds.  Then when you add the cold water, it may overflow the container.  Tilting the container back and forth several times will mix the ingredients without generating suds.

TO USE:  Measure out 1-2 tablespoons of laundry soap into dispenser or bottom of washing machine, and launder as usual. You may need as much as 1/4 cup if there are tough stains or the laundry is extra dirty. 

*NOTE:  The standard recipe calls for 1/2  cup each of washing soda and borax.  I have found that for our type of water, it is better to adjust the ingredients to be 3/4 cup washing soda and 1/4 cup borax because we have a high calcium content in the water so need a laundry additive that has a higher acidity.  If you use the regular recipe and find your clothes are not getting clean, try adding 1/2 cup of white vinegar or 1/2 cup lemon juice to the wash to further soften water and chelate any metals present in your local water supply.  


  1. Hi there, just wondering if you have tried making the new Laundry Sauce mixture using these ingredients. We cannot get Fels Naptha in New Zealand and I am intriqued by this new Laundry Cream or Sauce which is using the ingreds you used but it is *whipped* after it is mixed and cooled.
    Sandra nz

  2. Hi, I just tried this recipe and it is not blending well at all, a lot of chunks are all in the bottom of my container. : ( Any recommendations? I followed the directions exactly.

  3. Same thing happened to me it just chunked at the bottom

  4. Same thing happened to me. How do you melt the ingredients together, so there are no chunks?

  5. Same thing for me. I ended up just trying to mush the chunks up myself, but I think next time I'll use more hot water and make sure that dissolves the powders; the one cup of water didn't dissolve as much as it should have.

  6. Same thing for me. I ended up just trying to mush the chunks up myself, but I think next time I'll use more hot water and make sure that dissolves the powders; the one cup of water didn't dissolve as much as it should have.

  7. I even tried boiling the water and mixing ingredients then and it still clumped together. Any other suggestions?

  8. I ended up with chunks as well. Eventually I realized that stirring constantly will get the chunks to dissolve, but after 30 minutes of stirring I just put the chunks in my blender to do the job. It may have gotten more foamy from doing so, but at least it's all mixed. Next time, I'm finding a different recipe. :(

  9. I love this liquid laundry detergent! I fill my gallon container half way with very, very hot water...than add the Washing Soda & Borax, cap the bottle and shake like crazy to mix. Then I add the Castile Soap (I like using Dr Bronners Eucalyptus Castile Soap) return the cap and gently swirl to mix, and then slowly add the cold water and swirl again to mix. It comes out perfect every time.

  10. Going to give this a try. Thank you for sharing.

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