Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

B. L. Corley
B. L. Corley Posts: 4
edited May 2019 in The Homestead: DIY

I just made my first batch and thought I’d share as Marjory & Jim suggested. Found the recipe online at prepsteaders.com. It’s good for use in all washing machines including front loaders and for prepper hand washers. Makes 5 gallons of concentrate (or 10 gallons total after adding water to concentrate); this adds up to about $1 per gallon. Save an old container, and give it a try.

Ingredients (all available at Walmart):

1 box Zote flakes

1 cup Borax

1 cup Super Washing Soda

A few drops Lavender/Eucalyptus oil (optional)

Pour whole box of Zote flakes into 5 gallon bucket. Add 1 gallon hot, nearly boiling, water and stir. Add the borax and washing soda. Stir. Add 2 more gallons of hot water from faucet. Stir. Finally, fill to top with hot water. Stir and let dissolve overnight. Fill a clean bottle half full of stirred solution and half full of water. Shake well before each use. May add a few drips of essential oil to each bottle as prepped.



  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin
    edited May 2019

    Thanks, @B. L. Corley !

    A few questions:

    Do you have a suggestion for how much should be used per small/medium/large load?

    Will this work for HE washers?

    And ... would also love an update on how this works for you, if you wouldn't mind. My young kids can sure do a number on their clothes, so I need high-powered laundry soap and find that Tide Free works decently well for us. But I'd sure love to save some $$$ on laundry soap if the homemade stuff can handle my family's dirt! :)

    Thanks again!

  • Desire’
    Desire’ Posts: 31 ✭✭

    I've tried making liquid soap with borax twice and it turned to crystals within a couple days. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I've followed 2 recipes and they each did it. I'm curious if your soap will still be liquid in a few days.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin
    edited May 2019

    Hi Brenda, so glad to see you posted!

    Hey @Jimerson, check this out - that soap recipe we were talking about today.

    THis is so good - and super cost effective. Yup, a reason to save those old containers 🙄

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    Here is a challenge is there ever was one LOL

    I am fresh from the lambing barn. A complete mess! I wonder if this soap would work on this?

    @Jimerson was with me too.

    I still don't know why my photos get uploaded sideways or upside down....

  • Jimerson
    Jimerson Posts: 291 admin

    Haha, you're right Marjory! If this detergent can clean jeans after lamb wrangling in muck, it can clean anything.

    I am interested in Desire's concern about it turning into crystals before I go out and try this! @Desire’ , did either of your recipes involve all the ingredients in @B. L. Corley 's recipe?

  • Desire’
    Desire’ Posts: 31 ✭✭

    The laundry detergent recipe that I tried that crystalized had all the same ingredients except the Zote flakes. Instead my recipe had grated Fels naptha soap.

    The dish detergent I made that crystalized had castile soap, washing soda, hot water, 10-20 drops essential oil. So maybe its actually the washing soda that is the culprit.

  • B. L. Corley
    B. L. Corley Posts: 4
    edited May 2019

    I made my solution up a couple of days ago, and it’s still a gelatinous mass (needs stirring again before putting in containers) - no problems crystallizing. I do keep it closed up in the 5-gallon bucket. Also, I did stir very throughly after each addition.

    I was told this is a strong solution that should work well on most anything Tide would handle (not sure about Marjorie’s situation, lol) and is safe for ALL washers.

    Regarding amount per wash, I’m using an old liquid detergent bottle and just use the cap to measure out the solution.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,503 admin

    My experience...

    I made a dry version in the past...not liquid. I can't get either fels naptha nor zote in Canada. Castile soap is very expensive. I used Sunlight, which is a laundry bar. I used this for a long time when doing my wash.

    I found that large flakes (I grated it) didn't dissolve well, small ones did better. However, with our very hard water, it started not cleaning as well and clothes didn't smell as clean.

    I tried a dishwasher version (slightly different recipe), and it left a film on everything.

    A vinegar rinse didn't help much and us said to wreck rubber seals.

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    I make my own laundry detergent. First time, it turned out fine. Since then, second time I made a mistake so that doesn't count. Third time, it hardened up in the bottom of the jar, but I did not dilute it according to directions. I added water and let it sit; then used it, just used a bit more. When I get home, I'll add my recipe because it is supposed to be a detergent, not a soap.

  • An
    An Posts: 42 ✭✭

    I have had problems with every version I have tried to make. Our water is very hard as well and I end up with scum, film, and dirty clothes. We also are trying to use our water in a grey water system and I was told that borax and washing soda would be too high in salt if used too much.

    Anyone have hard water and a successful recipe?

    Anyone have thoughts on greywater systems and borax and washing soda?

  • DianaAnderson
    DianaAnderson Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

    I have made my laundry soap for YEARS. Tried using the Zote and found if things are greasy it won't clean them. So I switched back to Fels Naptha and have been happy ever since. I do only make Dried Laundry soap. Equal parts Washing Soda, and Borax.

    For a single batch I use 2 cups Washing Soda, 2 cups Borax, 1 bar Fels Naptha grated. have mixed it by hand, and also used my food processor to grate the soap and mix the dry ingredients. I use 1/4 cup per load unless very Large load or very greasy. Just add laundry soap in washer start water load clothes and walk away.

    I do pretreat any blood stains with Hydrogen Peroxide to help with it setting. I also use a sliver of wet fels naptha bar to rub on greasy stains.

    I have used it in my HE front load washer, Top Load washer, The nice part of the laundry soap is it doesnt suds so this is what makes it great for an HE Washer. We have had 2 different septic tanks we have used this soap with no problems.

    I tried a couple of times to add OxyClean and/or Baking Soda but it dilutes the soap so I just add them separately as needed.

    I have very hard water from our well and so I add Vinegar to everything! It really helps with the hard water build up! Spray it full strength on everything. Hope this helps!!

  • Karyn Pennington
    Karyn Pennington Posts: 71 ✭✭✭


    I've made laundry detergent for years (but don't currently) with the Borax, Washing Soda and Fels Naptha. However, I would leave it in powdered form until I was ready to use it. I would add about 1 cup (dry) to an empty container and top with boiling water and then shake it like it's a work out! My guess is you're letting air get to it somehow. It has to remain covered/sealed, but making the powdered batch all at once and then just making a gallon (or so) at a time is MUCH easier. You still need to shake it before each use, but I've only seen in crystallize on outside of the container (where it comes in contact with air).

    I would still do it if I had the time, but I work full time and spend any spare minutes at home in the garden/yard. It's cost effective and does the job, it's just time consuming. I have several full bars of Fels Naptha should the urge ever return.

  • louis2001
    louis2001 Posts: 1

    Interesting and seems not difficult to make. I think I'll try making a batch in a couple of weeks or so.

  • cre8tiv369
    cre8tiv369 Posts: 67 ✭✭✭

    Wow... so I was curious about this and it seems like this is as much fun and as complex as making homemade toilet paper (the last thing any pepper wants to be forced to do).

    I found some websites online that warn against these exact formulations for laundry detergents, they offer all sorts of reasons and data and proof. But to be honest, I'm not sure it's real or if its industry sponsored propaganda or something... Take a look and let us know what you think. http://butterbeliever.com/homemade-laundry-detergent-soap-diy/

    I kinda get part of what they are saying and that is that modern washing machines are not designed to clean fabric by way of detergents and that they are designed to work via surfactants and that hand washing would be better suited to a detergent. (just like modern dishwashers don't have brushes or scrubbers and they recycle the water through a lousy filter and they basically do a final wash/rinse/sterilize but your dishes should be clean going into them and sanitary coming out).

    Regardless, I would like some opinions from those that are actually using diy detergents. Have to tried a "strip" to see if you get the gross results they show in the pictures? Also, if this strip is so good, then can that (or part of it) be worked into the diy recipe somehow?

  • Karyn Pennington
    Karyn Pennington Posts: 71 ✭✭✭

    I read most of the article. I used DIY detergents for quite a few years. I don't any more. Mainly because of the time it takes to make, but also, there did seem to be a "residue" of sorts left on towels and jeans/khakis, dark t-shirts, etc. I religiously used (and still use) vinegar as my fabric softener, which is supposed to help remove the residue, which many people (perhaps the author) do not do.

    I currently use something like Mrs. Meyers or another more natural brand. But I do still use vinegar in the rinse and I also use "softening crystals" homemade of epsom salts and whatever essential oil I choose (usually lemon, some other citrus or peppermint).

  • Jimerson
    Jimerson Posts: 291 admin

    For your homemade laundry sauce, is it ok to wash all clothes together or do they tend to leech colors?

  • MissPatricia
    MissPatricia Posts: 318 ✭✭✭

    My detergent recipe comes from ONEessentialCOMMUNITY.COM. It calls for super washing soda, salt, essential oils, Sal Suds and filtered or distilled water.

  • dipat2005
    dipat2005 Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭

    https://www.becausehealth.org/how-safe-is-borax-2651226765.html is a website that talks about borax and some alternatives you can use. @Jimerson I have never had a problem with color leaching. The first time I wash a new item I use cold water for all of the laundry. Then I usually use warm or hot water. I only wash one load at a time. I have used the laundromat for several years.

  • water2world
    water2world Posts: 1,148 ✭✭✭✭

    @ B. L. Corley Please update as to how this recipe works for you. I am very curious to try making some. Thanks!

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,100 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting. I need to get my hands on the ingredients and try this. Having a batch of the dry on hand to mix when needed would be great and save money.

    I know years ago when my Dad's clothes would be really dirty and greasy, (he had a racecar he worked on) My Mom used a product called Biz. Haven't seen it in many years. She would presoak the clothes in Biz and dawn detergent. Always came out clean even though he wore white t-shirts.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 2023

    I've been thinking about making some laundry detergent. But not sure what would be safe in my new washing machine which should be arriving in a few days. The old one wouldn't run correctly after 15 or so years of use. We were thinking about fixing it but couldn't find parts. My son looked at the control board and saw that several areas were corroded. We found a used replacement control board online, but my son looked at the picture they posted and said it was also corroded. It sounded like a good price until we figured it out.

  • heirlooms777
    heirlooms777 Posts: 208 ✭✭✭

    Some people take Borax tablets as a supplement.

    Am I correct to think that you can just shred a bar of soap in place of Zote flakes?

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 1,019 ✭✭✭✭

    @heirlooms777 I make a similar soap by shredding a bar of castile soap.

    I've never heard of zote flakes and was wondering what they are and are they better or just different than using castile soap.

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 741 ✭✭✭✭

    Me either, this may be fun to make though.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    Another project! Let me add this to the list. LOL

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,100 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I want to add this to my list as well. Just have to find the ingredients first.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,503 admin

    As was stated above, the dry version is very time consuming to make. If your soap is not fine, it dissolves a bit better. It does not work well in hard water and will not properly clean clothes over time. The clothes will retain a residue.

    I can think of much more profitable/efficient ways to use my time pursuing other money saving or self-sustainable projects. This just does not "give" as touted.

    I read above & elsewhere, that many people use vinegar as a stripping agent. However, putting vinegar into your machines will ruin the rubber seals. My dad, a former appliance repairman, told me this. He found it frustrating. Don't follow the vinegar use advice unless you feel like replacing your machine.

    What I now use is TruEarth laundry strips. They are Canadian made, eco-friendly, inexpensive, dissolve quickly, clean well even in hard water, and are ultra easy to use.

    We buy a "year" at a time for the best value. We wash lots of clothes, etc., yet still these strips last us double that time, which is awesome. As long as you keep the strips dry, you'll run into no issues. I believe storage life is a full 2 years. They now have other products that they have added to their line up. I might try their dishwasher tabs at some point to see if they work as they claim. If it's anything like the laundry strips, I will like them.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,100 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning Good to know. Guess I'll go back to figuring out how to grow something soapy like soap nuts.

  • jowitt.europe
    jowitt.europe Posts: 1,446 admin

    I am still washing with soapwort extraction- the liquid of boiled soapwort. It has been already for more than two years. And I still use my home made apple vinegar as a detergent. This combination is perfect for all bed linen and not too stained clothes or kitchen towels. The stained ones I soak, before I wash and use some laundry soap.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    Has anyone done the soap berries thing?