Green Options › How To's › Diy Liquid Laundry Detergent Step By Step

Diy Liquid Laundry Detergent Step By Step


One of the things I have always disliked about laundry is the expense and the waste of time. I'm fortunate to have a washer and dryer in my current apartment -- though the dryer is electric and I only use it as a last resort in the winter to dry sheets and blankets (everything else is hung on hangers around the apartment). Most of the year, I hang my clothing to dry on the line.

Detergent is always expensive - liquid detergent is a waste because you're basically buying water - powdered detergent comes with its own issues. I read about making your own laundry detergent several months ago and have been planning for the day when I finally used up my box of Biokleen powdered detergent.

While the ingredients are all basically the same - bar soap, borax and washing soda -- proportions vary widely as do the amounts you use. One powdered recipe recommends using only 1T or 2T, and the liquid detergent recipes vary between from 1/8 to 1 cup. One of the biggest variables in the liquid detergents seems to be the amount of water added -- recipes calling for 2 gallons are around 1/4-1/2 cup soap for a load, and recipes calling for a 5 or 10 gallon bucket have you putting up to 1 cup in the wash. I live in a small apartment - the idea of using a small 2 gallon bucket (with lid) that fits under the sink appeals to me.

Since I am cutting down on driving (like to 200 miles per month average since December), I like to link trips as much as possible. Yesterday I drove into San Francisco and left my car for an oil change (prematurely - at 6K miles, I'll wait until 10K or next June), then I went and did errants. I picked up Borax ($5.29 for 76 oz) and washing soda ($0.60 per lb) at Rainbow Grocery. They no longer carry Fels Naptha, so I picked up a couple bars of Kirk's Coco Castille (saponified coconut oil) "just in case." My brother helpfully checked around and informed me that the Pastime Ace on San Pablo (where I planned to find a bucket) carries Fels Naptha -- so I picked up James and we went back to the East Bay to the hardware store.

So, I invested in a bucket with a lid -- buying more plastic was not part of the general idea of making my own laundry detergent but my last bucket only lasted 12 years and died a month ago. I ended up buying a second bucket for floor cleaning and watering the garden. This morning I realized I need some kind of container to store my fertilizer ingredients per Crunchy Chicken's gardening challenge (and watering the garden is going to be another experiment - I have to visit my friend Dave about the 55 gal drum/spigot gravity drip hose with a battery powered timer system he uses).


Costs (including tax):

Bucket & Lid


Ingredients (per batch)

  1. Borax ($5.73 for 76 oz box = $0.07 per oz) 1/2 c weighs 2 7/8 oz - $0.20
  2. Fels Naptha ($1.40 for 4 oz bar) 1/3 bar - $0.47
  3. Washing Soda ($0.65/lb = $.04 per oz) - 1/2 c weighs 5 1/8 oz - $0.205

Total Cost for 2-Gallon batch of laundry detergent: $0.875

64 loads at 1/2 c. soap per load


$0.014 per load



If I include the cost of the bucket, my first batch comes to $0.11 per wash (or less if I use 1/4 per load).


The powdered soap I was using costs something like $0.11 and liquid soap costs a bit more.


  1. Dissolve 1/3 bar grated Fels Naptha soap in hot water.
  2. Add 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup Borax to hot water.
  3. Pour hot tap water and soap mixure into bucket and stir. Let sit overnight before using.

HPIM5533 HPIM5534 HPIM5536




Tip Nut has about

10 recipes

Crystal Miller has a recipe with

detailed instructions



See also recipes from:

Suite 101


The Frugal Shopper




There are no comments yet
Green Options › How To's › Diy Liquid Laundry Detergent Step By Step