Adventures in Making Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Summer-like weather seems to have finally hit the Seattle area, and I for one am cheering wildly!  This means, among other things, that I can use my outdoor clothesline once again.  The clutter of indoor drying racks gets too much to bear at times.

With solar dryer usage getting into full gear, I decided it was a fine time for me to try the liquid version of the homemade laundry detergent recipe.  I had made the powdered version, with great success, but had been itching to have a go at the liquid stuff for quite a while.  It looked a bit like a chemistry lab in my kitchen while I was making it, but it was actually pretty fun.  The hardest part of the task was grating the Fels-Naptha soap, but I love the smell of it and once I got in a rhythm, it grated pretty quickly.

After letting the detergent mixture set overnight, it ended up in quite a gooey, gloppy mess, which is as it should be.  It won’t look anything like commercial liquid laundry detergent. This is actually how the finished product is supposed to look, with the consistency of egg-drop soup:

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

  • 1 bar Fels-Naptha soap
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda

You will also need a cheese grater, a medium sized pot, a five gallon bucket (with lid), and water.

Grate the soap into a pot.  Add 2 cups water, turn to low and mix until combined and soap is melted.  Remove pot from heat and set aside.  Pour the Borax and Washing Soda into the five gallon bucket and mix.  Add the soapy water from the pot and mix quickly and thoroughly.  Add enough water to fill 3/4 of bucket (I used 3 gallons water), and continue stirring.  Put lid on and allow mixture to set overnight.  Use 1/2 cup for small loads – 1 cup for large loads.

I found that it coagulates at the top, so you do need to break it up by stirring it well before you use it!

I washed a load of towels today, using the new homemade detergent.  They turned out really clean and fresh!  I have them out drying on the clothesline in the sun.  Going to a more natural way of doing laundry has been my goal over the last 6 years or so.  I have found that using simple ingredients to clean, and the sun and air to dry is really the best (and most rewarding) way to do this domestic task.  So happy washing and happy drying – the natural way!

~Marilyn Huttunen


One Response to “Adventures in Making Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent”

  1. finnfemme

    UPDATE: I just washed a load of darks in lukewarm water using this homemade detergent. THEY TURNED OUT GREAT! There were some small clumps of soap swishing around in the wash, but it all rinsed out well.

    Most importantly, there were no white residual streaks left on my son’s dark T-shirts, like commercial liquid detergent always seemed to do. It all rinsed out very well and the clothes are spanking clean with NO residue at all. ~Marilyn 🙂

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