Making your own liquid laundry detergent is easy & dirt cheap. This low sudsing recipe works great and makes 2 gallons.

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  • Liss Favorite Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe

    Making your own liquid laundry detergent is easy & dirt cheap. This low sudsing, softening recipe works great, smells great and makes 2 gallons.

    1/3 Bar Fels Naptha Soap, Grated
    1/2 Cup Washing Soda
    1/2 Cup Borax
    1 c. Purex Laundry Softener Crystals (any scent you like)
    2 Gallon Bucket
    1 Quart Hot Water
    Cold Water

    Dissolve Fels Naptha in about 2 cups of water in a saucepan over low heat, until completely smooth, add washing soda & Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. In a 2 gallon bucket, pour 1 Quart Hot Water, add soap mixture, and mix well. Dissolve 1 c. of purex laundry softener crystals in the soap mix, stirring well. Fill bucket with cold water, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens and gels.

    This mixture will Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.
    Comments 25 Comments
    1. m.simmons's Avatar
      m.simmons -
      I tried this recipe last week and it did not thicken and gel. Any ideas on what I did wrong? I really want to make my own liquid detergent. I made a powder version this week and I don't like it as much. Thanks.
    1. FreebieQueen's Avatar
      FreebieQueen -
      It might be that you did not heat the bar soap up enough to melt it thoroughly so that the ingredients would incorporate. The texture of your finished product should be like heavy egg drop soup.
    1. catipuss's Avatar
      catipuss -
      Where can you buy the Purex laundry softener crystals?I live in Canada and don't recall seeing it here.I know I can't get Fels Naptha because I have made my own laundry soap before and used another bar soap and it was quite successful.This one sounds like I would be able to use it in my HE machine because it's low sudsing.
    1. Liss's Avatar
      Liss -
      Where can you buy the Purex laundry softener crystals?
      Walmart, in the laundry isle.

      Attachment 4165Fels Naptha is available on Amazon with Free Shipping (if you're a Prime member) for $4.35 a bar- Still dirt cheap compared to Laundry soap prices. Walmart also has fels naptha near the clothing dyes in the cleaning section.
    1. m.simmons's Avatar
      m.simmons -
      Quote Originally Posted by FreebieQueen View Post
      It might be that you did not heat the bar soap up enough to melt it thoroughly so that the ingredients would incorporate. The texture of your finished product should be like heavy egg drop soup.
      Ok. I know I wasn't suppose to bring it to a boil but I may not have let it heat up enough. I will try it again and see what happens. Thanks for the info. I still used the top layer of it, but it never mixed throughly with the two gallons of water so I tossed the rest of it and tried the powder, which was good but did not seem to last very long.
    1. mechelle's Avatar
      mechelle -
      just made the detergent, does the fels naptha smell like gojo hand cleaner to anyone else? and how much does it thicken up in the 24 hrs because its not that thick ruight now, very thin in fact. though i dont see its thickness making a whole lot of difference in how it cleans
    1. Liss's Avatar
      Liss -
      It does to me too Mechelle, that's why I use the purex crystals. It's usually pretty thin the first 2 hours and then becomes rather thick within 4 hours and like a really thick egg drop soup overnight.
    1. C2Ranches's Avatar
      C2Ranches -
      Okay I am going to try this. I think this site is the best ever!!!
    1. waycoolmom's Avatar
      waycoolmom -
      i have made something like this before but never heard of using the softener - 1 c. Purex Laundry Softener. is this for hard water or does it improve the soap recipe?
    1. Liss's Avatar
      Liss -
      Glennda, I use it because I like the scent and softness that it adds.
    1. LBest's Avatar
      LBest -
      Just a few things I have found

      I have used a similar homemade detergent recipie.However I dont add the fabric softner. I have made my own softner and use a Downy ball. I prefer this, because the detergent recipie makes ALOT of detergent, and I like to switch out scents.

      Also if you cant get the Fels Naptha soap, you can use any heavy duty laundry soap. THere is another type here, but I can't for the life of me, remember the name. I have seen recipies with normal bars of soap. My fear in using those is the amount of Glycerin and/or sudsing action you might get.

      It is important to heat the soap till everything is disolved. There is no difference between grating it fine or large. It just disolves faster is all.

      It took a full 24 hours for mine to gel. And it wasn't solid. There were large pieces of gel in the bucket. It doesn't stir or mix. At first I used my hands because it was kind of neat to play in, but then I got tired. Best investment we made, was to go to Home Depot and purchase a "paint stirrer" attachment for my husband's drill. They are inexpensive and make the job of stirring more like a giant blender! Also gets a more uniform mixture.

      Because you use so much less than regular detergent, it will last a while. We kept ours in the bucket with a lid and poured what we needed into one of those water deispensers with the spout that goes in your fridge. It comes through the spout fine. However, we bought a (I think) its a 2 gallon container..? It can seperate a little. All we do is just pull it out, give it a couple shakes and its good as new.

      Its low sudsing (the laundry soap) so if you dont see suds, dont worry, its working.

      I used the Fels Naptha soap bar. It smells kin of citrus-like. We added no oils, because I wanted to see how it worked first. Although it smells kinda like citrus in the container and when you take your clothes out, it doesnt remain in the dryer. It just smells..clean.

      Although I have made my own softner, I am having difficulty getting the scent to remain in the clothes after drying. But that could be because my brain has been taken over by corporate America:P So I admit I do have a bottle of Purex crystals in the cupboard if I need them. But the softner recipie does soften great and it doesnt seperate at all. We use the same water container, just smaller. So they sit in the cupboard and have little spouts on them. Super cute.
    1. C2Ranches's Avatar
      C2Ranches -
      I tried this on Tuesday, and it still is not thickened, at all. Has a foamy scum on top but has not thickened. LBest maybe be right and we are not getting it mixed well enough. I was careful to heat it gradually and make sure that all the Fels was dissolved before adding the Soda and Borax. (by the way use a large pan, the soda reacts with the Fels and foams alot). Anyway I am going to use the soap anyway, because I do not see how thickening is going to make it clean better. I like the crystals this stuff smells awesome
    1. Jane's Avatar
      Jane -
      LBest maybe be right and we are not getting it mixed well enough. I was careful to heat it gradually and make sure that all the Fels was dissolved before adding the Soda and Borax. (by the way use a large pan, the soda reacts with the Fels and foams alot).
      Maybe it's due to the type of pan you're using because I make this recipe all the time and it doesn't Foam At All. I use a 5 gallon plastic pail rather than a pan. I only melt the fels naptha in the pan, THEN add it to the plastic bucket of remaining ingredients.
    1. MDM1123's Avatar
      MDM1123 -
      Make sure you're using WASHING Soda, not baking soda. Two very different things.
    1. Ashleyshomemade's Avatar
      Ashleyshomemade -
      To those of you having problems with thickening it is because of the purex crystals. I make my own detergent with these same ingredients, one time I melted the purex crystals along with the soap and that batch of detergent came out significantly thinner. I always just sprinkle the purex crystals into the washer with the laundry. I think their new tropical scent is fantastic
    1. FreebieQueen's Avatar
      FreebieQueen -
      While this recipe is one that we use quite often (we don't have hard OR soft water- which DOES make a difference as to how the detergent sets up)- I wanted to point out that there are 50+ Laundry Detergent, pre-treaters, stain fighters and homemade bleaching recipes here in the Laundry Section of - - Make Your Own Laundry Detergents, Stain Removers, Pre-Wash Sprays and More!

      There are specific recipes for those with Hard water and Soft Water as well.

    1. tacyn's Avatar
      tacyn -
      How thick does the mixture get after adding the borax and soda?
      Does it get a foamy layer on top?
    1. arizona's Avatar
      arizona -
      I love this laundry detergent but I just make it with fels naptha, borax and washing soda just using the dry version. I DO NOT ADD water, I do add purex crystals for scent, but you dont have too, it smells fresh enough as is. My daughter uses this also and adds equal portions of oxy clean and baking soda to her receipe.

      I dont like the goopy liquid version. It is messy. I much prefer the dry version. I use two tablespoons per load and it works wonderfully.
    1. Carolynn's Avatar
      Carolynn -
      My friend made this soap, without the softener crystals and gave me some in a quart jar, I found that it got thick on top, but all I had to do was shake it each time before I measured it out and it was find. I love how clean the clothes come out and can't wait for my batch to be ready to use! I use only 1/2 vinegar in my softener cycle and really like how the clothes come out!
    1. lmitchell's Avatar
      lmitchell -
      It would be crazy messy, but can you just make it in a bucket with a lid and mix it by hand? I don't have an immersion mixer and my hubby is not happy at the thought of using our only hand mixer for a cleaning product. Any suggestions?
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