Pour On The Clean With Liquid Laundry Soap

Melt the soap flakes in very hot water, just off the boil.

Before I started working for Lehman’s, I taught public speaking for several local universities and community colleges. One speech that the students really seemed to like was the demonstration speech. About three years ago, I had a student who showed the class how to make powdered and liquid laundry soap. I much prefer the liquid version.

The basic recipes and processes she shared were similar to this recipe. Start out with these easy-to-find ingredients:

1 cup of borax
1 cup of washing soda
1 bar of grated soap

You’ll also need:

A large saucepan
4 cups water
5 gallon food-safe bucket with lid
Long handled spoon -or- paint stirrer that attaches to drill bit
Slotted spoon

Once soap flakes are dissolved in hot water, turn off heat and add washing soda/borax mixture. Mix in until powders dissolve. Mixture will thicken slightly.

Mix borax and washing soda together in large bowl or measuring cup. Put water into saucepan, and bring to rolling boil. Remove saucepan, add grated soap slowly to water, stirring as you do so. Return saucepan to heat, stirring with slotted spoon until soap is completely dissolved. (Lower heat, as you want to melt the soap, not boil it.) Once soap is dissolved, remove from heat. Add and stir in borax/washing soda mixture with slotted spoon until dissolved.

Fill 5 gallon bucket with approximately 4.5 gallons hottest available tap water. Leave enough room to add the soap/borax/washing soda solution. Top up bucket with hot tap water until full. Use long spoon to stir and mix completely. (If you choose to use the paint stirrer on an electric drill, start out slowly so you don’t slop the soap over onto the floor!)

Add soap/borax/washing soda to hot water in 5 gallon bucket. Bucket should be nearly full–this one is partly full for photo purposes! Stir well once soap mixture is added.

After mixing, let mixture sit 24 hours, with lid on container. When you open it, you’ll see that mixture has thickened slightly, with a pouring consistency of heavy cream. There may be ‘islands’ of a more solid mixture. This mottled appearance is normal!

Add liquid detergent as you would in regular washing machines. (I keep mine in a small pitcher to make dispensing easier, refilling from the big bucket when needed.) I do shake it before using the washer.

In HIGH EFFICIENCY machines, use only 2 ounces at most per load. I would also recommend using white vinegar in the softener cup of each type of washer. With the liquid soap, this has two benefits: the clothes will be guaranteed to rinse cleaner, and the vinegar will soften and brighten the laundry too, especially white clothes.

To keep laundry soft and static-free in the dryer, try laundry balls. They’re easy to use and super-effective.

This soap has the same non-allergenic properties as the powdered version. I use Fels-Naptha, because I know that I won’t have an allergic reaction to the soap. (I have severe allergies to most brands of commercial laundry products.) I spot-treat with the liquid detergent too now, and only rarely use a commercial spot treatment.

The solution is also handy if you need a quick detergent to clean up something quickly, especially diluted for use spot cleaning on rugs or carpets. (This soap is great for washing out the cat box too! For the cat box: empty box, add 1 ounce soap to 1 gallon hot water, add to box, swish until box is clean. Rinse thoroughly.) I keep a half-gallon lidded container of the detergent under the sink so I don’t have to run down to the basement when I need a bit of detergent in a hurry. I even got a grungy bathroom floor in my rental house spotless with this detergent, along with a dose of vinegar in the floor washing bucket.

One five-gallon bucket of detergent lasts nearly 5 months for my husband and I, and costs us about 6 cents per load. Compare that with as much as 15 cents per load for commercial detergents!

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Molly Westlake on Facebook
11 years ago

Can this also be used to replace dish washing liquids like Dawn? If not, do you have a recipe for something like that?

Lehman's on Facebook
11 years ago

Molly Westlake stay tuned – we are working on an article for dish soap too!

11 years ago

[…] the last year, I’ve been able to experiment with homemade laundry soap and homemade dishwasher detergent. After that last bit, folks were writing in, asking about dish […]

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