The best liquid laundry detergent recipe

The best liquid laundry detergent recipe

Over several years I’ve been working on changing my laundry detergent. First to eco-friendly ones and now it’s all home-made. This experimenting has taken a few years and I want to save you time by sharing my recipes. A home-made powered detergent is easy to make and efficient. See my easy recipe here. The hardest thing has been making a liquid product which will work better than powdered in a cold wash. For years I made one based on a recipe you’ve probably seen but the problem is it makes a large amount which then needs storing. I wanted to remove all that unnecessary water and make it liquid enough to pour from a bottle. Finally I’ve got a recipe I’m happy with. Try it and see how easy it is to make yet it still cleans well.

The ingredients include my two staples for cleaning – castile soap and washing soda. No baking soda you ask? No – washing soda is the equivalent here and I prefer it when making liquid stuff for, well, washing.

How to make liquid laundry detergent

LIQUID LANUNDRY INGREDIENTSgms/mls
Washing Soda / Soda Ash100gms
Castile bar soap (grated fine)25gms
Water900ml
Essential oils1ml

This will make 30 or so washes. I recommend making enough to trial it then upscale it so you have enough to last a few months. I prefer to weigh the ingredients as it gives a more accurate measure. If you don’t have scales – 100gms of washing soda is about 1/3 of a cup. Look at the weight of your bar of soap (probably 75 or 100gms) and divide it accordingly – ie use a third or quarter. 1ml of essential oils is quite a few drops. Remember that a teaspoon is considered 5mls.

Equipment needed

pot – bucket – stick blender – container to store the finished product

Make liquid laundry detergent

  • Boil the water in a pot on the stove – it may be quicker to boil a jug of water first.
  • Add the finely grated soap.
  • Simmer at a high-ish heat and stir until all the soap is completely melted. And I mean every single bit.
  • Take the pot off the heat and add the washing soda (the mixture may foam up so I prefer to have it off the stove at this stage). Stir the mixture gently to mix in the washing soda.
  • Return to the heat and simmer for two minutes until the mixture has thickened. Depending on your soap and source of washing soda it will only slightly thicken, if at all.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before transferring to something that will be suitable for whizzing up the mixture with a stick blender. A bucket works well. You can also leave it in the pot if you’ve only made a small volume (eg this 900ml) and your pot isn’t tiny.
  • Leave overnight to cool – the soap will set on the top of the liquid.
  • The next day (or when the soap has set) – add essential oils to the mixture and use your stick blender to break up the soap. Keep whizzing until the mixture blends to a nice even smooth consistency like a white liquid hand soap. This is where a bucket might be a good option.
  • Transfer to a bottle or jar. The mixture will separate into liquid and soap in between uses so you’ll want to be able to shake the container when you use it.
  • Label it with what it is and how much to use. This will help guests and husbands. Including the ingredients on the label is best practice with any DIY products incase you have to explain to the ambulance team what your child has ingested!

Use

25-30ml depending on your machine and state of clothes. Experiment to see how much you need and keep a note on your container. With a concentrated liquid it’s easy to use too much.

Shake the container before using as the water will separate from the soap.

Cost

How much it costs you to make this will depend on where you buy the ingredients. Buying in bulk will reduce the cost but isn’t always practical. The costing below is an average and I’ve rounded up rather than down.

COST OF LAUNDRY LIQUIDcost per gms/mlscost in 900ml recipe
Washing soda0.005$0.5
Bar soap0.03-0.04$1
Essential oils0.4-0.5$0.5
Waternana
TOTAL COST – 900ml$2
COST PER WASH (based on 30 washes in 900ml)$0.068

Compare this to the price of your regular liquid laundry detergent. It can be hard to make a quick calculation as you can’t just look at the size of the bottle and the price – you need to see how many washes you get from it. A look online shows me that a 2L bottle of Earthwise contains 66 washes (0.16c a wash on special at Countdown) whereas a 2L bottle of Surf has 40 (0.25c a wash from The Warehouse). Regardless – this home-made version is way way cheaper. It also contains no nasty ingredients (especially fragrance) and no plastic bottle to get rid of.

Notes

  • When adding the washing soda you may want to wear a mask if your product is very fine as particles may become air borne.
  • Some essential oils can cause the mixture to split. I’ve had this happen with grapefruit. It doesn’t effect how it works in the machine.
  • This same method can be used to make a liquid cream surface cleaner. Double down with your DIY product making.
  • Castile soap – I get mine from Lotus Oils. It’s made from olive oil and sodium hydroxide only. I’ve used other soaps and these work ok eg Ecostore Lemongrass (this saves on using essential oils too). You will probably need to adjust amounts as they will make the end product more or less thick. Check the ingredients of whichever soap you use to make sure you aren’t using something you were trying to avoid by making your own!
  • Washing soda – I get mine from Pure Nature or Blants. Bin Inn type places stock washing soda – it’s generally more flaky than a fine product and can react differently when making products. Which ever you use it doesn’t seem to affect how it cleans.

Happy Green Cleaning!!

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