Southern Mom Loves: Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent

Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent

Monday, March 31, 2014

This post contains some affiliate links.

This is the recipe for the homemade liquid Laundry Detergent that I use. It is super-inexpensive at less than $2 per gallon and the scent is completely customizable! This recipe is low-sudzing, so safe for HE machines. It is so easy to do; don't be intimidated! Once you make it for the first time, you will want to make it every time.

Make Your Own Liquid Laundry Detergent

All of the ingredients are easy to find, but just in case you can't find them at your local stores, they are available online through Amazon.

I used to get my fragrance oils from Candle Science on Amazon, but any brand is fine as long as they're skin-safe. Just look for oils that say they are safe for use in Bath & Body products, like soap, and not just to scent candles. I keep a few different scents of oils around, mostly to scent my Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent. 

Here's how I make it:



    Always label your huge bags of white powder.


    1. Fill your Stockpot with 10 pints of hot tap water (this comes to 20 cups if you need a quick conversion), and heat to very hot and steaming, but not boiling.

    2. While that's heating, finely grate your bar of soap.


    3. Measure out 1-1/2 cups each of Washing Soda & Borax.


    4. When your water is steaming, but not boiling, add in the soap and stir until completely melted.

    and I do! Thanks, random paint stir stick.

    5. Then add in your Washing Soda & Borax and stir until completely dissolved.

    6. Pour about 1 liter of hot tap water into your bucket and then pour in your hot soap mixture and stir.

    7. Fill up to the 3-gallon mark with hot tap water and stir well.

    8. Stir the mixture well about every 30 minutes until cooled. This keeps it from gelling too much. If you forget and it turns into a big bucket of jello, don't freak out! You can use your hands to squish it up enough to pour into your jugs to shake. (Borax burns. Use gloves.) If you have a paint-mixing drill bit, you can use that.

    Alternately, you can let it cool for a bit and pour into your 1-gallon containers to finish cooling. Cap and shake every once in a while BUT DO NOT LEAVE CAPPED!

    Word of warning: Leave the caps off while it's cooling! Or you might come back to half-empty containers. I did this and the heat caused the jugs to contract and it slowly squeezed up and through the edges of the closed lid. Sad face.

    not urine.

    9. Once completely cooled, you can scent the whole bucket at once, or you can divide it into your containers and do 3 different scents. I use about 10 droppers-full in each gallon container, so 30 for the entire bucket. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. If you're measuring out, that's about 1 ounce for the whole bucket. [Update: I used the fabric softener scent method below for the first time and I love it! I ended up using 2 cap-fulls per 1-gallon container.]

    A variant on using Fragrance Oils for people who love the scent of their Downy fabric softener is to add a couple of cap-fulls of that instead of fragrance, and at $3.99 for a bottle, it will save you on the overall cost too.

    Use 1/2 cup of this laundry detergent per large load. I use the gallon bottles to refill an old detergent bottle because the measuring cap is the perfect size. Remember to shake before use!


    If you already have the supplies, the ingredients are pretty cheap and last for a while. The Washing Soda and Borax will make a little over 9 gallons, so here's the math:

    Fels-Naptha: Usually about $.99 per bar
    Arm & Hammer Washing Soda: $3.24 at Walmart
    Borax: $3.79 at Kroger
    Fragrance Oil: Approx. $6.99 for a 4 oz. bottle where I buy it.

      $2.97 (Fels Naptha, 3 bars)
      $3.24 (Washing Soda, 1 box)
      $3.79 (Borax, 1 box)
    +$6.99 (4 oz. bottle of Fragrance Oil)
    $16.99 for 9 gallons, or $1.89 per gallon!

    Even the cheapest laundry detergent from the store is about $10/gallon, so these are some sweet savings AND you get to custom-scent your clothes!

    Like it? Pin it!

    I love hearing how people get on, so leave me a comment letting me know if you've tried it and how you like it. I'd also love to hear other variations. Thanks!

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