Southern Mom Loves: Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent

Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent

Monday, March 31, 2014

This post contains affiliate links.

Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent

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.

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 posted about my homemade sugar scrub here and told you where I get my Fragrance Oils. To recap, I get them from Candle Science on Amazon, but you can search the web and find them anywhere. Just make sure they are safe for use in Bath & Body products, and not just in Candles. I keep a few different oils around mostly to scent my Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent. Here's how I make it:

You will need a few supplies:
  • A bucket (I use a 3 gallon bucket)
  • A large stock pot
  • Something to stir (I use the wooden stir sticks that come free when you buy paint)
  • Containers to store it in (I use 3 clean, gallon-sized, plastic milk or vinegar jugs)
  • A cheese grater
  • Measuring cups
  • A funnel

  • A bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap (found in the laundry section, or you can use Ivory, which I've done, but I like Fels Naptha more. If you can't find in your area, you can order online.)
  • Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda!) (Also found in the laundry section much cheaper than online.)
  • Borax (Also found in the laundry section of your store, or about the same price online.)
  • Fragrance Oil of choice OR a bottle of Fabric Softener
Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent supplies
Always label your huge bags of white powder.


  1. Fill your Stock pot with 10 pints of hot tap water; this also comes to 20 cups if you need a quick conversion, and heat to very hot, but not boiling.
  2. While that's heating, finely grate your bar of soap.

    Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent grate soap
  3. Measure out 1-1/2 cups each of Washing Soda & Borax.

    Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent measure powders
  4. When your water is steaming, but not bubbling, add in the soap and stir until completely melted.

    Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent heat
    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.

    Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent mix
  8. Stop in and stir the mixture well about every 30 minutes until cooled. This keeps is from gelling too much. If you forget and it turns into jello, don't freak! You can use your hands to squish it back up. Borax burns. Use gloves. Alternately, you can let it cool for a bit and pour into your containers to finish cooling. Cap and shake every once in a while.

    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.

    Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent pour
    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 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 container.

Use 1/2 cup per large load. I pour each gallon into an old detergent bottle as I empty it because the measuring cap is the perfect size. Remember to shake before use!

Cost: 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!

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.

Homemade Custom-Scented Liquid Laundry Detergent finished

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 or not. I'd also love to hear other variations. Thanks!

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