Homemade Laundry Soap Concentrate


I wrote about homemade laundry detergent several years ago (here). Later, I edited that post to add notes about making a concentrate. I’d grown tired of taking up so much space with my homemade laundry detergent. I wanted to simplify–but still make a lot of laundry soap at once because who wants to make it every week? The trick to a concentrate is the amount of water. Too little water, and the mixture becomes difficult to deal with. Too much water, and you’re back to the storage issue. I’ve tried less water and more water, and since the original post is so old and outdated, I want to share my current method. I’m using a little more water now than I did when I first started making a concentrate, but I think it works better this way–and still doesn’t take up too much space.

Another choice for tighter storage would be a dry mixture–just mix everything up and add it dry to your washer. I’ve never been a fan of dry laundry detergent, though. Especially when washing cold loads, it doesn’t always dissolve.

For the soap in this recipe, you want a super-sudsing and hard grating bar. Fels-Naptha brand is popular for homemade laundry detergent, but for a homemade soap, I have a recipe here: Homemade Laundry Bar. I’ve also used Ivory soap in the past. This time, I was out of laundry detergent and didn’t have any homemade laundry bar soap made, but I had some Fels-Naptha on hand. I used two bars. (The bars are about 5 1/2 ounces each.)

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How to make Homemade Laundry Soap Concentrate

2 bars (approximately 4-5 ounces each) plain soap
2 quarts water
2 cups Borax
1 cup baking soda
1 cup washing soda

Grate the soap. I use the grater blade in my food processor.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer. Add the grated soap and stir until melted.

Don’t walk away while you’re melting the soap or you’ll end up with a really clean kitchen, if you know what I mean.

Not that I’ve ever done that. (Uhh….) Stay tuned to your pot and stir it down if it starts to bubble up. (Lower the heat if it’s bubbling up. I also recommend using a big pot.)

Once the soap is melted, turn off the heat and add the Borax, baking soda, and washing soda. Stir to dissolve. The heat of the warm pot will be enough to let it dissolve in a few minutes. Don’t add clumps–Borax, baking soda, and washing soda all tend to clump up in the box sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t dissolve easily so break up any clumps before adding to the pot.

This is the time to add fragrance, if you intend to do so. You can add 10-15 drops of essential or fragrance oil. (Usually, I don’t.)

Cool the mixture. As it cools, it will congeal. Stir to break it up. It will be sort of like mashed potatoes. Transfer to a container. I use an old ice cream container. It fits easily with room to spare so I can keep my measuring cup sticking up out of it.

One of the other things I don’t like about liquid homemade laundry detergent is that it always separates. You have to stir the soap mass back into the liquid. This method avoids that problem. It’s thick enough that it congeals to a soft mass that can’t separate. (Be sure to stir as it’s cooling to keep the mixture balanced as it forms the mass.) There’s enough liquid in it to keep it from getting hard, but not enough to allow it to separate. Store-bought liquid detergents use emulsifiers, by the way. I’ve thought about experimenting with Polysorbate 20 in homemade liquid detergent, but that would still leave the storage issue of making a full-on liquid, so I headed in the direction of finding a concentrate that I liked instead. (I also didn’t like the added cost of using emulsifier in the mixture.)

For this concentrate, use 1/8 to 1/4 cup, depending on the load. If I’m not using hot water for a load, I find it works better to put the amount of the detergent mixture that I’m planning to use in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds to re-dissolve the mixture before adding to the wash.

This makes about 9-10 cups of laundry concentrate, which is 40 loads at 1/4 cup per load or 80 loads at 1/8 cup per load–and only a few cents each time. And it doesn’t take up too much space!


  1. Pam full of joy says:

    Very timely for me. I had decided that today was the day I was going to make “Suzanne’s laundry soap.” 8)

    It’s turned into a few days in the kitchen. Lactic cheese, chicken stock made from chicken feet (that was new for me), butter. With Christmas coming and guests to feed, too, pepperoni rolls and/or French bread pizza, and yogurt are all up on the list for making. A fun time of the year.

    I know you are only recently beginning to think of yourself as a farmer, do you also think of yourself as a scientist? :snoopy:

  2. tammyinwv says:

    I have made homemade liquid before and hated the hassle. a few months ago, I tried a dry recipe. It works great. No need to heat anything. Just grate the soap and combine the other ingredients. I also wash in mostly cold water and have an HE machine. I just toss a scoop or two directly into the drum. I have never had anything not dissolve and cling to the clothes.

  3. CaseyS says:

    This is PERFECT! I have been making the liquid using dawn dish liquid but it’s a little too watery for my liking. I’m definitely trying this way next. I too do not have room for big 5 gallon buckets of detergent so concentrating it will work out great! Thank you!

  4. Ramona Slocum says:

    I have a front load washer, so I am wondering if this makes a lot of suds. Do you think I could use it? When I buy it I look for the he symbol.
    MN Mona

  5. Spiderjohn says:

    I have been making my own laundry detergent for 4 or 5 months now using Fels Naptha soap, Borax and Arm and Hammer super washing powder As the weeks pass, my whites keep getting dingier and greyer! Clorox does not help! Does anybody have any suggestions. I hate to start paying $7.00 for All detergent again!

  6. tammyinwv says:

    I dont mean to hi-jack this thread, but I wanted to confirm you can use this in a front loader machine. I have been for months without problems and that is doing 2 loads a day. Just be sure and place detergent directly inside the drum if using the powdered. Also the recipe I use is slightly different in that it uses oxyclean generic, and I have had no problems with dinginess and my hubby works in the oil field.
    In the past I have used the above recipe with good results, so I know It is a good one, but in these hard times every little money saving tip can be helpful.

  7. Blyss says:

    I use almost the same dry recipe as Tammy, and have not had a problem with dingy whites. I did before I added the generic oxiclean, which I get for a buck a container at Dollar Tree, or similar dollar stores. Bonus with the Oxiclean is I get a nice little Tablespoon sized scoop for my soaps. (I package it into smaller containers and give to friends and family, and they each get a scoop this way.) Also, I have not had a problem with it dissolving, even in cold water, but I make sure the bar soap is grated very small.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Thanks. I don’t wash whites very often–I barely have any whites–but that’s a good suggestion about adding an oxygen bleach like Oxiclean or a generic. If you don’t wash a lot of whites, you can just add it separately to loads where you need it.

  8. Leaves of the fall says:

    Hmm…. might have to give this a try. When I make the liquid-style homemade soap, I usually pour into an empty laundry bottle that I’ve saved. I used to pour into 1-gallon milk jugs, but over time, those seem to become weak and end up with a hole, which, as you mentioned, makes for a clean shelf. 🙂 I normally make between 4 and 5 gallons of the liquid… but it is a royal mess… so the best time to plan on it, if you make the liquid, is when the floor needs mopped. lol Thanks for the suggestion here.

  9. blabass says:

    I make the dry version of the laundry soap as well. I use the Zote and my whites come out good. I also started making the spot remover 1/2 hydrogen peroxide and 1/2 dawn dish soap. That works FANTASTIC!!! Even got out pomegranate juice which is really stainy.

  10. Seamistress says:

    I too love making soap, it is so satisfying and I kind of feel like a mad scientist… but in a good way :dancingmonster:

  11. annabel52 says:

    I use almost the same recipe (without the baking soda) and make a liquid concentrate. I tried putting the concentrate in vinegar jugs because they are stronger than milk jugs, but had too many sitting around.(I use vinegar as a final rinse addition) I now use a big, old cat litter jug. Works perfect. Large opening and I just transfer to the saved old laundry soap bottle when it gets empty.

  12. jeandf says:

    I use the dry recipe. Easy peasy. One tablespoon and I’m done. Two for extra dirty loads. Simple green for oily stains, a glug of vinegar (in the rinse cycle) when I do towels, and my laundry has never been better.

  13. Jen says:

    I’ve made my own detergent for yrs. it took me awhile to find one I really liked. I don’t like the liquid ones for the reasons you mention – storage & it separates.

    Here’s the recipe I use.

    I’ve used it for about a yr or so now. ZOTE is my favorite soap for homemade detergents. I really don’t like the scent of Fels Naptha.

    I put a Tbs. in the wash before I add any laundry, as the water is running. Then I swish it around a little once there’s an inch or two of water. Then add the clothes. I wash all my laundry in cold water & don’t have any trouble with it dissolving. Also, I shred the soap in my food processor then mix everything in a large trash can before storing it in a container.

  14. Amerayl says:

    Spiderjohn It sounds like you may have some really hard water. Dingy whites are a result of the minerals in hard water binding to the soap and being deposited on the clothes. Adding more soap isn’t the answer, it is less. Try using a little less of your laundry soap, or tweaking the formula a bit. Like uping the washing soda and less borax. I had to add Polysobate 20 to my load when I lived in AZ. Also, adding an extra rinse with about 1/2 cup of vinegar to help get neutralize the soap.

    I know it seems wrong to use less soap, but it is worth the try. Believe me, if you knew how little soap I really need to wash my cloth diapers, you’d be amazed. I also rinse my diapers quite a bit. I started doing the same thing with my towels and they are smelling sooo much better. I replaced the fabric softener with vinegar and after a bit, they are still soft and absorb so much better.

  15. Amerayl says:

    I love the idea of this concentrate, Suzanne. Too bad I just made some laundry soap yesterday. It would be nice to have a smaller container since I moved from having a laundry ROOM to a laundry CLOSET. LOL, I will keep this in mind. :woof: Although, I think I’m gonna experiment with KOH since I do not like the crystalline nature that bar soap gives liquid laundry soap.

  16. tammyinwv says:

    as a followup on comment #15 to spiderjohn, the addition of epsom salts to the recipe is supposed to act as a water softener. I have naturally soft well water so I cant attest to this.

  17. princessvanessa says:

    Suzanne, would placing a wooden spoon across the top to the pan prevent the soap from bubbling over? It works for foods that tend to bubble over (spagetti for one).

  18. princessvanessa says:

    The top OF the pan…..

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