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The Best Homemade Laundry Detergent: Liquid and Concentrate Methods

Updated: Jun 27

Are you like us and prefer to know what is in your cleaning products? What better way to know than to make them yourself. This homemade laundry detergent is one Emmaline’s family has been using for years. Her family prefers it over the store bought varieties and I am so excited to give it a try.

These directions make the concentrated and regular laundry soap gel but if you liked one more than the other you could just follow that portion of the directions. The concentrate is better for use if you live in an area with soft water, or have a water softener. It is also best to use when you wash with hot water. Also, it is easier to store since it is just in a jar but it doesn’t dissolve as well in hard water or cold water.

The gel, which is actually Emmaline’s favorite soap version, can be used with hard or cold water and it doesn’t matter if you have hard or soft water for it to work well, but it takes up more space in the laundry room in its bucket.


Begin by heating up 4 cups of water in a deep pan. While this is heating you’ll want to cut up the soap. We used a Fels-Naptha bar but you could use Zote if you prefer. A bonus to the Zote bar is your soap turns out PINK!

Cut Soap

First cut the Fels-Naptha soap bar into small chunks then use a food processor to blend it fine. If you don’t have a food processor you can grate it with a cheese grater.

Grind in Food Processor

The finer the granules are the easier it will be to dissolve them in the hot water. Make sure you don’t use cold water or the soap will just clump back up (it’s going to clump back up a little no matter what, but cold water makes this worse).

Dissolve Soap in Hot Water

As the water comes to a boil the soap will gradually dissolve. This can take up to 15 minutes. Stir constantly to keep the temperature even throughout. Continue to stir until the soap is completely dissolved then it will bubble up very fast. Remove from the heat quickly when the bubbles begin to rise up or it will overflow.

There may be a few little chunks of soap that haven’t dissolved but you can just press them against the sides of the pan and they will melt right into the solution. Try to avoid the fumes as you add the rest of the ingredients.

Next, add 1 cup of washing soda (See the link for making this out of baking soda.) and 1/2 a cup of borax. As you stir this mixture you can feel the granules begin to dissolve. If you do this step while the soap is hot they will dissolve more easily. When the granules are all gone, pour 2 cups of the mixture into a jar for the concentrate. If you just want the concentrate do this step twice. If you just want gel then skip this step. Use a wide mouth jar if you will be using an immersion blender to mix it up like we did or use a regular mouth jar for using the blender attachment if you prefer that method.

Add Water to Jar

Add 2 cups of hot water to the jar of soap. Place the lid on and let it sit upside down for 4-6 hours. (Do not let it sit longer than that or it will get too hard and be granular as opposed to creamy.)

After the 4-6 hours the concentrate will separate into the liquid at the bottom and the soap will float to the top. Turn the jar right side up. Use a butter knife to poke through the solid portion so the liquid can go through to the bottom. Then, use a blender or immersion blender to mix it. Start at a low setting. Press down with the immersion blender firmly. Once you break through the solid portion it becomes a lot easier to mix. It should make a nice, smooth, creamy mixture.

Use 1 tablespoon of concentrate per load of laundry. Emmaline just throws the plastic scoop in the wash with her clothes and it comes out clean with no mess.

Concentrate after 4-6 hours

We are making both versions of the soap, so we poured the rest of our soap mixture into our bucket of 2.5 gallons of water. Stir and allow it to sit for 12-18 hours. If you were just making the gel you would put the full batch of the mixture into 5 gallons of water in a large bucket.

Gel after 12-18 Hours

After the 12-18 hours of sitting the liquid is nicely gelled up. Stir with a long spoon to break through the clumps of gel. Use 1 cup of gel per load. Emmaline also has a cup measure that she just throws into the wash with her laundry just like the measuring spoon with the concentrate.

It is better to put the soap directly in with the clothes if you have an H.E. machine. Do not put it through the soap dispenser, especially using the concentrate version.

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