HE Compatible Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

“I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don’t have any clean laundry because, come on, who wants to do laundry on the last day of their life?”

Savings in a bucket or Homemade laundry soap- Depends on how you’d like to look at it.

 *Check out the link at the bottom to see my laundry soap featured on the news!*

HE Compatible Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

Are you making your own laundry soap? Stop laughing. Ever though about it?

What if I said that it’s Eco-friendly, biodegradable, HE compatible, custom scented and only costs you pennies per load… Save the planet and your wallet with very little time and effort. No, it’s not too good to be true, silly. I’ve been making this for years now and trust me there is nothing about me that screams to the world, now that crazy lady makes her own laundry soap. I may be crazy, crazy like a  money/time/Eco foot print  saving fox kind of way! 🙂

When I realized that people still made their own laundry soap, I have to confess, I laughed my tushy off and totally poked fun. Silly silly girl I was. Then the strangest thing happened… the idea of homemade laundry soap kept rolling around in my brain for weeks. I knew we needed to tighten up our budget and the idea of saving so much per month doing the wash for 6 people struck a note with me. I started doing my homework.

It can’t be this simple!

The simplicity is intimidating.

I have to research everything to death before I commit to it. I thought and thought about it until my Handsome Prince started questioning me repeatedly about why I had not just made my dang soap already. Bottom line… I was scared to fail. The what if’s had a firm grasp on me and I was doing my best to talk me right out of taking a chance because I was afraid to not do it well. His advice, ” It’s freaking laundry soap, you’ll be OK honey.” It’s just laundry soap not brokering peace treaties or performing surgery.So what if I mess it up? Try it again. Since my potential foible would only cost less than the price of a movie ticket, I decided it was just fine to do something less than perfectly as long as I enjoyed doing it. With that, I took the freaky leap into DIY laundry soap and I’d Not go back for anything in the world! We love it!

Grab a sassy apron and let’s get to saving the world, your budget and give your laundry your own flair!

Mule Team Borax, Super Washing Soda, Zote Soap

What you need:

1 Box of Mule Team Borax– about $4.29 per box

(each box will make several buckets of soap)

1 Box Super Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)  $2.99 or less

(each box will make several buckets of soap)

14 oz. Bar Zote Soap– It is about $1.00 per bar

5 Gallon Bucket with a Lid   $3.50- $12.50 depends on where you go and what you choose. My experience is about $4.75

Tap Water


Pot that can hold at least 6 cups

Essential oils for custom scent (Optional but Awesome!) 

Soap dispensing containers ( Save the containers from your store bought laundry soap, rinse them well and recycle them for your own soap. If you don’t have any left over containers, try asking friends or family if they have an extra to spare. promising a soap sample can be a good motivator.)

Grate that lovely pink bar of Zote Soap.

Zote Soap

 Put 4 cups of tap water into your pot and set your stove to medium heat. Pour your Zote shavings into your pot and stir frequently until all soap is melted and turned into liquid. Let’s be honest here… a few little lumps here and there is to be expected so don’t drive yourself nuts trying to make it perfectly silky smooth, just press on. It all will work out flawlessly in the end, promise! This whole step will take you about 5-8 minutes.

While your soap is cooking down, fill your 5 gallon bucket 3/4 of the way full with tap water. Water temperature is not important.

In the bucket add:

1/2 C. Super Washing Soda

1C. Borax

Stir together briefly.

Then add:

The soap in your pot

Essential Oils

Essential oils are usually added 10-15 drops per every 2 gallons. We like our laundry to smell cozy and divine so I usually add extra. Careful to pick a scent that you enjoy as it will be with you for as many months as it takes you to use 10 gallons of soap. Keep that gem in mind before you choose your desired smell.

Add more water to your bucket until your about 2 inches from the top or until you feel it’s as full as it can be for you to comfortably stir it without having to then mop the floors too. Here’s where it get’s REALLY REALLY TRICKY.

CAUTION! Pay attention! Are you ready for it?

Make sure when you buy your 5 gallon bucket that you purchase the lid too!!!

Put your lid securely on your bucket and let it sit overnight or for about 12 hours. I make mine just before bed and poof, 1st thing in the morning my laundry soap is ready to go!

Almost Done!

Give your soap a good mix the next day before you pour your soap into soap dispensing containers. It will appear as a thick gel before you stir… or as my son says, the slime from Ghostbusters 2. Using a funnel, fill the soap dispensing container of your choice 1/2 way full of your homemade soap. Do not worry, it will be a little lumpy. Fill your dispensing container the rest of the way with tap water. Shake before each load and use the same amount as you would of the store bought.


You’ve just made 10 gallons of HE laundry soap!

Simple Right? That wasn’t so hard. Only took less than 15 minutes of your time, costs the same amount to make 10 gallons as it does to buy the small jug of your name brand but that small amount of money lasts for MONTHS this way.

What’s stopping you?

Blaze your own trails! Cure your laundry constipation! Make Jimmy’s PE clothes smell good enough to eat!Save the Pandas! What ever your motivation, rock it, be the change and share. Those who care always share! Take some freaky leaps and join the cool kids making their own soap today!

Here’s wishing you a visit from the Laundry Fairy!

Stepping off my soap box now…

Much Love Always,

Meg xoxo

Love the fresh smell of Zote soap but you may use another brands like Cheer or Fels Naptha instead

 If you like the laundry soap, be sure to check our how you can save $$ by making your own Fabric Softener too!

I’m so excited I could bust!
My laundry soap was featured on the news!!
The segment is really cute. ♥
Go take a look while I do a happy dance and switch over the laundry again. 😉
So cool!!

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers



Permanent link to this article: http://justalittlenutty.com/he-compatable-homemade-liquid-laundry-detergent/


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    • Sierra on April 12, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I cannot thank you enough for showing me how to do this. It’s been 6 months since we made my first batch and I still have a few gallons left! I’m linking to this article in my VC Star column Saving With Sierra next week. 🙂 Nice to know I will never buy laundry soap again.

    • Meg on April 12, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Awesome! Thank you!!! I’m so glad it works for you… wish everyone could just try it and I know they’d find the most wonderful, fun & $ saving alternative too. THE BEST way to never run out of soap! Then again, it does take away the “out of soap” excuse for those of us who are laundry challenged. 😉

  1. how much do you use per load? Now Im really determined to find somewhere around here that sells washing soda >.<

      • Meg on May 28, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      I reuse my old laundry soap containers so I use the cap full just as though I was using store bought stuff. 🙂 Maybe about 1/2 a cup. Most Walmarts have the borax, super washing soda & zote soap. I asked customer service at my Albertsons and they had it on their shelves 2 weeks later. If you can’t find it, try asking customer service at your favorite store so you don’t have to pay shipping. 😉 Can’t wait to hear how it goes! I just made a Hawaiian Island smelling batch for summer. We’ll be the family smelling like the vacation we wish we were taking. 🙂

        • Lisa Martinez Espino on October 17, 2012 at 5:28 am

        I’d love to try making my own for the first time. What type of oils do you use to get that tropical Hawaiian type scent. That’s my favorite and is the only reason I’ve been holding out. Thanks!

    • Sally on June 24, 2012 at 11:13 am

    What am I missing? I see to use a 5 gallon bucket and then it says it makes 10 gallons of laundry detergent. Do I split this into 2 – 5 gallon buckets or is it just 5 gallons. I have read this over 3 times now and I don’t get it.

    Thank you!

      • Meg on June 24, 2012 at 11:36 am

      Hi Sally! Your 5 gallon bucket of soap is concentrated. To use it, you will fill your dispencing container 1/2 way full with your concentrated soap from your 5 gal bucket (I use my old Tide bottles to dispence my homemade soap) and fill it the rest of the way with tap water. Shake it and use it just as you would name brand. Your 5 gallon bucket of concentrated soap turns into 10 gallons as you fill your dispencing container and cut in your water. I have used it as concentrate without problems but it is much easier to use and goes further when you use an old brand name bottle and cut in your water. Hope that helps! 🙂

    • Janet on July 4, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for this. I’m looking forward to trying it as it sounds awesome. I live in Toronto and to the best of my knowledge we don’t have Zote soap or the others. I’ll have to use something else so I was wondering if it’s a pure soap bar and how many grams it weighs. Thank you, Janet

      • Meg on July 4, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Hi Janet! I’m glad you found me. 🙂 Zote soap is a Laundry Soap… you can also use it to pretreat stains with it in bar form. You will want to use 400 grams of grated bar laundry soap. I looked up a few types of bar laundry soap from Canada… Hope these give you the idea of what I would use instead of Zote/ is easy for you to find. http://www.grassrootsstore.com/The_Soap_Works_Laundry_Soap_Bar_p/1201.htm Grass Roots Store, http://well.ca/brand/the-soap-works.html See the Old Fashioned Bar soap about half way down the page, I also found many use a brand called Linda Laundry Bar Soap. Hope it helps! Keep me posted! 🙂

        • Laurie on September 3, 2012 at 9:03 pm

        I live not too far from you in Canada
        The only bars I know of here is the old fashioned Sunlight laundry bar ….. alongside detergents or where you find the borax and washing soda. i.e Walmart has these
        Otherwise: Perhaps Ivory Bath soap …which is what I’m going to try next

        Hope this helps

          • Meg on September 11, 2012 at 9:38 am

          Keep me posted on how it goes. I’ve never tried bath soap. I have a hand soap recipe that calls for bath soap but I’m intrested to hear how it turns out for you. In the above comments I put some suggestions I had found online that said they were common products in Canada.
          I forget that so much as we have many of the same products, MUCH is not and it can be frustrating.
          Thanks for the tip!

          If anyone has a tip or a brand that they use that is found in their country, PLEASE SHARE! Don’t be shy! We can all really use the help. 🙂 I’ll start making a substitution products list and maybe I can make this a little more friendly for everyone. 🙂

    • Debbie LaBaire on July 5, 2012 at 10:53 am

    You said to use essential oils, will the oil not stain the clothes, where do I find essential oil? Is it like Walmart has by the candle section in small jars. Which oil or smell did you use?

      • Meg on July 5, 2012 at 11:42 am

      I have some links for oils in the article. I’ve been purchasing mine recently from a friend that has a small start up biz. Yes, they are LIKE the oils in the candle section of Walmart… I used that oil the first few times I made it until I noticed the bottle says NOT to. OOOPs but it didn’t harm anything.:) A girlfriend swears by Trader Joe’s for her oils and another that uses her 20% off at Bed Bath & Beyond to get hers. Scent is really a personal choice. Because it takes a long time to finish off a bucket, I tend to only need to make it 2 or 3 times a year for our family. Coming into Spring/Summer I tend to favor a more Hawaiian/tropical smell. Fall/winter I tend to do a Warm Brown Sugar or Cranberry Mandrin. The heavier scents like patchouli tend to become overwhelming and over the course of that many loads done with that smell you may come to hate it. I like to look for a scent that is light and uplifting. That way there is just a touch of scent to your clothing that is inviting. I have never had any trouble with the oils staining clothing. I believe that is due to the fact that so little is being used in such a large diluted space and then shaken before adding to the wash. You can make it without any scent as well… I do love the fresh clean smell of the zote soap alone. 🙂


    • Staci on July 6, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Ive been making my own soap for the last couple of years and since I live and work on a farm its almost impossible to get your clothes clean with home made soap so i went back to the store bought. 🙁

    • Jeanette on September 1, 2012 at 7:52 am

    You can likely find essential oils at local health food stores, as well as on-line. The essential oils will only give your laundry the faintest hint of fragrance anyway. It is not needed.

    This is a nice recipe. Also, the bar soap can be replaced with liquid dish washing detergent. I started using that about three months ago and it works the same. You can make smaller portions at a time instead of this much. I fill a two gallon bucket with: 1/2 c of each of the three ingredients and warm water.

      • Meg on September 1, 2012 at 10:18 am

      Thanks Jeanette! My mom has asked many times how she could make a smaller batch of her own soap. The 5 gal bucket and the lid made it impossiable for her. I’ve been refilling her jugs so she didn’t have to deal with it but she’s so independant this tip will be so appreciated!

      I’ve seen pictures of people using very cute glass drink dispensers for their DIY laundry soap too. Great idea!

      Our local Farmer’s Market has a great little start up company selling their essential oils. I love buying local and supporting a small business! I have picked up oils at health foods stores as well. Excellent selection there! My local vitamin store has essential oils as well. They run big sales every 2 months with excellent coupons. I’ve picked up a varity there on the cheap by watching for their sales.

      Thank you for your recipe and tips! I’m going to make her a batch this afternoon to try it out! 🙂

    • Ethan on November 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who
    you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

    • Kris on December 3, 2012 at 3:44 am

    Thank you for this recipe! Can’t wait to try my hand at making my own laundry soap! 🙂 I have a house FULL myself (newborn baby boy (1st grandson); 7 adults, 1 10 year old boy, and my 4 year old great-niece) and we can GO through some laundry detergent!! Between clothes and bed clothes, we’re doing laundry just about every day and it’s getting expensive buying my favorite Gain brand at Wal Mart (about $16.00 for the large jug)! the 10 gallons will DEFINITELY come in handy and save me bunches of money I’m sure!!

    Hey! You wouldn’t by chance have a recipe for home made fabric softener would you? I have a recipe for home made Fabreeze myself! It’s great!!! 🙂 Have bookmarked your site and will post the Fabreeze recipe just as soon as I can find it. LOL It lasts pretty long so I’ve only made it 2 or 3 times and haven’t memorized the recipe as yet. Unless someone has already posted a recipe for it, I’d be happy to share mine! 🙂 Thanks again!!! 😉

  2. Great site, I really love your writing. Thanks for sharing it with us jamesf1ank@yahoo.com

  3. I get nervous when people talk about making their own soap – as in bars of soap – because of the lye. With my luck, I would end up permanently disfigured in some mishap. This, on the other hand, sounds like something even I could manage without fumbling. I absolutely DO resent all of the money you have to pay for store brand detergents nowadays. You shouldn’t have to spend more on a bottle of detergent than an article of clothing, but that’s what it’s getting to be! Thanks for sharing. 🙂 [#TALU]

  4. Great tutorial, Meg! Thanks for linking up with the TALU…

    • Alice on January 5, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    You rock! Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

    • tina on February 8, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Dear Meg ]

    I was wondering if you could use ivory or maybe irish spring instead of zote????

      • Meg on February 8, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      A traditional laundry bar soap would be my preferred method only because it’s designed to tackle stains so it comes out the best it can. If you were to use a bar soap I would choose one that doesn’t have a filmy quality to it if you used it to wash your hands. You don’t want random residue from thicker filmy soap to thwart you. Otherwise I would think you would just need to make sure you use enough bars of soap to get fairly close to the same about of Zote used- 2 or 2 1/2 bars I would guess but that depends on size.

    • Katie on March 9, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Will this soap separate? Do you need to shake the container before pouring it out to dump in the washer? Seems too simple not to try!

      • Meg on March 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

      It does separate a bit. I always shake it before using and never have a problem. 🙂

    • Janet on March 17, 2013 at 10:09 am

    I did it! So fast and easy. Did dishwasher detergent last night. Fabric softener next. We all need to buckle down and save money. Thanks for the ready instructions.

    • Christy on April 3, 2013 at 10:37 am

    That was so cool that it was in the news, SOOO ive made my detergent and it turned out rather thick 🙂 But thats okay cause im inpatient and didnt measure correctly lol. Im looking forward to saving gobs and gobs of money, thank you soo much! YOU are awesome, ill let you know how it turns out! I put lemon essential oil and grapefruit and it really smells good with the zote soap! Have a wonderful day!

    • sheryl on April 4, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Look forward to trying this recipe.. Although in Canada the prices for the ingredients are at least three time more money. Washing soda and borax are each almost 9 dollars a small box:( But still should save money.


    • Sharon on June 20, 2013 at 10:49 am

    I just made this yesterday. I am washing my first load with this now. when I took the lid off mine this morning I tried to stir it with a broom handle, it wasn’t working. then I decided to get my hands in there, and mix, and squeeze. I had prefilled a detergent bottle with 1/2 water then used a measuring cup to fill the rest up. I then shook it like crazy. When I added it to the washer, it was very watery, and had no color, it does smell good though.
    Anyway I am checking to see if this is how it is supposed to turn out? Mine looks exactly like yours in the bucket.

      • Meg on June 21, 2013 at 7:34 am

      I usually use my hand to mix too. 🙂 Make sure to mix it from the bottom up in the 5 gal container as the thicker part will be at the top. Sounds about right to me but it’s hard to tell not seeing it first hand. This stuff is REALLY hard to mess up so my bet is you are just fine. 🙂

    • Sarah on July 29, 2016 at 7:44 am

    My friend referred me to this recipe, and I’m so excited to try it! You and her are going to save me a lot of money! By the way, I love your writing style…it was very fun to read and the instructions are really easy to follow. Thank you for taking the time to post this for us 🙂

    • Rose on August 11, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    how much do you use in a front load washer?

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