5-Minute Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe: Quick, Easy and Cheap

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by Cassie


I’ve finally done it! I’ve finally tried a homemade liquid laundry detergent.

For years, I have used my homemade versions of powdered laundry detergent. We love them and have been completely satisfied with our homemade powdered detergents. I have been making the powdered detergents for so long that they have been tried and tested in both an old used regular upright washing machine and new HE front loading washer. In both machines as they work well! They are cheap and I can make it in 10 minutes. We have also heard from many of you that you like these powdered detergents as well.

But we have had several of you that have raved about homemade liquid detergents. I haven’t had a desire to make laundry detergent this way as nearly every recipe has required a pretty decent amount of time and labor. I HATE grating soap. I also don’t want to spend 24 hours making laundry detergent. Yes, I know, hands-on wise, it’s not that long. But in all honesty, when I run out of detergent, I usually need more ASAP. So, I just haven’t felt the need to try liquid if my powder one works great and takes 10 minutes to make.

Well, a couple of months ago, we had a family that stayed with us overnight (we are part of a Christian Hospitality Network for Christian families all over the world to have a place to stay, and if we go on the road, we have hundreds of places to stay too! It’s GREAT!…..Now back on topic ;)) and the mom in this family also liked making her own cleaning products as well. She also agreed that homemade liquid laundry detergents take too much time and this has stopped her from making it. She’s like me…. if she runs out, she needs more right away, not a day later.

She shared that she found an instant liquid laundry detergent recipe. I was intrigued and thought I would give it a whirl myself. She sent me the recipe a few days later when she got home from Everyday Cheapskate.

So I gave it a whirl and added my own modifications with essential oils.

Here’s the recipe and then I will talk about the pros and cons at the bottom.


What you need:

- 3/4 cup of Borax
- 3/4 cup of Washing Soda (or Soda Ash)
- 3/4 cup of Original Blue Dawn Dish soap
- Lavender essential oil (get them HERE)
- Hottest tap water
- 1-gallon container with a tight lid (I also used the Arrowhead water container, you can grab them for $1-$1.50 filled, drink the water and you have an affordable heavy duty container with a tight fitting lid and a comfy hand grip to make it easy to use).

Okay – are you ready for this……. it’s quite complicated! :)


  • Dump the 34/ cup of Borax and Washing Soda in the bottom of a gallon jug with a tight lid – I used a funnel to not lose any.


  • Then, with the hottest tap water you can muster, fill your bottle with water to the bottom of the label.


  • Put the lid on tight and shake vigorously (BONUS: you will work on your underarm wings at the same time!)


  • Then add you 3/4 cup of Original Blue Dawn Dish Soap.


  • Muster up the hottest tap water again and fill up your bottle until the bubbles reach the top (liquid line will be several inches down still).  I actually filled the 3/4 cup scoop and poured it into the funnel to fill it to wash out any remaining down and washing down into the bottle.


  • Then put the lid on again and shake vigorously, switching the hard working side to the other side to get an equal underarm wing workout (no one wants just one wing ya know ;)).
  • Finally, let it set on the counter for a bit for the bubbles to settle.
  • Then top it off with lavender essential oil (about 10-12 drops) if you like (I LOVE lavender in my laundry) and a slow flow of hot water to fill it up (slow flow to not create a lot of bubbles again).


That’s it!

To use:

  • Simply add 1/4 cup of this liquid detergent to a full wash load (this is enough!) and less for smaller loads. The amount is the same in both a top loader and an HE machine.  I have an HE machine now and I have been using this with no problems. It doesn’t create a lot of suds and so it’s great for HE machines.


  • This detergent is super easy to make and I can make it in half the time of my powder and a lot less equipment.
  • It seems to be quite effective in our laundry!  Dawn is also used often as a stain remover, so it makes sense to include it in a detergent!
  • The laundry smells great!
  • The laundry seems to be nice and clean!


  • The mixture does separate.  The blue Dawn will settle at the top.  So every time I need to use it, I just shake it vigorously for about 5 seconds before adding to the washer.  But I look at this as a pro as it forces me (again) to work on my underarms.  The housework workout is quite an effective one, but there aren’t many things that work on the underarms – so now you will be lifting a several pound weight and shaking it = underarm workout bonus for no additional cost!
  • Your clothes can become a little starchy according to others, I have not noticed this at all – perhaps it’s because I also use vinegar in every load – which I highly recommend.  This will do many things additional to your laundry, but also help the Dawn wash out completely to prevent starching.
  • It is not technically natural.  My powdered versions are totally natural.  But because of the Blue Dawn, it cannot be labeled natural.  However, original Blue Dawn is one of the mildest commercial products.  Again, not the Dawn’s with a bunch of added stuff and scents, just the good ol’ classic.  The good news is that this is the cheapest dawn and it get’s cheaper the bigger bottle you buy.

This was the biggest bottle at Walmart (56 oz.) as it was the best value at the time, but after buying this, I saw it at Costco and Sam’s Club that was about twice the size and even cheaper per ounce.

After this first batch, this is how much I have left. So this will last me for quite a while!


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Alex & Cassie

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Maureen March 29, 2014 at 4:26 am

Just curious to how much it cost you a gallon for the detergent or price per ounce? Love the recipe thanks for sharing and I was also curious as to where you buy your washing soda/soda ash? Is the soda/ash available in bulk?



Carla March 29, 2014 at 8:04 am

My local Walmart carries Washing Soda. Around 5 years ago, this wasn’t the case. :)


Cassie March 29, 2014 at 8:07 am

That’s a good question Maureen! Let me do the calculations and get back to you on the price per load. I know it isn’t much. It might not be as cheap as my powdered detergents, but definitely cheaper than store-bought. But I will do the calculations :) Also, you can find washing soda and Borax at Walmart on the laundry aisle. Borax is $3.38 and washing soda is $3.24 for very large boxes that will make several loads. You can see the cleaning shopping list with prices here: http://thethriftycouple.com/2013/03/15/make-23-homemade-natural-cleaning-products-for-around-12-printable-shopping-list-too/


Melinda Brehm March 29, 2014 at 8:01 am

Hi, I saw in your article that you add vinegar to each load of laundry. I am curious as to how much you add to each load and when in the cycle do you add it?? Thanks!


Cassie March 29, 2014 at 8:10 am

Hi Melinda, I put about 1/4 – 1/2 cup (depending on load size) in the fabric softener spot instead of fabric softener. So whenever you would do that for your washer is when you would add it. I use to have an upright and put it in the middle hole in the agitator once the machine was going. Now I have a front loader and I put it in the fabric softener spot before starting the machine. Hopefully that helps :)


laura carr March 29, 2014 at 8:16 am

Does it have to be the original blue Dawn or will others work as well?


Cassie March 29, 2014 at 8:44 am

I don’t know about the others as they have a lot of additional additives that may not be great for fabrics. The classic blue dawn is a degreaser that is used for much more than dishes and gentle enough for fabrics (and pets/animals – we have seen and heard of many using this for pets. But also, when oil spills occur, they use this for the ducks and animals there too!). You can always try it and let us know! The other benefit is the classic blue dawn is also the cheapest. :)


Michelle March 29, 2014 at 12:10 pm

blue dawn is the best, it was actually developed to clean animals that had been devastated by oil spills not just happened to be used for that, developed for that. For every blue bottle you but $1 goes to help clean wildlife affected by oil spills (can’t remember the name of the foundation). Dawn only became dish soap when they realized it was super gentle and effective for oil on animals and could be marketed for use around the house and would offset the costs of cleaning the wildlife. I hate to sound like a spokesperson but because of their environmental connections it is all we use. My husband even uses it in the shower after work (mechanic) to get all the car fluids off him!


maggie March 29, 2014 at 8:28 am

I have been using this recipe for a couple of years, while I have everything out I usually make a large batch and put it in a 5 gallon bucket. I love it!


leslie dietrich March 29, 2014 at 9:00 am

I make the homemade cleaner with blue Dawn and white Vinegar. It was labeled as a “shower cleaner” when I saw it on FB, but I use it to remove stains on clothes as well as for cleaning and it works better than Shout. I will certainly give this laundry detergent a try! I think it’ll work wonderfully with my “stain remover” I already use!


Courtney McGrew March 29, 2014 at 9:05 am

I use a different gallon jug for my detergent so I’m curious to how much hot water your measurements come out to be, since I don’t have the label to judge the line. Thanks!


Cassie March 29, 2014 at 9:24 am

Hi Courtney, you just need enough to mix the first 2 ingredients, so there isn’t an exact science to it. It would probably be about 2-2.5 cups of water for the first shake mixing.


Jodi Nicholson March 29, 2014 at 9:13 am

Also if you can find it. Its best to use the classic dawn. That’s the one they use to bathe wildlife that has been in an oil spill. Its not concentrated. We have it locally at the Dollar General store.


Emily March 29, 2014 at 9:39 am

May I switch out the Dawn dish soap for a natural dish soap? (I have found good deals on natural dish soap online.)


sabrina March 29, 2014 at 9:40 am

Hi I was wondering how much vinegar you add per load. Could you please email be that’ll you Sabrina


Emily March 29, 2014 at 9:46 am

What do you think about substituting Castile soap for the Dawn?


Cassie March 29, 2014 at 10:04 am

I actually love this idea because we try to only use natural products in our home and this is one recipe that is not 100% natural (although Dawn is one of the simplest commercial products). This recipe is the widely used liquid recipe, but I had thought of castile soap as well. I just don’t like posting things until I make it and try it. I will do that next and so watch for that soon!


Jennifer March 29, 2014 at 9:47 am

How much vinegar do you use per load and when do you put it in? The last time I tried to use vinegar, my clothes reeked of vinegar! I either used too much, put it in at the wrong time, or it was because I have to go to the laundry mat and I used public triple load washer. Will this work for hard water from a well also?


Cassie March 29, 2014 at 10:06 am

Hi Jennifer, I haven’t ever heard of laundry smelling with using vinegar – it’s actually the opposite, which is why people use it in laundry. It pulls odors out better than most anything else out there and does not leave a vinegar smell. Here’s how I use it: I put about 1/4 – 1/2 cup (depending on load size) in the fabric softener spot instead of fabric softener. So whenever you would do that for your washer is when you would add it. I use to have an upright and put it in the middle hole in the agitator once the machine was going. Now I have a front loader and I put it in the fabric softener spot before starting the machine. Let me know if that works.


Jennifer March 29, 2014 at 10:28 am

If you don’t want to grate bar soap… and use either dove or felsnaptha, microwave it first before blending in the food processor.


Heather April 2, 2014 at 8:50 am

I’ll have to try this.
Now, what about this Christian Hospitality Network? Could you tell me more?


Jj April 7, 2014 at 7:16 am

I use your powdered detergent recipe and love it but do not like pulling out my almost never used food processor to grate the soap. I would like to try this but I am worried about pouring the liquid detergent into 1/4 cup measure and spilling-wasting the detergent. Has reusing the water jug been difficult to handle when it is full? Any other suggestion as to what type of container to store this in to avoid a mess?


Bob Bergeron April 12, 2014 at 8:05 am

go to wally world and get a refrigerator water dispenser with the push button spout.


Jolee April 11, 2014 at 11:50 am

I don’t do nearly as many loads of laundry a week as you do note that the kids are grown, so I think I’ll save the container from the natural liquid deterrent I’m using and make a smaller batch!


Bonnie Harris April 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm

I just read your post regarding cooking beans and freezing them. All you mentioned was putting in water. Do you put in any seasonings?


Michelle April 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

How much vinegar do you use per load?


Becca April 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Is this super deodorizing? Or do you have any tips/suggestions? My husband is a diesel mechanic so in the warmer weather you can imagine what his shirts might smell like on top of the usual dirt and grime. I’m afraid the smell is there to stay.


Jemo April 13, 2014 at 3:03 pm

I notice you say the laundry “smells great”! I don’t want my laundry to smell at all. Would look forward to comments from anyone who has tried non-scented liquid dish soap instead of the Dove.


Jj April 14, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Can you make this so it is printable?


Carie April 15, 2014 at 7:26 pm

I just made up a batch of the liquid laundry soap. I don’t see any bubbles in the wash load. Is that how yours looks when washing?


Jennie April 22, 2014 at 9:05 pm

I make my own liquid laundry soap too and i love it. it costs me about $30.00 per year to make it.

4 Cups – hot tap water
1 soap bar
1 Cup – Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax

- Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)

-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.


genna April 23, 2014 at 4:26 am

My is super watery and I feel like I use twice as much. Is there anyway to thicken it up?


kris June 24, 2014 at 8:05 pm

I was told by my washer repair man that dawn is very bad for your washer not only because it suds alot and can wear out the motor but it can also degresse the moving parts of the washer please look in to this


Kelly August 11, 2014 at 11:09 am

This is such a great idea! I am a contributor author on Satisfaction Through Christ and we are doing a back to school round up this week and we would like to feature this post on there! Please let me know if this is ok and if we could use a photo image in the post. Congratulations on being featured! The article will post this Thursday :)


Alex August 11, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Hi Kelly,

Yes that would be great :)



Rhonda Ramey September 6, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I’m new to this, so I hope my question does not seem silly:) when adding this detergent, is it ok to put in the dispenser, or add it after I put in the clothes? The reason I ask is because some of the other sites say it will clog the dispenser. Can’t wait to try!


Cassie September 6, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Hi Rhonda, I’ve been putting it in my dispenser, but either way would work fine. :) Thanks for asking!


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