Monday, March 14, 2011

Making Liquid Laundry Soap

So a while ago, I said that I would do a post on making liquid laundry soap. Here it is: YAY!!!!! I find that making liquid soap is not only a lot more forgiving than making bar soap. I am sure that most people won't agree with me, but this is my blog so I can say what I want.

I make laundry soap from 100% coconut oil because in my research I've read that soap made from coconut oil a lot better than soap with other oil bases. It's also relatively easy obtain coconut oil, it's sold in the grocery store. I don't buy my coconut oil from the grocery store unless I'm in a bind and don't have any other option but it is doable.

The first thing you need to do is determine how much soap you want to end up with by weight. This is important because you need to know the total weight before you can figure out how much soap paste you need to make. I usually make a gallon of laundry soap at a time. A gallon of water weighs about 133.5 oz, so that's the number we're going to use. Please keep in mind I'm talking about weight not volume. When making liquid soap made from 100% coconut oil about 40% of the total weight of your finished product needs to be the soap paste (we'll get to this term later).

NOTE: The 40% ratio does not apply if other oils other/addition to coconut oil is used, to determine the dilution ratios look in Making Natural Liquid Soaps by Catherine Failor, this a a great book that is EXTREMELY necessary when making liquid soap. Please buy it before you try this.

You need 53.4 oz of soap paste to end up with a gallon of laundry soap.
 53.4 = 133.5 x 0.4
Catherine Failor suggests that the water needed to make your lye solution be 70% of total oils used for liquid soap. Also, there is no superfatting in liquid soap. Plug this info into your lye calculator and it will give you the following measurements for making your soap. (PLEASE REMEMBER THAT LIQUID SOAP REQUIRES POTASSIUM HYDROXIDE)

Total oil weight53.4
Water as percent of oil weight70 %
Super Fat/Discount0 %
Lye Concentration26.855 %
Water : Lye Ratio2.724:1
Sat : Unsat Ratio89 : 11
Fragrance Ratio.7
Fragrance Weight2.336 Oz

Lye - KOH0.85813.724389.063
1Coconut Oil, 76 deg1003.33853.41513.863

Once you've gotten all this information, you basically follow the same method as making hot process soap. Check and stir the mixture every 30 minutes for about 3 hours on low, the translucent blob that you end up with after 3 hours is called soap paste. 

Once your soap paste is made you have two options 1) dilute it now or 2) store and dilute later. I dilute all my soap paste after I finish making it. Soap doesn't go bad so in my opinion it's better to just dilute it and be done. 

To dilute the soap paste you need to boil enough water equal to 60% of the total amount of laundry soap desired, in this instance that would be 80.1 oz. I would suggest boiling the water first and then measuring it, rather than measuring than boiling. Pour the boiling water in the crockpot, turn the crockpot on high, put the top on and walk away for about 30-45 minutes. After 30-45 minutes the soap paste should have softened and no longer stuck to the bottom of the crockpot. Using a metal spoon try to break the soap paste into smaller pieces, come back and check the soap about every 30 minutes until the soap paste is fully diluted. Fortunately soap made with an all coconut oil base the soap should be relatively easy to dilute. 

The next step is to neutralize the soap, because soap made from coconut oil will not thicken when borax is add, it doesn't make sense to add more than necessary, it's not going to get any thicker. Dissolve 0.85 oz of borax into 1.7oz of boiling water and add the mixture into the diluted soap.

After you've let the soap cool for a little while, any fragrances or essential oils that you want to add can be mixed in and the soap bottled. The amount of fragrance/essential oil depends on the manufacturer's recommendations. I use .7 oz per lb of soap paste. That's it your done. 

Each large load of clothes needs 1 oz of laundry soap, I happen to have a 1 oz scoop but if you don't 1/2 tbsp is the same thing. The gallon will do about 133 loads. This can also be used for baby clothes, just decrease or take out the fragrance/essential oils. 

While this is a long process, it really doesn't require a lot of your attention. The crockpot does most of the work. I guess the real question is if this is economical, well let's do the math shall we. 

7 lbs of coconut oil: $17.95
8 oz Lemongrass EO: $11.55
32 oz KOH: $16.51

7 lb = 112 oz
17.95 / 112 = $0.16/oz coconut oil
11.55 / 8 = $1.45/oz lemongrass EO
16.51 / 32 = $0.52/oz KOH
($0.16 x 53.4)+($1.45 x 2.35)+($0.52 x 13.72) = $19.09/gal liquid laundry soap
$19.09 / 133 = $0.14/load

Until next time, 


  1. Is this recipe he, front load compatible. Is there a lot of lather when using 100%coconut oil?

  2. It is such a nice feeling to be able to use something you made!!You go girl!!I love the fact that you took the time to share it with all of us.

  3. Thank you Kellan! I love this soap!

  4. Is this enough soap (1/2 T) for a large capacity front load machine stuffed until it cannot hold any more? This is the way my daughter-in-law with 4 kiddos does laundry. She does not sort. She usually fills the soap container full which without measuring which would be way too much. Thanks.

    1. I honestly don't know. I've always used top load machines which don't have the capability to just fill up a tank with detergent.

      She doesn't mess up their laundry but not sorting??

    2. No comment. I sort everything. Shake all out before going into the dryer also.......

  5. I entered this recipe into Soap Calc which appears like the info. I could get the same numbers only if I did NOT check the 90% KOH box. Perhaps the water percentage at 70% instead of 3:1 which seems to be standard for liquid soap has something to do with it. Still a newbie.

  6. Is this recipe acceptable for he machines (low suds)?

    1. I'm not sure, I never used it in a HE machine. Once I had kids I stopped making soap because I didn't want to keep lye in the house. Sorry, I wish I could be of more help.