I recently read an article that addressed the effects of cleaning products on the lungs of women. And it’s not good. After following 6,000 participants for 20 years, women who regularly used cleaning products were found to have the same decline in lung function as those that smoked 20 cigarettes per day. What?! This is why it is so important to find cleaning products that are natural and don’t contain harsh chemicals… Some think going natural in their cleaning products means spending a ton of money, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Check out this DIY Thieves laundry detergent that costs 7x less than what you’d buy at the store.
I have been making my own laundry detergent for years, and have loved almost everything about it… but there was one little part I wasn’t a huge fan of, and that was the need to grate soap into the mix. It isn’t super difficult, but it makes a mess, and you really need to wash your clothes in warm or hot water to ensure the soap fully dissolves. I was willing to overlook this for the past 3 years because the batches I made would last forever, and it did a fine job of getting my clothes clean. But then a friend of mine posted a recipe for a liquid laundry soap that required zero soap grating and was super budget-friendly. As always, I did a little research and tweaked the recipe a bit.
I love that everything in the recipe is void of harsh chemicals, and even better, it costs a fraction of what you’d pay for laundry detergent in the store. (Cost breakdown at the end of this post.) Ready for this awesome recipe?
What You Need to Make DIY Thieves Laundry Detergent
The recipe below will make one gallon, you can certainly double the recipe (like I did) if your dispenser is larger.
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- 1/4 Cup Washing Soda
- 1/4 Cup Baking Soda
- 1/4 Cup Thieves® Laundry Soap
- 1/8 Cup (or 2 Tbsp) Thieves® Household Cleaner
- Hot Water- You may want to use distilled water to avoid impurities that naturally occur in tap water.
- 8 Drops Essential Oil of Your Choosing (Optional)- I used Thieves® and Lemon- 4 drops of each. If you are not sure where to buy essential oils, please check out this post.
- Drink Dispenser (at least 1 gallon)- I used this one and doubled the recipe to make 2 gallons. While my dispenser was glass, many ask about using a plastic container instead… If you want to use plastic, it needs to be the right kind of plastic for use with essential oils. “Typically, HDPE plastic as well as plastics number 1 (PETE) and 2 are safe for use with essential oils.” -Dr. Hill (Quote found here.)
How to Make DIY Thieves Laundry Detergent
Ready for the easiest tutorial ever?
*** If you are using a glass dispenser, it is recommended that you perform steps 1-3 in a stock pot in order to avoid the glass cracking from the hot water.***
Start by pouring 1/4 cup washing soda into your dispenser (or stock pot).
Add enough hot water (not boiling!) to cover by an inch or two and stir until the washing soda has dissolved.
Once your washing soda has dissolved, add 1/4 cup baking soda, and, once again, stir until dissolved.
At this point, I would highly recommend placing your dispenser where you plan to keep it, as it gets a bit heavy. When adding water, simply using a pitcher or jug.
Also… if you performed steps 1-3 in a stock pot, at this point, pour the mixture into your dispenser once cooled.
Fill your dispenser with warm (room temperature) water, allowing some room at the top to add a few more ingredients.
First add 1/4 cup Thieves® Laundry Soap. I have seen similar recipes done with castile soap, but I love the idea of using an actual laundry soap instead (and others have reported that the Castile Soap gets chunky and dispensing becomes difficult).
Next add 1/8 cup (or 2 Tablespoons) of Thieves® Household Cleaner.
Step 7 (Optional)
If you want to enhance the scent of the detergent a bit, feel free to add a few drops of essential oil. I chose to add Thieves® and Lemon (2 of my favorite essential oils for cleaning 🙂 ). A couple drops of each is all you’ll need.
All you have left to do is give it a little stir, and you’re good to go.
When doing laundry in a HE washer, use 1/4 cup per load.
UPDATE: If you notice the laundry soap settling to the bottom, just give the mixture a little stir. I actually didn’t notice this happening until it had been sitting on my counter for about 2 weeks, but others are reporting this happening after a short period of time. I just leave a wood spoon next to my dispenser and give it a quick stir if I notice any separation.
DIY Thieves Laundry Detergent
- 1/4 cup Washing Soda: 17¢ (Based off Walmart’s pricing of $3.97 for a 55 oz. box, which has 6 cups)
- 1/4 cup Baking Soda: 10¢ (Based off Target’s pricing of 79¢ for a 16 oz. box, which has 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup Thieves® Laundry Soap: $1.84 (Based off Young Living’s wholesale pricing* for a 32 oz. bottle)
- 1/8 cup Thieves® Household Cleaner: $1.56 (Based off Young Living’s wholesale pricing* for a 14.4 oz bottle)
- 4 Drops Thieves essential oil (optional): 56¢
- 4 Drops Lemon essential oil (optional): 20¢
- With optional essential oils added: $4.43/gallon
- Without optional essential oils added: $3.67/gallon
When using 1/4 cup per load, this equals 6-7¢ per load.
*Wholesale pricing is available to members of Young Living, however, you also have the option to buy retail. If buying retail, the price of the Laundry Soap would increase to $2.43 and the cost of the household cleaner would increase to $2.06; increasing the price per gallon to $4.76 (without essential oils added) and the cost per load would be 7¢/load.
Dare to Compare
Leading Brand of Laundry Detergent
Leading Brand of Laundry Detergent: $16.66/gallon (Based off Target’s pricing of $17.99 for a 138 oz. bottle of Tide)
Be very careful when looking at cost per load. While the packaging states there are 89 loads, it also states this is when measured to “line 2”. If you are doing a “large load” of laundry, you are directed to use twice as much detergent and fill to line 4. If using a HE washer, you need to use even more, and fill to line 5. I have a HE washer, and would definitely need to fill to that number 5 line, so…
- Filling to line 4 or 5: 41¢ per load. That is 6-7x higher than the DIY version above!
- Filling to “line 2”: 20¢ per load (3 times more expensive!)
Okay… after all that math, I need a break 🙂
For the printable version of this recipe (plus answers to the most frequently asked questions about this recipe), click here.
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Thieves detergent and cleaner are both expensive! Even though I wouldn’t use the whole bottle, I still have to spend $80 up front to make the detergent, and I need room to store 2 partially used bottles (detergent and cleaner). Until someone will sell me 1/4 cup of Thieves detergent at a time, I’ll be grating soap.
How long have you been using this recipe? Have you noticed any issues with your front loader washing machine?
Can I make this recipe with just the Thieves household cleaner without the Thieves Laundry soap? If so, how would I adjust the recipe for a HE washer?
Love this! I have been using this for 6 months. What a money saver. I just substituted thieves for Myers.
I have made this 3-4 times now. It works great and it’s is saving me a lot of money! After the initial purchase of ingredients I’ll Ben able to make this over and over again!
How much would you recommend using in a load that’s not in an HE washer?
I would try 1/2 cup. Top loaders use more water, so I would start here to make sure it still cleans the clothes and doesn’t get diluted too much.
Where did you get the dispenser, it’s super cute!
I got it from Target. Here’s the link (affiliate link): https://rstyle.me/+BPugVzLaMCgOU1EpqL_eFg
Can I use 1/2 cup of baking soda in place of the washing soda?
They basically do the same things, so you could definitely try that.
Liana Ilyuk says
I really like this recipe! My clothes feel super clean and I’m so happy that I dont have to worry about any harsh chemicals. But, I am having one issue. I have to stir the detergent every time I use it because the thieves laundry detergent keeps separating. I made 2 gallons of this since it’s the only size for the dispenser that I had. Any suggestions?
I know. I wish I could figure out a solution, but I just stir mine before use. As I noted, for the money I save, it’s totally worth a little stirring 🙂
I have a solution because mine doesn’t separate.
Steps 1-4 like you wrote.
Step 5-7 separately in a dish mix thieves detergent, cleaner and oils together. Add to dispenser.
I refill my empty bottles from the laundry detergent, then give a couple of turns up and down before I use in the washer. Makes it easier then stirring each time I need a capful.
I love the dispenser you use but I was having the same issue. I ended buying 4 Thieves Laundry Soap and kept my empty bottles. I now make my own and just refill those bottles. Then every time I use it I just shake the bottle, plus they look cute in my wash room. I sure any bottle will work but these just work perfectly for me.
The last time I made it, I added the thieves laundry soap to the hot mixture and stirred it really well before mixing with the remaining water. It was 2 weeks ago and still hasn’t separated like before.
I use a bit less water and a scoop instead of a dispenser and it works great. Make sure you use less per load.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea to use distilled water so that it doesn’t sour? Or does the detergent get used quickly enough that that isn’t an issue?
Yes. This is mentioned in the list of ingredients 🙂
I’m just wondering why you use the thieves laundry soap to make laundry soap? Why can’t you just use the thieves laundry soap like it and is? I’m not trying to be a smart alec! I’m genuinely curious!
Thieves laundry soap on it’s own is very concentrated and works well when diluted with the other ingredients. It is also rather costly to use on it’s own.
Can I use this with cold water?
Yes. You certainly can use this in cold water washes.
First time I’ve made this and really like it so far. I don’t have a front load machine and wondering if 1/4 cup is still enough for a regular machine?
I would try starting with 1/2 cup for a top loading machine as it uses a lot more water than a front loader.
Leah B. Custer says
Do you have any other laundry recipe’s that do not use the thieves household cleaner or laundry. I’m actually out of the laundry tabs that I make and I wont get the cleaner for another few days!!
Prior to using this recipe, I used this one (which is a powder) and will last forever! https://www.lemonslavenderandlaundry.com/cleaning-tip-tuesday-diy-laundry-detergent/
Wow this is amazing!! I’ve been making a recipe very similar to this, with the Castile soap. It gets VERY chunky and make me not even want to keep going natural. Thanks for this!! I’ve definitely subscribed!
Hi! Just made the recipe, what is the consistency supposed to be like? Will it thicken up over time? Mine is just thin like water ??♀️ Thanks!
The consistency is thin, like water, and it will remain this way.
Thanks! Really liking it so far!!
I love the feel of my clothes with this recipe. I am having issues with it cleaning underwear and undershirts. My husbands deodorant still seems to be on his shirts and our underwear doesn’t seem as clean. I have tried increasing the amount of detergent I am using and the hadn’t helped. Any suggestions. I love that it is chemical free but still need to ensure everything is coming out clean!
Ashley Bragan says
I feel the same way so i started adding a scoop of washing powders to each load. I think that is helping.
Hi! How do you go about brightening your clothes (darks with white coloring or whites in general).
Hi! Might seem like a silly question but I wanted to double check. For HE washers, do I put the soap straight into the drum or does it go where the soap usually goes, in that little receptacle thing? Thank you so much!
I always put mine into the soap receptacle.
How much water for this recipe??
The recipe, as written, requires just under one gallon of water. Basically one gallon minus one cup.
I didn’t realize I was supposed to subtract a cup from the water and I put in the entire gallon. Is that why my soap doesn’t have a strong smell? Or is that normal?
It’s normal for this laundry soap to have a very mild scent. Most natural laundry soaps don’t have a strong smell because you aren’t adding fragrance to it.
how much actual water do I add? A gallon?
The recipe, as written, requires just under one gallon of water. Basically one gallon minus one cup.
How much water do u use for all this?
The recipe, as written, requires just under one gallon of water. Basically one gallon minus one cup.
How does it stand up to grass and more heavily soiled clothes?
Just as I do with any detergent, I treat stains like grass, soil, and oils with my DIY stain remover.
My boyfriend doesn’t like the smell of thieves(I know. He’s crazy) any substitution ideas for the thieves products in this recipe?
I have seen recipes that use Castile Soap, however, many that have tried this report that the detergent gets thick and chunky, which makes dispensing difficult. If it makes any difference, the clothing washed in this detergent won’t come out smelling like Thieves 🙂
Sal Suds (a Dr. Bronner’s product) would be great in this recipe or even on its own as a laundry detergent.
Carli Johnson says
Whenever I add the baking soda to the washing soda mixture.m, it doesn’t dissolve at all. The baking soda makes a giant rock solid clump and will not mix in. Any suggestions?
I just made mine for the first time. I would just make sure the water is hot and slowly add a little baking soda at a time and stir till dissolved and see if that helps.
This seems to be a common issue, yet I have never had it happen to me. I would recommend making sure you have enough water (1-2 inches above the washing soda) and make sure it’s hot. Also, be sure the washing soda is completely dissolved before adding the baking soda. Hope that helps.
Sarah Cox says
Same thing just happened to me. Definitely need to use quite a bit of water to dissolve.
Ann Oesterle says
I just made it… First bactch clumped instantly when adding baking soda to Hot water. The baking soda is solvent at 64 degrees Fahrenheit…. Worked perfect for me after that!
Also need ration of .27 oz to 3.5oz baking soda to water
Tried to make this, but twice now when I add the baking soda to the dissolved washing soda (and other way around the second time) they react and I end up with what looks like rock salt. Not sure what I’m doing wrong. I did make my washing soda myself (baking soda in the oven at 400 for an hour makes washing soda), but it sounds like someone else in this thread had the same issue.
This seems to be a common issue, yet I have never had it happen to me. I would recommend making sure you have enough water (1-2 inches above the washing soda) and make sure it’s hot. Also, be sure the washing soda is completely dissolved before adding the baking soda. Hope that helps
How do I keep this from separating? I am making my third batch right now and the first two I made both separate. It is just slightly annoying to have to stir the detergent before every load. Thanks!
What did I do wrong? My baking soda is clumping and won’t dissolve.
I just tried this with homemade washing soda and am having the same problem. Once the baking soda and washing soda are in the water together, it looks like I made rock salt. Don’t know what I did or didn’t do…
Hi Erin. I wonder if you mixed/combined the THC, laundry soap, essential oils & a little bit of sea salt first & then added it to the washing soda/baking soda mixture if that would help emulsify the oils so that it wouldn’t separate. Not sure what ingredients were separating but I was just curious what you thought. Excited to try this recipe!!
I just made this and I’m adding sea salt. My Dr. Bronner’s recipe called for the sea salt and I don’t have any problems with it. Can’t hurt. ?
Do you have any suggestions for someone who can’t use Thieves? I’d love to make this, but rosemary and eucalyptus are contraindications for a medical condition that I have.
I know there are some recipes that use Castile soap, however, I had heard it gets pretty gloppy and thick. I haven’t personally tried it, so I don’t know for sure.
I have recently found your blog and absolutely love it!! This post is the first one I read, I’m curious if one could use Castile soap instead of Thieves Laundry Soap? I really want to give this recipe a try but the Thieves Laundry is so expensive!
Thank you for your amazing, inspiring blog!!
I’m also looking for an alternative to thieves. I just found that Mrs. Meyers has a concentrated laundry detergent, too. The concentration is different though- thieves is 1/2 oz/load while Mrs. Meyers is 1 oz/load. So I’m thinking we can make this recipe, substituting 1/2 cup Meyers for the 1/4 cup thieves. It looks like thieves is about $37 for a 64 load bottle, and Mrs. Meyers is about $16 for a 64 load bottle.
Making homemade laundry soap is probably overall better then buying from the store- however you can’t substitute Meyers as the same benefits as Young Living Thieves.
Look into getting the Think Dirty app- it breaks down all kinds of cleaners and household items and shows the level of how “clean” or “dirty” a product is from 0-10.
YL thieves cleaner is completely plant based without chemicals or added fragrances. Meyers products are marked really dirty at an 8. Always research products before switching to ensure you’re making the right move and going the direction you are intending; healthier/ cleaner/ less chemical life style.
Agree, Ashlee, but I can’t use thieves, so I have to substitute.
I have heard of recipes that use Castile soap, however, many complain that the soap gels and gets very thick and gloppy. I haven’t tried it, so I don’t have any experience with it.
is the housecleaner diluted or straight from the bottle?
It is undiluted.
Tami Seelen says
Can I use this with cold water or is it best in warm or hot?
This should be fine to use in any temperature setting.
What can you do if you have an allergy to baking soda?
If you can use washing soda (I think the chemistry is very similar to baking soda, so I’m not sure if it’s okay for you or not) I would double the washing soda and eliminate the baking soda.
Could you tell me how this detergent works with bad stains (blood, grass, pen etc..) ?
For those types of stains, I will recommend treating with a stain remover prior to washing. However, I would do that no matter what laundry soap I was using.
Heather MW Perry says
For pen, I tend to use rubbing alcohol to spot treat. (I have a bottle that is 70% alcohol) As far as more protein based stains, (blood and grass) I tend to use the Thieves Household Cleaner at the concentration that I use normally (general household cleaning) as my spot treat…You may have to treat a couple of times – OR you can also soak in Borax or Biz overnight.
I don’t see any mention of high efficiency washers, unless I missed that part. Can this be used in my front-loading HE machine?
Yes. The recipe above is written for HE washing machines.
Can this be used in HE washers if so, how much?
I use it in my HE washer. 1/4 cup/load.
Carol Ebert says
I may have missed it, but, how much laundry detergent do I use per load?
I use 1/4 cup/load in a HE washer.
Jessica Kelley says
If you have a large load of laundry, do you need to add more then the 1/4 cup of laundry soap? Also, does the amount added per load differ if you have a non-HE Machine?
Thanks for the recipe and the break down, I so appreciate it!
I used the 1/4 cup for large loads. If you have a top-loading washer, you will probably need more, as more water is being added to the washer. Most top loaders use twice as much water as HE, so I would guess you’d need about 1/2 cup if using a top-loader, but you can certainly experiment with lesser amounts.
I’m not sure if I have a HE. We are renting our place – it’s a top loader and I don’t have a soap receptacle. Can I also put it straight into the drum??
Thanks for the recipe!
The recipe listed do I just need to double that to fill my 2 gallon jar?
Yes. I doubled all the amounts for the 2 gallons 🙂
Where did you get your laundry dispenser?
The dispenser is from Target. Here’s the link (aff.link): https://rstyle.me/n/da2fkzb9gd7
Keisha Dawson says
This recipe makes my heart so happy. I’m already adding a capful of Thieves cleaner to every single load of laundry I do with a store bought detergent. I can’t wait o make this and start using it!!!
I am going to try this but I do not like the idea of using a household cleaner in the recipe. Do you think it work well without it? I’m thinking about replacing it a natural laundry booster powder. And thoughts on how well that would work?
If you would rather not add the cleaner, I, personally, would try doubling the amount of laundry soap and see how that works for you.
How about borax in place of washing soda?
I haven’t tried the recipe with Borax, although Borax and Washing Soda do the same type of thing for laundry.
Would you use the same amount of Borax as soda?
Dianne Lipetzky says
Is it necessary to use the glass for dispensing? Could it be put into used laundry detergent bottles?
If you’re adding any citrus essential oils (like the lemon she uses) they will break down plastic so glass is a must.
It would be great if you could print out the recipe to keep in a folder to use when making a new batch.
Thank you for all your hard work helping us stay green and clean. ?
Did you see, she created a printable and it is on the next blog post!
With kindest regards,