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Several years ago when I first started making my own laundry soap, I spent a lot of time grating bars of either Ivory soap or Fels Naptha soap and then combining the soap flakes with hot water to create a homemade liquid laundry soap. But as time passed, I grew quite weary of all that grating – AND – I wasn’t so sure those bar soap mixtures were rinsing away thoroughly enough in my laundry loads. And that’s why nowadays, I always make my DIY liquid laundry soap with Dawn dish soap instead!
Can Dawn Dish Soap Be Used for Laundry?
I’ve been using my homemade liquid laundry soap made with Dawn for almost 10 years now and I’ve found that yes indeed, Dawn for laundry works very well! It just needs to be diluted with enough water, and I usually add some washing soda and borax for an extra cleaning boost too.
I sometimes get asked if a different brand of dish soap for laundry could work instead of Dawn dish soap. Dawn is usually the dish soap of choice for this recipe because it’s known to be good at cutting grease when washing dishes, which also makes it helpful for the laundry. But if you can’t find Dawn dish soap to use, look for another dish soap that’s good at cutting grease, and stay away from any of the creamy/hand moisturizing formulas.
How Do You Make Liquid Laundry Soap with Dawn?
If you would like to make your own Dawn laundry detergent too, you will need the following ingredients:
Homemade Laundry Soap made with Dawn Dish Soap
Note: I found that recycled milk gallon containers weren’t really sturdy enough for this recipe that uses very hot water to get started. Perhaps a recycled orange juice jug or a vinegar jug could work if it is of a gallon size. I’ve been using this Rubbermaid Gallon Pitcher that works perfectly for this recipe and the pour spout on it is super helpful too.
Step 1: Dissolve the Washing Soda and Borax
To begin, fill your gallon container about a quarter of the way (this is about one quart or 4 cups) with the hottest water you can get from your faucet. Then add your washing soda and borax to the hot water in the container and gently shake and swirl the contents around to help dissolve the washing soda and borax. You may want to put the top back on your container so you can swish things around without spilling anything.
Step 2: Add the rest of the water
Once the washing soda and borax are dissolved, add enough water to fill your gallon container up the rest of the way. It doesn’t have to be hot water anymore at this point. I usually just use lukewarm water from the faucet to fill the rest of the container.
Step 3: Add the Dawn dish soap
Finally, add the 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap. Put the top back on the container and once again, gently swirl things around to combine the ingredients. Your homemade Dawn laundry soap is complete!
How much Dawn laundry soap do I use in the washer?
Now that you’ve made your own Dawn laundry mixture, you can start using it! I usually add about a half cup to a regular size load. Sometimes if I have a larger load of laundry, I’ll increase it to ¾ cup. If you use a ½ cup per load, your gallon container will be enough to wash 32 loads of laundry.
If you have an HE machine, my usual recommendation is to use about half as much, so I would suggest just a ¼ cup per load for HE machines.
A couple things I learned along the way
When I first started making this Dawn laundry detergent, I had to get used to it being a very thin mixture. The grated soap mixtures I had previously used were thicker mixtures (maybe snotty is the better word to describe those mixtures lol). But now I’ve come to like the fact that this mixture is thinner as I think that helps it to rinse away off the clothing a little better at the end of the wash cycle.
I’ve also changed how I mix the ingredients a little bit since the early days too. I used to add the soap at the beginning of the mixing with the washing soda and borax, and then finish up by adding the rest of the water. When you do that, you get lots of bubbles. Now I add the dish soap at the very end and avoid all the bubbling. Live and learn!
This post was first published October, 2013 and updated April, 2022
More DIY Laundry Ideas:
- My Favorite DIY Powdered Laundry Soap
- Anti-Static Dryer Spray
- 6 Ways To Save On Laundry
- Homemade Stain Remover
- How to Dilute Sal Suds for Laundry and other Cleaners
Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap made with Dawn Dish Soap
- 1 Sturdy Gallon Size Container
- 1/3 Cup Washing Soda
- 1/4 Cup Borax
- 2 Tbl Dawn Dish Soap
- 1 Gallon Water
- Begin by filling your gallon size container about a quarter of the way with the hottest water you can get from your faucet.
- Add the washing soda and borax to the hot water in the container.
- Gently shake and swirl the container to dissolve the washing soda and borax in the water. (You may wish to put the top back on the container for this step).
- Once the washing soda and borax are dissolved, fill the container the rest of the way with water. It no longer needs to be hot water at this point, and I usually just use lukewarm tap water from my faucet.
- Finally, add the 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap. Put the top back on the container and gently shake and swirl the contents to mix things together.
- To Use: Use about a 1/2 cup of this mixture for a regular size load of laundry. For larger loads use 3/4 cup. For HE machines, I would suggest using half this amount, which would be about 1/4 cup per load.