Making your own natural, homemade laundry detergent is one of the easiest parts of a transition to natural living. This natural laundry soap recipe a great way to save money on laundry detergent and is incredibly easy to make. This homemade laundry detergent post is an updated version of this recipe that addresses high efficiency washers and borax safety.
Why switch to natural laundry soap?
Conventional laundry detergent is loaded with chemicals like sulfates, fragrances, phenols and more. Many brands contain things like petroleum distillates, which are linked to cancer and lung disease. Fragrances in these detergents are made of a mix of harmful chemicals.
Luckily, making your own laundry soap is an easy and fast process! You only need three basic ingredients to make either a powdered or liquid laundry soap:
- Washing Soda (Arm and Hammer Brand available at most stores)
- Borax (20 Mule Team Borax available at most grocery stores)
- Bar Soap (Dr. Bronner’s, Ivory, or other natural, unscented bar soap) – If you have ever made your own soap, the laundry version of this coconut oil soap recipe is hands-down the best bar soap I’ve ever found for making laundry soap.
Washing Soda and Borax should be available at your local grocery store on the laundry aisle. Natural bar soaps are in the health, beauty, or organic sections of the store, or online. You can also add a couple tablespoons of baking soda to help freshen clothes.
Wonder what’s in these ingredients?
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral made up of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. It is an ingredient in most of the natural soaps available now (Seventh Generation, etc.) but it is much more inexpensive to make yourself. There are some concerns about the safety of Borax, but here’s why I feel comfortable using it, especially for laundry.
Washing Soda, sometimes called sodium carbonate or soda ash, is made from common salt and limestone or found as natural deposits. If you can’t find this locally, you can make your own from plain baking soda with this tutorial. Here are some other great household uses for washing soda.
Dr. Bronner’s soaps are fair trade and made with vegetable castille soap and pure organic oils.
Natural Laundry Soap Recipe:
- Grate the bar soap or mix in food processor until finely ground. Use the soap of your choice. I personally use homemade coconut oil soap if I have it or Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap because of its exceptional quality, and because it is available in several different natural scents like lavender, tea tree, peppermint, almond and others.
- In a large bowl, mix 2 parts washing soda, 2 parts Borax and 1 part grated soap. (Add a few teaspoons of baking soda if desired).
- Store in closed container. I keep mine in quart or half gallon mason jars. If you are using a big enough container, you can skip step 2 and just put all ingredients in storage container or jar and shake.
- Use 1/8 to 1/4 cup per load of laundry.
To make liquid Laundry Soap:
- Grate one bar of soap with cheese grater or food processor.
- Put grated soap in pan with 2 quarts water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.
- Put 4.5 gallons of really hot tap water in a 5-gallon bucket (available for free in bakeries at grocery stores, just ask them) and stir in 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of Washing Soda until completely dissolved.
- Pour soap mixture from pan into 5-gallon bucket. Stir well.
- Cover and leave overnight.
- Shake or stir until smooth and pour into gallon jugs or other containers.
- Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load.
These recipes are also a great way to save money on laundry. By my calculations, I am saving over half on my laundry bill by switching:
On the powdered recipe, I spent (at the time of writing the post):
- One 55 ounce box Washing Soda– $3.49 (Note: all of these are much more expensive on Amazon!)
- One 76 ounce box of Borax – $4.99
- One Bar Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Bar Soap– $2.99
With the amount this mixture I use (1/4 cup) per load of laundry, this recipe works out to $0.09 cents per load of laundry. This saves me almost $0.15 per load over using Arm and Hammer or Tide. With the liquid recipe, the saving are even more. A Five-Gallon batch costs $4.30 and washes at least 80 loads, costing about $0.05 per load!
Don’t Want to Make it?
We usually make our own detergent, but for times when we are traveling or I haven’t had time to make it, I’ve found a few good brands of eco friendly laundry detergent that actually work (all received an “A” by the Environmental Working Group):
- Ecover Zero Laundry Detergent– Works well, relatively cost effective and low/no risk of developmental or reproductive toxicity and cancer according to the EWG.
- Emma Eco Me Detergent – Also rated well by the EWG and cleans up to 64 loads for $12. Good scents.
- Planet Natural Detergent – Relatively eco-friendly and cost effective at $9 for 32 loads.
Obviously, the best option is to make your own if possible but those natural alternatives are a good choice if you aren’t able to make your own or don’t want to.
Have you tried making your own laundry detergent? What ingredients did you use?