Beware – once you cross this threshold, there’s no going back. People MAY call you a hippy for making homemade laundry detergent. They may be right.
But hey, what the hell, you’ll have clean clothes that smell good and you’ll be subjecting yourself and your family to fewer chemicals. If that makes me a hippy, then I’m wearing that badge with honour!
Can I be honest for a second? I’ve been making this homemade laundry detergent this way for more than 6 years. I love it. And I’m certain you will too. Besides, before we could stroll into a store and buy commercially available laundry detergent, people still had to wash clothes. That to me said there must be a better, healthier, more environmentally friendly option out there.
Why homemade soap? I love to do my own thing and march to the beat of my own drum – I always have time to try new things and this is one that I really loved and have stuck with all this time. I first heard of DIY laundry soap on Facebook back when my daughter was only about 8 months old. The girls on my mom group were talking excitedly about this awesome new DIY liquid laundry soap. There was some melting and science involved with the whole process.
I like to think of myself as a bit of a Maverick – they all wanted that concentrated liquid , but I thought science and melting sounded like too much work. I set out to create my own recipe without any cooking, risk of burning myself, and less mess! Gosh, we all know liquid laundry soap can be a real disaster. I’ve also found that liquid detergents and softeners can leave residue or film on fabrics and my machine, it’s weird but I have always been able to feel it.
The other thing major goal was to reduce the overwhelming scents. Like, good gravy, I don’t know why detergents are so strong. I’m sorry, but, I don’t wanna smell your sweater from across the room. The strong synthetic smells in every laundry detergent I’ve tried gave me a headache. To this day, I cannot walk down the laundry aisle at the grocery store without being completely overwhelmed by all the scents. It’s just so strong – even the free and clear stuff.
My own personal negative reaction lead me to the belief that these products can’t be healthy and avoiding the use of standard laundry products, for myself and my family. I’ve made a conscious effort to move toward fewer chemicals whenever possible.
Questions I know you’re going to ask:
1. Does it work? YES! It works amazing.
2. Can I use it in my front load HE washing machine? We have been for the last 6 years, and in our current machine since new (bought in late 2013)- my mom has been for the last year – we’re both still going!
3. Will it affect my septic system? I haven’t had any problems with my septic!
4. Will it work with well water? Yes! Our water has been different iterations of crappy, through different water systems but the laundry detergent still works great – in fact, it has helped to keep our colours bright and not dingy after washing in iron-y water.
5. But will it really clean? I run almost all my laundry through on the quick wash, and rarely have any stains that aren’t gone after that cycle! Some tougher stains I do pretreat – grease, pen, blood, some bad grass stains.
6. How do I use it? The same way as any other powder detergent, but in smaller amounts!
7. Does it work in cold water? I usually use the eco-warm cycle and I’ve found it works just fine!
TL;DR – mainstream laundry products give me headaches and I decided that can’t be healthy – so I decided to be more chemical aware and make my own- which hasn’t given me any headaches – physically or metaphorically!
What’s in it:
Borax is an all natural mineral found all over the world that’s been used many, many generations to clean clothes. It’s a natural alternative to colour safe bleach, boosts the efficacy of detergents, softens water, removes stains, deodorizes and freshens. If you’re curious about the safety of it, Wellness Mama wrote a great article about the safety of borax here -> https://wellnessmama.com/26407/borax-safe/.
Super Washing Soda
Another throw back to when things were simpler! This naturally occurring mineral can be used to remove stubborn stains, thanks in part to its high alkalinity which dissolves stains. Washing soda also helps to soften water!
Well this one’s obviously safe…. Beyond helping leaven baking, baking soda is a deodorizers, softener, brightener, and helps to clean dirt and grime!
I usually purchase Eco-Pioneer soap flakes from my local health store! I’ve also used Dr Bronner’s bar soap and in a bind I’ve used a Sunlight bar. Obviously, the Sunlight bar is the least desirable option as it’s got synthetic scents, and some chemicals, but the goal is to mindfully reduce and limit our exposure. It would be pretty difficult to completely eliminate all synthetic chemical exposure – and people expect us to have clean clothes. I made a bit of an exception here, because the quantities are so small. That said, I’ve found similar results with ALL of these detergent options!
OxiClean – Optional
OxiClean is simply a blend of washing soda, powdered hydrogen peroxide and a powdered alcohol. Hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic and environmentally safe, and the alcohol is added to alter the surface tension of the water so the detergents can more easily penetrate the stain. That being said, this one is optional – I choose to include it in small doses because it boosts the power of this detergent as a pretreater!
I’ve been using this homemade laundry detergent since 2011, no lie. It’s a fantastic value, as one batch generally lasts me 9 or so months. It works great to take stains, spills, and crud off all our clothes. Our clothes, sheets, towels, and whatever else ends up in the wash come out clean and bright, and none show signs of wear or fading due to detergent.
Now, that I’ve started sewing a lot, I have started purchasing some expensive fabrics, this homemade laundry detergent works just as well on custom printed cotton lyras as it does on a dirty sock. It’s truly versatile!
My current washing machine has run ONLY on this detergent since we bought it in late 2013. My septic system has been run with this detergent since 2011 with no problems. It works fantastic with my well water, and also my moms well water, and her water is totally different than mine.
I can’t see myself going back to commercially available laundry detergent. That right there is an indictment!
Having done this a time or two (or 6), I feel qualified to offer a few suggestions! First, wearing a mask is not a terrible idea, it gets dusty. Second, add ingredients in many layers and stir often, this recipe makes a huge batch and it can be a real B to get it all stirred. Third, get a large container and use it only for the detergent – it’s nice to have a dedicated spot for our detergent and mixing utensils.
- 110 oz borax
- 106 oz washing soda
- 4 lb baking soda
- 2 bars laundry soap ; Sunlight, Dr Bronners, Zote etc
- 3 lb OxiClean Baby optional
- Wooden spoon
- Plastic Tote
- Finely chop the soap. the finer the better. I've used my craft cheese grater before, but I find chopping by hand to be faster and less cleaning.
- Put on a mask - it can't hurt.
- Add the ingredients in layers - I open all the boxes and add in 3rds.
- Stir regularly while adding ingredients.
- Put it in a pretty jar!
- Teach everyone how to use it. I only use 2-3 TBSP per load of laundry!
- Thank me later
Check the recommended products for links to the products I used!
- Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 55 oz.
- 20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Detergent And Booster
- Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, 5 Lbs
- OxiClean Baby Stain Fighter, Soaker, 3 lb Tub Baby stain Soaker
- Sunlight Lemon Laundry Detergent Bar, 2x130 Grams
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
pin for later!