Wanting to make your own Laundry Detergent either to save money or have control over the ingredients? This recipe is so great, it very well could be the formula for the Best Non-toxic Homemade Laundry Detergent out there and it's easy to make as well. Try it--you'll love it!
Why Should I Make My Own Detergent?
If you're like me, you care about your budget, your family's health, and the environment. When thinking about healthy living, it's easy to focus heavily on diet, but it's crucial to think about your home as well.
Because things that come into contact with the outside of your body are just as important to healthy living as the things that you put inside your body.
And think about it--you wear clothes 24/7--so what you wash them in matters!
I've tried out all kinds of homemade laundry detergent formulas over the years but was never really happy with them. In fact, you can read in this post about Why I Stopped Making Laundry Detergent.
Literally, I stopped trying and switched to a natural brand I liked, and also used soap nuts, but unfortunately, the brand was discontinued, and my son and I seemed to develop a rare allergy to soap nuts so......
back to the drawing board of formulating a DIY Laundry Soap I went.
There just HAD to be a way.
So I looked at all of the recipes out there, pulled the best of all of them together, and now I think we have a winner! We've been using it for months now, and I'm really quite happy with it.
This recipe makes a powder detergent, which I prefer over the possible mess of liquid spills. Plus I'm not sure that that is very sanitary as the water in the liquid detergent could easily lead to bacteria buildup.
Here are the ingredients in this formula and the role they all play in creating a safe and effective detergent.
Castile soap is made with fruit or vegetable fats (usually coconut or olive oils) and is helpful with removes dirt and stains from clothes. Because it's not made with animal fats, it's safe to use with HE washers or washers that drain into a septic system.
Borax (a.k.a. sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate), is a natural mineral compound that converts some water molecules into hydrogen peroxide, giving it the ability to clean and bleach. Best used in hot water, the boron, salt, and oxygen give Borax the ability to disinfect.
Washing soda is an effective stain lifter that doesn't stain (or "bleach") clothes. Since it's highly alkaline, it's also effective it helps treat hard water, allowing the detergent to work properly so that clothes get clean and don't build up residue during washing.
Baking soda works to dissolve dirt and grease and soften clothing thanks to its mild alkaline qualities. And it's a great deodorizer, working to remove odors, fabric softener, and cleaning agent that won't bleach your clothes.
OxiClean is an oxygen-based, chlorine-free, and color-safe stain remover. It can be safely used safely on any machine-washable fabric.
This post has been edited in 2022 to add that you can use pure percarbonate instead to make your homemade detergent even more pure.
Essential Oils for Mold Prevention (optional)
Mold is a problem in washing machines so this is one way to address it.
Plants contain varying levels of anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. Essential oils are plant-based, making them a perfect ingredient for any mold-killing laundry detergent.
I like to add tea tree oil, thyme, and lemon oil to this detergent, since they are all proven to address mold growth.
- Use a grater to grate the castile soap bar to avoid putting large chunks into a food processor and potentially damaging it.
- Put the grated soap pieces in the food processor bowl. Pulse until only large crumbs remain.
- Add baking soda to the food processor and pulse until the ingredients are in powder form and combined (about 1 minute)
- Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor and pulse until well combined.
- Store in an airtight container.
How to Use
To use this detergent, simply add about 2 tablespoons directly into your washer bin with your clothes (you might want to only use 1 tablespoon for HE front loaders. Easy peasy. Add more, if desired, for larger or more heavily stained loads.
If you've never made a laundry detergent recipe before, you're likely to have a few questions.
Here are the most common questions (and their answers) regarding making DIY laundry detergent and their answers.
Can I Use This Detergent in an HE Washing Machine?
Yes, because there isn't a sudsing agent in this recipe, you can use it in front loading HE machines.
Will This Detergent Irritate Sensitive Skin?
We haven't had any problems at all (and we have had issues with sensitive skin). The ingredients included are natural and usually safe for all skin types. However, everyone is different, so I recommend trying a small batch to test before committing to this larger batch size.
If you prefer, you can use this gentle laundry detergent for babies and sensitive skin.
Where Can I Find the Ingredients?
I've included Amazon links to help you find everything you need. You can also find these ingredients at Walmart, Target, and some grocery stores. I buy my baking soda in large bulk bags at Costco since we use it for all sorts of things.
Do I Need a Fabric Softener with this Homemade Laundry Detergent?
You shouldn't need to since the alkaline properties of baking soda and washing soda soften fabric. However, if you want to soften more, you can use plain distilled vinegar as a natural fabric softener - and the smell washes out so you won't smell it at all!
How Much DIY Laundry Detergent Does this Make?
This recipe makes approximately 7 cups of detergent, which works out to about 56 loads. Could you double or triple that if you wanted to? Sure!
However, this recipe makes a good amount so that you don't have to make it once a month and yet it doesn't take up too much storage space.
How Do You Keep Homemade Laundry Detergent from Clumping?
If you live in a humid area, your DIY detergent may clump sometimes. Here are some tricks to help you prevent (or break up) clumping:
- store your detergent in an air-tight container.
- place a dessicant in with your detergent.
- pop your detergent back into the food processor if you find it's clumping up.
What's a Good OxiClean Alternative?
OxiClean is basically sodium percarbonate with additives so you can just purchase straight sodium percarbonate and use less of it. You would want to use about 1/4 the amount of the percarbonate, so for this recipe that's 5 Tablespoons.
Since you are therefore reducing the amount of bulk of the entire recipe you might want to use less in each load, but it's basically just reducing the amount by about 1/24, so I wouldn't bother trying to figure that out.
Is Homemade Laundry Detergent Safe for Washing Machines?
Some people make the claim that homemade laundry detergent isn't safe for washing machines, and can void the warranty and cause all kinds of issues.
Let's clear that up.
Some people on the internet claim that using Dawn or Castile Bar Soap or Borax, etc., will mess up your washing machine and void your warranty.
I looked into this and found that there are reports of people using these products for many years with no issues. It seems that the problem isn't using these products, but using too much of them. Instead of throwing out the laundry soap with the bathwater, just use less--starting with 1 tablespoon of detergent per load.
Why Don't My Clothes Smell Clean?
First of all, your clothes shouldn't smell perfumey clean, BUT they shouldn't smell janky either.
Did you know that MOST of the time, your laundry smells bad because your MACHINE is moldy and gross?
I'll share more about this later, but I spray the inside of the machine just about every other load, and I even spray laundry when it's been in a place that we suspect mold has been.
How Can I Prevent Buildup From Homemade Laundry Detergent?
Some people (especially those in cloth diapering groups) have reported that washing your clothes in a homemade detergent that has soap in it will leave deposits / residue on your clothing. Others say that this isn't a problem.
I noticed it for a short time, but I was using too much "detergent" for my washing machine (the white streaks didn't look great on my black top--not the best fashion statement). Once I stopped that, the problem stopped.
One way to address this by adding in about 1/4 cup borax to your load. Borax has other benefits, such as addressing mold, so it's great to do this anyhow.
You can also occasionally run an empty, large laundry load with 2 – 4 cups of white vinegar added (depending on the size of your machine.
Also, make sure to only use the recommended amounts to each load.
Other Healthy Home Helps
This Homemade Laundry Detergent will save you money and is a great way to reduce toxins in the home. Here are some other great ways to clean and green up your home:
- No Streak Glass Cleaner
- Homemade Baby Laundry Detergent
- 17 Natural Green Cleaners
- Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid
- Homemade Cleaning Paste
- Homemade "Soft Scrub"
Making your own laundry powder is fast, easy, inexpensive, helps keep toxins out of your home and the environment, and gives you total control over the ingredients!
Best Non-Toxic Homemade Laundry Detergent
- Grate the castile soap with a grater.
- Put the grated castile soap pieces in a food processor bowl. Pulse until only large crumbs (no chunks) remain.
- Add remaining ingredients to the food processor and alternate pulsing and blending until well combined.
- Store detergent in an air-tight container to help avoid clumping.
- Simply add about 2 tablespoons directly into your washer bin with your clothes (you might want to only use 1 tablespoon for HE front loaders. Add more, if desired, for larger or more heavily stained loads.
Don't Feel Like DIYing?
When I first published this post, I was trying out the EcoEgg and loved it. However, it stopped working well and even got MOLD in it! YUCK!
So I no longer recommend this.
I really like Pure Haven's Laundry Detergent. It's super clean and works great, especially in combination with their Master Blaster for stains (many like their Dish Soap together with the Master Blaster for stain removal actually)
Another great option is this Ozone Washing Machine Attachment. Get the purifying power of ozone to clean your clothes (AND your machine!) No detergent needed at all! If you'd like a discount on that, reach out to email@example.com.
Can't wait to hear what how this laundry detergent works for you!