I’ve been making my own homemade laundry detergent for many years and have tried several different recipes. I’ve grated countless bars of Fels Naptha soap to…
- make powdered laundry soap that would never melt properly in the wash water
- cook a liquid laundry soap that seemed to do well but left my clothes looking dingy after about a year
I’ll confess that the dinginess of our clothes sent me crawling humbly back to commercial detergent, which we used for three or four more years. But all those chemical fragrances, harsh surfactants, and other potentially toxic ingredients are simply not part of a non-toxic home.
In fact, those synthetic chemicals leave residue on your clothing that you and your children are then being exposed to all day and all night. They’re absorbed through the skin and breathed into the lungs. This can’t be healthy! (It just kills me when I see people buying Dreft to wash baby’s clothing. Those little bodies don’t need to be exposed to dyes and perfumes and who-knows-what-else.)
For more info on what’s lurking in conventional laundry detergents, check out this article at SixWise.com: The Toxic Dangers of Typical Laundry Detergent.
The Best Homemade Laundry Detergent
When I got turned on to the many uses of liquid Castile soap about a year and a half ago, I quickly discovered that you can make laundry soap from it as well. And it’s brilliant!
So much better than the Fels Naphtha laundry soap – There’s no grating a soap bar, no cooking on the stove, and no gloppy mess that ends up leaving my clothes dingy. Yay!
I first found a recipe over at My Merry Messy Life and have made multiple batches of liquid laundry soap since. I’ve been using it to wash all of our laundry – clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, even sleeping bags – for almost 18 months, and there is no sign of dinginess or any other problem.
I believe I have finally found a long-term solution to making sure our laundry routine is as non-toxic as possible. And that makes me happy!
I mix up my laundry soap in an old Wind Fresh detergent bucket, which holds four gallons. You can easily reduce or increase the recipe to fit whatever bucket you have.
To store the laundry soap, I transfer the finished mixture to empty one-gallon vinegar jugs and then set the partially full Wind Fresh bucket behind my washing machine. (I have three vinegar jugs to use right now – eventually, I’ll have a fourth and be able to empty the bucket completely. We all aspire to something, right?)
Of course, you could always just use the soap directly out of the bucket – but you’ll definitely want to keep a lid on it. (So bugs don’t fall in…)
How Much to Use
For each load, I use about ¾ cup of the liquid laundry soap, more or less depending on how dirty or large the load is.
If I feel like the items need some extra deodorizing … such as the wet beach towels I found in a duffel bag in our van a week after we’d used them … I add two drops of tea tree essential oil to the detergent cup. Tea tree EO is antimicrobial and seems to do the trick quite nicely.
This laundry soap is low-sudsing and definitely safe for HE machines. I have a Whirlpool front loader HE, and it works perfectly.
On to the recipe…!
Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe (makes 4 gallons)
- Bucket (to hold at least 4 gallons – or adjust the measurements accordingly)
- Container(s) to hold the finished laundry soap
- 1 ½ cups liquid Castile soap
- 1 cup super washing soda
- 1 cup borax (see note below)
- Stick blender or hand mixer
(Don’t miss the printable recipe below!)
Fill your bucket with a couple inches of warm water. Pour in the measured washing soda and borax.
Blend well with the stick blender or hand mixer. The mixture will be cloudy and a little sudsy.
I usually end up blending for 4-5 minutes. I try to make sure there’s no “gritty” feel in the bottom, but it doesn’t always work out. A little grittiness will not hurt the final product, but you do want to break up all the clumps.
Now fill the bucket most of the way with cold water. Pour in the measured liquid Castile soap and stir with a long handled spoon.
Add more water if needed to fill the bucket and stir again.
That’s it! Transfer your homemade liquid laundry soap to your container(s) for storage.
(Don’t miss the printable recipe below!)
The key here is really the blending step. By blending the powders well at the beginning, you won’t end up with clumps later on.
Don’t blend after adding the Castile soap, though! You’ll regret it. Just stir gently.
To Scent or Not to Scent?
I prefer to leave my laundry soap unscented, but you could add a blend of essential oils if you wish. Lavender and chamomile might be nice. I’d suggest adding a total of 85 drops of EOs to this four-gallon recipe.
Where to Buy the Ingredients
You’ll probably be able to find the borax and washing soda at your local store. I usually get mine at Wal Mart. If you’re in an area with a Whole Foods or other natural store, you can probably get liquid Castile soap there.
None of my local stores carry it, though, so I make my own. (Actually, I would make my own Castile soap even if local stores carried it…that’s just how I roll.)
You can order liquid Castile soap from Amazon too. They have quite a few options for excellent quality soap. Since it’s concentrated, a little goes a long way, and it has so many uses around the house. (Check out 6 Ways I Use Liquid Castile Soap Everyday.)
Printable Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
- 1 cup Borax (or Baking Soda)
- 1 cup Super Washing Soda
- 1 1/2 cups Liquid Castile Soap
- 4-gallon Bucket
- Stick Blender (or Hand Mixer)
- Fill bucket with a couple inches of warm water. Pour in measured Borax and Super Washing Soda.
- Use the stick blender or hand mixture to thoroughly blend the powders into the water (about 4-5 minutes.)
- Add cold water to fill the bucket about three-quarters full. Pour in the measured Liquid Castile Soap.
- Add more water to fill the bucket and stir gently to blend in the soap.
- Transfer finished laundry soap to containers with lids.
- Use approximately 3/4 cup per load.