Greetings fellow DIYers! Today I'm going to share my recipe for a simple homemade non-toxic laundry detergent.
This is a great alternative to store bought laundry soap thats full of not so pleasant things. So if you're interested in saving some money, as well as eliminating some of the toxins in your home, you've come to the right place. It is much easier than you might think, so why not give it a try? If you're like me, you'll never buy laundry soap from the store again! I will also post the directions for how to make this into a liquid laundry soap if that's your preference.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Why make homemade laundry soap?
Well, for starters...why not? What do you really have to loose in trying anything once right? About 4.5 years ago, shortly after my daughter was born, I decided I needed to start being a lot more aware of the chemicals and toxic things in our home. Enter, make your own laundry detergent/soap. I really never gave it much thought as to what was in laundry soap and the fact that the clothes you wear on your back washed in laundry soap are pressed up against the largest organ of your body, your skin (yes, your skin in an organ), all day long. Could that have an affect on our bodies? Absolutely! So I spent some time making my own laundry soaps to test out different recipes, what recipes actually worked when it came to cleaning our clothes, what would work in our HE washing machine, what was safe to have around our daughter, and of course to be certain it would inevitably be able to clean out those expected tough baby stains-and boy there is a lot of them with a newborn (sigh).
Liquid laundry detergent vs. powdered laundry detergent:
For us it really comes down to what works. Whats the point of washing your clothes if it really doesn't get things clean? For the first 3 years of making my own soap, I preferred liquid laundry detergent. No real reason-just personal preference at the time. Fast forward another year and a half and here we are. Building another house. Putting in lots of sweat equity. Getting really dirty. We live on the river near a mountain. We get more than our fair share of wind, rain, snow, you name it. This makes for dirty clothes. Lots of them. So I started playing around with different recipes of laundry detergents again and this time found a powdered variation I felt like was doing a better job of cleaning our clothes.
Just for reference, we currently have a newer model HE top loader washing machine that I'm not very fond of- if I'm being totally honest. I really prefer the top loader machines with the agitator bars in them. You know, old school washing machines. I truly believe that getting all these new fancy washing machines hasn't done us any favors when it comes to really cleaning those tough, built in stains. End rant. So here we are. Newer washing machine and a severe need to really clean these clothes. Enter powdered DIY laundry detergent that works!
Ingredients you'll need for making this homemade laundry soap:
- Arm & Hammer Baking soda.
- Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda.
- Castile Soap Bars.
- Essential Oil (optional).
Recipe for homemade laundry soap with essential oils:
- First, grate 2 bars of castile soap of your choice with a box grater or food processor. I prefer to use my food processor to really speed the process up. I've had my food processor for 4 years already and I literally use it for everything. You'll need 2 bars per batch. I usually make a 5 gallon bucket of laundry detergent at a time, so I grate 6 bars of soap at a time.
- Next, Measure out 3 cups of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, 3 cups of borax and 3 cups of Arm & Hammer super washing soda and add them to whatever container you'll be storing your detergent in.
- Add in the 2 bars of grated castile soap.
- After all the dry ingredients are in your bucket, add 30-40 drops (or to your desired scent tolerance) of essential oil of your choice. Again, this is optional. You can also use scented castile soap. Dr. Bronners Brand has quite a few scents such as lavender, Citrus, almond, rose, peppermint as well as unscented.
- Slowly incorporate all the ingredients together, making sure that essential oil is thoroughly mixed in.
- If you mixed your soap in a bucket, pour powdered laundry detergent in to storage jar.
- Label Jar with a reusable chalk labels and chalk pen as well as larger storage container if you're making a large batch.
How much Laundry Soap to use:
- For small loads I typically use ¼ cup of powdered detergent.
- Larger loads of laundry I use ½ cup.
- The liquid variation of laundry soap (posted below) is ½ cup.
Liquid laundry soap with essential oils variation:
I know lots of people that prefer liquid laundry soap. I use to be one of them. On occasion I still do. So heres a variation for liquid laundry soap as promised. I don't talk about this in the video below, but I thought I'd post the directions for it.
- Add ½ gallon of water to your 5 gallon bucket. Stir in 1 cup of borax and ½ cup of washing soda.
- Shred 1 castile soap bar with the cheese grater. Melt soap shreds in 1 cup of water over medium heat. Stir often.
- Add melted soap to the bucket and stir well.
- Add 30-50 drops of essential oil of choice.
- Fill the bucket the rest of the way with water. Stir until all ingredients are well combined.
- Let it sit overnight and then shake bucket really well.
NOTES: I like to pour the detergent in a ½ gallon jar to make uses easier. You can also store in old laundry soap containers. Shake well before each use. Use ½ cup of detergent per load.
Tip for natural fabric softener:
- Add ½ to 1 cup distilled white vinegar to loads of laundry. This will work as a fabric softener so chemical fabric softeners won't be necessary. This also works to help eliminate smells from dirty clothes.
- Add wool dryer balls into dryer with wet clothes. You can also add a few drops of essential oils to the dryer balls as well for the sweetest smelling fresh laundry.
Shop items used in this post here:
- Dr. Bronner's Unscented Castile Soap Bars
- Cuisnart Box Grater
- Cuisinart DLC-8SY Pro Custom 11-Cup Food Processor,
- Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
- Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
- Essential Oil (this is the one I typically use)
- 5 gallon bucket with twist off lid ( I keep this between my washer and dryer)
- 1 gallon glass storage jar with lid ( to store next to my washing machine on a shelf)
- Chalk Labels and Chalk Pen (to label)
- Wool dryer balls
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Homemade Laundry Soap with Essential Oils
This is a quick and easy recipe for the laundry soap I make for our home. Toxin-free and works great. Easily found ingredients as well.
- 3 cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
- 3 cups Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
- 3 cups Borax
- 2 bars Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap Bars (unscented) You can use any brand and any scent you like. If you'd prefer not to use essential oils, a scented castile soap bar is great! Dr. Bronners has some great scents available.
- 30-50 drops Essential Oil of your choice I use 80-90 drops for a very large batch (5 gallon bucket full). So its really up to you how much fragrance you'd like to add (if any) to the mix.
- *half cup Distilled White Vinegar (optional) I add this to my wash to soften my laundry. I don't use dryer sheets so this helps with that
- * 2-3 Wool Dryer Balls (optional) I use these with a couple drops of essential oil as a fabric softener as well
SMALL BATCH RECIPE:
1. Have a 1-2 gallon storage container available to put all the ingredients into. I make a huge batch of this at a time (5 gallon bucket) and transfer into a 1 gallon storage jar that I store next to my washing machine.
2. Label your storage jar so you and others know the containers contents.
3. Grate (with a box grater or food processor) 2 bars of castile soap. Set aside.
4. Add 3 cups of borax, 3 cups of arm & hammer super washing soda, 3 cups of baking soda and 2 bars of grated castile soap to container and mix contents of container together well.
5. (optional) If you are going to add essential oils to your laundry detergent, do so now. 30-40 drops is recommended, but you can really add as much (or little) as you'd like. If you are using scented castile soap bars, you really don't need to add essential oils as well. But its really up too you and your preference.
LARGE BATCH RECIPE:
1. Label 5 gallon bucket and 1 gallon storage jar.
2. Grate 6 bars of castile soap of your choice with a box grater or food processor. Set aside.
3. Add 3 BOXES of Borax, 3 BOXES of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, 13.5 lb bag of Baking Soda and 6 grated bars of Castile soap to bucket.
4. Mix all ingredients together. I have found the best way to do this is to put the lid on my 5 gallon bucket and roll it around on the floor. *NOTE* I use a 5 gallon bucket with a screw top lid so I know that the lid won't come off. If you are using a regular 5 gallon bucket, be careful if you are going to roll it around on the floor. I don't know how well these lids stay on.
5. (optional) Open bucket and add 80-90n drops of essential oil of your choice. if you are using a scented Castile soap, you likely won't need essential oils at all. Totally up to you.
6. Again, mix together well.
7. Transfer small amount of detergent to 1-2 gallon glass jar to store next to your washing machine. When the glass storage jar is empty, refill from 5 gallon bucket.
**5 gallon bucket full of soap last us about 6 months for our family of 4 doing 1-2 loads of laundry every day. **
1. Adding ½ cup of distilled white vinegar to wash is a great way to soften the your laundry without having to use dryer sheets. Plus it works great to eliminmate odors as well.
2. Use wool dryer balls (2-3) in your dryer when drying laundry as a great replacement for dryer sheets. Place 1-2 drops of essential oils on the dryer balls to scent.
Thank you so much for this recipe. I have used it for about six months now and like it a lot. But I made a substitution. I don’t like grating the soap so I use dr Bronners lavender Castile soap by just adding a capful to my washing machine along with the other ingredients in your recipe minus the grated soap.
What a great idea Elaine! thanks so much for the suggestion. Grating the soap isn't my favorite part either, but I figure since I dont have to do it too often, I dont mind too much. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
What a great substitution Elaine! Thanks for the tip. Ill have to try that as well. I agree that grating soap isn't the most fun task, but since I only do it every six months or so it isn't so bad. Glad you found something that works for you.