Three easy ways to make homemade laundry detergent using one simple laundry soap recipe.
Making your own homemade laundry detergent is a great way to save money, support the environment and reduce your exposure to unhealthy chemicals. It’s also a lot easier than you might think. With a few basic ingredients and a simple homemade laundry soap recipe, you’re ready to get clean and green!
Why Make Your Own Homemade Laundry Detergent?
Commercial detergents often contain harsh chemicals, toxic ingredients and harmful synthetic fragrances. Homemade laundry soap cleans just as effectively, and since it’s made with natural cleaning ingredients, it’s easier on your clothing, your skin and the environment.
Store brand detergents also cost a lot more than homemade laundry soap. Today, a 32-load bottle of a popular laundry detergent costs $8.99 at Amazon.com. That’s 28 cents per load. Homemade laundry soap costs about 2 cents per load. Think about how many loads of laundry you do per year. The savings can really add up!
Commercial detergents can cause skin rashes and asthma attacks in people who are sensitive to the toxic ingredients. Far fewer people experience allergic reactions to homemade laundry detergents. Even if you’re not allergic to commercial detergents, you’re doing your health a favor by not exposing yourself to the chemical cocktails present in many brands.
How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent
You need a 5 gallon bucket for this homemade laundry soap recipe. You might try asking a restaurant for their empties (fat for deep frying comes in huge buckets.) I got mine from my local bulk food store.
- 4 cups hot boiled water
- 1/3 to 1 natural soap bar (see the directions below for tips)
- 1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda – see below)
- 1/4 cup Borax
- one of the essential oil blends below (optional)
Grate the soap bar using the fine side of your cheese grater. I use pure vegetable glycerin soap bars, and many web sources suggest using Fels Naptha or Ivory soap. The stronger your soap bar is, the lumpier your homemade laundry detergent will be. I use a whole bar of vegetable glycerin soap, but only 1/3 of a Laundry Soap bar such as Fels Naptha.
Combine the soap flakes and hot water in a large saucepan. Stir over a medium-low heat until the soap is melted.
Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of very hot water. Add the melted soap, the washing soda and the borax. Stir until all the powder is dissolved.
Note: Washing soda is made from Sodium Carbonate and is not the same as Baking Soda. You can usually find washing soda in the laundry area of your department store or ask for it at a pool store. It will be in the water softeners section.
Fill the bucket to the top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
Next morning, stir the essential oils into the homemade laundry soap. It will be a watery gel with lumps in it – this is fine. Just give it a good stir. I use a potato masher to break up the lumps.
Transfer your homemade laundry detergent into clean used laundry bottles.
Shake the bottle before each use to dissolve any lumps of gel that might have formed between uses. Use 1 cup per load for top-load washing machines, and half a cup for front-load washers. This recipe makes enough for 45 top loads or 90 front loads.
Handy Hint: I also use this homemade laundry soap recipe to soak stains out of my tea towels and whiten my whites. I just leave them to soak in the detergent for about a week, and they come up beautifully, with no wear and tear on the fabric.
Essential Oils for Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes
Power up your homemade laundry soap with one of the following essential oil blends. Not only will they make your clothes smell nice, but they have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties – great for killing germs while washing out dirt and grime. If you’re exceptionally sensitive, you can leave out the essential oils – you’ll still get a good laundry detergent with strong cleaning powers.
Lavender Essential Oil Blend
- 40 drops Lavender
- 30 drops Lemon
- 20 drops Clove
Citrus Essential Oil Blend
- 30 drops Grapefruit
- 30 drops Orange
- 30 drops Lemongrass
Tea Tree Essential Oil Blend
- 40 drops Tea Tree
- 30 drops Lemon OR Lemongrass
- 20 drops Palmarosa
Expanding Your Green Cleaning Repertoire
Homemade laundry detergent isn’t the only natural cleaning product you can make to save money, safeguard your health and support the environment. Look for recipes for dish washing detergent, floor cleaners, stain removers and cleaners for every room in your house. Once you try a few of them, you’ll never go back to store brands again!
Kyley Zimmerman is an avid DIY-er with a large collection of aromatherapy recipes for homemade cleaning products.