Laundry detergent is an easy switch from store bought to homemade. DIY alternatives are often just as effective and much less expensive. Iâ€™ve shared my Homemade Laundry Soap but this variation is formulated for high-efficiency washers.
I first considered the idea of homemade laundry detergent when a friendâ€™s mom made hers while I was visiting their house 15 years ago (wow, I just felt old!). Once I started doing my own laundry, I experimented with recipes for laundry soap. This HE version is an updated take on my original creation.
It is important to note that laundry soap and laundry detergent are not the same thing. A soap is by definition a mixture of fats and oils with an alkali or base, like this recipe for crock pot soap that uses a mixture of olive and coconut oils with a lye and water base.
Detergent, on the other hand, is typically synthetic (at least partially) and is typically designed for a specific purpose, such as to dissolve even in hard water or cold water. Most recipes for â€œnaturalâ€ laundry detergents are almost always talking about soaps, and recipes for actual detergents are seldom natural.
Since store bought versions are called â€œlaundry detergents,â€ Iâ€™ve opted to call this tutorial a DIY Laundry Detergent recipe, though it uses a soap base.
Detergents are designed to work in hot or cold water and to clean inside the fibers of clothes effectively. Depending on water quality, some people find that natural laundry soaps donâ€™t work well on their clothes. Others may notice build up or a dingy color over time.
There is one natural cleaner (not technically a soap) that Iâ€™ve found is highly effective and that works as well as high-end commercial detergents. Instead of laundry soap, using 2 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronnerâ€™s Sal Suds per load gets clothes really clean without the added fragrances and harmful chemicals.
Many readers questioned the safety of Borax in my original recipe. After much research, I (still) feel completely comfortable using Borax in laundry soap and other uses that do not come in direct contact with food. Hereâ€™s my take on Borax but do your own research and make sure you are comfortable with it (or any ingredient) before using!
A simple borax-free option (that doesnâ€™t require grating) is:
Just add those at the beginning of the wash cycle. For an extra boost, add 1/4-1/2 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle. This step is entirely optional but seems to help keep clothes from pilling and looking worn.
I switched to natural homemade laundry detergent/soap to avoid the harsh chemicals, fragrances, colors, and additives in many regular detergents. It turns out that homemade is also much less expensive and incredibly easy to make!
Even if youâ€™re just starting out with natural living and wouldnâ€™t dream of making your own deodorant, laundry soap is a simple switch you can make without much effort and without expensive speciality ingredients.
This homemade laundry soap recipe uses three basic ingredients:
Optional Add-Ins: Iâ€™ve also experimented with adding Oxi-Clean or oxygen boosters to this recipe. Iâ€™ve found that they donâ€™t do much good when mixed into the recipe, but can be great when added to especially dirty loads of laundry along with the homemade soap.
Another optional addition is essential oils for scent. I prefer lemon or lime essential oils added to the powdered recipe, though most of the scent is gone after drying.
This recipe can be made two ways: as a powder or a liquid. The powder is much faster to make and requires much less room to store, but the liquid is more effective for stain treating. The liquid also seems more effective for those with hard water.
I currently use the powdered version and use other natural products for treating stains (see below). Both recipes use the same natural ingredients, so just pick the one that is most convenient for you. This recipe is my powdered version, and the liquid version is in this post.