How to Make Your Own Natural Laundry Detergent

Introduction

An average family of four does 8 to 10 loads of laundry a week. That’s a lot of laundry! But it’s also a lot of store-bought laundry detergent. Even if you get the bigger bottle of laundry detergent with a more concentrated formula, where they claim you can use less and get more per load, it still feels like you’re constantly running to the store to buy more. 

Scrolling through the internet these days, you notice more and more DIY and natural cleaning recipes popping up. You can find anything from disinfectants, kitchen, and bathroom sprays, to oven cleaners and even homemade laundry detergent! People are jumping on board with it now more than ever, but why?


Why Make Your Own Laundry Detergent? 

Why would anyone want to make their own homemade laundry detergent? Well, there are many great reasons why people are deciding to switch to homemade laundry detergent. 

A lot of conventional laundry detergents have so many chemicals in them now that I can’t even pronounce half of the ingredients. And those ingredients are going into our clothing and touching our skin all day long. I don’t know about you, but I like to know what ingredients are in the products I use and that they’re not harmful to me, my family, or the environment.

Speaking of the environment, the amount of empty plastic bottles piling up around the world from laundry detergent alone is insane. Just in one year in the United States the amount of plastic packaging thrown out into the garbage is in the millions and unfortunately less than 10% of that actually gets recycled. And if that’s not bad enough, plastic bottles can take up to 450 years to decompose in landfills! That’s a lot of bottles and a lot of years.

Another reason why people are changing over to homemade laundry soap is to save money. In today’s world, prices just continue to rise for many essential items, from food to cleaning supplies, plus everything else. I mean, who doesn’t want to save a bit of cash? 

If you’re reading this, you’re a caring consumer looking for ways to make your daily life more sustainable. That being said, let’s jump right in and you can see how easy and cheap it can be to make your own homemade laundry detergent!

What You’ll Need

To make your own homemade laundry detergent, you will need a few things to get started. Some of these items you may have on hand already, but be sure to scan through this list and double-check that you have everything you need before getting started.

Tools and equipment:

  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Container with a tight-fitting lid
  • Spoon
  • Grater or food processor
  • Gloves
  • Mask

Ingredients: 

Washing soda

Not to be confused with baking soda—although they sound similar—washing soda (sodium carbonate) is a different compound than baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). It is a natural cleaner and water softener and great for removing grease and stains. Washing soda is used in a lot of the store-bought laundry soap products that are already out there and can usually be found in the same laundry aisle in your local grocery store. But if for some reason you can’t find washing soda anywhere, you can easily make your own by heating baking soda in the oven and changing its chemical compound. 

Always make sure to wear gloves, and even a mask, when handling washing soda, since it is high in alkalinity, which is great for cleaning your clothes but can irritate sensitive skin. 

Castile soap

Castile soap is a gentle soap that is also a strong and effective cleaner. It is vegan, made with plant and vegetable oils, so doesn’t contain animal fats like some of the other soaps do. It is all-natural, chemical-free, and can be found in liquid soap or bar soap form. One of the most popular brands on the market is Dr. Bronners, which now comes in a variety of soaps made with different plant oils to suit your needs. You may not be able to find it in the laundry aisle, but you might have more luck in the bath and body aisle of your local grocery store.

Baking soda

As we discussed before, baking soda is a different compound than washing soda. You can bake with it and even bathe in it. Baking soda is used in a lot of different cleaners on the market already and for good reasons. Both baking soda and washing soda have grit to them, which when used for cleaning allows for better scrubbing and stain removal, and they are also both alkaline products, making them great for neutralizing odors and softening water for a better clean. Both baking soda and washing soda should never be mixed with acidic ingredients like lemon juice or vinegar. Their fun bubbling reaction when mixed together actually neutralizes all elements and cancels out the effective cleaning power of each product.

Salt

Adding salt to your homemade laundry soap removes discoloration and stains from clothing and also brightens your colors and whites. It’s also great for softening the water, which is what you want when washing laundry. Hard water actually makes it more difficult to wash away dirt and debris and can cause mineral buildup on your clothing. Regular table salt or sea salt is perfect for use in your laundry soap recipe.

Essential oils

If you want to add fragrance to your homemade detergent, you can use essential oils. You can even customize your own scents by mixing different ones together or pair scents with the different seasons, making your own essential oil blend. It’s best to always start with a little bit and add more after. Or if you’re nervous about ruining your homemade laundry detergent recipe with a smell you might hate, try adding a few drops directly into the washing machine of one individual load first. If you like it, awesome, add it to your homemade detergent. If not, no loss, try a different scent the next time and see how you feel about that one. 

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

Everyone has a preference over their laundry detergent and, honestly, I couldn’t decide over the laundry powder and liquid version, so I have for you BOTH of the DIY laundry detergent recipes!

For your homemade laundry detergent, start with a container that’s big enough for all your laundry soap to fit in. You may wish to use an old empty store-bought detergent container or bottle, especially if you’re making liquid detergent. That’s also a great way to reduce plastics in our landfills and reuse what you have around. 

But whatever container you do decide to use, make sure it has an airtight cover.

Powder laundry detergent recipe 

Ingredients

  • 3 castile bar soap
  • 4½ cups washing soda
  • 2 cups of baking soda
  • 10–30 drops of essential oils (optional)

Steps

1. To make your own powder detergent, start by using your cheese grater or food processor to break down your castile bar soap into small flakes and place it in your chosen container.

2. Now for the easy part, measure out 4½ cups of washing soda and 2 cups of baking soda and stir them into the grated soap.

3. If you want a scented laundry soap, now is the time to add your essential oils. Ten drops will give you a very light, mild smell or you can use up to 30 drops depending on how strongly scented you want it. If you don’t want scented detergent, omit this step.

4. Now all you have to do is stir all your ingredients together thoroughly, pop on the cover to your container, and you’re all done!

To use your dry homemade laundry detergent, measure 1–3 tablespoons per load straight into your washing machine water and proceed as usual.

Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe 

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon hot water 
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • ½ cup baking soda
  • ⅓ cup salt
  • 1 cup castile liquid soap
  • 10–30 drops of essential oils (optional) 

Steps

Before you begin making your liquid laundry detergent, make sure your container is big enough to hold a gallon or more.

1. Start by mixing together 1 cup of washing soda, ½ cup of baking soda, and ⅓ cup of salt.

2. Next, add half the water to the container and stir thoroughly until all the dry ingredients are dissolved. If you’re using a bottle, you can skip the stirring and just put on the cover and shake it.

3. Once everything is dissolved, add 1 cup of liquid castile soap to the bottle and mix gently to incorporate.

4. Add the rest of the water to the soap mixture and stir or shake until combined.

5. If you’re adding scent to your homemade laundry detergent, add it in now and stir/shake to mix.

To use your liquid detergent, measure out ½–1 cup per load and add to your washer drum or dispenser and wash clothes as normal. 

*Make sure to stir or shake your liquid laundry soap before each use to ensure all the ingredients are well distributed and nothing has settled to the bottom.

Tips and Tricks

  • When making the liquid laundry soap recipe, make sure you don’t use cold water or the ingredients won’t dissolve and you’ll be left with chunky laundry soap.
  • If you own an HE washer, use the lowest recommended amount of laundry detergent per load.
  • Make sure to store your homemade laundry detergents in airtight containers at room temperature.
  • Add your DIY laundry detergent directly to the water in the washing machine before adding your laundry to avoid any risk of having soap residue left on your clothing.
  • Place a measuring spoon or cup alongside your homemade laundry detergent to make it easier to measure and distribute when washing clothes.
  • If you can’t decide between the powdered detergent and liquid laundry detergent recipe, why not try both? You can cut the recipes in two and just make half, try it out and see which DIY laundry detergent you like best! This is also great if you’re unsure of what scents you want to use in your laundry detergent or if you want a couple of different scents on hand at one time. 
  • The best part about making your own homemade laundry detergent is that you are making your own laundry detergent. You can customize the ingredients and scents for YOU and what YOU like. You can’t get that from conventional laundry detergent.
  • Try to save any empty store-bought laundry detergent bottles that you have around the house so that you can reuse them to put your homemade laundry detergent in.
  • Don’t worry if you decide not to put any scent in your homemade laundry detergent, your clothes will still come out fresh.

Conclusion 

So, if it’s to save money, help save the planet, cut back on toxins, or whatever your reasons, I hope this natural homemade laundry detergent recipe helps you achieve what you set out to do. Now, after realizing how easy it is to make your own laundry soap, you might avoid purchasing other store-bought household cleaning products and try making your own cleaners for the rest of your home too!

And for whatever reason, when it all comes down to it, if you decide you’d rather not make your own laundry detergent after all and homemade laundry soaps are not your thing, a lot of new eco-friendly options for laundry detergent are now available for you to try. Check out my article all about eco-friendly laundry sheets that can help make your cleaning routine as sustainable as possible!