Learn how to make a gallon of natural homemade laundry detergent for less than $4. This laundry detergent is completely natural, non-toxic, safe and most importantly, it’s effective. This recipe will allow for 50-64 loads per batch, so the cost is less than 8 cents per load!
When I first opened the door to the world of natural living, my first experiment with DIY natural products was laundry detergent. That was I believe in 2012, maybe earlier! Back then, non-toxic products were a lot harder to come by, so you had to get resourceful. If you found them they were expensive, usually not very effective, and often not as natural as the package claimed them to be. Hello, green washing. Hence diving into DIY natural products was sort of necessary.
Over the years I have tried plenty of natural laundry detergent recipes, and they often left me disappointed. Many call for borax, which has been questioned when it comes to safety. Others left a film in my washing machine and on my clothes. Several other recipes called for grating a bar of castile soap, and while I have tried that, I honestly just don’t have the patience to do so. We wash most of our laundry on cold, so I also found sometimes the grated soap particles (when using a DIY laundry powder) wouldn’t fully melt, and then would leave little bits of dried soap on the laundry I was trying to clean. I also found that several recipes made massive batches, 5+ gallons, and that might be worthwhile if you have a large family, but we don’t, plus I don’t have the space for all that!
How Does Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent Work?
This recipe for natural laundry detergent uses just a few carefully selected ingredients, each chosen with a purpose. Washing soda is a natural solvent, meaning it works to dissolve other substances. Because of this it is great for boosting the power of the laundry detergent in removing stains. Baking soda is also powerful at removing stains, plus it helps to absorb and remove any odors. Castile soap is super concentrated, so a little goes a long way when it comes to cleaning clothes! The chloride in salt helps to keep laundry looking bright, and it also acts as a natural softener! I also use it in my DIY Fabric Softener & Scent Booster. Essential oils are not necessary, but I love to add them for a natural, toxin free, fragrance.
For many, many years, 6 or 7 to be exact, I had a recipe that was my go-to. It works great, however I often added a little bit of washing soda to the drum of our washing machine, because of how effective it is at removing stains. It made sense for me to play around with homemade natural laundry detergent of my own that included washing soda. I also just like to change things up from time to time, so this recipe was born!
I share about many of these ingredients in this post.
Can I Substitute The Ingredients?
If you need to substitute ingredients in this recipe, you do have some options.
- If you can’t find washing soda, you can make it yourself with baking soda! Simply spread baking soda on a baking sheet, and cook for an hour at 400 F. This will change baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, to washing soda, sodium carbonate!
- Instead of coarse salt, use table salt or epsom salt – both work!
- Substitute a full bar of grated castile soap for the liquid castile soap. You will want to melt the soap in hot water before mixing in the other ingredients.
Why Don’t You Use Borax In Natural Laundry Detergent?
The safety of borax has been questioned. The EU has banned borax because of its potential harm to reproductive health. This is based on studies of borax on mice and rats after ingesting high amounts. While I am sure there are much worse ingredients out there, I would much rather play it safe. It is known for being effective in removing stains, however I find washing soda does the trick all on it’s own.
How Much Natural Laundry Detergent Do You Need Per Load?
I typically use about 1/3 cup or so for an average sized load of laundry. If I am doing a small load however, I will use about 1/4 cup. This works great for us! I just keep a 4 oz mason jar in my laundry room to use to measure my detergent whenever I am doing a load of laundry.
Does This Detergent Work With HE Washing Machines?
Yes, this recipe works with both HE and standard washing machines! Because standard washing machines use less water, you may find that you want to add a little bit more detergent. I would say about 1/2 cup per load. Test it out with your washing machine to see what works!
Why Does My Laundry Detergent Separate?
You will probably notice that after your homemade natural laundry detergent cools it separates like in the picture below. This is totally fine! Just give it a good shake before using.
- 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup washing soda
- 1/4 cup coarse salt
- 30 drops essential oil
- gallon sized container
- Add baking soda, salt, and washing soda to a large glass bowl or jar. Add enough hot water to dissolve as best you can.
- Transfer mixture to a gallon container. Add castile soap and essential oils.
- Top off with cold water, and mix well.
- Use 1/4-1/3 cup per load, depending on the size.
I typically make my detergent in a gallon sized glass jar. I add the washing soda, baking soda, salt, and hot water directly to it to dissolve, then add the rest of the ingredients.