I had been on the search for a good DIY eco-friendly natural laundry detergent recipe for quite a while. I was trying various store-bought plant-based laundry detergents. And while they worked just fine, I really was hoping to find something that was as basic as possible, with only a few ingredients, and inexpensive. Turns out, that doesn’t really exist when you’re buying tubs of detergent at the store!
So, with a little research, I discovered a really simple recipe for creating my own DIY eco-friendly laundry detergent. It would be bio-degradable, easy on my sensitive skin, easy to make, and inexpensive!
*NOTE: After I created this first batch, I realized that not all of my ingredients were cruelty free – which is something I strive for in my every day life as much as possible. I had no idea that Arm & Hammer tested on animals. So, what you see in the photos is not representative of a cruelty free option, although it is eco-friendly. I found cruelty-free brands before writing this blog post, so you can find links to those brands within the post. If you aren’t concerned about cruelty free products, you can find everything you need at your local grocery store, Walmart, or Target.
You’ll also notice there is no Borax in this DIY eco-friendly laundry detergent recipe. Many other DIY detergent recipes call for it, but the fact is that Borax is not as eco-friendly or sensitive-skin friendly as we might think! So I opted out of using it in this recipe, and it has worked great without it!
Also note that this recipe is safe for HE washers
SO WHAT’S IN IT?
Kirks Castile Soap
Kirks Castille Soap is extremely inexpensive and also, about as simple as you can get when it comes to soap. Its hypoallergenic, bio-degradable, 100% cruelty free & animal by-product free. It also has no Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, no parabens, no phthalates, no EDTA, no synthetic detergents, and no gluten. The packaging is easily recycled as well!
As a substitute, you could also use Dr. Bronner’s Bar Soap, although this stuff is less expensive.
Although easily purchased at your local grocery store for very inexpensive, what you’ll find there isn’t typically cruelty-free. Bob’s Mill makes a cruelty-free baking soda option you can check out here. A little more expensive, but worth it to know you’re buying from a great company.
You might be wondering what the difference is between baking soda & washing soda and why we need both.
The difference between baking soda and washing soda is literally just water and carbon dioxide. Using a combination of washing soda and baking soda raises the pH of water for perfect cleaning conditions, while deodorizing and breaking down stains.
Now here’s the interesting thing about Washing Soda – you can actually create your own by heating up baking soda in the oven (google for a recipe if you so desire). But, its also relatively inexpensive & easy to find. As I mentioned previously, Arm & Hammer is not cruelty-free, so if you would like to purchase cruelty free washing soda, I would recommend Pure Organic. It’s going to be less expensive to purchase this organic, cruelty-free brand, than to purchase Bob’s Mill baking soda and try to make your own washing soda from it if you are looking for cruelty-free options. (I haven’t found any other cruelty-free baking soda brands yet).
OXYGEN BASED CLEANER
Oxygen based cleaners like Oxi-Clean and Oxo-Brite are fantastic for brightening colors, removing stains, and whitening whites, without using bleach. Its a much more eco-friendly option, and better for those of us with sensitive skin.
If you decide to go with Oxi-Clean, make sure to select ‘Free’ or ‘Baby’ so that you aren’t getting any extra added fragrances or chemicals – just the basic stuff. Oxi-Clean is easy to find at any grocery store, however, its parent company is not cruelty-free.
Oxo-Brite is essentially the same thing as Oxi-Clean, but claims to have fewer additives, and it is a cruelty-free brand. Only slightly more expensive than generic or Oxi-Clean. I will buy this brand next time.
Here’s the thing: you only need 1tbls per load of this DIY eco-friendly laundry detergent! If I have a particularly soiled large load – like towels or something that needs more, I’ll throw in a little extra. You end up with roughly a gallon of powdered detergent with this recipe – plus, most likely leftover ingredients to make more later on. That’s roughly 250 loads of laundry! For our house of two, we probably do 3 loads of laundry per week. That equates to about 83 weeks worth of laundry detergent. That’s over a year! Well worth it.
- 2lb Arm & Hammer (or generic) Baking Soda : $4.99
- 2 bars Kirks Soap : $3.99
- Half box A&H Washing Soda: $1.98
- 1.5lb OxiClean Free : $3.42
Cost Per Load (based on 250 loads) 5 cents per load
- 2lb Bob’s Mill Baking Soda : $7.48
- 2 bars Kirks Soap : $3.99
- 2lb Pure Organic Washing Soda: $11.99
- 1.5lb Oxo-Brite : $13.42
Cost Per Load (based on 250 loads) 14 cents per load
So lets look at store-bought eco-friendly laundry detergent costs really quickly, just for comparison. Keep in mind that these may be ‘eco-friendly’, but they aren’t minimal ingredient, and they often have a lot of added fragrances, sulfates, and softeners added that could be irritating to sensitive skin.
- BioKleen – 9 cents per load
- ECOS – 12 cents per load
- Rebel Green – 22 cents per load
- Seventh Generation – 20 cents per load
- Method – 24 cents per load
- Mrs. Meyers – 23 cents per load
BUT DOES IT WORK?
So you may be wondering, can something this simple I can make at home actually clean my clothes? And the answer is yes!
When I first made this a few weeks ago, I was also skeptical. I had seen several DIY Detergent recipes, and a lot of them had different ingredients – some had Epsom salts, some had borax, some didn’t use washing soda, some had essential oils added in, some recommended adding vinegar… there were a LOT of options. I researched each product individually, and how they reacted, to figure out what I hoped would work the best. I figured, worst case scenario, I will just add it to some of my extra dirty loads of wash because, all-in-all, most of the ingredients are just things you’d add to pre-washes or to your detergent anyway for an extra boost.
So I made the detergent, and used it immediately. To my surprise, it worked WAY better than I had expected. My colored clothes were brighter, and my whites (that I usually would add chlorine bleach to) were getting clean and bright too, without the bleach (and I love that!) Time will tell how it handles yellowing on my newish white bedding. But so far, so good. It even did a pretty good job on a bunch of rags that Colin had soaked up a entire broken bottle of Olive Oil with when I added dish soap and did a long pre-soak.
SUPPLIES YOU’LL NEED
- Large mixing bowl (I love my 4 Quart Pyrex)
- Mixing spoon
- Wide-mouth gallon sized jar or container
- A tablespoon scoop to keep in the jar
- A grater
- Something to cover your mouth & nose while mixing (I used a bandana – while the stuff is non-toxic, and absolutely fine when added to water, you do want to avoid inhaling it)
DIY ECO-FRIENDLY LAUNDRY DETERGENT rECIPE
- 1. Grate both of your bars of soap. This will take time and effort, so be patient.
- 2. Add in your baking soda, washing soda, and oxygen cleaner. Stir to fully mix.
- 3. Transfer to your jar or container. Use 1tbls per load of laundry.
- *DO NOT MIX WITH CHLORINE BLEACH*
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5 thoughts on “DIY Eco-Friendly Natural Laundry Detergent”
Erin Pickrahn says:
I’m wondering if you have any recipes for a fabric softener?
Katie Emmitt says:
I have never tried that! My next goal is to make some dryer balls with lavender EO added in lieu of dryer sheets but I’ve never used fabric softener! If you google it, you can find recipes though! Looks like the main ingredients are glycerin & vinegar!