Homemade laundry detergent

In today’s fast-paced world, the convenience of store-bought laundry detergents is hard to beat. Simply toss a pod or pour a capful into the washing machine, and voila – your clothes come out clean and fresh. However, the cost and environmental impact of these commercial products are starting to give many consumers pause. Enter homemade laundry detergent – a cost-effective, eco-friendly alternative that’s gaining popularity around the world.

Homemade laundry detergent offers a host of benefits that make it an attractive option for the modern, conscientious consumer. For starters, it’s significantly cheaper than name-brand detergents. The basic ingredients – soap, washing soda, borax, and optional essential oils – can be purchased in bulk for just a few dollars, and a single batch can last for months. This translates to big savings over time, especially for families with lots of laundry.

Homemade laundry detergent

But the real draw of homemade detergent lies in its gentler, more sustainable nature. Commercial detergents are often filled with synthetic chemicals, fragrances, and fillers that can be harsh on both clothes and the environment. In contrast, homemade versions use natural, biodegradable ingredients that are kinder to fabrics, skin, and the planet. No more worrying about skin irritation, polluted waterways, or clogged septic systems.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the simple process of making your laundry detergent at home. We’ll cover the essential ingredients, provide easy-to-follow recipes, share customization tips, and discuss the many benefits of this eco-friendly cleaning solution. By the end, you’ll be armed with the knowledge and confidence to ditch the store-bought stuff and join the homemade laundry revolution.

The Essential Ingredients

The beauty of homemade laundry detergent lies in its simplicity. Most recipes call for just a handful of basic, natural ingredients that can be found at your local grocery or big-box store. Here’s a quick rundown of the essentials:

Soap: The foundation of any homemade detergent, soap provides the cleaning power. Look for pure, unscented castile soap or a natural bar soap like Ivory or Dr. Bronner’s. Avoid harsh, synthetic soaps.

Washing Soda: Also known as sodium carbonate, washing soda is a powerful cleaning agent that helps cut through grease and grime. It also acts as a water softener, improving the overall cleaning performance.

Borax: A naturally occurring mineral, borax is a cleaning booster that helps remove stains and whiten fabrics. It also has disinfectant properties.

Optional Extras: For extra cleaning oomph or a pleasant scent, you can also add ingredients like baking soda, essential oils, or citric acid.

That’s it! With just these few simple ingredients, you can craft an effective, environmentally-friendly laundry detergent right at home. No harsh chemicals, no mystery additives – just pure, clean power.

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

Ready to get started? Here’s a basic recipe and step-by-step instructions for making your laundry detergent at home:

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe


  • 1 bar of pure, unscented castile soap or natural bar soap, grated (about 4 cups grated)
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 10-15 drops of essential oils (optional)


  1. Grate the bar of soap using a cheese grater or food processor until you have about 4 cups of grated soap.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the grated soap, washing soda, and borax until well combined.
  3. If using essential oils, add 10-15 drops and stir to distribute the scent evenly.
  4. Transfer the detergent mixture to an airtight container, such as a mason jar or plastic storage container.
  5. Use 1-2 tablespoons of the detergent per load of laundry, adjusting as needed based on load size and soil level.

That’s it! This simple recipe yields enough homemade detergent to last 30-60 loads, depending on usage. And the best part? You can easily customize and tweak the formula to suit your specific needs and preferences.

Customization Tips

One of the best things about making your laundry detergent is the ability to tailor it to your unique situation. Here are some ideas for customizing your homemade formula:

Scent it Up: While the unscented version is great for sensitive skin, you can easily add fragrance by incorporating essential oils. Try calming lavender, refreshing lemon, or soothing eucalyptus.

Boost the Cleaning Power: For extra stain-fighting and whitening capabilities, add 1/2 cup of baking soda or 1/4 cup of citric acid to the mix.

Make it a Powder or Liquid: The recipe above yields a powder detergent, but you can also make a liquid version by melting the grated soap in water on the stove. Let it cool before bottling.

Adjust for Hard Water: If you have hard water, increase the borax and/or washing soda amounts to help soften the water and improve cleaning performance.

Experiment with Ingredients: Feel free to try out different types of soap, from Castile to Castile to Marseille. You can also substitute washing soda with baking soda or replace borax with oxalic acid.

The beauty of homemade detergent is that you can tweak and perfect the formula to suit your unique laundry needs. Start with the basic recipe, then play around with ingredients and measurements until you find your perfect blend.

The Benefits of Homemade Laundry Detergent

Now that you know how to make your laundry detergent, let’s dive into all the amazing benefits it offers. From cost savings to eco-friendliness, homemade detergent is a game-changer for the modern, conscious consumer.

  1. Cost Savings
    One of the biggest draws of homemade laundry detergent is the significant cost savings. Depending on the ingredients you use and the size of your household, a single batch can cost as little as $2-$5 and last for 30-60 loads. Compare that to the $10-$20 you’d spend on a single jug of commercial detergent, and the savings start to add up.
  2. Gentle on Clothes
    Commercial detergents are often loaded with harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances that can be tough on delicate fabrics. Homemade versions, on the other hand, use natural, biodegradable ingredients that are much gentler. This means your clothes will last longer and maintain their shape, colour, and texture.
  3. Skin-Friendly
    Many people, especially those with sensitive skin, struggle with rashes, irritation, and other reactions from commercial laundry products. Homemade detergent eliminates those concerns by relying on gentle, natural ingredients that are less likely to cause skin irritation.
  4. Environmentally Sustainable
    The synthetic chemicals found in commercial detergents can have a major impact on the environment, polluting waterways and harming aquatic life. Homemade detergent, with its plant-based, biodegradable formula, is a much more eco-friendly option. It’s better for the planet and your conscience.
  5. Customizable
    Unlike store-bought detergents, homemade versions can be tailored to your specific needs and preferences. You can experiment with different soaps, adjust the cleaning power, and even add custom scents. This level of control and personalization is a major perk.
  6. Peace of Mind
    When you make your laundry detergent, you know exactly what’s going into it. No more worrying about mysterious “fragrance” blends or undisclosed chemicals – just pure, natural ingredients that you can feel good about using.

With all these benefits, it’s no wonder that homemade laundry detergent is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Whether you’re looking to save money, go green, or just have more control over your cleaning products, this DIY solution is well worth the small investment of time and effort.

Troubleshooting Tips

While homemade laundry detergent is generally easy to make and use, you may encounter a few hiccups along the way. Here are some common issues and how to troubleshoot them:

Suds Issues: If your homemade detergent produces too many suds, it’s likely due to using too much per load. Start with just 1 tablespoon and adjust up or down as needed. You can also try reducing the amount of soap in the recipe.

Hard Water Problems: In areas with hard water, your detergent may not be as effective. Increase the washing soda and/or borax to help soften the water and improve cleaning power.

Clothing Residue: If you notice a powdery or waxy residue left on clothing, it’s likely due to undissolved detergent. Make sure to fully dissolve the mixture in the wash water before adding clothes. You can also try using a liquid detergent instead.

Septic System Concerns: Some people worry that homemade detergent may clog or damage septic systems. As long as you use natural, biodegradable ingredients, this shouldn’t be an issue. However, you can also try a liquid version, which is more septic-safe.

Scent Complaints: If the scent of your homemade detergent is too strong or doesn’t last, try adjusting the essential oil amount or switching to a different fragrance. You can also make an unscented version.

With a little trial and error, you’ll be able to perfect your homemade laundry detergent recipe and avoid any pesky problems. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the formula that works best for your home.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Alternatives

If making your detergent isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of eco-friendly, natural alternatives to commercial laundry products. Here are a few options to consider:

Castile Soap: This vegetable-based liquid soap is a versatile, gentle cleaner that can be used on its own or as a base for homemade detergent. Brands like Dr Bronner’s offer unscented and scented varieties.

Laundry Strips: These pre-measured, dissolvable laundry strips eliminate the need for bulky detergent containers. Popular options include Tru Earth, Blueland, and No Tox Life.

Laundry Balls: Reusable laundry balls contain natural minerals that help lift dirt and stains without the use of harsh chemicals. Some top-rated options are Nellie’s Laundry Balls and The Laundry Project.

Soap Nuts: Also known as soapberries, these small, dried fruit shells naturally produce a soap-like lather when agitated in water. They’re a renewable, biodegradable cleaning option.

Wool Dryer Balls: Made from 100% New Zealand wool, these reusable balls help soften clothes, reduce static, and cut drying time – all without any added chemicals.

No matter which alternative you choose, you can feel good about reducing your reliance on commercial laundry products and making more eco-friendly choices for your home.


In a world of convenience and chemical-laden products, homemade laundry detergent stands out as a shining example of a better, more sustainable way to clean your clothes. By harnessing the power of simple, natural ingredients, you can save money, protect the environment, and enjoy fresher, gentler-cleaned fabrics.

Whether you’re motivated by cost savings, environmental concerns, or a desire for more control over your household products, homemade laundry detergent is a smart choice. With just a few basic supplies and a bit of hands-on time, you can craft an effective, customized cleaning solution that checks all the boxes.

So why not give it a try? Ditch the store-bought stuff, explore the world of natural ingredients, and join the growing homemade laundry revolution. Your wallet, your skin, and the planet will thank you.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.