Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homemade (Safer) Laundry Detergent

As I've gone increasingly natural in my food choices for the family, I've branched out slowly into other areas of the home. Living well in this modern world takes effort and thought.  I'm on my second batch of homemade toothpaste, for instance, and I'm hooked on it, as it's a "remineralizing" concoction, something that commercial toothpastes don't even try to do. (Besides being flouride, additive, and preservative free!)

Three ingredients are all you need for homemade laundry detergent.

Today I thought I'd share the recipe I recently used to make homemade laundry detergent. Perhaps laundry detergent isn't high on your list of products to go natural with, but if you look at what typically is in commercial detergents, you may decide to add it to your list!

If you suffer from chemical allergies, you should certainly give homemade products a try.
We don't have allergy issues in my home, (thankfully) but the very real issue of toxicity was enough to make me interested in trying safer alternatives.

There are two ways to go with homemade laundry detergent: Powder, or liquid. I made the powder. My friend Rachael tells me that the powder may not be ideal for septic systems, but the website I got the recipe from says it's fine. To be safe, I plan on making the liquid version as well, and using it every other load.   

Close-up view of the powder after mixing.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 cup finely grated Castile Soap (such as Dr. Bronner's), or Fels Naptha, or Ivory

2 cups borax

2 cups washing soda

optional: 6-10 drops essential oil for fragrance, if desired


1. Grate the bar soap into a fine powder. I used a cheese grater, but a food processor would work also. I needed one bar and about 1/4 of a second bar to get one full cup.

2.  Using a large container, mix the grated soap with the borax and the washing soda. Use this container, tightly covered, to store your detergent in, or transfer to another container.  That's it!

One-quarter cup or thereabouts is enough for a large load. 

So far, I've seen no difference in my laundry using this formula, which is exactly what I'd hope for. What I'd like to do next is find a natural substitution for dryer sheets! Anyone out there know of a good way to soften clothes and remove static without using those toxic dryer sheets? Please share it here!

When I make the liquid version of the detergent, I'll share that here as well.

If you store the powder in a kitchen container, as I did (above), be sure to label it!  

Everything you need for this recipe can be found in most supermarkets in the detergent aisle. I never noticed these things before I went looking for them, but they're there, all right. 

What about you? 

What natural versions of commercial products do you favor in your home? Got any good substitutions you'd like to share with us?  

I am itching to give away a three-tin set of English Tea, but I haven't had enough commenters to hold the drawing! 

According to my Google stats, I do get a lot of viewers here, but only a few choose to leave a comment. I'd still like to have a minimum of ten to twelve before doing the drawing, so please, if you would, spread the word! I'll pick one (leave contact info) from among the next ten or more commenters to win this tea.

Warmest Blessings,



chaplaindebbie said...

Linore, you amaze me. Homemade laundry detergent? Wow. Good for you. I will do my best to spread the word about your blog. I know you are probably tired of seeing me all the time. *big grin*
I found this site online, might help you with that dryer sheet dilemma:

Hugs and God bless!

Martha A. said...

We used to make a homemade liquid laundry soap, it was great, but after a bit we felt like it was not really getting the clothes as clean as wanted. I wonder if the powdered works better. The tea looks good! martha(at)lclink(dot)com

Caroline said...

Linore, I have friends who've made their own laundry soap. Questions, do you save money on this too? How long have you been using it?

I admire those who do all they can to go natural. :)

Anne Payne said...

My daughter makes her own laundry soap the same way. I am going to start doing this too. Right now I buy an expensive one that is eco-friendly. I would LOVE your recipe for toothpaste. I use baking soda and peroxide, but I still buy Tom's fluoride-free for my DH and boys.

Linore Burkard said...

Deb, I will never be tired of you! I always love to see how you respond, and you are an encouragement. And thanks for that link! I'm headed there after I finish this comment. :)

Martha, by "not clean enough," do you mean your laundry actually looked or felt less clean, or was it perhaps the lack of a fresh scent? Did you try adding any essential oil to the mix? Some people get used to the fragrance in their detergent and may not feel like their laundry is clean without it.

Caroline, I think it will save money in the long run, but that wasn't my top priority (and sometimes that IS my top priority!). Considering that I have a good amount of the detergent and still plenty left for the next batch or two--except for the bar soap, which I'll need to replenish--I think it is certainly cost effective if not less expensive than commercial soaps. If you use Tide or All, it is definitely less expensive. :)

Ann, I'll post my toothpaste recipe soon! I can't actually say for sure that it does the job of remineralizing teeth, but it's still nice to know that it's a safe alternative to most commercial brands.

Good to hear from you all. Stay tuned for more DIY recipes, and hopefully we'll have a drawing for that tea!!

J.Grace said...

Interesting, I've always wanted to make my own hand soap.
As for the lovely tins, I've collected several through the years and keep them displayed in a curio cabinet.

Thanks for the giveaway.


Pam said...

I am also interested in your homemade toothpaste recipe. I'd also like to know how you store it and the ease of using it. Squeezing a tube of commercial toothpaste is pretty easy but I doubt there is a comparable way for a homemade version. I like the idea of homemade.
Thanks for sharing your recipes and experiences.

Mary Preston said...

I'd like to look into making more products for use around the home.

I think I will start in the laundry. Thank you for sharing.


Linore Burkard said...

Janella, I've made my own hand lotion, but not soap. Funny I haven't felt the need to do that, yet, but I'm sure I'll get around to looking into that.
Pam, you hit the nail on the head about the toothpaste and ease of use. I'm very happy with my recipe but not as much with how I access it. I use a cotton swab to take a little each night and apply it to my toothbrush. I'm still searching for a better container and method.
(I'll show both next week when I post the recipe.)
And Mary, I think starting with laundry soap is a good idea. It's easy to make, and one success will lead you into wanting to add another. :)
Nice to see you all here! A couple more comments and I can hold a drawing for the tea!