Are you a Pinterest lover? If you do much poking around on the site you’ll soon discover that DIY laundry detergents are all the rage.
(Yep, I’m at the point in my life where laundry detergent can be a rage…. but I digress!)
Homemade laundry detergent is often suggested as a way to save money, you can find thousands of recipes on Pinterest that promote this cost-saving idea.
I wanted to make my own laundry detergent for another reason — to produce an effective all-natural detergent that eliminated dangerous chemicals and additives.
This post uses affiliate links. The research and opinions are all my own.
My goal was to create a detergent recipe that scored well on the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Healthy Cleaning scale and was still cost-effective.
Not-So-Natural Laundry Detergent
For years I used Arm & Hammer Free Liquid Detergent and thought I was making a natural choice for my family’s health. It did a great job, was fragrance-free, and it was cost-effective ($.10 a load). I felt good about using it in our home….
I discovered the EWG Guide to Healthy Cleaning. The database that analyzes household cleaners and give them a grade (A-F) based on their ingredients.
Did you know that US cleaning product manufacturers can use almost any ingredient they wish and the government doesn’t review the safety of products before they’re sold? SCARY!
I began looking up all the cleaning/household products we used in an effort to eliminate dangerous substances from our home. I learned that my trusty detergent had scored a D for problems such as cancer and respiratory effects.
BIG FAT FAIL
I no longer felt good about using it for my family!
All-Natural Laundry Detergent
I checked out a few store-bought laundry detergents that scored an A on the EWG scale and found that they were pretty pricey. They ranged in price from $14.00 for 42 loads ($0.33 a load) to $15.00 for 70 loads ($0.21 a load). These store-bought versions tripled my laundry detergent costs!
It was time to make my own non-toxic homemade laundry detergent.
Making All-Natural Detergent
I started with this basic cost saving recipe from Happy Money Saver and replaced the ingredients that scored high in toxicity. The original laundry detergent recipe made 18 lbs (288 oz.) for $20.27 or 504 loads at $0.04 per load.
|Original Recipe Laundry Detergent Recipe||Cost per batch||EWG Rating|
|Super Washing Soda||$3.24||A|
|Cost Per Load||$0.04|
The Natural Replacements
My non-toxic, all-natural version replace Fels-Naptha with natural Castile soap and eliminates Borax. Borax use is somewhat controversial in “green” circles; it is a naturally occurring mineral, but it is also toxic. You can check out more about the controversy at Crunchy Betty or MNN and decide for yourself.)
The new all-natural recipe makes 11.43 lbs (183 oz.) for $20.75 or 320 loads at $0.06 per load!
If you would like a built-in laundry softener like the original recipe, you can add Epsom salt. The Epsom salt version makes 13.19 lbs. (211 oz.) for $20.75 or 368 loads at $0.07 per load! I make the detergent without the Epsom salt and use Natural Homemade Fabric Softener in the dryer.
|My Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent Recipe||Cost per batch||EWG Rating|
|1 box Super Washing Soda, 3 lb. 7 oz (I use this kind.)||$3.24||A|
|1 box Baking Soda, 4 lb. (I use this kind.)||$2.36||A|
|4 bars Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap, Fragrance Free, 4 oz. ea.||$5.16||A (or 0)|
|1 container OxiClean Baby or OxiClean Free, 3 lbs||$9.99||A|
|Eliminated Purex Crystals (or use Epsom Salt, 28 oz )||$5.25||A|
|Cost Per Load (1 Tbsp)||$0.06|
I have been using this detergent for nearly 3 years and there is no looking back!
- The natural laundry detergent is significantly less expensive than the store-bought nontoxic detergents AND cheaper than my previously used Arm & Hammer Free.
- The recipe rates an “A” on the EWG scale, so I feel good using it in our home.
- This laundry detergent recipe cleans great! I can honestly tell no difference between my recipe and store-bought laundry detergent.
Another big plus, this laundry detergent is naturally low foaming due to its ingredients. This means it can be used in both standard and HE machines.
Bonus tip: Fill your washer’s fabric softener dispenser with white vinegar for safe and effective laundry softening. If the washing machine does not have a fabric softener dispenser or you do not want to fill it with vinegar, use a Downy Ball filled with white vinegar. It automatically releases the vinegar during the rinse cycle.
- 4 – 4 oz. bars Kirk's Original Coco Castile Soap Fragrance Free
- 4 lbs Baking Soda
- 3 lb. 7 oz. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, 1 box
- 3 lbs OxiClean Baby, 1 container
- 28 oz Epsom Salt (optional)
- Grate castile soap into very small bits.
- I used my food processor to grate the soap (with the grater attachment) and then pulsed it with the blade into small bits. I found that processing one bar at a time and adding ¼-1/2 cup baking soda to soap flakes during the pulsing stage helped the soap separate into smaller bits. Warning: Use your food processor at your own risk! I was willing to try this as the castile soap is very pure and non-scented AND my food processor is on its last legs. Grating and pulsing the soap did not seem to injure my food processor at all. It also washed out easily and did not leave a scent in my food processor. I was a bit worried as a friend who grated Fels-Naptha (from the original recipe) in her food processor said it left a strong scent.
- Mix all ingredients in a large container and stir.
- Use your new laundry detergent - 1 or 2 Tablespoons per load. No more! There are no fillers in this detergent so it takes less than commercial laundry detergent. This is safe for regular or HE machines.
*If you want to make any substitutions to the recipe I recommend looking them up in the EWG guides to make sure they rate well.
If you’re concerned about chemicals in your home check out some of my other green cleaners:
Natural Homemade Fabric Softener (it can be used in the washer or dryer)
All-Purpose Cleanser (it’s great for laundry stains)
Fresh Lemon Dishwasher Detergent (cause dishes get dirty too!)
Questions? I get hundreds of questions about making All Natural Homemade Laundry detergent! I have a detailed Question and Answer post that has lots of additional information. Check it out!