The most popular green cleaning tutorial on Bren Did is Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent. It is also the DIY that also gets the most comments and emails! This laundry detergent question and answer addresses the most popular concerns and inquiries.
Learn a bit more about making homemade laundry detergent and give this all-natural recipe a try.
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How to Use Natural Detergent
How well does this detergent work?
This detergent works as well as any commercial laundry detergent I have ever purchased. I have used it exclusively for more than 3 years and can tell no difference between store-bought detergent and my homemade laundry detergent.
Can I use this detergent on delicates… or diapers… or dark colors?
I use this detergent on everything from bathing suits and delicates to stinky gym clothes and uniforms. It cleans great and has never damaged an item. If you are concerned you should make a small batch and test the detergent for yourself.
Is this detergent safe to use on baby clothes? I’m hesitant to switch from Dreft.
One of my pet peeves is the way laundry detergent manufacturers market some laundry detergent as baby specific. Many of these “baby” detergents are heavily scented and laden with chemicals that are bad for infant’s skin. For example, Dreft baby detergent rates an F on the EWG scale, I would not use it in my home. My natural laundry detergent recipe rates an A on the EWG scale, that’s why I feel good about using it on all my kids’ laundry.
Is this recipe safe for HE washers?
This recipe is low foaming so it is HE safe. I have successfully used this detergent in a standard washing machine, a front load HE washing machine, and a top loading HE washing machine. High efficiency and standard machine detergents contain the same cleansing ingredients. High efficiency detergents do not contain chemicals such as ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium dodecyl sulfate, or sodium laureth sulfate that make soap suds or foam. This detergent works well in a standard machine, but there will not be many soap suds.
Should I put the detergent in the dispenser or directly in with the clothes?
I put the detergent directly in the wash tub on top of the laundry. I have never used it in the detergent compartment since it is powdered.
Can I use this detergent in cold water?
I do most of my laundry in cold water and have not had a problem. If you wash in extremely cold water (such as well water) or have issues with it dissolving, add the detergent to a cup of warm water and then pour it over the laundry.
Natural Laundry Ingredient Questions
Can I substitute Zote flakes? I don’t like to grate soap.
I do not used Zote flakes because detailed information about Zote’s ingredients is not available. W hen companies do not readily disclose ingredients it makes me suspect that they contain dangerous substances. Zote does contains fragrance and dye, both of which I avoid. The best information on Zote is here.
**If you want a no-grate detergent check out my DIY Laundry Detergent Liquid recipes. There are two borax-free liquid detergent recipes that make small batches of laundry detergent with no grating.
Can I substitute liquid Castile soap for the bar Castile soap?
You can not add liquid Castile soap to the dry mix, the liquid will react with Oxiclean in the mix and lose it’s effectiveness. Want to use liquid Castile? Mix together the other ingredients (no bar soap) then add ¾ tsp of liquid Castile to the washing machine with 1 tablespoon of dry mix.
Note: liquid Castile soap is more expensive and less concentrated than solid Castille bars. 1 cup of liquid Castile soap equals 3.64 ounces of bar soap. You need 35 oz. of liquid Castile to equal 16 oz. of bar soap in this recipe. The liquid Castile costs about $18.00, the bar Castile costs around $5.00.
**If you want a liquid detergent check out my DIY Laundry Detergent Liquid recipes. There are two borax-free liquid detergent recipes that make small batches of laundry detergent with no grating.
Can I use a soap other than Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap?
Feel free to substitute any natural Castile soap bar, just be sure to use the same amount (16 ounces). Dr. Bronners’ Castile bars and Kiss My Face Olive Oil unscented bars work well for me in this recipe. Check substitutions on the Environmental Working Group’s database to keep the laundry detergent all-natural.
Is Oxyclean really natural?
Oxiclean is mostly sodium percarbonate. When water is added it releases hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate (washing soda). Sodium percarbonate is considered eco-friendly. The Free and Baby versions of Oxiclean are free of artificial dye and scent, according to the manufacturer. The EWG guide gives Oxiclean Baby and Oxiclean Free ratings of A and B. .
Where to Buy Ingredients
Where do you buy Oxiclean Baby? I can’t find it.
Oxiclean Baby is hard to find in stores, but can be ordered from Amazon. Oxiclean Free is easy to find, works equally well, and rates a B on the EWG scale.
Where do you buy your ingredients? Your prices are great!
Unscented Kirk’s Castile is available for a good price on Amazon and Walmart (online and some locations). I purchase the other ingredients at local big box stores. As of 10/2015 the washing soda is $3.24 (Wal-Mart), the Oxiclean Free is $7.59 (Target), and the baking soda is $1.98 (Wal-Mart), add Kirk’s from Amazon and the detergent is $18.50 for 320 loads (5.7 cents a load). Generic unscented Epsom salts add about $1.25 (Wal-Mart).
Where do I buy Epsom salts?
Epsom salts can be purchased at most grocery and big box stores. Check the pharmacy or personal care section. Buy only pure, unscented Epsom salts. There is no need to get an expensive brand. (Note: I do not use Epsom salt in my detergent.)
Where did you get your glass containers? I love them!
I store my detergent in affordable 2-quart Hermes top jars or wire clamp jars. The are also called glass swing-top, or wire bail jars. I love the look of these classic jars in the kitchen and laundry room.
How to Add Scent to Natural Detergent
Unscented laundry detergent never makes my clothes smell clean. What does this detergent smell like?
Many people think “clean” is the powerful scent of synthetic fragrances. Unfortunately, the artificial scents that make laundry smell like mountain streams or fields of flowers contain toxic substances which can harm your health. The bottom line –> truly clean laundry smells like nothing! Use this detergent and laundry will come out of the machine clean, safe, and smelling like nothing!
What can be added to naturally scent this detergent?
Commercial detergents are usually scented with toxic chemicals that coat laundry. Natural substance cannot not make laundry detergent smell as strongly as artificially scents. To add a gentle, natural scent you can:
- Use naturally scented Castile soap in place of the non-scented Castile soap.
- Make natural Fabric Softener using essential oils to soften and lightly scent laundry in the dryer.
- Spritz clean laundry with natural Fabric and Room Refresher Spray before folding.
What you should not add to detergent:
- Essential Oils – Essential oils are natural and safe to use in laundry, but wash out with the rinse water. Laundry comes out of the machine VERY faintly scented or smelling like nothing. Any remaining essential oil scent will disappear in the dryer.
- Scented Epsom Salts – Epsom salt is sometimes sold with artificial scent such as lavender, milk and honey, or chamomile. Scented Epsom salts do not rate well on the EWG scale, do not use them if you want non-toxic laundry detergent.
We have really smelly laundry; can I add Downy Unstoppables or Purex Crystals (or a similar laundry scenting product) to the detergent?
Please check ANY scented product on a green cleaning guide (I use the Think Dirty App, on the Good Guide, and EWG.org) before adding it to the detergent. Downy Unstoppables rate an F and Purex Crystals rate a C on the EWG scale , I would not use them in my home. Stinky gym clothes and fuel soaked uniforms come out smelling clean and fresh when using this detergent and a white vinegar rinse, no harmful ingredients necessary!
Do clothes smell like vinegar if you use it to soften laundry?
White vinegar in the rinse cycle may make laundry smell slightly vinegary when wet, but it will have absolutely no vinegar smell when dry. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer, as it dries it removes odors including its own. If you hate the scent of vinegar make natural Fabric Softener that softens in the dryer and uses essential oils.
I hope this Q & A has answered your most pressing questions. Still have concerns? Read more in my post Do Homemade Laundry Detergents Really Work or comment below and I’ll answer.
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I am wanting to switch to cloth diapers and love you laundry detergent recipe. Do you know if your recipe works for cloth diapers? I’ve heard some recipes can cause soap build up, making the diaper less absorbent.
I’ve never used the detergent on cloth diapers but I use it on towels and sheets with no issue. You can check out more details on build-up in my post Do Homemade Detergents Really Work?.
I am new to the world of homemade laundry detergent and am wanting to make the switch. But…. I have a baby who sometimes spits up and gets poop on her clothes. What do you use as a stain remover before you put your clothes in the wash? Right now I either use the OxiClean Gel Stick Stain remover or a spray called Grandmas Secret Spot Remover. Could I still use either one of those? What do you suggest? I don’t want to to cause some crazy chemical reaction in my washing machine. lol
Hallie I either make stain remover with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and dish soap (recipe here) or make one with washing soda and Castille soap (recipe here).
Does the chemical reaction between epsom salt and washing soda create a chemical reaction and is it safe? tHANKS
The chemical reaction between the epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and the washing soda (sodium carbonate) produces the precipitate magnesium carbonate, MgCO3, and the byproduct
sodium sulfate, Na2SO4. MgSO4 (aq) + Na2CO3 (aq) g MgCO3 (s) + Na2SO4 (aq)
I am so excited to have found your site! I’m a green cleaning intermediate and looking to expand what I have been doing so far. I found your site because I recently bought some washing soda to mix with baking soda to soak/clean my daughters cotton menstrual pads and was looking for other used of the mixture I made (1:1 ratio) The washing soda is hard to come by in Australia and the castile soap bars, even harder so not ready to commit to making your laundry powder. I was thinking maybe to start I could just add the washing/baking soda mix in with my existing laundry powder (maybe half and half?) to reduce the laundry powder usage/cost and while increasing stain fighting power. Thoughts??
Thanks on advance and looking forward to following you on FB now!
Yes, you can add washing soda/baking soda to your existing detergent. I would use the amount suggested on the back of the box. You can also soak blood in hydrogen peroxide to remove stains… it works best on light-colored fabrics.
I an happy to say I just whipped up a batch of this laundry detergent. I cannot for the life of me find the recommended amount to use per small/medium/large load? Sorry if it was an oversight and thank you for answering!
I would start with 2 tablespoons and adjust as needed.
Hello Bren, thank you for the recipe. Concerning the OxiClean Free – I don’t see it offered in a cardboard box. I am trying to avoid plastic. I know making my own detergent will reduce the amount of plastic but I wonder if I can use this oxi clean stain remover powder in a large box (not oxi clean free) just to avoid plastic. I imagine the oxi clean free means it’s free of dyes and chemicals. Looking on Amazon I see this Oxi Clean giant cardboard box for commercial purposes, but it doesn’t say oxi clean “free.” Do you thin kit would still work? I’m guessing you will say “Yes it will work but it includes chemicals and which is worse, plastic in the ocean and landfills, or chemicals in your home?” Just checking. Thank you again.
Anne, you could try making the recipe with another Oxygen bleach that is packaged in cardboard. I have only use Oxiclean free but another Oxygen bleach should work the same way. I recommend trying a small test batch before making the entire batch if you try a substitute.
Im a little late to the party but hoping you can help.
Can this combination work to clean clothes effectively;
Soda Crystals ( in UK we use them to soften hard water but not sure what US call them)
Bicarbonate of soda
And a little Fairy liquid dish detergent?
Im a newbie to this stuff and wondering how to use the bulk items i already have jn my home to use them up until i can buy your suggested combos.
Sabrina, I am not sure what Fairy liquid dish detergent contains so I am not sure. I would mix a small batch of your desired mixture and see if you like how it clean. Test it on sturdy towels or dish rags.
Thanks for this recipe and your research. I wanted to know if it’s necessary to use white vinegar at all? Is it required for smelly loads? I see it used as a softener. I’m a little nervous to use it in a downy ball or at all. Also have you ever had soap scum buildup in the washer from the bar soaps since you’ve been using this for a few years? Does rhis dry recipe work on laundry lile towels and bedding and clothes for freshness and cleanliness? any new info on Zote for a rating? I don’t mind using the castle soap I use it as a daily soap. As for laundry. It will be my first time making homemade and I saw that Zote comes in soap flakes and would eliminate grating. I don’t have a food processor.
Sorry for all the questions. Again Thank you for the recipes and research! You’ve answered a ton of other questions that I was wondering about just from reading your articles.
Cynthia, I’ve never had build up. I use the vinegar for softening and smelly loads (I always use vinegar unless I am washing synthetic stretch fabrics). I do not have any new Zote information, you can make my liquid detergent if you don’t want to grate soap. Good luck with your first homemade detergent! -Bren
Your Q&A list references using for cloth diapers; does this detergent work well to remove the stains left from poop, or would you recommend using your stain remover recipe? I assume based on your other answers that I shouldn’t have problems with an ammonia smell from pee (common with cloth diapers)?
I have never used the detergent on cloth diapers. Sorry!
Could I leave out the Oxiclean?
I’ve never made the powdered detergent without Oxiclean so I am not sure how well it would work. If you want an oxiclean free version try my liquid laundry detergent recipe.
I was hoping to find all the ingredients for your dry laundry soap locally since I am not a big fan of online shopping. The Kirk’s soap is either scented or the 100% coconut oil, fragrance free. Have you every tried it with the coconut oil?
Megan, it will work with either of the Kirk’s soaps. I like to use the fragrance free version to avoid fragrance but either will work. I’ve also used Kiss My Face Olive Oil soap (unscented) in the recipe. Hope this helps!
Hey Bren, Do you have to be careful when mixing this/using this due to the caustic, basic nature of washing soda? Will it harm my skin?
I use a spoon to mix the powdered detergent and I am careful to not inhale the powder, other than that I do not take any special precautions. Good luck!
I’m surprised to not see any mention of natural goat milk soap being used. My friend makes it & I’m thinking of trying it instead of castile. Any advice?
You’re lucky to have a source for natural soap! I’ve never tried using goat milk soap in this recipe so I am not sure how it would work.
I love your laundry detergent recipe. I’ve been using it over a year now. I am noticing my white socks are not staying white. What do you use instead of bleach?
Janyce, to white a load of lights I add a bit extra washing soda or a cup of hydrogen peroxide or a cup of lemon juice, wash the load on hot, and make sure to set it to the longest cycle. You can also let it soak for a bit. I also use vinegar in the rinse cycle to help wash out all the detergent. Hope this helps!
Hi, I was so happy to find your site and just became a subscriber! Thank you for the in-depth info and research to keep the home and our bodies healthy. I was wondering if you knew if your laundry detergent recipes (any of them) were safe for septic tanks? I use Dr. Bronners liquid Castile soap to make foaming hand wash and notice it feels like it has a little residue or (not very smooth feeling-kind of sticky- sry that’s not fully accurate, but the only way I can describe it).
Anyway, I’ve read when making natural spray cleaners from Castile soap, a rinse is usually recommended. My concern is that Castile could build up in the piping and also, there are live and active enzymes in a septic system to break down the waste that may be compromised with the other ingredients. Please advise if you have any info or thoughts. Thank you!
Lori, with a septic tank you want to avoid the se of heavy-duty or antibacterial cleaners that can kills the beneficial bacteria in the tank. None of the ingedients in the laundry detergent should kill the bacteria in a septic system. Some septic tank owners prefer to use liquid detergent (you can find my recipe here). Hope this helps!
Hi Bren! I live in Las Vegas and we have EXTREMELY hard water. I have been putting off making my own laundry detergent because many people I’ve spoken with say it makes the clothes very dingy with hard water. Do you have any experience with how your recipe works with hard water?
We have very hard water too (white mineral build up on all my drains, ice maker, etc). I love how the detergent works with a vinegar rinse. Good luck!
I’m sorry to add another, very similar, question to what you’ve already taken time to answer, however, I have one. 🙂
If I choose to leave out the OxiClean altogether, would you suggest adjusting the amounts of the other ingredients? And then, I am just wondering, I had read somewhere that the ratio for soap to alkalai should be 4:1 (people can write whatever they want on the internet). It looks like you do a fair amount of research and make decisions based on information… Have you tried with higher amounts of soap than the other ingredients? Just wondering if anyone has real world experience with that “fact”. From my research on detergents, it’s all the “boosters” highest on the ingredient list and the “cleaning agents” can be pretty far down, so I’m assuming that the ratio is someone’s opinion…
I’m not sure how the recipe would work without the Oxiclean, let me know if you try. I had not heard of the 4:1 ratio, you can add extra soap if desired but I like how it cleans as written. Good luck!
You said not to mix vinegar and baking together but there is baking soda in your laundry detergent and vinegar in your laundry softener is that okay?
Michelle, the baking soda has been mostly rinsed out before the vinegar is added plus you want the vinegar to neutralize any remaining detergent in the rinse water so there is none left on your clothes. You don’t want to mix baking soda and vinegar in a cleaning solution because the neutralize one another before you even start cleaning. In laundry you want the vinegar to neutralize the baking soda.
I see other recipes that do not use baking soda, saying washing soda does the same thing and is stronger, so baking soda is not needed. Do you think baking soda is needed? –Thanks.
Good question, Susan. I wrote a whole post about baking soda and washing soda and why I use both. Hope this helps!
I just ordered the things to make this, but I realized that Castile soap is coconut based, and my son has had skin reactions to coconut. Is there a substitute I can use for Castile Soap?
Andrea, I’ve used Kiss My Face Olive Oil Soap successfully in the recipe. I would double check the ingredients but it is supposed to be 100% olive oil.
Hey….I can’t wait to try this soap recipe! But just curious….why don’t you use the Epsom Salt anymore?
Teresa, I gave up the Epsom salt because I couldn’t tell a difference and there is some research that suggest the magnesium in the Epsom Salt makes water harder which makes it harder to clean clothes. Hope that makes sense!
I just bought kirks original coco Castile bars but realized they’re pure botanical coconut oil soap not fragrance free. What’s your opinion on this?
They will work fine but I prefer to avoid artificial fragrance when possible. I’ve used the scented bars in a pinch and the detergent works the same. Good luck!
I’m really really really 😀 excited to try laundry detergent without Borax
(I’ve been using recipe with Borax for the last 3 years).
But, as usual, I have a “small” problem: my country is Bosnia and Herzegovina and
I can purchase OxiClean on ebay (Amazon won’t ship) and with shipping it will be around USD 40 for 3lbs.
Do you have any idea if I can use Sodium Percarbonate high grade? Or, do you have some other idea?
Yes, I’m aware that I’m responsible for everything 😀 and would not blame anyone for anything 🙂
I would just like some direction – for example: for start I would wash housecleaning “rags”.
Thank you for all your passion.
Thanks for commenting, ALan. Oxiclean is mostly sodium percarbonate so you could try using Sodium Percarbonate as a substitute. I would use only 1/2- 3/4 of the Oxiclean amount since the pure Sodium Percarbonate has no fillers. I agree that washing some rags as a test would be best. Good luck and please let me know what you discover!
I am excited to try this recipe, but I was wondering if you knew if it is ok to use on septic system?
It should be fine because with septic systems you need to use green products that will not kill that bacteria and organisms that breakdown the waste. You can read more about it here: http://extension.missouri.edu/webster/water-softeners-and-septic-tanks.aspx.
How do you store the detergent? It seems to make a lot and I am wondering what kind of container is best to store it!
Nevermind! I just read how you store it!
I am really anxious to try this. Could i just use hydrogen peroxide in place of the oxiclean?
Sorry, I’ve never tried it with hydrogen peroxide. You would not want to add it to the dry mix.
What do you use to measure your scoop per load? And exactly how much do you use per load?
Thank you in advance!
Jessie, I use 1 or 2 Tablespoons of powdered homemade laundry detergent per load. I measure it with a small plastic scoop I saved from a can of protein powder. You can use any scoop you have on hand.
Hi there! I was shocked to find all of the ingredients on the military base besides the bar soaps! Amazon finally got them restocked and I was able to get this made. I am LOVING it so far, but I had a question/concern. The clothes are feeling a bit oily out of the washer – thoughts on what is causing it or how I can avoid it? We have a top-loader “water efficient” washer if that matters. Thanks so much!
I have a top loader high efficiency machine too, I’ve never had a problem with an oily feel. I think it could be a few problems: 1) you might be using too much of the detergent, I use only 1 Tbsp per load (use less or use vinegar in the rinse to help break down the soap) 2) if you have just switched from commercial products it could be the film from the fabric softener washing out of your fabrics (use vinegar in the rinse to help break it down) 3) it could be the water where you live or the commercial products washing out of your machine (again try the white vinegar rinse to help). I put the vinegar in my fabric softener compartment or use a Downy ball filled with vinegar. You can also try filling all the compartment (bleach, fabric softener, detergent) with white vinegar and running the washer cleaning cycle. Hope this helps! (PS – You can usually get Kiss My Face unscented olive oil soap in the commissary, it works in this recipe if you don’t want to order the Kirk’s soap.)
Oxiclean baby is currently 9.99 at toys r us. You can buy online for in store pickup to save shipping. Hopefully this helps someone.
Thanks for the tip, Niki!
Is this product Biodegradable? We use our washing machine water to water our plants here is drought stricken CA.
According to Oxiclean their products are biodegradable (Oxiclean is Sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate), according to Kirk’s their Castile soap is biodegradable, according to Good Green baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is in it’s natural state and does not need to biodegrade, and washing soda is also in its natural state (sodium carbonate). However, ingredients can be biodegradable and still not be safe for watering plants. I would read this guide to grey water and decide for yourself.
Hi Bren! LOVE your site! I’m in the UK and it seems we cannot get OxiClean here for love nor money…(well, PROBABLY money actually, but A LOT of it…). Is there a substitute or can it be left out?
Many tia x
Thanks Carly! OxiClean contains two active ingredients: Sodium Percarbonate and Sodium Carbonate. I think Vanish Oxi Action is the same product in the UK. I would check the laundry aisle for anything containing those active ingredients. They usually have oxygen or Oxi on the name. Hope this helps!
Thanks for all this information!
How about washing wool using this laundry detergent? And I’m also hesitant about using Epsom salts and vinegar with wool. Your thoughts please?
I have hand washed wool sweaters in the detergent minus the Epsom salt and vinegar. I use cd water and dry flat. I had no problem. I would spot test if you are concerned.
I have 2 questions for you. Number 1, is this batch 320 loads worth if you only use 1 tbsp per load? And also, I made your homemade fabric softener, which calls for essential oils, but then I just read in this blog post where you mentioned that you should NOT use essential oils because:
“Essential oils are natural and safe to use in laundry, but they will wash out of your clothes with the rinse water. Your laundry will come out of the machine VERY faintly scented or smelling like nothing. Any remaining essential oil scent will disappear in the dryer. This is an unnecessary waste of an expensive product!”
So I’m confused by the contradiction. Should we add essential oils to the fabric softener, or is it a waste of an expensive product?
Thanks for the questions, Briana. Yes, this detergent makes 320 using 1 Tbsp per load. 1 Tbsp is all that you need to get a load clean. I have a super capacity top loader and use only 1 Tbsp per load. If you are using the homemade fabric softener and want the essential oils to retain some of their smell you should use the fabric softener on a cloth in the dryer. The essential oils are a catch 22, people LOVE their laundry to smell and ask about it all the time. However, most are looking for the huge burst of scent that dangerous chemicals give laundry. Essential oils can add scent to your laundry process/ laundry room and faintly scent laundry but are never going to give the huge scent of manmade chemicals. I use some in my fabric softener to mask the scent of vinegar and make the laundry process more pleasurable. I do not use them in the detergent as it smells fresh and clean already.
Perfect, thank you so much for your speedy response! I can’t wait to give this a try!
Hi Bren. I just made your detergent recipe and I think it works great, but I noticed for my sons really stinky items there was still a slight odor. It was a large load washed with cold water and I used two tablespoons of the detergent. How do you get your husband’s work clothes to come out with no odor? Is there anything else I should be doing? Thanks in advance!
I forgot to mention that I did use vinegar in the rinse cycle as well.
If it’s really stinky I wash on hot and put less in the load. I also sometimes run a rinse and spin with no detergent just vinegar on terrible smell stuff (like gasoline smell). Hope this helps!
With your advice, I rewashed that load and it worked! I feel more confident about the recipe now. I see I’m going to have to buy a bigger bottle of white vinegar though. 🙂 Thanks a lot for your help!
Epsom salt is in your recipe, but curious why you don’t use it. Can you tell me the reason for this?
I found it didn’t change the laundry much so I stopped using it!
For those who still want their laundry to have a fresh scent without using anything toxic, I have two words……clothes line!! Hanging clothes outside makes them smell super fresh! Sometimes i was my pillowcases mid-week ahead of schedule just so they smell extra wonderful at bedtime!
Excellent suggestion, Pamela!
I have been so thrilled about making this laundry detergent, but I ran into a problem which I feel strongly about. I am big into animal rights and that is how I got on this path… but some of the items you use, like the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, and others I think, the companies test on animals. I have a HUGE problem with this! I have already bought these things from Amazon and have made the soap. However, in the future, is there anything else I can use which is not causing animals to be tortured?
Thank you for your help,
Laurie, I haven’t specifically researched all the companies but you can definitely substitute animal safe brands for any of the ingredients.
Hi, Have you heard and/or researched using Himalayan Salt in the dryer as a softener?
I was reluctant at first due to the HS cost, but tried it in one of those pretty fabric bags from the wedding section at a craft store…pretty colors, organza-like with ribbon closure.
It works wonderfully!!And it’s been a few months now and I haven’t changed the salt! No static, laundry feels great.
I really hope to find it’s not toxic.
Thanks for your blog and your diligence!????
What a great question, Jan! I have not heard of using Himalayan Salt but will check it out. Are you using a block of salt? I would make sure your bag is 100% cotton so it doesn’t melt/release fumes in the dryer. Thanks for the tip.
Bren, I actually found it on diaper.com at a very good price in case anyone else is looking.
Is it okay to use: Dr. Bronner’s Organic Pure Castile Bar Soap – Lavender – instead of the Kirk’s?
Charlotte, I’m glad you found the Oxiclean. Yes, you can substitute any natural Castile soap for the Kirk’s, just make sure to use the same amount (16 ounces). To keep the laundry detergent all natural be sure to check any substitutions on the Environmental Working Group’s database. (PS – The answer to this question and your precious question are above in the post if you don’t want to wait for my replies.)
Hi Bren, I am having difficulty finding the Baby Oxi, what retailers have you had success finding it at? I really want to make your “safe” laundry detergent.
Unfortunately, Oxiclean Baby is getting harder and harder to find in stores. It is available on Amazon but costs more than in stores. I use Oxiclean Free when I can’t find the baby version, it works equally well and also rates an A on the EWG scale.
I had just found the Baby Oxi Clean at Toys R Us/Baby’s R Us store at $9.99 for 3 lbs. It was hard to find!
Bren, I already bought liquid castile soap for liquid version..is liquid not a good way to go? How would I use it in with liquid with your recipe?
You can not add liquid Castile soap to the mix, the water in the liquid soap will react with the Oxiclean. You can mix together all the other ingredients and then add ¾ tsp of liquid Castile to the washing machine with 1 tablespoon of the mix. Please note: Using liquid Castile soap is more expensive than using Castille bars. 1 cup of liquid Castile soap equals approximately 3.64 ounces of bar soap. This means you need 35 ounces of liquid Castile soap to equal the bar soap in this recipe. The liquid soap will cost you about $18.00, the bar soap costs around $5.00.
How much should you use in a HE machine versus a regular machine?
Christa, it is low foaming (as I explain above) so you use 1 tablespoon in either a regular or HE machine.
Is the OxiClean a “stain soaker”? I don’t find any other online.
You can use the Baby version (you can buy it on Amazon) which says stain remover on the side or the Free version (.
Hace you considered making liquid laundry detergent?
Pricilla, I have not made a liquid laundry soap because: 1) I love the dry version and 2) I am concerned about the ingredients reacting when water is added to make it into a liquid. I want the cleaning reaction to happen in the washing machine! If you want a non-grate version you can mix together all the ingredients minus the Castile soap and then add ¾ tsp of liquid Castile to the washing machine with 1 tablespoon of the mix. I used to ONLY use liquid detergent but this mix dissolves so easily that I do not miss it.
Update: I now have a liquid version! Get it here: https://brendid.com/diy-laundry-detergent-liquid-2-non-toxic-boxax-free-recipes/
Why do you add in the regular baking soda when the recipe already uses the super washing soda?
Holli, baking soda and washing soda are two different substances. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is great for softening, brightening and odor removal in the wash. Super washing soda (sodium carbonate) it is great for dirt and stain removal and also cuts through grease, it helps make water soft and the detergent more effective. I love the way they work together in the laundry detergent recipe.
We have well water and rust. I use homemade detergent made with borax but can’t use it on whites. Have any of your followers mentioned having issues with well water?
Bobbie, is the issue with well water or with rust in your water? I have used my homemade detergent at my parents’ home which has well water. I sometimes have to add the powder to a cup of warm water to get it to dissolve more quickly in the very cold well water. Otherwise I have had no problems. If you have a rust buildup you can run CLR though your washing machine occasionally. You can read more in my Green Dishwasher Cleaning post. Hope this answers your question!
Hi. I was wondering if using oxyclean and vinegar is safe? I just read the post about mixing green ingredients and was wondering if these ingredients mix or not because you only use the vinegar in the rinse cycle? thanks!
Katie, the Oxyclean is drained out of your laundry tub with the wash cycle water so it is not mixing directly with the vinegar in the rinse water. I have had no problems using a vinegar rinse, but you can also emit the vinegar rinse if you desire.
I like this recipe and am researching homemade laundry detergents right now. I am just curious as to why you eliminate the borax and add oxi clean instead? Borax is like baking soda or salt and non toxic and cheaper than oxi clean. I just don’t understand why this recipe eliminates it completely. Thank you!
Gen, Borax use is actually quite controversial in “green” cleaning circles. It is actually not non-toxic and can be used to kill ants and other pests. You can read more about borax and see why it gets an “F” rating at the Environmental Working Group. You can read more about why I have personally decided to use Borax in my Homemade Dishwasher Detergent post. Oxiclean is mostly sodium percarbonate (sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide) which is consider eco-friendly. The free and baby versions are supposed to be free of artificial dye and scent. According to the EWG ratings Oxiclean Baby and Free rate A and B.
Question, what do you use as a bleach substitute for whites?
Tiffany, I use hydrogen peroxide, extra washing soda, extra Oxyclean, or lemon juice.
Thank you so much for this post. You have motivated me to make my own laundry detergent again. The hardest part is the grating!
I previously made a natural laundry detergent without the Epsom salt and Oxi Clean and thought it worked well. Are these necessary and what is the benefit of them? I don’t mind adding them, I just want to know, especially about the Epsom salt. Thanks!
Thanks Alissa! The Epsom salt is used as a softener. I generally make mine without it. You can read more in my laundry detergent post. I like using OxiClean because it is powdered hydrogen peroxide, it helps to remove stains and brighten the laundry. Hope this helps!
Hi, Thanks so much for all of the great info that you provide on your blog- I have been visiting often to make nontoxic products for my home.
Question: are you able to provide this recipe for a much smaller quantity? Maybe in cups vs. pounds? It would be very much appreciated.
Thanks in advance!
Nevermind! I was just able to answer my own question by measuring everything out. In case anybody else asks, here’s a recipe for 2 smaller batches. The sample size batch is slightly off the exact measurements, but should still work.
Sample Size batch:
1/2 bar Kirk’s Castile
1/2 c. Baking soda
1 c. Washing soda
3/4 c. Oxiclean Baby
Medium (Half) Batch:
2 1/2 bars Kirk’s Castile
2 1/4 c baking soda
4 3/4 c washing soda
2 3/4 c oxiclean baby
Thanks for the calculations, Robyn! Hope you like the detergent.
I think you are so patient. Its so hard answering some questions that they should alteady know the answers to. But god give us all different gifts and patience is definitely not one of mine god bless you and thank you so very much. You dont know how much you help countless woman be more productive
Thank you god bless
I used your measurements to make a half batch of detergent. I think it’s ruined now, unless I buy more ingredients to make it the full batch. 4 3/4 cups of the washing soda was almost the whole box! Wish I had realized that before dumping it all in!
Sorry you had problems, Diane. I have not checked the measurements in the comments section so I am not sure if they are accurate. Your detergent should still work great for lights/whites with the extra washing soda.
Thank you for posting this as it was very helpful! I just did my first two loads of laundry with your recipe and it works great!!! I have a few questions.
I have a liquid stain remover I just spray on stains to treat them. Could I somehow use this combined with water (and it would dissolve) to use as a stain spray?
Also, do you reccomend any natural smelling castile soaps that would add some scent as you suggested? I am with you, and definitely want to stay clean in the EWG, but wouldn’t mind a scent as long as it was still just as clean.
Thank you 🙂
Sarah, thanks for stopping by the blog! Yes, you can mix this soap with water and use it to treat stains, I would mix it on a load by load basis, it may not last long in liquid form. I often spray stains with hydrogen peroxide or a bit of liquid Castile soap. For scented Castile bars I have used Dr Bronners brand or Dr Woods brands, both work well… just don’t get a moisturizing version. Hope this helps, let me know if you have more questions!
Awesome thank you Bren 🙂
For your Canadian visitors, I found the Oxiclean Baby at Superstore and London Drugs, the washing soda at London Drugs and the Baking Soda (the 2 kg box) at Superstore, although you can find baking soda anywhere. Castile soap is hard to find, amazon.ca has some, but I think the prices are better with amazon.com (even with the bad exchange). Hope that helps!
Thank you Marlaena! I am sure all my Canadian readers appreciate your research!
Since I have gone gluten-free, I have stopped using white vinegar in cleaning. (If I understand correctly, white vinegar is made from wheat and/or barley.) Do you know if apple cider vinegar can be used in place of the white vinegar?
Melinda, I have never personally tried apple cider vinegar in my laundry but I have read that it works the same way as white vinegar. If you want to try it, add it in the rinse cycle. Hope this helps! -Bren
I have a question. If I run out of laundry detergent, what products in my house would be safe for a sheet wash?
Theresa, did you see my recipe for Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent? You can also use castille soap in a pinch.
Wow thanks for posting this Bren! I get a lot of questions too when I tell people I make my own laundry detergent. My mother in law was really skeptical that it would get clothes clean without ruining them until she tried it. I think you have all the questions covered. 🙂