Here are two options for safe, natural laundry detergent recipes that are easy to make at home and save you a lot of money! They are also hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, preservative and dye free, eco friendly, and biodegradable! They use ingredients like Castile Soap, Sal Suds, Super Washing Soda and Baking Soda.
Over the years I’ve tried many different laundry detergents to have something that’s affordable, safe, natural and effective. I’ve had store-bought natural ones and made several of my own recipes, which I’ve shared here on the blog! I’ve finally come around to finding one that I LOVE that’s homemade. I’ll share the one that I used to use here on the blog in case you’d like another option.
Top 10 Cleaning and Laundry Recipes
This recipe is part of a 10-part series of natural cleaning and laundry recipes. You can find a list of all of the recipes here. This natural fabric stain remover recipe is also found in my book, Detox Your Home, which you can find on Amazon. It includes more than 80+ recipes, research and lists for natural products you can purchase all to help you go natural in your home!
Why Make Your Own Laundry Detergent?
It Saves Money
When you buy a cleaning product, especially laundry detergent, you’re mostly paying for WATER. $18 for a gallon of mostly water if you buy Tide. Here’s a way to save those dollars and make it yourself at home in just five minutes!
You’ll Know that It’s Truly Nontoxic
Also, you can know for sure what ingredients are in your detergent when you make it at home. Many companies make products that they claim are natural and nontoxic, but actually aren’t when you go look up the product on the EWG.org. This is called “greenwashing” and it’s very common in cleaning and laundry products. Why? Because there are very few regulations in the United States on those products so companies can make all kinds of claims without backing them up. You really have to do your research to know if something is actually safe!
Toxins Found in Most Laundry Detergents
Specifically – Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate/ Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLS/ SLES). Sulfates are harsh detergents that are also toxic to aquatic life. The water that is drained from our homes is eventually cleaned in sewage processing facilities, but on its way to the facilities it comes in contact with our environment and can harm wildlife and pollute our water.
Phosphates help to balance the pH of the detergents and chelate minerals found in hard water like lime and magnesium. They do make laundry detergents more effective, BUT they are very harmful to both humans and wildlife. Exposure to phosphates in humans is linked to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and even death!
In the 1970’s, the US government recognized the problem with phosphorous pollution. It was found that residues from fertilizers and cleaners were causing excessive growth of algae in fresh water lakes and streams. This nutritional enrichment is referred to as eutrophication. Phosphates have the ability to enter back into the environment unchanged through sewage from both detergents and human waste and could cause oxygen depletion in waterways. When growth of aquatic plants is over stimulated they seasonally die and rot, using up the oxygen dissolved in the water. Fish die of oxygen deficiency and are for a time replaced by scavengers. (source)
The same preservative used to preserve dead bodies is found in SO many cleaning, laundry, bath, body and beauty products. It’s everywhere because it’s cheap to make and effective. However, it is quite toxic for us. Exposures to it even in small amounts can lead to cancer, yes, cancer, and that’s according to the CDC. The EPA has labeled it a Class B1 probable carcinogen and can cause acute toxicity when exposed to the skin.
- 1, 4 Dioxane/Dioxane – carcinogen, causes skin, eye and lung inflammation
- Optical Brighteners/ UV Brighteners – eye, skin and lung irritant and extremely toxic to aquatic life
- Ammonium Quaternary Sanitizers (Quats/ Synthesized Cationic Surfactants) – eye, skin and lung irritation and prolonged exposure can even cause death
- Artificial Fragrances – contain phthalates and formaldehyde and cause endocrine disruption and irritate the respiratory system
- Dyes – endocrine disruption, skin irritant
- Dichlorobenzene (P-Dichlorobenzene/ Benzene) – carcinogen and fatal for aquatic life
Watch My Tutorial on YouTube!
My Favorite Recipe with Sal Suds
I have been so happy with this recipe and have been using it for nine months. I have found that it cleans better than my original recipe (which is included below this recipe) and even cleans better than store-bought natural and not-natural detergents!
I have a front loading washer and I used to have to clean it every few weeks or it would get so gross and mildewy – even though I leave the door open every time. (Don’t get me started on how much I can’t stand front loaders!) Since I’ve been using this detergent, I have had NO MILDEW problems at all! It’s like it keeps my washer clean, too!
A Note About Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
In the natural world, we have vilified Sodium Laureth Sulfate. We say it’s a carcinogen and highly toxic to aquatic life. In most cases, this is true. But did you know that not all SLS is created equal? It depends on how it’s processed.
Check out Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds rating on the EWG.org – it gets a perfect score! Totally nontoxic and safe.
According to this article,
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant that cuts grease and dirt, generates copious suds, and biodegrades quickly and completely. SLS is made by combining a sulfate group with lauryl alcohol from coconut oil, then attaching sodium. If improperly formulated, SLS can irritate skin, but our superb formula uses coco-betaine and lauryl glucoside to counter this.
Also note that SLS is not a body care product. I would not use it in my homemade body washes or hand soaps unless you’re actually washing car grease or motor oil off of your hands! And definitely don’t use it in your hair – most shampoos in the stores contain SLS and they really dry out and then damage the hair.
It is meant to clean objects – like clothes, the kitchen, bathrooms, cars, etc.
Cost Comparison Between the Two Recipes
Now, this recipe is a lot more expensive than the second recipe, which is why I’m providing both of them for you. But it cleans better so, you get to decide what’s best for you! This recipe is about $8.20 for 2 liters, and you get 34 loads per 2 liters. So that’s $0.24 cents a load which is equal to the Tide Ultra Concentrated detergent.
Compared to my second recipe that you get 96 loads from two gallons, which is $0.04 an ounce!
Cost Difference Per Load:
- Sal Suds recipe – $0.24 an ounce
- Castile Soap recipe – $0.04 an ounce
DIY Natural Laundry Detergent Recipe – Sal Suds
An easy and very effective recipe for a natural laundry detergent.
- Yield: 67 oz. or 2 liters 1x
- 2 1/4 cups of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds (gallon size – $57.95, $0.45 an oz. OR 32 oz. for $29.95, $0.93 an oz.)
- 4 tbsp. Kosher Salt
- 6 cups of warm to hot water
- 2 liter pitcher or old laundry detergent container
- Waterproof, vinyl recipe label (as shown in picture so you never have to look up the recipe again!)
- In a large bowl or your pitcher, add the warm water and salt. Stir until the salt is well dissolved.
- Add the Sal Suds and stir until it thickens.
- For HE washers, use 1/4 cup. For non HE washers, use 1/2 cup.
Original Recipe with Castile Soap
This is the original recipe that I shared on my blog back in 2012. It is still one of my most popular posts and many readers have written to me to say they love it! It’s cheaper to make than the second recipe that uses Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, but I have found it doesn’t clean as well as the second recipe and it takes a little more effort to make. But I wanted to share it with you so that you can decide for yourself which one you like better!
Back in 2012, I came across this recipe, from the Backwoods Home magazine website, and used it for many years with success! It even worked well when we lived in Pennsylvania where there is very hard water.
According to their article, this homemade recipe costs a tenth of the cost of store-bought laundry detergent. I’m too skeptical to believe things like that without checking it out for myself, so I set out to see if they are correct!
How Cheap is this Homemade Detergent?
Let’s break it down (prices do fluctuate on Amazon, so this is an approximate cost).
- Super Washing Soda (where to buy) (55 oz.) = $4.12 (on Amazon, cheaper in local grocery stores) $0.07 an oz.
- Baking Soda (where to buy) = (80 oz.) $3.08 (on Amazon) $0.04 an oz.
- 1 gallon of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (128 oz.) = $57.59 (on Amazon) $0.44 an oz.
To make two gallons of the detergent you use:
- Super Washing Soda (you need 4 oz.) = $.28 a batch
- Baking Soda (you need 4 oz.) = $0.16 a batch
- Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap (you need 6 oz.) = $2.64 a batch
Add it all up, that’s a mere $3.08 for two gallons, or 96 loads if you use the suggested 1/3 cup a load. That’s $0.03 for one load.
In 2012 when I first wrote this post, it cost $2.88 so prices have not risen much!
Compare that to Tide 2x Ultra Concentrated: 1 container of 200 oz. (or 146 loads) of Tide costs = $34.99. That’s $0.23 a load – 7.5 times more expensive than my homemade recipe!
And Tide is not green or safe for the environment or people. It’s loaded with toxic fragrances that contribute to asthma, allergies and skin conditions like eczema, psoriases and other rashes. Not only can you help the environment and wash clothes that are safe for your little ones (i.e., hypoallergenic and gentle), you save $0.16 a load, or $15.36!
You save even more if you compare it to a green (eco-friendly) laundry detergent like Seventh Generation.
The Secret? Mix with a Hand Mixer or Immersion Blender!
I have experimented with how to keep clumps from forming for years with this recipe and I finally figured it! I used to boil it down on the stove, make the powders dissolve with hot water (doesn’t work at all!), and stir like crazy. I finally got smart and decided to try my immersion blender. Perfect!
Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap is the BEST – it is organic, pure, contains no SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) or any other sulfates so it does not dry out the skin and is gentle on both skin and clothes. I love the company – they are uber crunchy and fight for things like the environment and animal rights!Print
DIY Natural Laundry Detergent – Castile Soap
- Prep Time: 5 mins.
- Total Time: 5 mins.
- Yield: 2 gallons 1x
- Category: Laundry Detergent
- Take your two gallon bucket and pour lukewarm to cold water in the bottom of it, about an inch high of water
- Add the dry powders (baking soda, super washing soda)
- Add more water if necessary to cover the powders then take your hand mixer or immersion blender and blend the powders for a few minutes, or until it is fully blended and there are no clumps.
- Fill your two-gallon bucket up almost all the way with tap water (the temperature doesn’t matter).
- Add the castile soap (this helps it not to bubble up), and stir with a long-handled spoon.
- Using the funnel, pour into your containers.
- Use 1/3 cup per load for HE washers, or 1/2 cup for non HE washers.
Other Supplies Needed:
- 2 one-gallon containers in which to store the detergent (I recycled an old laundry detergent container and a vinegar jug)
- A measuring cup or two
- A two-gallon bucket or larger (I used my old mop bucket)
- Funnel to pour the detergent from the bucket into the containers (not necessary but certainly helpful!)
- 1 hand blender or immersion blender
Would You Rather Buy than Make?
Here is a list of safe laundry detergents to purchase on Amazon. Just click on the link to purchase on Amazon.