Homemade Laundry Detergent

There are many benefits to making your own Homemade Laundry Detergent.  First, you can avoid the harsh chemicals that are added to most common detergents.  These chemicals can cause skin irritation, rashes, allergies and have long term effects on the environment.  This is especially important for kids who have sensitive skin.  Whenever a child is dealing with skin issues a good first step is to change up your laundry detergent.  Second, it is super cost effective.  The ingredients in this Homemade Laundry Detergent recipe are very inexpensive and can usually be bought in bulk quantities.  Third, you can have creative control over how your laundry smells!  Most detergents are filled with non-natural fragrances that are often the culprits of skin irritation.  In the recipe below I provide several scent combinations using pure essential oils.  They are safe for the skin and the environment and they smell great!  You and your family can get creative and come up with your own signature laundry scent.  Last but not least, it works great! Our laundry comes out clean and smelling fresh.  And as an added bonus, It is also safe and effective for use with cloth diapers.

3 cups Washing Soda
3 cups Borax
1 cup Baking Soda
1 Bar of Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille Soap
Pure, Organic Essential Oils

Tools Needed: large & small mixing bowls, measuring cups, grater, 1/2 gallon mason jar


Grate the bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap into a small bowl and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl add the washing soda, borax and baking soda.  Mix well to get rid of any clumps.  Add the essential oils at this point if desired (feel free to leave it unscented if you like). Mix them into the powder well as they tend to form clumps initially.

My favorite scents for laundry detergent include:

Lemon & Eucalyptus
(30 drops Lemon, 10 drops Eucalyptus)

Orange & Geranium
(30 drops Orange, 15 drops Geranium)

Grapefruit & Lavender
(30 drops Grapefruit, 15 drops Lavender)

Once the essential oils are well incorporated, add the grated soap into the mixing bowl and mix all the ingredients together. Store detergent in a half gallon mason jar, or other well sealed container.  Use 2-4 heaping tablespoons per load, wash on warm or hot setting.

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  • Reply
    Shannon Fiedler
    September 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Wow, I was going to call you today to ask about what detergent you use for your cloth diapers because I can no longer get the brand I was using. PERFECT timing! I can’t wait to try this! Thank U!

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      September 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Yes! So glad you are gonna try it. I have found it is helpful to change up the detergent once in a while when washing cloth diapers. I hope this works for you.

      • Reply
        Shannon Fiedler
        October 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

        Just wanted to let you know that I am making my second batch of this detergent today. It works great 🙂 I didn’t add any essential oils last time, but maybe I will jazz it up a bit this go round.

        • Reply
          the little herbal
          October 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm

          Thanks for sharing this with us. So glad it is working for you! The essential oils definitely make it more fun 🙂 I have been loving orange geranium lately

  • Reply
    September 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I am on it! I love this idea and i can’t wait to choose what essential oils to use.
    The only problem is I want to make a quesadilla out of the grated soap, would that be bad?

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      September 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Ha! Why don’t you try it and let us know Lisa… 🙂

  • Reply
    November 4, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    This looks great! I’m going to give it a try. I make a soapnuts liquid laundry detergent, but have been wanting to try a washing soda recipe too.

  • Reply
    January 20, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I would like to make this recipe, but have heard that sea salt is good to help keep water from being hard and makes clothes soft… if I wanted to add salt, how much would I add?

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      January 20, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Sherry,
      That sounds great. I am not sure how much to add since I have not tried it myself. Play around with it by adding different amounts of salt to each load and see what works best. Good luck and let us know if you find a solution that works great for you!

  • Reply
    March 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Does this work with a high efficiency washer?

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      March 11, 2014 at 12:52 am

      Hi Lisa,

      I don’t personally use a high efficiency washer so I can’t say for sure. It does have low suds which I know is important for high efficiency detergents. My instinct says it would work but there is no way to know till we try it. If you do try it, please let us know your results so we can all benefit! Have a great day!

  • Reply
    All Natural, Homemade Soft Scrub with Essential Oils
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    […] Homemade Laundry Detergent was featured in the news this past week!  Due to the popularity of that post, I thought I would […]

  • Reply
    Sonja Orr
    March 22, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Where can I buy ingredients in bulk ??

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      March 22, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Sonja,
      You can purchase baking soda and borax in bulk at camdengrey.com. You can also often purchase them at Target or Costco if you have one locally. You can purchase essential oils in bulk at Mountain Rose Herbs. I still haven’t found the Washing Soda in bulk, but it is super inexpensive. I purchase mine at Walmart, 1 box (3lb 7oz) for about $3.00. Have fun!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    For someone who wants to give this a try casually, without a huge materials commitment, would you recommend using a dedicated grater for the soap, or is using the same one I already have in my kitchen ok? Thank you!

    • Reply
      the little herbal
      March 27, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      You can definitely use the same one you already have in your kitchen. Since you are grating soap, just immerse in hot water and scrub. It will come out sparkly clean 🙂

      • Reply
        March 31, 2014 at 9:52 pm

        Thank you so much for your answer! Can you take a shortcut & use one of Dr Bronner’s scented soaps? Or are there other ingredients in the scented versions that you wouldn’t want in your detergent? Also – about how many loads would you say a single detergent recipe lasts for? What is the total volume of the completed batch? And if you wash on cold setting, will the detergent dissolve fully? So many questions! Sorry! 🙂

        • Reply
          the little herbal
          April 1, 2014 at 9:27 am

          No worries… I love questions!

          Yes, you can definitely use one of Dr. Bronner’s scented soaps. Just make sure to choose one that uses pure essential oils rather than fragrance oils.

          The recipe yields a half gallon, which is 128 TBSP. I usually use 2-3 TBSP per load, so I get between 40-60 loads.

          Yes, the one draw back is that it doesn’t work great on a cold setting. The grated soap is not able to completely dissolve. I usually wash on warm or hot.

          • Susannah
            April 2, 2014 at 7:12 am

            Thank you for your patience! I have 2 or 3 loads that just *have* to be washed with cold water – what do you do for those items? Is there a homemade liquid detergent recipe you use? Or (this may be totally crazy – I don’t have any experience with this stuff) – could you mix up a batch of your powder detergent, omitting the castile soap, and then at wash time mix (either in the washer dispenser or a measuring cup) X amount of the powder detergent + X amount of Dr Bronner’s liquid soap?

          • the little herbal
            April 6, 2014 at 6:55 am

            I don’t have a liquid soap recipe to share at this time, but there are definitely many out there. It looks to be a little more labor intensive. I think your idea is great. Mix up the powdered ingredients and then add a little liquid castille soap at wash time. My guess would be 2-3 Tbsp dry ingredients plus 1-2 tsp liquid soap. But you would have to just test it and see how it works out. Let us know if you find a good solution!

        • Reply
          May 1, 2014 at 9:13 am

          If I’m going to wash using the cold cycle, I usually dissolve the detergent in a cup of warm water for a minute, then add that to the wash. I haven’t had any problems. Good luck!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2014 at 6:14 am

    Thank you so much for your suggestions – I am going to give it a try & I will let you know what I find out! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 19, 2017 at 8:41 am

    I can’t find Borax anywhere in Scotland. Can I make the recipe without it or add 3 more cups of washing soda? Thanks.

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