Launder for Less: Homemade Laundry Detergent

For the past eight months or so I have been making all my own laundry detergent from the recipe found on DIY Natural. According to DIY Natural, it costs $.05 per load whereas most other laundry detergents cost around $.20 per load. It takes less than 10 minutes, is super cheap, healthier for your skin, and more environmentally friendly than store-bought laundry detergent. Most store-bought laundry detergents contain petroleum distillates (aka naptha, linked to cancer and lung disorders), phenol (a toxic substance), optical brighteners (can cause allergic reactions), phosphates (stimulate the growth of certain algae that can create dead zones in water), and bleach (can cause skin, lung, and throat irritation).

The recipe is simple: 1 cup Mule Team Borax, 1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda (found in the laundry aisle at some stores), and 2 bars of soap. I like Ivory because it is a little stickier and when I mix everything up in the food processor I am not inhaling washing soda and Borax.

Grate the soap. I did this in my food processor. Not to be confused with mozzarella cheese.

Mix all the ingredients together very well. I did this in my food processor using the blade attachment.

Pick a reusable container to keep it in, and add 1 tablespoon to your load of laundry for a low-suds, high-impact detergent. Since I cloth-diaper my one-year-old, I needed a natural soap with no fragrance or brightener to irritate her skin or compromise the diaper cloth. And with three loads of diaper laundry a week, I wanted to save on my detergent costs. This homemade soap has been the perfect solution as it’s cheap and irritant-free, and cleans all our laundry perfectly. I also love the fact that I’m minimizing the amount of waste from the large plastic containers used for liquid detergents. And that it looks cuter in this glass container than it would in an ugly plastic jug.



  1. Posted August 1, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink | Reply

    Way to go… glad you like the recipe. We love it and will never go back to expensive, chemically laden, store-bought detergents.


    • Posted August 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We will never go back either – much thanks for the awesome recipe, Matt!

  2. Megan Pester
    Posted August 1, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Permalink | Reply

    What a great idea! I’m definitely going to try this. Thanks girls!

  3. Andie
    Posted August 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Does this work with a HE washer? I have a front loader.

    Thanks much!

    • Posted August 3, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Yes Andie it does – the HE washers require a low-sudsing soap, and this soap has very low suds!

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