Laundry detergent prices are always climbing and even with coupons, it can still be expensive. The good news is homemade non-toxic laundry detergent is easy to make and it will save you a ton of money! Plus, if you have allergies or skin sensitivities you can customize this detergent and make it entirely fragrance-free.
Today we are going to make homemade non-toxic laundry detergent. Read on for more tips or scroll to the bottom of this post where we have the recipe listed below.
Is DIY Laundry Detergent Safe?
The most popular way to make your own laundry detergent is by making it as a liquid, powder, or tablet. These recipes do not contain any sudsing agent so they should be safe for use in high-efficiency washers! However, we do recommend reading your washer's instructions and warranties to make sure you are using them correctly.
Did you know there is a difference between soap and detergent? When you think about using a “detergent” for your dishes or clothing, the job of the chemicals is to break down and scour. The detergent works by removing dirt from your fabrics. These detergents often do not contain a lot of actual soap, which is actually a good thing. Otherwise, we might see soap residue all over our clean clothes.
The thing to keep in mind when preparing a detergent for High-Efficiency machines is that they do use less water, so fewer suds and less soap are key to a good detergent. Some HE machines might even run shorter cycles than the old washing machines our parents and grandparents had! So, a little detergent can go a long way for your loads of laundry in an HE machine. While making your own laundry soap does require some soap additives, you may be surprised at how little actually goes into the recipe!
Using caution- keep in mind these ingredients may be natural but they are strong! This is why a small amount will clean an entire load of laundry. Important safety tips are:
- Use a mask and mix your detergent in a well-ventilated area, or outdoors.
- Use gloves! Strong “cleaners” such as these ingredients should not come into contact with skin.
- Go ahead and bring out the eye protection. Remember those high school science labs? They wear eye protection for a reason! Even dry ingredients can go into the air. 🙂
- Mix in a 5 gallon bucket. Allow room for mixing.
Obviously, this is not professional advice, but a friendly reminder to anyone who may not think of it the first time they try this DIY.
Think about Your Water
When choosing to make your own laundry detergents, you also need to think about your water. Do you have hard water? Hard water is full of minerals like magnesium and calcium. This can be hard on your clothes and towels. You'll want to test your water to make sure the ingredients don't react in a way that could ruin your clothes.
You can obtain a water test from most companies that sell water softeners – they will come over and do a free water test, often just for the meeting to introduce their product. Keep in mind you have no obligation to buy a water softener! Most full-house softeners are highly expensive and honestly may require upkeep. If you don't want to have your water tested by a company, check and see if your local city or county offers free water tests in your area. If you have lots of minerals, it's good to know prior to making your own homemade natural laundry detergent.
I say all that just because every household is different! And because it is the internet- we have to put those warnings out there. However, I can tell you that I have been using this detergent for a long time and so have my friends and family who have never ever had an issue. It's always a good idea to do a test load and use with caution on anything new.
Is Homemade Laundry Soap as Good as Store Bought?
In my experience….. absolutely! I was pretty skeptical when my friend told me about using homemade laundry detergent and this is actually her recipe! She gave us a jar of it to try and oh my word, I could not believe it, better yet my husband could not believe it. He does all the laundry and is super picky about what we use. We both have seasonal allergies and scents bother us both. Not to mention, we have pets we need to think about as well.
For us, this homemade detergent recipe worked just as well as store-bought. I'm happy to say it doesn't have the toxic chemicals we have been reading that they are finding in store-bought detergents. As we are all becoming more aware of caring for our environment and our own health, the idea of toxic detergents definitely gave me something to think about.
Harmful Ingredients in Conventional Laundry Detergents
How do you know the product you're making is non-toxic? For this, we are going off of the ingredients you will be adding to your DIY detergent. On their own, each of these products is generally not considered hazardous. While they do contain their own chemicals, they may not cause the skin irritation that commercial detergents are often known for. Recent studies have suggested that commercial detergents actually contain multiple chemicals. Although there are strict regulations about this in the United States, this may be something to research if you have identified your laundry detergent as a cause of your skin irritation.
The nice thing about homemade laundry soap and detergent is that you know what's going into it. If you want to leave out the Borax, you can. You can also add scents to your own homemade laundry detergent if you are not sensitive and prefer a stronger “clean clothes” scent.
Cost of Making Your Own Detergent
If you are thinking of a laundry detergent with simple ingredients and just want a simple DIY, this is it. There really aren't any hard-to-find ingredients or expensive ones on this list. You can grab all of these products at Walmart or add them to your online shopping order. It's ideal for large family life- or anyone looking to cut expenses on household products majorly!
Just to compare, the average laundry detergent price is .20-.25 per load. With homemade powdered laundry detergent, we have calculated we are only looking at only .07 per load. Those pennies add up over time! If you do one load per day total (probably likely for families or those with younger children), that's 365 loads a year. The cost of the homemade detergent with these basic ingredients is under $26! Comparatively, the price of a regular laundry detergent is about $91.
Of course, your laundry detergent is just one aspect of laundry costs. You will also have:
- Stain Remover
- Dryer sheets or wool dryer balls
- Fabric Softener
- Fabric Refreshers
If you spent even just $90 on each of these products every year, it can really add up! This is one of the reasons we love this homemade detergent– it's a great way to save money on laundry room expenses.
What Ingredients are in Homemade Laundry Detergent
Let's take a look at the list of the ingredients that are in our homemade laundry detergent and find out what each of them does and why we chose them to put in our recipe.
Baking Soda – This chemical compound is called Sodium Bicarbonate. It's pH makes it a very strong alkaline or “base” which reacts with acids– if you remember from science class in school! It has many uses in the food and household products. Baking soda is known as a leavener in recipes, by it's reaction with acids to form Carbon Dioxide bubbles. It's very useful in cleaners and natural detergent recipes since it's not abrasive deodorizes/absorbs odors, and can remove dirt and grime.
Washing Soda – Similar to baking soda, Washing Soda Sodium Carbonate. It is an alkaline compound that works well to remove stains and clean clothing. Using the washing soda and baking soda together in warm water is common for DIY laundry detergents.
Fels Naptha – This very old bar soap has talc, as well as several sodium compounds. What does this mean? It's excellent for degreasing and removing stains from clothing. Often we find that with commercial laundry detergent, the stain-fighting ability may be lacking. Adding in the Fels soap is important for this reason.
Borax – This is the common name for Sodium Borate, a household cleaner and something to have if you're making DIY laundry detergents. It's a naturally sourced compound and used to boost the action of detergents. Use caution/read the label carefully and limit your exposure if adding Borax, especially if you are pregnant or have small children around. Keep in mind you can leave this ingredient out if you choose.
Essential Oils – If you aren't familiar with Essential Oils, you can read about my experiences with them on my Essential Oil page. These give our laundry detergent a fresh scent, and the best part, you can choose your own favorites to add-in. If you're a huge fan of Lavender Oil, you can customize your detergent with that! It's all up to you.
One last note– All of these ingredients (including natural products) and your final detergent should be treated as harmful to children and pets, and be kept out of reach to prevent accidental poisoning. While we are excited to avoid harmful chemicals with unknown effects, even common detergent ingredients such as a bar of soap can be toxic if ingested. Keep ALL items in a locked, childproof cabinet and properly labeled.
Thanks for Reading!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial on how to make homemade non-toxic laundry detergent. It’s definitely a more affordable and environmentally friendly option than store-bought detergents, and it works just as well (if not better!). If you give it a try, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below about our Homemade Non Toxic Laundry Detergent. Check out our Homemade Dishwasher Tabs and our Homemade Dishwashing Detergent. You can even make your own homemade dryer sheets . You may also want to check out our other Natural Homemade Products.
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- 6 Bars of Fels Naptha Soap
- 2 Boxes Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
- 2 Boxes of Borax
- 2 cups of Baking Soda ( 1 cup for blending with Fels Naptha)
- Makes 2 Gallons.
- 5 Gallon Bucket
- Long spoon
- 1 cup measure
- Gloves, Mask, Eye protection
- Food processor with blade attachment, or cheese grater
- 2 Gallon Sealable Container
Grate your Fels Naptha Soap using gloves and a large bucket, or use a food processor and pulse until soap is a grated texture.
Mix Fels Naptha Soap chunks with 1 cup of baking soda.
Add all your ingredients into a 5 gallon bucket, mixing well with a large spoon.
Use mask and eye protection to prevent mixture from contacting your face or hands, as needed.
Add 1 cup of each ingredient, alternately at a time, mixing as you go, till you have used up all your ingredients.
Scoop your mixture into a sealing glass container. Label with date and product.
Scoop 1 Tablespoon of detergent out and add to a medium laundry load. 2 Tablespoons for very soiled laundry.
*Note- choose a childproof container and/or locked cabinet if needed.