Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

homemade laundry detergent

I’ve been in the habit of buying the most natural, unscented laundry detergent for years, because chemical fragrances can set off people’s allergies and asthma. However, those are the least worrisome of the chemicals found in commercial laundry detergents. The long list of side effects ranges from irritants to carcinogens. There are so many, it would take too long to type them all out. Mother Earth Living has a good article if you want to read more.

When you factor in how much cheaper it is to make your own, it seems like a no-brainer. Save money while making yourself, your family, and the environment healthier? Umm, ok!

When I went out to buy washing soda for this laundry experiment, I was surprised to find it cost nearly $10 for a regular box. I stubbornly refused to buy it. It’s not that $10 is so much, but until I found out exactly what washing soda WAS, and why it was worth $10, I would rather spend my $10 on a nice Malbec.

Then I discovered that washing soda is nothing but heated baking soda. (Wine purchase validated.) I kid you not, here is the article!

I followed the instructions and spread out some baking soda on a shallow pan, and baked it on 400 F for 30 minutes.  When it was done, I poured it into a jar.

homemade washing soda

Homemade Laundry Detergent:

  • 3 quarts hot water
  • 1/4 cup castile soap (any scent)
  • 1/3 cup baking soda (for washing soda)
  • 1/3 cup borax
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable glycerine


I have noticed there is an ongoing debate about whether or not borax is a good thing to use.  I found this post on getting to the bottom of borax very informative. If you are still on the fence, then just leave it out! No biggie.

To make your laundry detergent, start by filling your container with about 3 quarts of hot water. Then add the castile soap, washing soda, borax (if you want) and vegetable glycerine.  Lightly swish it around to make sure it mixes together. The hot water makes it easy. I used unscented castile soap, but I will try out the lavender next time!

I threw a load of clothes into my washing machine and added ½ cup of my new homemade laundry detergent. Despite Austin’s mild concern that he might come home to find me swimming in a house full of suds, nothing crazy happened! It was just like using any other detergent I’ve had.

After the clothes were dried, I did the sniff/softness test, and I’m totally happy with how it works.

homemade laundry detergent results

Verdict? I’m keeping this stuff!


Cost Details:

water = $0
castile soap = $15.70/32oz – .49/oz * 2oz = $0.98
washing soda = $0.68/16 oz – .04/oz * 2.66 oz = $0.10
borax = $3.99/12oz – .33/oz * 2.66 oz = $0.87
glycerine = $4.99/16oz – .31/oz * .5oz = $0.15

Homemade= $2.10/96 oz   ($.02 per oz)

Tide = $11.99/100 oz         ($.12 per oz)


**Antique washing machine coin slot photo by Penny Mathews.

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