January 22

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe: Simple Steps for Natural Cleaning


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Making my own laundry detergent has been a game-changer for me. Not only is it a cost-effective alternative to mainstream, store-bought options, but it also provides a certain satisfaction in knowing exactly what's going into the wash along with my clothes. The benefits of a homemade detergent are numerous; I can dodge harsh chemicals, personalize the scent according to my preference, and reduce the environmental impact of my laundry routine.

I've experimented with a variety of recipes over time and have perfected one that is effective, simple to make, and requires just a few readily available ingredients. This homemade detergent is gentle on fabrics, works well for all water temperatures, and is suitable for both standard and high-efficiency washers. The process is straightforward, and the results consistently impress me with their cleaning power.

Using this homemade recipe, I've found that my laundry feels softer and fresher without the residue that commercial detergents sometimes leave behind. It's important to note that while it is a powerful cleaner, it's also gentle enough for those with sensitive skin or for washing baby clothes. Plus, the customization options are endless – I can experiment with essential oils for fragrance or add natural boosters for additional cleaning power, adapting the recipe to meet my specific laundry needs.

Essential Ingredients

In my experience, the effectiveness of homemade laundry detergent hinges on choosing the right ingredients. The soap base, soda crystals, and borax alternative are pillars of a good detergent formula.

Soap Base

I choose a soap base that is free from fragrances and additives. A simple bar of castile soap, grated finely, serves as the foundation. The soap base acts as the primary cleaning agent, effectively removing dirt and grime from fabrics.

Soda Crystals

Also known as washing soda, soda crystals increase the detergent's cleaning power. Chemical name: Sodium carbonate. These crystals assist in:

  • Water Softening: They help the soap work more efficiently by softening the water.
  • Grease Removal: Effective at cutting through grease on clothes.

Borax Alternative

Because borax can be a controversial ingredient, I use a borax alternative such as:

  • Baking Soda (Sodium bicarbonate): It deodorizes and brightens laundry while being gentler.
  • Oxygen Bleach Powder: An eco-friendly option that's color-safe and removes organic stains.

Supplemental Additives

When I craft my homemade laundry detergent, I select supplemental additives to enhance fragrance, cleaning power, and fabric conditioning. These ingredients are optional, but they provide specific benefits tailored to my laundry preferences.

Essential Oils

I add essential oils to my detergent for their natural fragrance. A few drops go a long way; I often use:

  • Lavender: For a calming scent
  • Lemon: To brighten and add a fresh aroma
  • Tea Tree: For its antimicrobial properties

Enzyme Boosters

I incorporate enzyme boosters to break down organic stains like grass or food. I carefully mix in:

  • Protease: Tackles protein-based stains
  • Amylase: Effective on starches and carbohydrates
  • Lipase: Targets fat and oil-based spots

Fabric Softeners

I occasionally add natural fabric softeners to soften clothes and reduce static. My choices include:

  • Distilled White Vinegar: I add 1/2 cup during the rinse cycle to soften fabrics.
  • Baking Soda: I use 1/4 cup in the wash to soften water and fabrics.

Equipment Required

When making homemade laundry detergent, I ensure I have the right tools to mix, measure, and store my detergent efficiently.

Mixing Containers

For an effective mixing process, I prefer using large, sturdy containers. My go-to options include:

  • Large bucket or bowl: 5-gallon capacity for bulk mixing.
  • Glass or stainless-steel bowl: 2-4 quart capacity for smaller batches.

Measuring Tools

Precise measurements are crucial for the consistency and effectiveness of the detergent. I always use:

  • Measuring cups: For dry ingredients, ranging from 1/4 cup to 1 cup.
  • Measuring spoons: For small quantities, like fragrances or colorants, from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon.

Storage Solutions

Proper storage ensures my detergent remains dry and effective. I rely on:

  • Airtight container: Minimum 2-gallon size, preferably with a scoop for easy use.
  • Sealable bags: For dividing the detergent into smaller, more manageable portions.

Step-by-Step Instructions


In this section, I'll guide you through making your own laundry detergent. Each step is crucial for creating an effective and safe product.

Grating Soap

You'll Need:

  • A bar of soap (preferably unscented)

First, I take the bar of soap and grate it finely using either a cheese grater or a food processor. Fine shreds dissolve better during the wash cycle.

Mixing Dry Ingredients


  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 1 cup of borax

Now, I combine the grated soap with the washing soda and borax. I stir them together until they're well mixed, ensuring a consistent blend.

Adding Liquids

You'll Need:

  • Essential oils (optional, for fragrance)

Here, I add a few drops of essential oils to the mix if I want a specific fragrance. I make sure to stir the liquid in thoroughly to distribute the scent evenly.

Usage Tips

When I create my homemade laundry detergent, I find that paying attention to detergent quantities and water temperatures greatly affects washing efficiency. It's also crucial to ensure proper storage to maintain the detergent's effectiveness over time.

Detergent Quantities

  • Small loads: Use 1 tablespoon of detergent.
  • Medium loads: Use 2 tablespoons of detergent.
  • Large or heavily soiled loads: Use 3 tablespoons of detergent.

Using too much detergent doesn't necessarily mean cleaner clothes and can, in fact, leave residue on fabrics. Likewise, too little may result in poorly cleaned items.

Water Temperatures

  • Cold water: Ideal for delicate fabrics and saves energy. However, dissolve the homemade detergent in a little hot water before adding it to the wash.
  • Warm water: Suitable for moderately soiled clothing and most fabrics.
  • Hot water: Best for heavily soiled items or to sanitize, but uses more energy and can be harsh on certain fabrics.

Choosing the correct water temperature can maximize the efficacy of your homemade laundry detergent.

Storage and Shelf Life

For optimal storage, keep your homemade laundry detergent in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Avoid exposure to moisture to prevent clumping.

  • Shelf Life: Homemade detergent can last up to three months.
  • Notation: Label the container with the date of creation to track its age.

Proper storage ensures that the detergent retains its cleaning power throughout its shelf life.


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