Homemade Laundry Detergent (Laundry Soap) Recipe

Making your own laundry detergent is an easy switch from buying store bought detergents. This DIY laundry detergent is just as effective and less expensive compared to your usual commercial store brands. 

Laundry Soap vs. Laundry Detergent

A soap and a detergent are not the same thing. A soap is made from a combination of fats and oils with an alkali or base. A detergent is usually synthetic (at least partially) and is typically made for a specific purpose, such as to dissolve is either hot or cold water. Most recipes for “Natural” laundry detergents are almost always talking about soaps. Recipes for actual detergents are usually partial natural.

A Natural Detergent (that Works)

As mentioned above, detergents are designed to dissolve and work in hot or cold water conditions to effectively clean inside the fibers of your clothes. Depending on water quality and machine, some people find that natural laundry soaps don’t work well on clothes leaving them a discolored over time.

There is one solution (not technically a soap) but it’s highly effective. Instead of laundry soap, using 2 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds per load gets clothes clean without adding any harmful fragrances and chemicals.

High Efficiency Safe?

This recipe should be safe for this type of machine. It would be suggested to check the instructions that came with your machine to make sure. The main concern with a high efficiency washer is creating too much suds. So, a low-suds soap or detergent is suggested. This recipe is a low-suds and should be safe to use in a HE machine. It is important that you grate the bar soap very finely for HE washers.

Safe Laundry Detergent Ingredients

There are mix reviews concerning Borax, but you can do your own research to make sure that you are comfortable using it.

Borax-Free Option

A simple Borax-free option for laundry

  • 2 tablespoons Sal Suds
  • ¼ cup baking soda or 2 tablespoons washing soda

Add these two at the beginning of the wash cycle. If you want an extra boost, add 1/2 cup white vinegar at the rinse cycle. The vinegar will help dissolve the excess detergent and salts off clothes.

Why Switch to Natural Laundry Detergent?

The reasons to switched to a natural homemade laundry detergent/soap is to avoid harsh chemicals, fragrances, colors, and additives that are in many commercial detergents. It turns out that homemade detergent is much more cost effective and incredibly simple to create.

Even if you’re just starting to create a natural home for you and your loved ones and you don’t want to start off by making your own deodorant, laundry soap is a simple way to begin. This DIY recipe doesn’t have expensive ingredients and it’s easy to make.

Laundry Detergent Ingredients

This natural homemade laundry soap recipe uses 3 ingredients.

  • Borax: A natural occurring mineral
  • Washing Soda: Also known as Soda Ash, which helps to remove residue and oils.
  • Grated Bar Soap: Coconut oil-based soaps are best. Here’s where to buy it (Dr. Bronners).

Lemon Essential Oil (Optional)- Works well as a stain remover and degreaser. Just dab a few drops on stains and then throw them in the wash. Essential oils don’t stick to clothes in the same way that synthetic perfumes do, so the lemon scent won’t be potent after drying.


Two Way Recipe

This recipe can be made in two ways: either as a powder or as a liquid. The powder is a much faster to create and requires less room to store but, the liquid is more effective for stain treating. Both recipes use the same ingredients, so just pick the one that is most convenient for you.

The powdered recipe is listed below but, you can find the liquid version here.

Laundry Soap Ingredients

  • 1 grated bar soap. One made with coconut oil works best.
  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 1 cup of borax (or additional washing soda)
  • 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil (optional)
  • Food processor (much easier) or cheese grater

To Make:

  1. Grate the soap using a hand grater or food processor. Grate into fine particles so it dissolves easily.
  2. Wear gloves or use a spoon to carefully mix with the washing soda and borax. If using a food processor, blend until you have a fine powder. You may want to lay a dish towel over the top of your food processor to prevent a fine mist of powder from floating into the air. Also, let it settle a bit before opening the container or the powder will float onto your kitchen counter. 
  3. Add the essential oils and stir
  4. Pour mixture into an air-tight glass jar.

To Use:

Add 2-3 tablespoons laundry detergent per load. If you are washing in cold water, dissolve it in hot water before adding it in. Start each load with a little bit of hot water to dissolve and then put my laundry in.


Other Simple Options

Want a faster or easier method that require no extra work?

  1. Use 2 tablespoons Sal Suds per load.
  2. Add 2 tablespoon washing soda or ¼ cup baking soda if you want for an extra boost.
  3. If you’re feeling going an extra step, add ½ cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle.

Inexpensive Natural Option

Who doesn’t want to save money and avoid harmful ingredients? Use this powdered laundry soap recipe above. Just note that it may not work for all water types and you may need to experiment with soap/washing soda combinations and ratios to find which method works best.


Have you tried making your own laundry detergent? How did it work out? Share below!

2 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Detergent (Laundry Soap) Recipe”

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