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DIY Laundry Detergent

Modern laundry detergents are not only expensive, they’re full of harmful chemicals and fragrances. This DIY laundry detergent recipe will not only save you money, but protect your family’s health as well.

Have you ever had an idea, lurking in the back of your mind, that all of a sudden becomes something completely unavoidable? Then over a series of days, you keep finding input from different places about this very same idea?

laundry hanging on a line

I came across an interesting article from Organic Authority the other day that backed up an opinion I already had about laundry detergent.

My ex-husband had very sensitive skin. We tried detergent after detergent, even the ones designed for sensitive skin. No matter what, he would break out across his chest and back in a painful and annoying rash.

Then, just tonight, I was watching a Red Sox game with my new husband when the commentators mentioned how one of the Rays pitchers had recently been suffering from an allergy — painful rashes and blurry vision — which they’d narrowed down to his laundry detergent! Unbelievable!

diy laundry detergent

why make your own diy laundry detergent

Most liquid laundry detergents you can buy from the store contain mainly water – so you’re paying for water.

In addition to just water, they contain pH modifiers to balance acidic or basic water, optical brighteners to give the appearance of whiteness by absorbing UV light and giving off a blue tint and water conditions to treat hard water – even if you don’t have it!

A lot of them also contain fragrances, because we’ve been conditioned that certain fragrances give the impression of cleanliness.

Take a look at the list of the 10 Worst Laundry Detergents according to the use of preservatives  harmful chemicals, known carcinogens by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Things like formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), chemicals that are toxic to waterlife (which is vitally important, if our waste water feeds to a bay or lake), methanol, sodium borate (which has developmental, reproductive and endocrine effects), and ethanolamine (which can cause respiratory reactions).

wooden laundry clothes pins

How to Make Your Own

What do I do about it? I make my own!! I found this very simple powdered recipe years ago and have used it ever since:


  • 4 cups Borax
  • 4 cups washing soda (usually Arm and Hammer)
  • 1 bar dove soap, grated
  • Optional: baking soda

The amount above usually lasts us a month or two. I’ve never had any issues with smells, or cleanliness, and you can add more soap or use none at all, depending on your taste! It really is very simple. I use a regular scoop or 1/4 cup per wash load, and use it in a High Efficiency machine without issue!


Thursday 24th of September 2015

I've heard a bunch of people online who make their own detergent. But I just got a new washer and I'm nervous to try it and have it not work well in my new machine. Is the soap mostly for scent? And do you dissolve it in water so it's liquid or do you put powder in the washer directly?

Lauren Dibble

Friday 25th of September 2015

My washing machine is GE and less than a year old. The powdered form works beautifully with it. The soap does help with cleaning, but can be omitted. And we put the powder directly in the washer, in the same tray where the liquid soap goes. I haven't heard of anyone causing issues with their machine using the recipe above. Give it a try!