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Making a natural laundry detergent is one of the easiest and most crucial transitions to a non-toxic lifestyle. There are so many recipes available on the internet, especially if you cruise around Pinterest. In this article, I take all the guesswork out of which DIY recipe you should try.
My liquid laundry detergent is all-natural, and it works better than the commercial detergents I previously used. It’s fun to make and affordable to the alternatives.
The best all natural laundry detergent is totally non-toxic, and research shows adding Borax into your home recipe isn’t always ideal. So if you’re looking for a homemade liquid laundry detergent without Borax, keep reading. All you need for my DIY liquid laundry detergent recipe is Castile soap, baking soda, washing soda, and water.
Why Use Homemade Laundry Soap?
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Learning how to make laundry detergent at home is the perfect first step toward a non-toxic lifestyle. Conventional laundry soaps are full of harmful chemicals, such as synthetic fragrances, sulfates, phenols, petroleum, distillates, etc. Science links many of these ingredients to severe diseases and cancer.
Why not just try to pay attention to the ingredients in the detergent you buy better? Even the best chemical free laundry soap on the market today isn’t as safe as the detergent you could make yourself.
Homemade laundry soap is also super simple to make. The ingredients don’t cost much, so you save tons of money compared to what you were spending on store-bought cleaners and scent boosters. Plus, the essential oils in the recipe allow you to alter the scent to suit your preferences.
By my calculations, I save about half of what I was spending on laundry before. This detergent cost me about $0.24 per load, which is about 6 cents less than most commercial products. That’s better than spending more money buying (and searching for) non-toxic products on store shelves.
With so many benefits, the real question is why wouldn’t you use homemade laundry soap?
Why Try This DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe?
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The best all natural laundry detergent, in my opinion, doesn’t include Borax. The ingredient is common in DIY cleaning products. However, there are safety concerns with Borax.
My recipe instead includes washing soda, baking soda, and Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, which is organic, made from vegetables, and entirely fair trade. Washing soda is available in some local stores, or you can purchase a large gallon-sized tub on Amazon.
For scent, my laundry detergent uses essential oils from Amazon. They’re much safer than synthetic fragrances, which are just chemicals. You may alter this if you prefer. Dr. Bronner’s castile soap comes in exceptional natural scents like tea tree, lemon, peppermint, lavender, almond, etc. Use whatever scent you enjoy the most.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), each of these ingredients are among the highest safety rating on their healthy cleaning scale. The combination is much safer than using Borax, Dawn, or any other chemical detergent.
It’s also liquid versus powder. The liquid does require a few more steps to make. But this DIY recipe doesn’t take tons of time or effort to make because you don’t need to grate or melt an entire bar of soap.
Use it for regular laundry cleaning in any washing machine. The detergent is particularly remarkable for front loaders. I use mine to spot clean stuck-on messes in combination with a little sea salt before washing the clothing, which even removes tea stains.
Natural laundry detergent isn’t right for all types of washers, however. Conventional laundry detergents are made to work in the washing machine, but some sources claim natural soap may leave more buildup in the washer. To combat this issue, I regularly clean the machine with vinegar. White vinegar is particularly great for cutting down soap residue.
How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent: Step-by-Step Instructions
To learn how to make laundry detergent at home, collect the following materials. Follow these step-by-step instructions carefully, or you may wind up with a gloopy mess on your hands.
2/3 cups (14 tablespoons) of washing soda
3 tablespoons of baking soda (I suggest Arm & Hammer)
1/2 cup of liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronners is my fav)
5 cups of water, divided
1 or 3-gallon bucket (sometimes available for free from your local grocery store bakery)
15 drops of essential oil (optional)
Glass beverage dispenser or mason jars (optional)
Start by boiling water in a pot. Add the washing soda into a bucket designated for making cleaning products. You may also use a large glass bowl. Make sure you only use the bucket or bowel for laundry purposes in the future (you don’t want to eat out of it later).
Mix two cups of boiling water with the washing soda, pouring the water slowly. When it dissolves, add the baking soda one tablespoon at a time. The mixture should feel thick and puddling-like. Keep string until the solution mixes thoroughly.
The first step is crucial. If you don’t mix the washing soda and water enough, the detergent comes out gritty in texture.
Pour the Castile soap in next, stirring to dissolve. Combine the rest of the water, and allow the detergent to cool completely before use. I suggest covering the bucket and allowing it to sit overnight. The next morning, I shake or stir the laundry detergent and pour it into my glass container.
The mixture could separate as it cools overnight. If this happens, combine it again by string, whisking, or blending the detergent together. If you store the liquid in glass mason jars, shaking the bottles might do the trick.
For storage, there are a few options. I use a glass beverage dispenser with a spigot and metal stand, so my laundry detergent sits right next to the washing machine. You may store the soap in large mason jars or upcycle your old plastic laundry detergent container. Some people also like to upcycle old plastic laundry detergent containers. If you do, clean the chemical detergent from the bottle thoroughly.
Whatever you choose, keep in mind that glass is ideal for storing essential oils and natural soaps. I make large batches of detergent, store them in mason jars to cool, then transfer what I need to my glass dispenser when the time is right.
Using the Detergent
For each load of laundry, use 1/3 cup of the liquid laundry detergent. Ignore the detergent dispenser. Pour the gel-like detergent directly on top of your clothing.
If your clothes feel a bit stiff, try adding a little white vinegar during the rinse cycle with your fabric softener.
How to Make Laundry Smell Good with Essential Oils
For added scent, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the soap as a final step. Any of your favorites smells is fine because they don’t do much cleaning-wise.
Using essential oils instead of chemical detergents with synthetic fragrances works well for people with sensitive, dry, or itchy skin. Harsh chemicals cause crashes and other issues, which is why a baby’s delicate skin requires mild detergents.
Essential oils, on the other hand, are safe for the environment. If you do use them for cleaning your young baby’s clothing, stick with lavender or an oil safer for their age. The same goes for washing your pet’s clothing or bedding.
The best essential oils for fresh-smelling laundry include:
Powder vs Liquid Laundry Detergent
Photo by Sonia Nadales on Unsplash
Both powder and liquid laundry soap offer reliable cleaning power. The type you choose depends on your preference.
Homemade powdered laundry detergent has a longer shelf life, is less messy to store, and might be cheaper to make. However, liquid soap is much more convenient all around.
Here are some of the main cons of using powder in the laundry:
Spills are harder to clean up
Some recipes might not dissolve in the water as well
They might cause septic system issues
Powders may come with more chemicals than liquids
You can’t spot clean stains with powdered detergent
The liquid is better for cleaning oil or grease stains
I’ve also seen similar online recipes for homemade liquid laundry detergent with Dawn. However, they often combine with water and Borax. These DIY recipes are not as natural or chemical-free as they seem.
What’s your favorite DIY liquid laundry detergent recipe? Or do you prefer the powder? Share your experiences in the comments below. I love hearing other people’s experiences.