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How To Make Natural Laundry Detergent (Borax-Free)

Affiliate Disclosure | in Healthy Home | by | with 195 Comments

Homemade natural laundry detergent made EASY!! And it's borax-free, too.

Sorting Out Life, One Load At A Time

I’ve done my share of lumpy laundry. Newborn clothes with with the tags and hangers still on? Check. “Gifts” from my helpers, including a trojan poopy diaper in my whites? Oh yeah.

As you can imagine, I’ve been more than happy just to be able to keep clean underoos in the house at all times for the past few years. Buying “eco-friendly” laundry detergent seemed like a pretty good option until I re-read my brands ingredient list recently. Undisclosed proprietary ingredients? No thanks!

I did eventually find one non-toxic detergent, but not before I learned to make a simple homemade powder version that WORKS. The basic recipe is nearly identical to this one, but for some reason every time I share this link with someone it seems to create more questions than answers. It makes perfect sense to me, but for what it’s worth here is exactly. what. I. do.

But first, let’s talk ingredients!

baking soda and bar soap in a food processor

Powdered Laundry Detergent: What You Really Need

Bar Soap (ALWAYS) – Coconut oil-based soaps are best, but tallow and lard can also be used. (here’s how to make ithere’s where to buy it, and here’s another brand that also works well). Click here to learn how to render tallow.

Baking Soda (SOMETIMES) – No one uses this in commercial formulas . . . not even Arm & Hammer! According to this post, “Baking soda is only half as strong as washing soda at softening water and doesn’t allow the cleaning pH to go nearly as high.   And if you have a stronger product on hand, why dilute it with a weaker one?” Fortunately, if you have some on hand you can use it to make washing soda.

Borax (NOPE)- Opinions are split on whether this product is safe, so I avoid it when possible. Fortunately, according this post washing soda perform the same function, so you’re not missing out on anything. (Plus, from what I hear Borax only works well in hot water)

Lemon Essential Oil (DEFINITELY) – Works well as a stain remover and de-greaser. I just dab a few drops on stains as I find them and then throw them in the wash. (Where to buy lemon essential oil)

Vinegar (YUP) – Though not a part of the main recipe, I use 1/2 cup vinegar as a rinse for two reasons:

  1. Laundry detergent has a very alkaline pH, which can irritate skin. Using a vinegar rinse resets the pH to a skin-friendly level
  2. It helps dissolve excess detergent and salts off clothes

Oxiclean or Peroxide (SOMETIMES) – For brightening whites. (Oxiclean is fairly inexpensive and can be found in most grocery stores or online )

Just two ingredients - this natural detergent recipe that WORKS!! (Borax-free)

How To Make Laundry Detergent


Additional Items You’ll Want To Have On Hand: 

More on what to do with this stuff in the instructions below

To Make:

  1. Cut soap into small chunks. Add to the food processor along with the washing soda. 
  2. 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. Pour into a clean container (keep the essential oil next to the jar and add 5 drops with each load)

To Use: 

These instructions are for a top loader. I don’t have any experience with front loaders, sorry!

  1. Add 2-3 tablespoons laundry detergent per load ( If you are washing in cold water, dissolve it in hot water before adding it in. I prefer to start each load with a little hot water to dissolve and then put  my laundry in)
  2. If desired, add about five drops of lemon essential oil as a degreaser
  3. If washing whites, add a scoop of Oxiclean or pour 1/2 cup peroxide in the bleach compartment
  4. Add 1/2 cup vinegar to a Downy ball or the fabric softener compartment
  5. For extra fabric softening goodness and a shorter drying time, toss some felted wool dryer balls in the dryer with your clothes.

Is This HE Safe? 

This soap is low-sudsing, so theoretically it should be fine for HE washers. A very similar recipe found on the Kirk’s Castile Soap website is said to be safe and offers the following information and tips:

  • “This powered recipe is great for High Efficiency washers because it is very low sudsing.
  • It is important that you grate the bar soap very finely for HE washers.”[i]

Special notes:

  1.  As with other detergents, it is recommended that you cut the amount used in half for HE machines.
  2. Be sure to check your owner’s manual – using certain types of products may void your warranty.

Is This Septic System Safe?

Yes, all of the ingredients in this recipe are considered septic system safe.

Want More Recipes?

Cleaning Book1If you’ve ever wondered:

* Why your homemade dish detergent leaves behind a filmy residue (and how you can get your dishes crystal clear)

* Whether your homemade disinfectant REALLY works (Hint: Many are no more effective than water!!!)

* How to get streak free windows and mirrors without any chemicals

. . . along with other questions about homemade cleaners, you’ll definitely want to grab my ebook, DIY Non-Toxic Cleaning Supplies.

Click here to download a free preview.



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195 Responses to How To Make Natural Laundry Detergent (Borax-Free)

  1. Julia says:

    I’ve been using Charlies for about a year now. You think some of the ingredients are not so safe? Also i’m guessing your detergent works well on cloth diapers? We’ve been having some stink issues lately. The diapers have been having a very strong ammonia smell and i’m not sure what to do. Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      I haven’t used Charlie’s so I can’t really say. I just know I’ve been looking for a soap that is GMO-free (many are made from GMO-corn), sodium lauryl sulfate, proprietary ingredients I can’t check myself, etc. After a long search (which did yield a few brands I was comfortable with) I decided it was just easier to learn to make my own!

    • kelley says:

      we used charlies too for a while. When I looked up safe for cloth diapers they seemed to do well so I figured it was super safe. then looked it up on and the rated a D!

    • Rachel says:

      Julia – My daughter’s diapers also started smelling really strong of ammonia after about a year. I started adding some vinegar to the first cold water rinse cycle, then adding detergent to the regular wash cycle followed with a final plain hot water rinse. They still smell stronger than when the diapers were new, but much much better than they did. It will help to be able to hang them in the sun this summer too! Ah sun…..

    • Tasha says:

      try to hang your diapers outside Julia. The sun will help kill bacteria. (I don’t know how well it will work this close to winter though, the sun isn’t as strong).

    • Cathy says:

      I began having a similar problem with my daughter’s cloth diapers — I had to abandon the homemade cloth diaper detergent (borax, oxyclean and washing soda combo) and go back to buying the expensive Rockin’ Green cloth diaper detergent that’s specially formulated for soft water, which we have. It really works amazingly but I’d rather find a better, cheaper and more natural alternative. They don’t smell at all when they are clean, and not AS bad as they did before once soiled. We just bought a diaper sprayer and I read that spraying the soiled ones before tossing them in the pail helps prevent the odors from permeating the fabric to the point that you have a difficult time washing it out in one wash cycle. I’m still dealing with a work in progress but that’s what has been improving our stinky diaper situation!

    • Bethany says:

      You need to strip your diapers if they are smelling like ammonia.

    • Christy says:

      We were having bad ammonia build up problems with our cloth diapers too and finally found Bac-Out which has been really effective and is non-toxic/natural. I put 1 Tbsp of Bac-Out in our cloth diaper pail (diapers get tossed in a pail with lid that is half full of water until laundry time which is every other day). And every few months I do a special laundry cycle to strip the diapers using only Bac-Out. The diapers all returned to smelling fresh and no more diaper rashes that we were getting when the ammonia build up was bad. We also line dry outside as often as possible so the sun helps keep them fresh too.

    • Jenny says:

      We had that problem with our cloth diapers also. I called the diaper help line and was told to strip them with original dawn dish soap. It worked great, the smell went away and they were more absorbent after also. Hope this helps.

    • tara says:

      original blue dawn works well for the stink but i try not to use it unless i absolutely need too. oxiclean is also great. i was having the ammonia smell issue too especially in the dirty ones…my goodness the smelled worse than the cat box and my daughter didnt have a uti or any issues, it was the already sticky clean diaper! lol also washing them longer helps. i went from a 9 minute cycle to a 12 min cycle. i use this recipe and i have no issues at all…but ive never used charlies either. hope this helps!

  2. sarah says:

    I’ve never made powdered. I always make a liquid with castile soap: I am seriously excited about the wool dryer balls-on my way to ckeck my stash right now! (don’t know why I never thought of that-Thanks!

  3. Jennifer says:

    Do you have bar soaps that you can recommend? Thanks!

  4. Shelly says:

    I’ve been making my laundry soap for almost a year now and did not realize Fels Naptha had GMOs!
    Is there another bar soap that you would recommend for purchase?

    • Heather says:

      I don’t know for sure that it does, but unless they are obtaining their tallow from pastured sources only it’s probably likely. Though I’d prefer to use a soap designed specifically for laundry (in other words, one that hasn’t been superfatted) I typically use Dr. Bronner’s bar soap because I’m more comfortable with the ingredients. I’ll post my recipe for homemade coconut oil soap soon!

  5. kelley says:

    what bar soap do you use? Also, was that a yes that it’s cloth diaper safe?

    • Heather says:

      I make my own – will post the recipe soon! For store bought options, I personally would consider:

      2. Dr. Bronners. Though soaps made for skin rather than laundry are “super fatted” – meaning there is extra oil added in – I have not found this to be an issue with my detergent. I prefer to use Dr. Bronners because I’m more comfortable with the ingredients. You can find it here

      3. Kirk’s castile soap, because it’s very affordable. i believe their glycerin usually comes from coconut or palm sources, but it may also come from GMO corn. Not sure what “natural fragrance” is, but the other ingredients are just coconut and water. You can find it here

      I do use it with my cloth dipes. The vinegar rinse I mention in the instructions seems to keep them from needing to be stripped very often. However, I will say that only seems to work with natural fibers like cotton and bamboo. I tried it with some microfiber dipes I had back in the day and it “set” the stink rather than washing it out! My Kawaii covers – though synthetic – do fine with this recipe.

      • Laura says:

        Kirk’s makes an fragrance free bar. It’s what I use for my personal soap. Definitely cheaper than Dr. Bronner’s.

      • beth says:

        Sorry but glycerin is a natural by product of the SOAP MAKING (saponification ) process. The Chemical soap makers sell their glycerin as another income stream, to makers of glycerin soaps..

  6. Kim N. says:

    I’ve been using soap nuts.

  7. Karen says:

    Would love a recipe like this but safe for the front loader washing machine. Have been nervous to make my own laundry detergent for that reason.

    • Ginny says:

      I have used this or similar in my front loader for about 4 years. Never have a problem with it.

      • Leah says:

        Do you add the soap directly in with the clothes or do you put it in the detergent compartment? We just moved and have a front loader, so I’m not really sure what is best, etc. We currently use Molly’s Sud’s (a great natural laundry soap), but I am looking to stay natural while ALSO trying to cut costs hence why I am looking into making my own. PLease share how you would use with front loader if you have experience:)

        • mammabear 71. says:

          I don’t normally use powder in a front loader since they don’t have alot of water in them – however, I would probably be inclined to use the detergent compartment for this so that the powder is diluted with water before going into the drum.

    • Bea says:

      Kirks’ website gives a recipe and different amounts for top v. front loaders.

    • Bea says:

      I might have missed this point, but what is the problem with GMO vinegar or glycerine? Other than not wanting to support the practice economically, I mean. If we’re using it for something other than eating or applying directly to our skin….?

  8. Jessica T. says:

    Oooh, YAY! I’m glad to find a recipe made without Borax since I’ve heard differing reports on its safety as well. Do you know how well this works with cloth diapers? We use prefolds and covers which generally aren’t as picky as other diapers, but I’ve heard that some homemade laundry soaps don’t clean diapers very well.

    • Heather says:

      Yes, I use it with my cloth dipes. The vinegar rinse I mention in the instructions seems to keep them from needing to be stripped very often. However, I will say that only seems to work with natural fibers like cotton and bamboo. I tried it with some microfiber dipes I had back in the day and it “set” the stink rather than washing it out! My Kawaii covers – though synthetic – do fine with this recipe.

  9. Amanda says:

    I would like to know more about which bar soaps are safe!

  10. I’ve been making laundry soap for years and save tons. One caveat, it reduces absorbency of towels and diapers

    • Bea says:

      Could it be that the recipe needs more washing soda? Just read (here?) that you can make your own by baking baking soda at 400 degrees for an hour or so. When I used to simply add washing soda to my regular (natural detergent from the store) wash, I noticed my towels were fluffier and worked better.

    • Annice says:

      I think I know why towels and diapers are less absorbent with homemade laundry soap. Use the soap you are going to make your laundry det. with to wash your hands, and you can feel a residue on your hands after you rince your hands. Wouldn’t this same residue be left on your clothes. Just my personal observations.

      • Heather says:

        Yes! Body soaps contain extra oil so that they are not too drying. It’s best to use a soap specifically formulated without oils for diapers, towels, etc. Here’s the recipe I use.

        • Leah says:

          Do I have this correct….your diy laundry soap recipe does well with towels and CDs because of your specifically formulated coconut oil based soap that u use?

          • Heather says:

            I have had success with using it to wash diapers and towels, but you’ll need to consult your manufacturer to see if it will void the warranty on your diapers. Some only cover diapers that are washed in detergents – this recipe is a true soap. Yes, the coconut oil soap will yield the best results.

    • Lee Ann Kaplan says:

      When you wash towels do it with 1/2 c baking soda on hot cycle and then do another cycle with 1c vinegar and your towels will be so fluffy and absorbent!

  11. Heather says:

    For those of you who have wondered about SOAP:

    1. I will be posting my recipe for homemade coconut oil soap soon :-D

    2. I’ve also used Dr. Bronners. Though soaps made for skin rather than laundry are “super fatted” – meaning there is extra oil added in – I have not found this to be an issue with my detergent. I prefer to use Dr. Bronners because I’m more comfortable with the ingredients. You can find it here

    3. Kirk’s castile soap is very affordable. i believe their glycerin usually comes from coconut or palm sources, but it may also come from GMO corn. Not sure what “natural fragrance” is, but the other ingredients are just coconut and water. You can find it here

  12. Amber says:

    Great recipe, thanks Mommypotamus! We tweeted it @elementbotanica

  13. Lene says:

    How cold is a “cold wash”? What temp do you use?

  14. Susan says:

    Heather… Is your recipe for a regular or HE machine? Thank you! :)

  15. Natalie says:

    So lemon essential oil will get out grease stains? Do you rub it or just drop a little on? I am having trouble finding anything that will work for these little grease spots I keep getting on my clothes and usually only show up after washing and drying!

  16. Courtney Kafka says:

    I am surprised to hear that you use OxiClean. I absolutely love the stuff, because I can get out any stain with it, but I had always assumed it was pretty toxic. Do you think not, or have you just not found anything else that works as well? I used to use Lestoil to get out grease stains, but I will have to try lemon oil!

  17. Terri says:

    My son and I both have allergies to the H.E. detergents…all of them. There is one ingredient they add to keep the suds down that we react to. We had skin problems after switching to a new front-loader. According to the warranty we can only use H.E. detergent. Well, after a long process of discovery, I’ve been using just vinegar with a few drops of essential oils. You don’t have any ideas for homemade liquid detergent, do you?

    • Bea says:

      I kind of said this above, but Kirk’s Castile’s website has a recipe for homemade powdered detergent and amounts to use for front or top loaders; I think all front loaders are HE. Also, I have experimented with very low amounts of soap and alternating washes with and without soap. There is generally some soap residue (even from my store bought natural detergents), even when very little is used. I get clean, fresh smelling laundry (not really dirty stuff that needs stain remover) from as many as two loads without soap. (Water, alone, has the property of breaking chemical bonds, which is why it’s a good cleaner, in general.) This is even true for shirts with anti-perspirant (ok’d by my natural MD!) residue on them. It all comes off. Sometimes I’ll use vinegar instead of soap for one load. And, washing soda and borax don’t create suds, so if you’re concerned, you can add more of that. Borax is only toxic if you eat huge amounts of it.

  18. Rae says:

    Where do you get your lemon essential oil? There are soooo many essential oils on the market today, it’s hard to know which are best quality and safest. Thanks!

  19. Kim says:

    Is it me or my washer? When I put vinegar in the softener hole, it doesn’t spin out. Eventually I have to clean it out. I’m not coordinated enough to get to the rinse cycle on time!

  20. Leah says:

    I have searched everywhere for a non-GMO white vinegar, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t exist. Do you recommend a particular product?

  21. Sunny Espanet says:

    Dear friend-who-loves-to-research….

    Can you comment on whether or not this is ok for front-load washers? I ruined our first front-loader with “natural” detergent that wasn’t High Efficiency. So I doubt Mr. E will let me experiment with this one too.

    • Janne says:

      The Kirks website says to dissolve it in water. You also might want to put it in the basin rather than in the compartment – sometimes certain chemicals (like vinegar) can ruin the transport tube things. It also says that a recipe, very similar to this one (it adds Borax) is safe for HE washers.

  22. Karen says:

    Thanks for the wonderfully ‘simple’ giveaway of your three favorite spring essential oils. I love the oils, but mostly I just love the simplicity of this particular drawing. I’ve been trying to simplify so most drawings aren’t options. When you are trying to simplify things, you don’t sign up for extra newsletters or clutter up your social networks with extra postings or take up tweeting. In this day when it seems everyone is pushing more of this electronic connection with no regard to the impact it has on our lives, I am grateful for your ‘simple’ approach. I enjoy your blog and especially the ‘how to’ directions. As you might imagine, it helps me simplify, gear down, and relax. There is something quite wonderful about making your own products when you run out of something. So thank you all around.

    • Pogonia says:

      Yes! I, too, was SO HAPPY about the simplification of the contest. I’ve quit entering most of them because of the tons of ‘stuff’ I have to have cluttering up my e-mail, etc.

      I have made the washing soda and am about ready to make your laundry soap now. Your directions are so clear that I don’t feel intimidated by the process. :)

  23. Rachel says:

    Is this okay for HE washers?

  24. Tara says:

    I seem to recall reading somewhere that essential oils shouldn’t be added into the laundry because they can break down the clothing fibers, or something along those lines. Have you ever heard that? I’m wondering if it’s true in general, or only with certain oils?

  25. Darn! Now I don’t know if I should be using the borax I bought a while ago…I guess I have some thinking to do.

    Thanks for the recipe though!

  26. Windy says:

    Beautiful and AMAZING, yes YOU are! So happy to have found your blog…

  27. Erica says:

    I just started making this and I love it!!! I love that it is borax free. Do you have a recipe for borax free dish soap. I do not have a dishwasher so I do all my dishes by hand. I am having a hard time finding a recipe for one that cuts grease.

  28. Mandy says:

    Can I use scented Dr Bronners or is unscented best?

  29. Janne says:

    I read on another website (with a slightly different variation of laundry soap) that you should not put vinegar in the place for liquid softener/bleach because it can ruin the “pipes” used to transport it into the basin. Instead, you should put it directly into the basin itself; though you might want to do it as a separate rinse cycle instead.

    It looks like the Kirks website has instructions for using a recipe very similar to this one (it has Borax and a slightly lower ratio of washing soda to soap) in front loaders – dissolve the regular amount of soap in a bit of water. You could possibly put that mixture (if it was liquidy enough) in the actual spot for the liquid soap.

    • L says:

      I have used vinegar in the cavity named “bleach / softener” for years, well over 20 years, and I have had the same washing machine for more than 15 years,,, so this myth is DEBUNKED.

      Vinegar does not destroy your piping / lines, it actually cleans all the gunk that normal people (haha, not me) put in their washing machine, ie standard laundry powder / liquids. It sets and coats internals and rusts out metal parts (corrosive stuff), so the vinegar washes cleans that gunk off. When you rinse with vinegar, you’re rinsing with water (to spread the vinegar) and diluting it, so it’s not like acid eating away rubber. It gets taken away with your waste water, not sitting there coating everything and soaking forever like in a bath of pure acid you may be picturing…. Do not be fooled or scared by people who may have hidden agendas or just don’t know and want to pretend they have some kind of knowledge – “google armchair experts”. Try for yourself to see what I say is true. Experiment for your own truths.

      To all those sucked in by CHEAP WASHING MACHINE DETERGENTS. Did you know most standard store bought laundry powders have plastic fillers to blow out the powder and basically sell you “more of plastic nothing” for the price you’re paying? It’s like making a cake to sell at a wedding and throwing a heap of sawdust into it to make it go further and thus get more money for less ingredients!!!!! If it’s cheap it might suck you in – but just engage the brain and think for a minute: are you paying $2 for plastic NOTHING? ?!?! Something filler that you dont even want or need and that does nothing but perhaps contribute to coating your washing machine internals and shortening the life span of your washing machine? Why on earth would you pay your coin to wreck your machine and do absolutely nothing in regards to washing your clothes?? Would you buy the sawdust “cake” or the real thing with no sawdust???? What a waste of your money it is, even if it’s only $2! YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Pay peanuts, get monkeys. You’re only deluding yourself when it comes to paying close to nothing for washing machine detergent, you’ll get nothing. And not only that, but contribute to plastics in the environment, in waterways, in fish, in EVERYTHING. Just like GM Genetically Modified stuff – everywhere! (Way to go for those with future generations,,,, not!) DO NOT perpetuate the plastics industry or GM crops any further than they are already. Better use is to save up and pay premium for a quality product that has NO FILLERS and ONLY quality ingredients that WASH YOUR CLOTHES, (these also leave little to no phosphates in the waterways / environment), NOT plastics that you’re paying to do absolutely nothing. OR, of course, the BEST option, make your own washing detergent, as per this post.

      But if you’re using any kind of salts such as in a home made recipe, you will at some point need to rinse of any residue, and the thing that cuts thru this is vinegar. Do not be scared of it folks, and never again worry about it “wrecking your washing machine” – if anything, it prolongs it’s life span by cancelling out the actions of gunk. Peace out.

      • L says:

        Oh, and by the way, even if you put the vinegar in the basin (that you recommend) as compared to the cavity specifically for bleach / softener…. it’s a moot point. They all get washed away FROM THE BASIN into pipes to your sewerage system. It still goes through your rubber hoses. It doesn’t go anywhere different!!

        • M says:

          The issue with vinegar is that it supposedly destroys the lines in newer front loading machines. The vinegar sits in the line (and destroys the seal) going from the softener to the washing drum, not the rubber drain pipe. Your 15 year old washing machine isn’t going to have that problem.

          • L says:

            I find it funny that you yourself undermine your own comment by using the word “supposedly”….. you’re basically spouting words from god-knows-where with no hard evidence to back what you “think” you’re saying…… let’s discuss your flawed arguments here.

            You can always just do a final water rinse so the last thing that stays in any line, drum or internal, is 100% water…..??! — IF you’re so super concerned about this.

            BUT then, for a person so concerned such as yourself, that would bring in problems of its own: IF you could say water itself wouldn’t leave its own mineral (“salts”) deposits! You would have to use distilled water ($$$ to buy, pricey for a distiller, which has it’s own maintenance pitfalls..) to counteract any kind of mineral sitting in any line rotting away any perishable rubber seal or metal internals, as ALL water is chemically treated and has mineral salts naturally in it anyway — why are you not concerned about this????

            THEN, why haven’t you mentioned what effects bleach has…. if you use 100% bleach, as designed, with the blessing of the “manufacturer recommendations for bleach” in vinegar’s place,,, what does it leave / do to seals???


            We are not even talking straight vinegar, we are talking DILUTED vinegar. When you talk about one capful in a wash, it is so watered down it makes your point REALLY kind of irrelevant. Especially if you are paranoid about it and do a water rinse! Makes no difference what kind of washer you have.

            I don’t know why people such as yourself are so paranoid about something like this, something that you are parroting secondhand and don’t even know if what you say is true or not.
            When you focus 100% on something that has buckley’s or 0.01% chance of happening, that is so minutely NON EVENT, and blow it out of proportion to make it “SOMETHING” when it’s “nothing” (ie. create drama where its not necessary), instead of being concerned about the REAL threat – crap commercial CHEMICALS PETROLEUM PLASTICS MINERALS AND SALTS you buy and use daily that does MORE damage (98%) to ANY washing machine than one capful of vinegar diluted right down (which CORRECTS the actions of commercial powders and gunk)….
            WELL,, it’s like saving all your life all your 1c and 2c coins in the name of “not being wasteful” but blowing wads of cash daily, I don’t get this kind of mentality??!
            Let’s focus and not get carried away by imaginary “boogy men”. “Perspective” and not histrionics. Commercial powder has the ability to destroy your washing machine much, much, much more than diluted vinegar could ever wish to. Let’s add salts to that list as that is their action on rubber, silicon, metal, etc…. Watered down vinegar that cleans your internals from the crap you put in daily, is nothing to worry about, trust me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            And to discuss your “major concerns” about seals. Seals are cheap and plentiful, much cheaper than a new washing machine. Expecting them to last forever if you don’t use vinegar, is like expecting your mobile phone to last forever if you don’t use it. It will die, regardless. And just like repairing a head gasket on an older car for a couple of hundred dollars, or getting so paranoid about something “old” that it makes it scary, and thus deciding to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new car!!! Lets not mention getting a loan for this privilege, to pay someone back with interest! WTF??? Cutting your nose off to spite your face or what!!!! Spend a couple of hundred to maintain what you have, and contribute less to consumerism and a throw away mentality society, – its a no brainer. So, if your seal goes, REPLACE IT! You hardly qualify for a whinge if that’s the least of your worries! It’s like whinging about a tap washer!!!! WHY??? It’s so small, just do it and get over it!!!! If a seal needs replacing – hardly due to diluted minute amounts of vinegar in any case – these things WILL wear out eventually as most REPLACEABLE PARTS DO and WERE DESIGNED TO DO. They don’t live forever! Just replace em! Just don’t blame perishable goods (seals) lifespans on diluted vinegar that is almost 99.9% water! Don’t forget, manufacturers make replaceable goods like seals for a reason: they figure – either you get smart and replace them,,,, or like the majority of scared people who have no trade knowledge and don’t want the “”hassle”” (lol) of maintenance, they know they will just “go out and buy another”… it’s the same with cars. Or most practical items. Manufacturers use short lifespan items knowing it’s one tiny little part that makes people freak out / get lazy and buy another washing machine or whatever it was… they bank on, and feed off, people’s ignorance and laziness.

            But seriously, seals??, is that your argument, just call a tradie to replace if that’s your worst fear (paranoia) from extremely diluted vinegar….. but i’m telling you your fears are unnecessary and unwarranted. I use it every time. I have not replaced a seal yet! And you don’t know what kind of washer I have, do you? :)) Let’s just say, all you need to know is: it doesn’t rely on horse and buggy (ie, built post industrial era) or manual cranking, and it’s not a manual handwashing twin tub! It too has seals… internal components…. and metal parts….. all exposed daily, yearly, over a decade to watered down vinegar. (and I do not rinse it out with water!) More electronic machines (ie built in 2014) are not more “specialised” and therefore more vulnerable than an older one to watered down vinegar (don’t they give you the sales pitch that they get better and more robust with each new machine? so why would it be a worry all of a sudden after years and years, lots of people used to use these basic ingredients to wash their clothes with at some point..) and seals die regardless of the presence of vinegar or no, that’s what they are, sacrificial parts. Common sense, folks, no imaginary dramas needed……

  30. Summer says:

    Excited about this. I’m washing my first load now. Hopefully I baked the baking soda long enough. It didn’t seem to mix too well. Will this soap sud? So far mine isn’t. Thanks!!

  31. Cynthia says:

    I am wondering HEather if you or anyone else has used your laundry detergent recipe in very hard water? I have all of the ingredients to make your recipe and I am looking forward to it…..just don’t want to get any residue left on our clothes.
    Thank you for your time in responding,

  32. […] Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent Made Easy […]

  33. Maureen says:

    I just made a batch this weekend using a similar recipe but it called for Borax. After I made it, my husband asked if that was the same stuff that kills rats. Woops. Should I toss my batch and remake without the Borax? Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      Borax and boric acid are different products, though chemically similar. Some say Borax is totally fine. I think it’s probably better than a lot of things, but since I tend to be cautious I rarely use it. I think each person has to decide what their comfort level is with it :)

  34. Linda says:

    This might be a silly question. Would a microplane be ok to grate the soap? I don’t have the space or money for a food processor.

  35. Andrea says:

    Do you have to dissolve it in hot water first? I go through a lot of laundry and I always use cold water… Just seems like an extra step! Thanks!

  36. […] Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent Made Easy from Mommypotamus […]

  37. Kelly says:

    I have been trying to find a better homemade laundry detergent and am THRILLED to find this post! I had never heard of Kirk’s Coco Castile bar and wanted to check into it. Imagine my surprise that I live less than 10 minutes from their newest ‘home’. Ha! I am happy to see it is a family owned company now instead of an acquired P&G product as it was for years. I wonder if they do any kind of tours??

    I don’t know if you have posted your own coconut soap recipe yet, but I look forward to that as well! :-)

  38. Amanda says:

    hi. wondering if that coconut oil soap has been posted yet. thanks!

  39. […] Normally it is not advised to make soap with under 4% superfat due to the fact that it can be excessively drying and even burn skin if some of the lye remains unconverted, but for laundry soap it’s perfect! […]

  40. Diane says:

    I’m looking forward to making my own laundry soap, and am looking for brand suggestions for bar soap. We have major sensitivities in my house and I can’t seem to find a coconut based soap without added fragrances or other questionable ingredients. Does anyone have a suggestion? I’ll also look back through comments…Thank you!

  41. Sara says:

    Quick question to confirm…….I went out and got the ingredients to make this after discovering the detergent we’ve used for 7 years has been discontinued. But then I came back and re-read the recipe. Am I understanding that I need 3 bars of the castille soap and not just one to make this? I want to make your coconut soap recipe, but have to wait until I get an immersion blender. So for now, I’m getting Dr. Bronner’s soap as that is the easiest to find. I just need to know if I need to go back and buy two more bars, since I just picked up one today.

    • Heather says:

      Yes, three bars of soap! I can see why the wording was confusing, so I’ve updated it!

      • Sara says:

        Thanks so much for taking the time to clarify! I went ahead and just made 1/3 of the batch today with the amount I did have on hand, which was the perfect amount my food processor could hold at one time anyway. It’s waiting for me in a decorated old peanut butter jar now. :) I’m super excited to try it. And I priced immersion blenders yesterday and just have to read some reviews on each, so I’m hoping to add your coconut soap recipe to the mix soon enough.

  42. Kate says:

    Hi, how many pounds of washing powder does this make? I’m in Australia and coconut oil is a tad expensive so I’m trying to work out if making my own coconut soap is economical enough to do it. Many thanks

  43. Leah says:

    Is this recipe HE safe?

    • Heather says:

      It is a low suds recipe so it should be in most case. However, check your owners manual since in some instances certain ingredients may void the warranty.

  44. Carolyn says:

    Thank you so much for this go-to recipe!!! I use it all the time for our laundry :)

  45. Austina says:

    Safe for cloth diapers??

  46. Sveta says:

    I just made it, and when I opened the lid on my food processor there was SUCH a cloud of particles coming out, it looked like my kitchen was full of smoke! Is this safe to inhale? I started losing my breath and coughing. I used Kirk’s original Castile soap, though it does have natural flavoring in it (wonder what it’s made of, and why does soap need flavoring!?).

    • Heather says:

      Hi Sveta! Personally, I wouldn’t worry about breathing it one time but I do think it’s a good idea to let the cloud settle before opening the food processor. Will add that to the notes!

  47. Jessica says:

    Do you recommend soap nuts for laundry ?

  48. Maria Masala says:

    Do you have any information about how safe and effective sodium perborate is? Would you use it in place of the oxyclean?

  49. […] I started googling recipes for natural detergents, and noticed that most of them contain Borax. I remember being told in elementary school that Borax either kills or keeps cockroaches away, so I wasn’t too excited about using this in my laundry. A PubMed search on Borax toxicology brings up only 8 results, all “old” literature, mostly from the 1970s or 1990s. Animal studies have suggested adverse effects on male reproductive success [1], but as usual in toxicology, there are questions about how this transfers to humans, what dose is acceptable, and how much we are actually exposed to. Reading several people’s posts about the natural products they use, there seems to be disagreement about whether or not Borax is bad for you. When it comes to natural products I’ve adopted a bit of a “go big or go home” mentality, so I decided I wanted to leave it out. A little more digging found that Borax isn’t really necessary and is only really useful in hot water (and I wash most of my laundry in cold). I settled on the following recipe (original available here): […]

  50. Hillary says:

    Hey! Love all of your natural diy recipes! I made your coconut oil soap and used it in your detergent recipe. I also made the washing soda. I washed a couple loads of laundry today- and it worked so well! Our laundry is always SUPER dirty too! My husband does mechanical work for a logging company and his clothes get REALLY dirty after crawling in, on, and under those greasy machines! I think the detergent cleaned it better than our natural detergent we were buying from Costco! I was very impressed, thank you! : )

  51. ChelseBurris says:

    I’m excited to try this recipe. I’m 36 weeks pregnant and have been trying to get around to washing our son’s clothes before he gets here, however I have had a lot of reservations about buying brand name “baby detergents.” I’ve compared a lot of recipes and yours seems the be the best choice especially because it does not contain Borax. However, I’m curious if you ever tried making it into a liquid? Most the liquid recipes I’ve seen call for a soap / washing powder combined with hot water to make a gel. Have you ever tried doing it this way? I thought that this would cut out adding the essential oil to each indivual load by adding a larger amount to the detergent itself. Also I’ve read that tea tree oil added to laundry soap can help disinfect , which I thought might be helpful for heavily soiled a baby clothes. Any thoughts on doing this?

  52. Mindy says:

    Two questions (sorry if they’ve been asked, I didn’t read through all 95 comments!) 1. Where (other than Whole Foods, which I did see that you said) could I find gmo free vinegar? I’ve never seen it, but I use vinegar for everything cleaning! (Which speaking of, is that super awful since its not GMO free?????! I guess since we aren’t eating it or applying it directly to our skin I didn’t think too much of it…??) And 2. Can I just buy washing soda?? Or is that bad?? Thanks!!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Mindy, I’m not sure where else to buy GMO-free vinegar – maybe online? I also don’t know how much of an issue GMO’s are when it comes to vinegar (there are no studies that I know of), but I avoid it both because I’m cautious and also because I don’t want to put money in the pockets of GMO growers. There are times when it can’t be helped, though, and I personally would use any vinegar over chemicals if I didn’t have the GMO-free option. Yes, store bought washing soda is fine :)

      • Paula Wick says:

        Bragg’s makes organic apple cider vinegar. I think I found some organic white vinegar at Natural Grocers, but I’m not poitive.

  53. Lori says:

    I use Molly’s Suds laundry powder. I love, love it, and it rates an “A” on the EWG website.

  54. This looks fantastic. This may be a bit of a techie question, but do you know if this is safe long-term for HE machines? I’d just assume make my own detergent but would hate to have to buy a whole new washer from unwittingly gunking it up.

    • Heather says:

      It is a low suds formula so many say it is fine. However, you’ll want to check with your manufacturer for specific recommendations on your model :)

  55. Carra says:

    Is this laundry soap safe to use with a greywater system for watering plants?

  56. Jesse says:

    The washing soda I have states that it’s not for use on wool or silk. Do you know if this is standard?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Jesse, yes I would assume that is standard. I have only one silk dress and it cannot be washed with traditional detergents of any kind. From what I’ve heard wool is similar, though I don’t have any wool pieces.

  57. […] is a link to making your own Powdered Laundry Soap found at Mommypotamus. […]

  58. Latosha says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m just wondering if there is any way to make this into a liquid soap? Maybe using Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap instead? Will the washing soda dissolve in it?

  59. Bea says:

    Hi, Latosha,

    I’ve been wondering the same thing, and decided to make the rest of the mix and then mix in some Castile liquid soap right before using. But, I did google and there are recipes out there for making the liquid in large batches ahead of time, with no mention of the potency issue. I guess you could experiment with both and see.

  60. […] This is usually full of all kinds of chemicals. Switching to free & clear is a step in the right direction, but it’s not necessarily the best you can get. You can try many of the natural brands on the market (with a lot of label checking!) or you can try to make your own. I personally steer clear of the borax recipes because I’m not so sure about the safety of it, so I plan to use this recipe from Mommypotamus: […]

  61. tara says:

    i prefer liquid over powder but love this recipe. how much water should i add to make it a liquid? i was thinking a gallon would be good, but i would like some insight before i try!:-) and congrats on baby Levi!!! i read your part one story and ill read part two tonight at work during my night shift (yuck!).

  62. Valere says:

    Hi – in the laundry detergent recipe above it offers links where to buy coconut oil soap (and another how to make it) then a link where to buy an alternative soap but both of those links are to Kirks Castile Soap. I just want to check if that was a typo? Is there a link where to buy coconut oil soap that you like? Thank you. I’m really excited about trying this recipe.

  63. Paula Wick says:

    I love easy, and after reading a great number of posts about homemade laundry soaps (and laboring over a few of them) I discovered that I could add 1/2 cup of washing soap and 1/4 cup of Dr Bronners liquid soap right in my machine, agitate the water to dissolve the powder, throw in my clothes, and they come out so fresh and clean-smelling. Couldn’t be easier! Not sure about that greasy, grimey dirt, though.

  64. Latisha Jenkins says:

    I just finished washing my clothes with this recipe & I love it. I’m never going back to store bought detergent again.

  65. Krista Anthony says:

    Thanks for the recipe! Will it really wash 42-62 loads? Above the recipe it says 42 Tableapoons. But I don’t see how that’s possible if each load uses 2-3Tbs?

    • Heather says:

      So sorry, Krista, I’m not sure where that tablespoons reference came from. I’ll have to go back and measure a fresh batch when I make it, but I think 42 loads sounds about right.

  66. LeslieandDion Genchi via FB says:

    Sylvia Genchi Here is another easy one!

  67. So much yes! I’m always looking for great DIY recipes that are so much better than the store-bought variety. I know this will save me money + be more healthy! #oils4everyone

  68. […] adapted my recipe from MommyPotomus, who has a whole bunch more research in her post if you’re […]

  69. Leah says:

    Because of the all-natural ingredients I assume this is a gentle, safe detergent to use for babies and little ones. Would you say the same for extra-sensitive skinned little ones? Has anyone used this on their babies/child’s clothes who has sensitive skin? Just looking for some recommendations before I dive into a specific recipe. Hopefully it will be just right:)

  70. Weronika says:

    I love it! I was looking for a no borax recipe for so long. Next time I’ll be shopping I will have to buy washing soda (I have just one box at home and still need to do some color catchers). Unfortunately I still have two bottles of Tide to finish.

  71. Natalie says:

    This is a great post! I know you wrote it almost a year ago, so I’m not sure you’re still answering questions, but on the Little House in the Suburbs blog, I noticed she said she uses 1 part soap to 1 part washing soda, and in another post she lists a recipe using 12 oz. grated soap, and 2 C. washing soda. Your recipe calls for about 15 oz. soap and 6 C. washing soda. I was wondering how you came to that amount ratio? Thanks for the great soap post too – it made making soap feel doable!

    • Heather says:

      Hi Natalie, I came to the ratio via research and experimentation :)

    • linda says:

      i read recently that washing soda is quite a harsh product (sort of like using bleach) and should only be used occasionally so as not to wear out one’s clothes prematurely. i am just researching homemade laundry soap recipes so don’t know what to think as yet.

  72. Karla says:

    This is great! I’m all into natural DIY recipes and I also love learning about the science behind it so I really understand what I’m doing. I’ve always wondered about the different combinations of baking soda, borax, and washing soda. I love the simplicity of just using washing soda! Do you think orange EO will work as well as the lemon?

  73. Leah says:

    You mentioned that you do not use this detergent on cloth diapers, towels, etc. Do you have another DIY recipe that you recommend/use for the other things or do you purchase a specific brand instead of making your own?

    • Karla says:

      Hi Leah,
      Happened to notice your comment because it came after mine. She stated a few times that she does use this on her cloth diapers and that it works better on those made with natural fibers. Someone else mentioned that it might decrease the absorbency of the towels, but there’s some discussion about it. I would just do a specific word search of the comments so you can find relevant info!

  74. sally says:

    Hi Heather
    Thank you for this wonderful post,i stay in Africa and was wondering if this laundry soap could be used for hand washing clothes? Many people in the townships don’t have washing machines and hand washing is basically the norm. I would really appreciate your prompt response.
    Thanking you in advance

  75. Karla says:

    Do you think this would work as a dishwasher detergent, too, or would the soap leave a residue? I’m not having any luck with a DIY dishwasher detergent that cleans effectively.

  76. […] are the sources I used when researching what should go into the detergent: Delightful Creations, Mommypotamus, Happy Money Saver, Little House in the Suburbs, BabyCenter, Caleighs […]

  77. Jordan says:

    Maybe someone has already asked this, but could you use regular unscented soap, like Dial or Dove? Or would that mess things up?

  78. Brighid Denne via FB says:

    really instructive thanks I’ll just end my detergent.:)

  79. Deepa Swamy via FB says:

    I’ve been successfully making this detergent….love it!!

  80. Jami Ong White via FB says:


  81. Is this recipe cloth diaper safe?

  82. Alyssa Damon – I’ve used it on my cloth diapers. It’s worked beautifully, but some manufacturers will void your warranty if you use soap rather than detergent on your dipes. And of course depending on the fabric used it may/may not be a good idea to use soap. I tend to favor natural fibers. I’ve also heard from a lot of mamas that they use it for diapers and are pleased with the results – they didn’t mention what kind they’re using, though.

  83. How do you feel about Dr. Bronners Castile soap bars in this recipe?

  84. Dorothy Shealy via FB says:

    I use this recipe with Dr. Bronners bar soap and it works great.

  85. Jo Kitchen says:

    Borax is banned in the UK and Europe so I have been using grated vegetable soap and washing soda for years,I also always add lemon oil because I love the scent,I would never go back to store bought.

  86. […] make powdered laundry detergent, grate three bars of Fels-Naptha soap and then mix that in with six cups of washing soda, then […]

  87. christine says:

    Hi! I am really enjoying your website. I was wondering if you know how having softened water would impact the soap recipe? Any input on making laundry soap for soft water would be appreciated. Thanks!

  88. Marissa says:

    Hi! I have everything to make this except the lemon essential oil. I do have sweet orange however. Would that work instead?

  89. Jenna says:

    I have been making my own laundry soap for about 8 yrs. I make a concentrated liquid version that fits in 2 quart size jars and lasts 4-5 months. I use Kirks hard water Castile as this was the most natural soap I could find at the store (and affordable) I do add borax, but may try it without next time. I have heard that powdered soaps can wear out your machine faster and I’ve never had much luck with them dissolving. For those you have odor issues, I’ve worked in restaurants most of my adult life. Smelling like a fajita isn’t pleasant. I would soak all my work clothes in hot water and vinegar for at least 30 min, I would let it agitate and drain then restart and run a normal load. I did this every other week or so, works like a charm.

  90. Stella says:

    Would this be okay to put in my Vitamix if I don’t have a food processor? Thank you for any feedback.

    • Lisette says:

      Hi Stella,
      I put mine in my Ninja Blender and it creates and amazing laundry powder! It is really fine and I love it. I do soak my blender jar in vinegar for a bit afterwards and then run it through the dishwasher.

  91. Malin says:

    Hello Heather,
    Thank you for a great blog! Quick questions in choice of soaps: Have you noticed a difference in cleaning capacity between Kirks and Dr. Bronners? I’ve tried it with Dr. Bronners which seems to be working pretty well for us so far, but wondering if Kirks may be even better since it’s more coconut base in it? Also, have you had any issues with fabric “bleeding” when using this detergent. I’ve had a few items doing this that never did before while using store bought brand. Any suggestions welcome!


    • Heather says:

      Hi Malin, I usually use my homemade coconut oil soap so I”m not sure I have enough experience with either the Dr. Bronners or Kirk’s to have a strong preference. They’ve all worked well for me. I haven’t had any problems with bleeding.

  92. Leah says:

    Curious if anyone has used this for their HE wash machine and your routine (add directly to wash basin? do you mix with water then add to wash basin, etc.), how much per load, etc. Please share if anyone has experience. This is the ONLY thing holding me back from making this right now;)

  93. Leah says:

    Heather– You previously mentioned that you use this with your CD and it works fine. How often do you have to strip them? Also, you suggest using vinegar with each load. I have hard water, and have read that it is suggested NOT to use vinegar with hard water when washing CDs as there is a chance vinegar can mix with the trace minerals and cause a rancid smell to lock into your CDs. Do you have hard water or is this not an issue for you? I’m trying to find a natural detergent to use for our CDs….I REFUSE to go mainstream!

  94. […] Wellness Mama has an awesome post on laundry detergent; DIY Natural does too; and I love MommyPotamus’ post and what she says about lemon oil. Of course, there are more, but these are the posts I based […]

  95. Martine Bracke says:

    Is this recipe dissolve well in cold water? Thanks to let me know

  96. Lauren says:

    Would a strong lemon infusion work in place of the essential oil? I’ve got a lemon tree, so I hate spending money on anything lemon.

  97. Lynette says:

    I really like this laundry soap. Everyone here, would like to know if we can make this into a liquid/gel soap.
    How much water would we use?


  98. […] cleaning supplies with some baking soda, vinegar, castile soap and a few essential oils.  Dish and laundry detergent need a few extra ingredients, but that’s for another day . . […]

  99. Sammie says:

    Hi Heather,

    I love your recipe and will use it to make my first batch of homemade laundry detergent. I just wanted you to know that the link you have with a recipe to turn baking soda into washing soda does not work. Access to the information is only available to person’s who are invited by the owner of the “hollythehomemaker” blog and no one else. I tried to get access but to no avail I can’t get the information. Can you post this recipe somewhere on your website and link it for us? Thanks much and I’m so happy I found your blog. You have really useful information.


  100. […] Fortunately, despite protests from certain potami who would prefer never to wear pants, I do manage to keep everyone in clean clothes with this homemade borax-free laundry detergent. […]

  101. Tasha says:

    Can you tell me why you don’t recommend Zote or Fels-Naptha? I know Zote contains optical brighteners, but otherwise is beef tallow and coconut oil and the website states it is non toxic. And from what I can gather, Fels-Naptha consists of tallow, palm kernel oil and coconut oils and no longer contains the actual toxic naptha. I’ve seen many homemade laundry recipes that include one or both of these. Thoughts?
    Thanks for your time!

  102. […] years of using our powdered homemade laundry detergent, I’m still just as in love with it as ever. Living on a farm gives me lots of opportunities […]

  103. linda says:

    hi heather, i was wondering why you recommend coconut oil-based laundry soap bars over lard/tallow-based ones. i read that lard-based laundry soaps don’t foam as much as the coconut oil-based laundry soaps and was thinking that would be better for HE machines. i wasn’t sure if your concerns are regarding where the lard/tallow comes from or if you are recommending for vegans. i’ve seen some lard-based laundry soap bars on etsy so was thinking of buying them for laundry soap. first though, i’m tackling liquid dish soap where the suds would be great and then i’m wading into the murky waters of making laundry soap.

  104. Susanne says:

    Hi Heather

    What strenght peroxide do you use? I can get it from 5%/Volume up to 98%/Volume here in South Africa.

  105. Sarah says:

    Is the vinegar absolutely necessary? Because I’ve heard it can cause the washer to rust with the acid that’s in it.

  106. Michelle says:

    what is your total cost of making the laundry soap (including costs for coconut soap) I’d like to have all natural but we are making our own stuff to cut costs as well. TIA

  107. Cat says:

    Wondering if anyone has tried using these wonderful recipes with the HE Front loaders?? Any problems or alterations made? Thanks! Cat

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