All Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent

All Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent

Let’s talk about laundry detergent for a second.

I love doing laundry. Seriously! There’s something about the fresh, clean scent and the soft fabric that just drives me crazy. For those scarce, glorious few seconds when ALL of our laundry is washed, dried, and put away, I really feel like I have my life together. Know what I mean?

But there’s a dirty side to laundry (get it?). Have you looked at the ingredients label on your detergent? Can you even pronounce most of them??

I tried guys, I really did. I had big plans for this post, outlining the most common ingredients in commercial detergents, explaining where they come from, and their impact to your health and the environment. I searched about 5 ingredients before my brain fizzled and gave up; I am not a chemist and I never liked science in school.

I don’t know about you, but I’m uncomfortable with the simple fact that I cannot even identify what these ingredients really are. My search was not completely in vain, however, as I am still able to share a smaller scale ingredient walk-through with you.

The Comparison

We’re going to look at two different laundry detergents. The first one you probably use or have used in the past – It is one of the big names that you see advertisements for everywhere. The second one comes from a more eco-friendly company but is still a commercial detergent.

All of this information comes from the Environmental Working Group. You can check out their site at

Detergent #1

This particular brand receives an overall F rating from the EWG, despite marketing itself as “free & gentle” on the bottle.

There are 31 ingredients, and the ingredient disclosure rating is poor. These are the individual ingredient ratings:

  • A: 6 ingredients
  • B: 5 ingredients
  • C: 14 ingredients
  • D: 1 ingredient
  • F: 2 ingredients
  • Non-specified: 3 ingredients

Concerns listed for this detergent are:

  • High concern for developmental and reproductive toxicity
  • Moderate concern for asthma and respiratory effects
  • Some concern for cancer, skin allergies, and environment


Detergent #2

This particular detergent receives an overall C rating from the EWG, also marketing itself as “free & clear” on the bottle.

There are 18 ingredients, and the ingredient disclosure is good. Individual ingredient ratings:

  • A: 8 ingredients
  • B: 6 ingredients
  • C: 3 ingredients
  • D: 1 ingredient
  • F: 0 ingredients
  • Non-specified: 0 ingredients

Concerns listed for this detergent are:

  • Moderate concern for environment (for acute aquatic toxicity)
  • Some concern for asthma and respiratory effects, skin allergies, and cancer
  • Low concern for developmental and reproductive toxicity

So there you have it. I know that if I was making the choice between the two products, I would (and actually did) pick #2. I still have a small amount of #2 leftover from before I started making my own detergent.

The Alternative

Aren’t you satisfied with all of that information? No? Okay. I have another option for you. You can make your own laundry detergent! This recipe comes straight from The Hippy Home and it is pretty amazing! She notes that the mixture can separate and become clumpy, and recommends warming it up or lightly shaking it.

Before we get started, I do have to mention that the initial up-front cost can be a bit surprising. I was only able to find Dr. Bronner’s castile soap at Walgreen’s, and it was right around $20. I DID find (after purchasing that one) another brand of castile soap at Dillon’s for less than half of that price. The rest of the ingredients were really affordable. And to be honest, these ingredients will make me at least 10 gallons of detergent before I need to buy more.

One more thing: The original recipe uses a 2-gallon bucket. Sometimes I don’t read directions very well, so I used a 5-gallon bucket! All that means is I doubled the recipe and now have so much laundry detergent I don’t what to do with it all!

5-Ingredient Homemade Laundry Detergent

You Will Need: (These are the doubled-by-accident proportions!)

  • 1 Cup Super Washing Soda
  • 1 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 Cup liquid castile soap (I used lavender scent)
  • About 30 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 gallons water
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Wooden spoon
  • Glass Container


  1. Pour the washing soda into the 5-gallon bucket and put in just enough hot water to cover the soda. Stir well to dissolve.
  2. Add the baking soda. Stir well to dissolve.
  3. Fill the bucket to the top with hot water, leaving half an inch – 1 inch of room on top.
  4. Add the castile soap and essential oil. Stir well to mix.
  5. Transfer to glass container!

* Gina at The Hippy Home recommends using 1/3 cup per standard load. I actually use a little less than this (about 1/4 cup), but I also do smaller loads of laundry since I hang-dry my clothes.

The Alternative Breakdown

Since we did all that research about the ingredients in the commercial detergents earlier, let’s look at what goes into this recipe.

5 Ingredients: Washing soda, Baking soda, Castile soap, essential oil, water.

  • Washing soda: Overall A rating from EWG, with some concern for skin allergies. Also known as sodium carbonate, washing soda acts as a solvent to remove stains.
  • Baking soda: Overall A rating, with some concern for asthma and respiratory effects, and skin allergies. The use of baking soda as a cleaner is widely documented. It is used to absorb odors and because of it’s granulated texture and alkaline pH, can dissolve deposits and build-up.
  • Castile soap: Overall A rating, with some concern for asthma and respiratory effects, skin allergies, and cancer. A plant-derived soap dating back to the 16th century. Widely documented as a gentle cleaner and is used in a large variety of products.
  • Essential oil: The benefits of essential oils are widely documented. Most are high in antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
  • Water: This one is pretty self-explainatory.

There you go! Your very own recipe for an All Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent, with only 5 ingredients! AND – it’s cost effective, you have total control over the quantity/quality of ingredients, and you can alter the scent to your preferences!

Have you tried this recipe? Tell me about it! 

What’s your favorite essential oil fragrance? Let me know in the comments!

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All Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent


The Green Wife Online