Try DIY Laundry Detergent for a Fun, Eco-Friendly Project

By Maureen Wise in Natural Products

Families are making the switch to old-fashioned, DIY laundry detergent left and right. Not only is it much less expensive than store-bought varieties, but it’s better for the planet and your family. Creating your own laundry detergent is also a fun project you can do with kids of a certain age.

Why Switch?

Many conventional detergents are petroleum-based and thus don’t break down in sewage treatment systems as much as they should. This means we end up with soapy, polluted waterways. Numerous store-bought laundry detergents also contain undesirable chemicals such as sulfates, fragrances, phenols, and more.

Another reason to avoid traditional laundry soap is the packaging and transportation costs. If you don’t need to create the plastic detergent container to begin with—even if it’s recycled when you discard it—you’re eliminating waste. Besides, most of what’s in liquid detergents is water, and trucking that across the country uses nonrenewable fuel. So, skip these downsides and craft your own laundry soap!

A Natural Laundry Detergent Recipe

Making your own laundry soap should only take about ten minutes, especially when adapting this borax-free recipe to include natural bar soap. It should work just as well as the store-bought variety you’re used in the past to clean your clothes. To start, gather up these ingredients:

  • 1 bar of your favorite soap
  • 1 to 1½ cups washing soda
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup Epsom salts
  • 1/2 cup powdered citric acid

To start, grab a food grater that you’re OK dedicating to your DIY laundry detergent (no one wants cheese that tastes like soap, after all). Use it to shred your bar of soap into grated pieces, or just start chopping it with your food processor to speed up the process. Reducing the soap in this way will be the most extensive step, but be patient.

Place your shavings into your food processor, then scoop the rest of the ingredients in to top if off. Pulse the machine a few times to mix, and you’re done! Be sure to store the product in an airtight container such as a jar or ziptop bag. To make a fresh-smelling batch, add a few drops of essential oils. Feel free to mix and match your oils to customize your scent and truly personalize your new laundry detergent.

How much detergent you need depends on your load size. If it’s a large load with lots of stains to fight, try 1 to 3 tablespoons.

What the Ingredients Do

Adjust the amount of each ingredient you include in your recipe based on what you need most from a detergent. Washing soda is a very alkaline/basic powder that easily removes stubborn stains from laundry. It’s sometimes hard to find, but you can make your own from baking soda— a super common kitchen ingredient you already use in baking and cleaning. This white powder softens the clothes as well as brightens, deodorizes, and cleans at the same time. You know Epsom salts best as a foot or bath soak. This mineral helps dislodge dirt and changes the water chemistry a bit, too.

Laundry soap does the lion’s share of the cleaning, of course. Blogger A Lovely Homemade Life says she makes a triple batch of her recipe and uses two different soap bars. She says the combo smells fantastic—no essential oils are necessary. Finally, the citric acid could help get stains out, while you possible could use it afterward to descale your washing machine.

What else do you do with your bar soap beyond the shower? What’s your favorite homemade detergent recipe? Tell us on Twitter!

Image source: Pixabay

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Making DIY laundry detergent cuts down on the waste, pollution, and chemicals your family often ends up wearing after a wash with store-bought material. Using just a few easy-to-find ingredients, you can have a batch of your very own, natural laundry soap. Even add some essential oils to your batch to customize your detergent's scent.