How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

How to Make Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

I started making my own laundry detergent to save money and for the health of my family. This recipe is definitely a cost savings, much better for us than commercial detergents, easy to make, and it really works! I wash a lot of pee soaked toddler bedding and soiled cloth diaper wipes, and this detergent gets them all super clean.

*I like using the liquid laundry detergent better because it lasts longer, and since the soap has been previously dissolved, it works better, but you could also just not add water and use it dry (just make sure you’re washing with hot water).

Ingredients for Homemade Laundry Detergent

Ingredients for Homemade Laundry Detergent

Ingredients

  • 1 Bar of Soap: I like to use Dr. Bronner’s Lavendar Castile Soap or Kirk’s Natural Castile Soap, which is a little cheaper.
  • 1 c. Washing Soda: Get some here or find it in the laundry aisle at your grocery store for about $3.50.
  • 1 c. Borax: Get some here or find it in the laundry aisle at your grocery store for about $3.50.
  • Cheese Grater: I like using this stainless steel stand up grater.
  • 2 Quart Pot Filled with Water
  • 1 5-Gallon Bucket: Get one here.
  • *Oxygen Booster Get some here. You can add this separately to your wash cycle to get whites whiter.
  • *Fels Naptha: Get some here. This works really well to get out tough stains. You can add a grated bar to this recipe to make it really powerful, or just grate some up in a bucket of hot water to soak the stained garment.

Directions for Liquid Laundry Detergent

  1. Boil Water: I like using a two quart pot, but really any size will do.
  2. Prepare the Soap: Use a cheese grater to grate an entire bar of soap. You could also just cut the soap into chunks using a knife or cut it coarsely and put it into a food processor. You just want it to dissolve into the boiling water.

    Grated Soap for Laundry Detergent

    Grated Soap for Laundry Detergent

  3. Add Ingredients: Add the soap to the boiling water and “cook” until it dissolves. You can add the washing soda and borax at any time.
  4. 5-Gallon Bucket: Fill a 5-gallon bucket with hot water and add the 2 quarts of dissolved soap, washing soda, and borax.

    5-Gallon Bucket Filled with Liquid Laundry Detergent

    5-Gallon Bucket Filled with Liquid Laundry Detergent

  5. Cover: Cover and let sit overnight. Stir the next day. Stir every few days until it reaches a gelatinous consistency.

    liquid laundry detergent

    Liquid Laundry Detergent

  6. Pour into Containers: I like to use a cup and a funnel to pour the detergent into an old detergent jar from the store. You could also use gallon size jugs or just use the detergent right out of your 5-gallon bucket.

    Use a Cup and Funnel to Transfer the Laundry Detergent to a Smaller Container

    Transferring the Detergent to a Smaller Container

  7. Use: I do a lot of laundry and a lot of big dirty loads, so I usually use 1 cup per load, for smaller less soiled loads, you could use ½ cup. Sometimes I use the cap from the old laundry detergent container and sometimes I just glug some into the washer.

(To make a dry laundry soap, just mix the dry ingredients together and don’t add water, store in a mason jar, and use 2 tablespoons per load. I personally feel like the liquid soap is better and lasts longer, however.)

FAQs

  • What about HE washers? This detergent isn’t very sudsy and should work just fine in HE washers.
  • Why hot water? The next time you make some hamburger patties, try running your hands under some cold water to get them clean. Doesn’t work so good, does it? Now try adding some soap. Still doesn’t work too good. Now try rinsing your hands with warm to hot water. Pretty cool, huh? Now, try adding a little soap to some warmish hot water and notice how your hands are finally clean. Keep this in mind when doing laundry. 🙂
  • Why washing soda? The high alkalinity of washing soda helps it act as a solvent to remove a range of stains. You can heat baking soda to make your own washing soda.
  • Why borax? Borax works by converting some water to hydrogen peroxide which increases the effectiveness of other cleaners. This chemical reaction works best in hot water. There is some debate as to how “green” Borax is, but it’s just a laundry booster, so you could skip it entirely and this would still be a good recipe.
  • Why soap? Soap is an emulsifier which means that it can suspend oil and dirt in a way that it can be removed.
  • How much does it cost? If you buy the washing soda and borax at your local grocery store and get some good organic soap online (Like Dr. Bronner’s) I figured out the cost of each 5 gallon bucket to be about $3 for 80 loads of laundry (if you use 1 cup per load), which is about $0.04 per load.
  • What about really soiled clothes? If I have something with really tough stains, I keep a stain remover stick like this around to pretreat the stain. Then I grate up some Fels Naptha (about a quarter cup grated) along with a cup of my liquid detergent to a small bucket with really hot water. Then I soak the soiled garment for at least 20 minutes or so. I have not encountered any stain that couldn’t be removed this way.

    Soaking a Stain Away

    Soaking a Stain Away

Dryer Tips

  • The Harm of Dryer SheetsIn addition to being made with a laundry list of toxic chemicals with negative side effects, the artificial fragrances are a carcinogen and coat all of your clothes.
  • White Vinegar: I like to add ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to reduce static cling. Don’t worry, it won’t make your clothes smell like vinegar at all!
  • Dryer Balls: We have also eliminated the use of dryer sheets by using these dryer balls. They are supposed to soften the clothes.
  • But honestly, I usually don’t typically add anything to my dryer (because of time really), and I just deal with what little static cling there is. 🙂

The History of Laundry Detergent

Did you know that the use of “laundry detergent” as we know it today took off because during WWII the fats and oils used to make soap were needed to manufacture nitro-glycerine into explosives? Another source had to be used, and that’s when the synthetic form of laundry detergent using a base of petroleum became widespread. (Read more about the history here.)

Harmful Ingredients in Commercial Laundry Detergents

  1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate  – Used as a surfactant (lowers the surface tension between a liquid and a solid – helps the water to get everything wet), detergent, and emulsifier in thousands of industrial cleaners and cosmetic products including shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, and laundry detergents. 16,000 studies have been published showing the dangers of this chemical including irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endrocine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes, along with possible mutations and cancer.
  2. Dioxane – It’s not really an ingredient, but rather a byproduct of ethoxylation which combines low sudsing ingredients with ethylene oxide to produce softer detergents that produce more suds. It has been found in about 2/3 of all detergents (excluding USDA certified organic brands). It has been found to cause cancer and to be potentially toxic to the brain, nervous system, kidneys, liver, and respiratory system.
  3. Nonylphenol Ethoxylate – An inexpensive nonionic surfactant that is an endrocine disruptor and estrogen mimicker that can potentially cause hormonal problems or even cancer. It has also been shown to cause kidney and liver damage, decreased testicular growth and sperm count, disrupted growth and metabolism, and increased mortality.
  4. Phosphates – They break down the dirt particles and remove stains by softening the water and allowing suds to form, but they can cause nausea, diarrhea, and skin irritations in humans, and they are difficult to remove from wastewater and often end up in rivers and streams where they increase algae growth which starves the animal life of oxygen. 40 states have currently issued phosphate detergent bans.
  5. Other Harmful Ingredients: Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates, petroleum distillates (which have been linked to cancer), phenols (which can cause toxicity throughout the entire body), optical brighteners (which cause bacterial mutations and allergic reactions, and can be toxic to fish), sodium hypochlorite (bleach), ethylene-diamino-tetra-acetate, and artificial fragrances (which have been linked to various toxic effects on fish and animals, as well as allergic reactions in humans). (Source)

In Conclusion

Making your own laundry detergent is really easy once you get in the habit of it. With a large family and the high cost of laundry detergent, this has been very helpful for our budget. Not only that, but it is a definite health improvement from using the commercial toxic laden detergents. If you’re convinced to make your own laundry detergent, but you don’t have the time (or desire), you can buy some that I’ve made at my Etsy shop! You can use it dry or use it to make the liquid version by boiling the contents in a quart pan and then adding it to a 5 gallon bucket of water. It will make enough detergent to get you through about 80 loads.

laundry detergen etsy

Homemade Dry Laundry Detergent

For Further Reading

Are You Poisoning Your Household With This Chore?” by Dr. Mercola – A very in depth look at why commercial laundry detergent is bad that cites many more sources for even further reading.

*You might also like my articles about:

Homemade Diaper Wipe Solution

I have had every intention of using cloth diapers, but with two and sometimes three in diapers at a time and one particularly sensitive child prone to very bad diaper rashes, it just hasn’t worked out for me. But using cloth wipes and making my own diaper wipe solution has been an easy to maintain and cost effective home solution for me.

Ingredients: 

  • ¼ c. Olive Oil (Helps to slide away the waste.)
  • 2 T. Weleda Calendula Soap (Any soap will work.)
  • 5-10 Drops of Lavender Oil (Adds a fresh scent.)
  • 5-10 Drops of Tea Tree Oil (Great for treating yeasty diaper rashes.)

Directions:

  1. In a small bottle (I use an old glass pizza sauce jar), mix a concentrated version of this mixture that’s about ¾ full of water to mix as needed into a larger container.
  2. I like to use an old diaper wipe container or a tupperware container to put the solution in.
  3. First pour in a glug of olive oil. (It doesn’t need to be extra virgin, any oil will help the sticky messes to slide away).
  4. Then add a generous squirt of soap (For my newborns I like using Weleda Calendula, but for budgetary reasons, I usually just end up using hand soap)
  5. Next add few drops of tea tree oil (This is a great anti-fungal and I used it when my son was getting a bunch of yeasty diaper rashes.)
  6. Then add a few drops of lavender oil. (This just helps it to smell good.)

ragsCloth Wipes: I love using these Bumkin Reusable Cloth Wipes. When I got them on Amazon, they were $8.15 for 12. I ended up buying 36 and that seemed a good amount to only have to wash about once a week for two kids at a time in diapers. (Note: Do not use dryer sheets, they will prevent the wipes from absorbing.) What I do is dip the cloth in the solution, wring it out, and use as needed. I also like to have some thinner cloth diapers around to give a dry wipe afterwards to prevent too much moisture from accumulating.

Diaper Rash: If we do have a diaper rash problem, I LOVE using this Weleda Diaper Cream. It’s kind of expensive at $9.09 for 2.8 oz., but a little bit goes a long way!

How to Make Squeezable Remineralizing Toothpaste

How to Make Squeezable Remineralizing Toothpaste

I started making my own toothpaste because I got sick of my kids trying to eat the expensive sugar laden little tubes of the My Little Pony and Spiderman infant brand fluoride-free toothpaste. So, I researched a bunch of recipes, did a lot of experimenting, got some feedback from family and friends, and finally settled on this recipe. And let me tell you, this recipe is simply amazing! It cleans our teeth, keeps them white and stain free, prevents tartar build up, and is liked by everyone in the house. But most importantly, we can use it liberally without concern of ingesting any harmful ingredients found in commercial toothpastes. (*See more info on this at the end.)

Ingredients

This will make enough to fill one 4 oz. container. I actually like making mine in bulk, so instead of tablespooons, I’ll use cups for my measurements. 🙂 A good rule of thumb is: 4 parts coconut oil (with a splash of olive oil) and 4 parts diatomaceous earth, baking soda, and calcium carbonate. Then add stevia and peppermint extract to taste.

  • 4 T. Coconut Oil (Anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal)
  • 1 t. Olive Oil (I only use this when making my squeeze tube version because it helps to keep it soft.)
  • 1 T. Baking Soda (Slightly abrasive, gently cleanses, tastes salty)
  • 1 T. Diatomaceous Earth (Slightly abrasive, gently cleanses, kills parasites, no flavor)
  • 2 T. Calcium Carbonate (Remineralizes teeth)
  • 1 T. Hot Water (This will help to melt the coconut oil and provide the perfect texture for squeezable toothpaste.)
  • 5-10 drops Liquid Stevia (A sugar free sweetener)
  • 5 drops Peppermint Extract (Adds flavor)

*Note: For the most basic tooth cleaner, you can just use baking soda, the next step up would be to use coconut oil and baking soda. The rest of the ingredients are really an added bonus depending on your taste, preference, and needs.

My Toothpaste Making Station

My Toothpaste Making Station

Ingredient Notes

  • Baking Soda: Not only does slightly abrasive powder help to eliminate plaque, it also whitens your teeth, helps eliminates harmful bacteria, and encourages a more alkaline (rather than acidic) environment in your mouth. (Read more here about the benefits of baking soda.)
  • Diatomaceous Earth: This is slightly abrasive just like the baking soda, but without the salty taste and with the added benefit of killing parasites in the digestive tract by shredding and dehydrating them.
  • Calcium Carbonate: If you have active decay, demineralization (indicated by white spots), or sensitive teeth, then this ingredient is for you! This alone will not remineralize your teeth as much as diet, however, so check out this amazing book by Ramiel Nagel called Cure Tooth Decay to learn how eating a healthy diet based on Weston Price principles (such as avoiding processed foods and adding nutrient dense foods to your diet like pastured meat and eggs as well as raw milk and properly prepared grains). Increased saliva also helps to keep teeth clean, and chewing this Trident Recaldent Sugar-Free Calcium Gum might help you to do that while getting some extra minerals.
  • Coconut Oil: Ok, so the benefits of coconut oil are so vast, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about them. (Check out this article if you want to learn more.) Basically, coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and gives the toothpaste a nice creamy consistency.
  • Stevia: Stevia is derived from plant in South America called Stevia Rebaudiana. It is extremely sweet, so not much is needed and it’s calorie (and sugar) free. Some people like using xylitol, which extracted from fruits and vegetables and also calorie free, but it’s just a personal preference. (Read more about stevia versus xylitol here.)
  • Peppermint Extract: This gives the toothpaste it’s nice minty flavor, but you could use cinnamon or orange depending on your taste preference. I used to use peppermint oil in my recipe, but I just don’t think it’s the best idea to ingest essential oils, so now I look in the baking aisle.

    Freshly Whipped Toothpaste

    Freshly Whipped Toothpaste

Directions

  1. Mix the coconut oil, olive oil, h0t water, baking soda, diatomaceous earth, and calcium carbonate until creamy. You can mix by hand, but I usually like using beaters, until it’s nice and creamy.
  2. Add the stevia and peppermint extract to taste.
  3. I like using this baby food making system to store my squeezable toothpaste. You could also use small glass canning jars or even a disposable storage container. I basically just scoop the toothpaste into the containers, remove as much air as I can, rinse under hot water, remove even more air, and dry.
  4. To use, add a pea sized amount to your toothbrush and use like you would any other toothpaste.

Tips and Tricks

  • Even though I try to mask it as much as I can with the other ingredients, the baking soda has a salty taste to it that you may notice at first. If this bothers you, either start with a very small amount at first or mix with some other toothpaste that you have as you transition away from it. This might be really helpful for young children.
  • This toothpaste doesn’t foam or lather, so you may want to dip a little more on your toothbrush before you finish brushing to get your teeth extra clean.
  • For some reason, we all tend to drool a lot when using this, so you may want to make sure you’re standing over a sink.
  • Although it’s a pretty hard habit to break, you don’t have to spit this toothpaste out. The diatomaceous earth kills parasites and the coconut oil is anti-fungal, so by swallowing this toothpaste on a regular basis, you can help to prevent and eliminate any candida or parasite issues.

The Most Important Reason to Avoid Commercial Toothpaste…Fluoride!

By making our own toothpaste, we can avoid the worst toxin of all – sodium flouride, which is a toxic chemical that has not even been proven to prevent tooth decay. If you look at your tube of Crest toothpaste, it actually says to contact poison control if more than the amount needed to brush your teeth is ingested. If a 2 year old were to ingest 42% of a tube of toothpaste, it would kill him.

Among other things, ingesting too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, which can permanently discolor the teeth, (especially children who have yet to get their permanent teeth), cause damage to the brain and alter mental behavior, result in a lowered IQ, produce impairment of the pineal gland which is linked to early onset puberty, lowers thyroid function, causes arthritis, damages the bones, and causes reproductive failures.

Other Harmful Ingredients Found in Commercial Toothpaste

  • Triclosan – An antibacterial compound found in antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, deodorant, and many other household products that can lead to disruption of the thyroid hormone and endrocine system and creates a dangerous antibiotic and bacterial resistance. Many companies are banning its use.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – A foaming agent that is present in nearly all shampoos, laundry detergents, and toothpastes that can lead to organ, reproductive, and neural toxicity, endrocine disruption, cellular mutations and changes, and even cancer.
  • DEA (diethanolomine) – Formulated into soaps, detergents and surfactants, it has been linked with kidney, liver, and other organ damage according to several government-funded research studies, and has been proven to cause cancer in rats when applied to the skin.
  • Propylene Glycol – A colorless, viscous, hygroscopic liquid used in anti-freeze solutions, in brake and hydraulic fluids, as a de-icer, and as a solvent. It’s even found in some pet foods, processed foods and cosmetics, toothpastes, shampoos, deodorants and lotions. It is implicated in contact dermatitis, kidney damage and liver abnormalities. It can inhibit skin cell growth in human tests, can cause gastro-intestinal disturbances, nausea, headache and vomiting, central nervous system depression and can damage cell membranes causing rashes, dry skin and surface damage.

In Conclusion

If you are considering making your own toothpaste, but you’d like to try some out first, or if you like the idea of homemade toothpaste, but you just don’t have the time to make it, check out my Etsy shop, and you can buy some of my squeezable remineralizing all natural toothpaste for $8 each!

Remineralizing All Natural Toothpaste Pouches

Remineralizing All Natural Toothpaste

Further Reading:

Ruby and Elliot Helping Me Make Toothpaste

Ruby and Elliot Helping Me Make Toothpaste