Homemade Laundry Soap {Borax Free!}

Doing laundry is a necessary evil, but you don’t have to make it worse by using toxic chemicals, dyes, and other irritants in your laundry soap! I know a lot of companies are working to make greener, more environmentally friendly versions of their laundry detergents, but I feel like it’s better to go homemade, especially if your homemade laundry detergent is cheaper, completely non-toxic, and cleans just as well!

Homemade laundry soap recipe, borax free

I don’t want to get into a debate about whether commercial laundry detergents are potentially harmful; you can form your own opinions about that! Instead I’m going to share my homemade borax free laundry soap recipe and tell you why my husband and I absolutely love it, and will never go back to commercial laundry soap ever again!

You know exactly what’s in your homemade laundry soap!

Commercial detergents have a lot of potentially irritating or harmful ingredients in them. Even the ones labeled as “green”, “clear”, or “dye and irritant free” don’t seem to be as non-toxic as you would hope. It worries me that these detergents are marketed to moms and families as “safe” when they might still be harmful.

I’m no scientist, and it seems there are conflicting reports about just how harmful these ingredients are. So all I can do is look into it myself and form my own opinions. But I feel it’s always better to be safe than sorry; it can’t hurt to use a homemade laundry detergent where you know and trust the ingredients over one you’re not sure about!

This laundry soap is borax free!

A common ingredient in many homemade laundry soaps is borax, but borax is another one of those controversial ingredients. The research I’ve seen is split as to whether borax is completely safe or whether it has potentially harmful side effects. So again, all I can do is form my own opinions. But, my opinion is that if I can make a homemade laundry soap without borax that works just as well, there is no reason to use a potentially harmful ingredient!

It cleans just as well as commercial detergent, or better!

We actually think that our homemade laundry soap does a MUCH better job than commercial detergent! The commercial soap definitely got our clothes clean and got stains out of our laundry, but so does the homemade soap. And with the homemade soap, our whites appear whiter and colors appear brighter! Our clothes just seemed dingy when we used commercial soap, but now that we’ve switched, every single load comes out completely clean, smelling fresh, and looking bright!

I haven’t purposely dirtied up a t-shirt with grass stains or coffee to run an actual test between the two detergents, but I do laundry often enough that I know when my clothes come out of the dryer cleaner than normal!

It’s less expensive to make your own laundry detergent!

The commercial detergent we used to buy costs about $16 for a 50 oz bottle that claims it will clean 32 loads of laundry. So that’s about 51 cents per load. That’s not horribly expensive, but this homemade laundry detergent only costs 13 cents per load!

Here’s the cost breakdown of the ingredients: (I bought all of my ingredients in bulk through Amazon, affiliate links below)

So this laundry soap costs $7.72 to make one batch, and I can get anywhere from 30 to 60 loads of laundry done with one batch, depending on whether I use 1 T or 2 T per load. I use 1 T per load normally, which would make it 13 cents per load. But I use 2 T per load for extremely dirty laundry, which happens every once in a while. :-p But even if I used 2 T for every single load of laundry we do, the total cost works out to only 26 cents per load, which is still 50% cheaper than store bought!

The savings are somewhere between 25 and 38 cents per load. So if you do four loads of laundry per week, that adds up to a yearly savings of $52 to $79!!! $52 might not make or break your yearly budget, but there are tons of other benefits to making your own laundry soap, so the financial incentive is just icing on the cake!

Homemade Borax Free Laundry Detergent

Are you convinced yet?! If you want to make your own borax free laundry soap, here’s what you need:

NOTE: I’ve seen recipes call for regular glycerin soap (pictured below), but I found Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile soap cuts the grease better!

Homemade laundry soap recipe, borax free

Grate the bar of soap finely. I used the grating attachment on my Cuisinart and it worked perfectly! If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the bar of soap by hand; just make sure it’s grated pretty finely.

Homemade laundry soap recipe, borax free

Put the grated soap in a large bowl, add all of the other ingredients, and stir to combine. If it gets a little clumpy as you stir, you can use a pastry blender to break up the clumps.

Homemade laundry soap recipe, borax free

Pour the laundry soap into an airtight container for storage. You’ll also want to add a desiccant to keep the soap from clumping up; you can learn how to make one yourself here!

Homemade laundry soap recipe, borax free

This laundry soap actually looks a lot like the homemade detox bath that I use, and they’re both stored in the same jars, so I made a cute little label to help us tell them apart! I found this awesome French typography label at the Graphics Fairy, and I made a few modifications so that the words all had to do with laundry. I even added instructions at the bottom so we remember how many tablespoons to use per load!

Homemade laundry soap recipe, borax free

If you’re doing regular-sized loads of laundry, use 1 tablespoon of laundry soap per load. If you’re doing a large load, or your clothes are extra dirty, use 2 tablespoons per load.

Have you ever tried homemade laundry detergent before? Did you like it? What about other homemade cleaning products? I still love the homemade grout cleaner I made last year; it works great on all our tile!

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Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Selene Galindo says

    7 years ago

    Hi! Stopping by from Work it Wednesday!
    I’ve been meaning to try a homemeade laundry soap recipe! I love the idea of using chemical free ingredients..
    Thanks for sharing yours!

  2. Jessica says

    7 years ago

    I’m curious, since citric acid is a GMO, could there be a substitute? I’m trying to find both laundry and dishwashing detergent without citric acid AND borax. No success as of yet, but this one is a step in the right direction!

    • Jessica says

      7 years ago

      I should say *MOST citric acid is a GMO

      • Jessica says

        7 years ago

        Thank you! I definitely haven’t thoroughly looked for non-GMO citric acid, and now I don’t have to! 🙂

      • Jessica says

        7 years ago

        Although, even that, as I look closer, is derived from GMO corn. I will search, however, and see what I come up with.

  3. EyeCandyPopper says

    7 years ago

    I’ve been meaning to make my own detergent, and I too, am split on the subject of Borax, so this is great! I wonder if this is okay to use in a front-load washer though??

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Our washers are top loaders, so I don’t know for sure, but I imagine if there’s a spot to put powdered detergent in, then it’s ok!

  4. Jane says

    7 years ago

    I’ve used the same formula for detergent as you, but instead of glycerine soap I’ve used white Zote because it contains coconut oil, an excellent surfactant. Kirk’s Castile also contains coconut oil, but is heavily perfumed and I can’t use it. I’m currently experimenting with using the dry ingredients and also adding half a tablespoon of a liquid to the washer, Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Baby Mild Castile Soap instead of bar soap.

    So far, no matter how I’ve experimented, I haven’t been quite as satisfied with the homemade formula as I have been with my old standby, Nellie’s.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      I love using Dr. Bronner’s bar soap in this recipe! Cleans great and smells wonderful. 🙂

      • Jane says

        7 years ago

        I haven’t tried Dr. Bronner’s bar soap yet. Maybe that will be my next experiment…

    • Meagan says

      7 years ago

      Jane – Kirk’s makes a fragrance free bar soap! I use it in my detergent.

    • Stephi Anderson says

      7 years ago

      Jane–I’ve had trouble with homemade laundry soap, and I’ve learned it is because of the hard water here. Nothing soap-based works with the mineral content, because it leaves a residue that made my laundry progressively more dingy over the course of six months. I’d be interested in a detergent that is soap-free, if I could find one.

      • Jessi Wohlwend says

        7 years ago

        I definitely noticed a dingy build up on clothes when I made a batch using a glycerin soap (we live in Chicago, so we have really hard water too), but when I switched to using the castile soap the laundry detergent worked much better and didn’t leave that build up anymore!

        • Carrie says

          6 years ago

          Does it have to be Dr Bronner’s or can you also use Kirk’s castile? By the way I have been using your recipe for 3 months and I LOVE it and have shared it with many friends. THANK YOU!

          • Jessi Wohlwend says

            6 years ago

            Aww you’re welcome, so glad to hear you like the recipe!!! And any castile soap will work, I just personally like Dr. Bronner’s and it’s easy to find around here. 🙂

      • Liz Burke says

        5 years ago

        Has anyone tried it yet with front loading HE washer? I’d love to try this, if it works!

  5. Petra Germany says

    7 years ago

    What’s the weight of the glycerin soap bar ? I can find bars around 75 to 100 g in amazon.

      • Mary says

        7 years ago

        Have you ever made this into a liquid detergent?

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          7 years ago

          No, I haven’t ever tried it as a liquid, but I think you could pretty easily convert this recipe to liquid if you want! Usually the liquid laundry detergent recipes I’ve seen still say grate the bar of soap but then add it to a bunch of water in a pan on the stove and heat and stir until completely dissolved. Then just fill a jug most of the way with extremely hot water and add the liquid soap and the rest of the ingredients and stir until it’s completely dissolved. I don’t know the exact amounts of water to add to this specific recipe to make it liquid, but I’m sure you could find out by finding a homemade liquid detergent recipe with similar quantities of dry ingredients. If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

        • Stephi Anderson says

          7 years ago

          I use citric acid in my dishwasher detergent, and when I tried to make into into a liquid by dissolving the whole batch in water at once, it hardened and shattered the mason jar it was in. :/ However, dissolving the appropriate amount in water right before adding to your load does improve the effectiveness of powder, whether for your laundry or dishes. 😉

          • Jessi Wohlwend says

            7 years ago

            Citric acid is definitely helpful in areas with hard water, and you’re right, it works great for dishes too!

  6. Kim says

    7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this. For front loaders needing “he” detergent, would you recommend using the same amount (1-2 Tbsp) per load?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      I think so, but I’m not 100% sure. I’ve never had a washer that needed HE detergent, so I don’t know. I think the point of HE detergent is that you can use less soap and get the same results, so maybe start with 1T and see how it goes. 🙂

  7. Cayla says

    7 years ago

    Does this stuff harden up? Ive made dishwashing detergent before with citric acid and washing soda in it, and it turned rockhard.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Yep, it definitely can get lumpy or even become solid! But I stuck a desiccant in ours and it’s been perfectly fine for more than six months, so that seems to work just fine! I mentioned it in the post, but I have a tutorial going up tomorrow for how to make your own desiccant and what you can use them for, but you can also just save some of those little silica gel packs that come in beef jerky or new shoes and those will work great too!

      • Cindy says

        4 years ago

        I was excited to have all ingredients, and made mine today! I put a desiccant in it and it’s rock hard. Not even sure I can get it out of the jar. Any ideas how to separate it?

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          4 years ago

          Bummer! You can always take a butter knife and stab at it a bit to break it back up. I keep mine in a plastic tupperware with a desiccant packet I made and I haven’t had any issues with it turning solid. What kind of desiccant and jar are you using?

    • Jane says

      7 years ago

      I had the same problem with dishwashing detergent, then I read a tip: Leave the detergent container open for several days, stirring occasionally. Eventually it stops clumping. It’s surprising, but it actually works.

  8. Vanessa says

    7 years ago

    I’m so using your recipe once my youngest is out of cloth diapers!

    • David Skidmore says

      7 years ago

      Is this laundry detergent recipe not safe to use on cloth diapers?

      • Jessi Wohlwend says

        7 years ago

        Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with cloth diapers, so I can’t really say for sure. 🙁 This recipe doesn’t use Borax or Fels Naptha soap, which I have heard can cause issues with cloth diapers, and are just harsh on all clothing in general. But I have read that any pure soap (bar soap, castile soap, Fels Naptha, etc.) can cause issues, and this recipe uses castile soap. However, I’ve also read about people who didn’t have any issues using some of the gentler pure soaps. So I really don’t know, but if it’s true that *any* kind of pure soap, no matter how harsh or gentle, causes wear and tear on diapers or causes pinpoint holes in diapers, than I wouldn’t use this recipe for them because of the castile soap. Sorry I can’t be more help!

        • Lynn says

          6 years ago

          I haven’t washed cloth diapers for 2 years BUT on several of the cloth diaper sites (where you purchase them) it says to use sea salt as a disinfectant. Always double check. You can google “washing cloth diapers” to find out for sure, but I would think it would be fine just use the unscented soap.

  9. Lisa T says

    7 years ago

    I love your label! What did you print it on and how did you get it on your jar?
    Thanks,
    Lisa

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      I printed it on clear sticker paper and then used my cameo to cut it out! You can get their clear sticker paper online at the Silhouette store. 🙂

      • Ann Hogan says

        6 years ago

        I love this recipe!! Thank you so much. Now for my ignorant question. I love the way you changed the label from the Graphics Fairy to suit your product!! How would I go about doing this? Sorry, I am not very computer savvy but I absolutely love your label.

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          6 years ago

          Haha, that’s not an ignorant question Ann; I do a lot of photo editing, so sometimes I forget to mention the specifics! I opened the graphic in my photo editing software, erased parts of it, and typed new text over in a new layer. Most photo editing programs can do that, like Photoshop, etc. Or if you want an online version that can handle it, I really like Pixlr Express. It’s free and it’s online, and it can definitely erase pieces of the graphic and allow you to add more/different text to it!

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