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. Charlotte says

    12 months ago

    Hello,
    I got confused and put bicarbonate of soda instead of baking soda 🙁
    Is there anyway I could still use the obtained mix or should it go to waste instead?
    #feelingsilly

    Thanks,

    Charlotte

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      3 months ago

      Bicarb soda is the same thing as baking soda! Baking powder is a different thing altogether, but you should be just fine with what you did. 🙂

  2. Hana says

    1 year ago

    Hi,

    I can’t wait to try this 🙂
    Does this keep for a while or does it have to be thrown out after some time?
    By any chance, have you tried adding essential oils to the mixture? I’m wondering if it would clump..

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      3 months ago

      In theory it keeps forever, as long as it doesn’t clump up from moisture in the air. But it doesn’t “go bad” or anything like that. And it is possible to add essential oils without it clumping up, but you need to add them one drop at a time and then stir vigorously to make sure it gets mixed in without clumping.

  3. Nikki says

    1 year ago

    I’ve been using this recipe now for about two weeks. And although it gets out the scents in most of my clothes, it hasn’t with my families when it comes to sunscreen and armpits of.deodrant smells. I even tried an extra scoop in the wash. Just to make sure I went back and used a Tide liquid soap we still had for a load and that took the stains and smells out. Do have any suggestions to make this recipe stronger or just a solution to helping me get out the smells and stains cause k really don’t want to go back to Tide and similar products. Thanks!

  4. Rachel Drapac says

    3 years ago

    Where did you get your jars? I cannot seem to find a jar that is more than 12-16 oz!

      • Rizza says

        2 years ago

        I have a water softener installed in my house. Is the salt still necessary? If so, can I substitute Kosher for sea salt?

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          2 months ago

          Kosher salt is totally fine as a substitute for sea salt! And I think if the water softener softens the water that goes to your washing machine, then it’s fine to skip it. Some water softener systems are set up just for the bathrooms and kitchens and don’t actually touch the water that goes directly to things like the washing machine or the outdoor hose bibs, etc.

  5. Courtney says

    3 years ago

    Could I sub soap flakes for the bar of soap? I have some from a different recipe, and I find they integrate better than the grated soap. thanks!

  6. Laura says

    4 years ago

    Hi, would this also be working on not so high temperature loads (like 30°C – 85°F)?

  7. Renee V. says

    4 years ago

    Questions:

    What is the purpose of the coarse seal salt? I don’t see that ingredient listed in any of the other homemade soap recipes I have seen.

    I am puzzled by the small amount suggested to use (1 or 2 TBL). I have seen that amount listed on other sites for other variations of homemade laundry soap recipes. But the instructions on both the washing soda and baking soda boxes is to use 1/2 cup of either in addition to any laundry detergent you might use. How then can you get away with only 1 or 2 Tbl of the detergent mixture, which would mean only a couple of teaspoons of each of the washing soda and baking soda ingredients? I would think you would need 1/4 cup of each in addition to the other ingredients in order to be consistent with the Arm & Hammer instructions for their two products.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      I like to add the salt in my detergent as a water softener because of how hard our water is here in Chicago. But if you don’t have hard water you can skip the salt, or just replace it with more washing soda for more cleaning power!

      As for the amount, 1-2 Tbsp is all I’ve ever needed. And I don’t really know about the instructions on the boxes, but I think normally when you add washing soda or baking soda to your normal laundry along with your detergent, it’s as a booster, so maybe for really really dirty clothes. I’m sure that it works on super dirty clothes when you follow those instructions to use them as a booster, but it also works just fine as a replacement for regular laundry detergent in regular laundry loads.

      • Renee V. says

        4 years ago

        Thanks for your reply.

        One more question. What does the citric acid do and is it necessary?

        I did get some and was using it in the mix, but then I ran out and now I am using the other ingredients without the citric acid.

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          4 years ago

          Citric acid is another thing that helps soften hard water, and it also acts as a foaming agent. Your soap should work without it, but it helps aerate the soap in the water and make it all foam up, which helps the other ingredients get everything cleaner, so if you can find some, I would add it back in. You can find it online or at places like Whole Foods.

  8. thomas l stoodley says

    4 years ago

    Hello

    Would this recipe work in High efficiency washers…

    I look to your reply

    thanks
    thomas

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      I haven’t tried it myself in an HE washer, but many people have commented that it works just fine! Just make sure you use a small amount so it doesn’t over-suds. You can do a search on this page for “HE” and you should be able to find a few other comments on the issue.

  9. Dina says

    4 years ago

    Hi, I am from Singapore! I am using a 8kg front load washing machine & it’s usually full load. My question is how many tablespoons should I put in? My previous commercial bought powder detergent, we usually put quite a bit so for tha recipe, 1 tbs seems very little. Thks!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      4 years ago

      I would still try 1 Tbsp or 2 Tbsp and see how it goes! This soap is a lot more concentrated than commercial laundry detergent; I normally use about 4 Tbsp of commercial detergent for a regular load but only 1 Tbsp of this homemade stuff. Try it with just one or two and see how it works, you can always add more next time if it’s not quite clean enough! You just don’t want too much soap or your machine will overflow with suds, or there will be too much soap to really rinse out of your clothes and you’ll be left with a soap scum layer on your clothes.

  10. Steph says

    5 years ago

    Can I use the same washing method for a foam pillow?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Hmm, I don’t know! I would worry that the foam would come apart a bit in the washing machine, but if you check the tags on the pillow and it says it’s washable, then you should be able to do it this way!

  11. Lisa McMann says

    5 years ago

    With the drought in California, we are watering a tree we are trying to save, and the lawn under it, using only laundry water in the summer. The greywater advocates recommend that you use biodegradable laundry detergent without salt in it if you are watering lawns, as the salt can build up and kill plants. (They also say borax will kill your lawn.) You mention experimenting, but it seems that the salt in this recipe is important for cleaning. Has anyone asked about greywater friendly laundry detergent recipes?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      I don’t know of any offhand, but you can certainly modify this recipe to make it greywater friendly if you want!

  12. mary dye says

    5 years ago

    Is this laundry soap able to be used in an HE washer?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      We don’t have an HE washer so I don’t have personal experience, but someone else left a comment here saying that they used it in their HE washer and it worked fine! They said they even used the 2 Tbsp and it was ok.

  13. Jamie says

    5 years ago

    Quick question. I have made this recipe twice . The first time without citric acid because I didn’t have any and the second time with. I have read how it clumps but I didn’t realize that this would happen right away. If I already have it in jars can I add the bag to the top of the jar shiuld it begin taking the moisture out or do I need to start over and place the bag in the middle like your tutorial said. I don’t want to have to throw it away if I don’t have too. Also if the people I am making it for don’t have hard water would you still recommend the acid? Thanks

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      You can just add the desiccant to the top of the jars, that won’t be a problem! Or if you’re worried about it (if it’s humid in your home or in their home, perhaps) you can just get a clean bowl, dump half of the detergent out into the bowl, add the desiccant to the jar, then pour the detergent back in on top so that the desiccant is in the middle. And the citric acid is just a cleaning boost; the detergent will work just fine without it, it’s just especially helpful for those of us with hard water!

  14. Beth says

    5 years ago

    Hi, do you think this recipe can be converted to a liquid using the liquid castile soap and hot water?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Probably! I’ve never tried making liquid laundry detergent before, but if you have a good recipe for it I imagine you can substitute a few things in this recipe and make it work!

  15. Bette says

    5 years ago

    I’m looking forward to making this. How many loads will the mixture do?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      It depends on whether you use 1 tablespoon or 2 tablespoons per load for really dirty laundry, but it’s anywhere from about 30 loads to about 60.

  16. Elena says

    5 years ago

    Hi Jessi,
    Thankd for your recipe, I’m on my second batch and it cleans clothes as I’ve never seen before. ..I use marseille soap i would say it’s a very similar product of the castille soap, I used to make another recipe for years but yours is completely superior. Just a question: this second batch seems to have hardened immediately, while the previous stayed “loose” till the end, any remedy to suggest? Thanks again! Elena from Glasgow, Scotland.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Yeah, that happens a lot with powder like this! I suggest using a desiccant, like the little packets that come in a box of new shoes or purses. There’s a link in the tutorial itself to a homemade desiccant that I use in my laundry soap, and it works great!

  17. Luvena says

    5 years ago

    Hey there Jessie,

    Thanks for sharing this lovely post! Was just wondering if I could use soap flakes instead of castile soaps?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      I haven’t tried soap flakes but they should work fine! The only warning I have is that glycerin soaps tend to not work as well, so it depends on what your soap flakes are made of. When I’ve used glycerin soap in the past it leaves a weird greasy film on all of the clothes after they’re dried.

  18. Diane Swank says

    5 years ago

    Have you ever had a problem with it clumping in the dispenser?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      I just pour my soap straight into the drum while it’s filling and mix it up with the water in there, so I don’t have any experience using the dispenser. But if it’s wet in the dispenser or just humid from the water filling the washer, it probably would clump up a little in there. 🙁

  19. Rebecca says

    5 years ago

    Anyone have a top loader HE machine? I do with an agitator (Cabrio agi) and it fills with much more water that a front loader HE that is for sure. I would think I would have to use more detergent than 2 TB but was wondering if anyone has experience with this? It fills with almost has much water as an old, regular top loader I think, or close to it. Any suggestions?? Thank you so much!

  20. Ali Durkee says

    5 years ago

    PLEASE HELP JESS?! I made your recipe for the laundry detergent and it is hard as a rock! I followed your recipe exactly! Is there anything I can do to rectify?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Aww bummer! Yeah, that happens if it’s humid where you live. That’s why I suggest a desiccant, like those little packets that come in your new shoes or purses. You can also make your own desiccant! I linked to the tutorial in the post above, or here’s the direct link: http://practicallyfunctional.com/17-uses-for-desiccants-how-to-make-your-own/

      If you put a desiccant in there it will unclump after a while. Or break it up with a knife or other utensil and then drop a desiccant in, and it will keep it from clumping up. The DIY tutorial has info on how long desiccants last and how to “refresh” them once they’ve soaked up too much water. Good luck with it!

  21. Rebecca says

    5 years ago

    Has anyone used this in a top loading HE machine? I think they use a bit more water than a front loading HE. I was thinking maybe a 1/4 cup for a large load, 1/2 for a super size load?? Anyone have thoughts on this? Thanks!

  22. Jane says

    5 years ago

    I’ve been making my own laundry soap for over 10 years. My reasoning was mainly to save money and secondly to find something that cleans as well as the big name brands. It has done very well. My question is this: You mentioned that Borax was controversial and has potential side effects but never said what they are. To your health? To your septic system? To your skin, or to inhale? What? I would like more info. All I know is that I have had very clean clothes and my septic system which used to plug up regularly with Tide has not had a problem since I started making my own. It is cheap and it works. Seems to me that your mixture would be expensive enough that I may have to question if it was worth the work instead of just buying detergent. More info please.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      5 years ago

      Borax has possible side effects for your health and your skin; many people are sensitive to it and there are rumors that it causes health issues from simple allergies all the way to impotence or decreased sperm count in men. You can certainly do a Google search to get more accurate answers; there are strong articles written from both sides of the argument. But I figured since it was just as easy to make soap without borax as it is to make it with borax, I might as well just skip it, just in case. 🙂

  23. Elena says

    5 years ago

    Hi! I made your laundry soap last week, using Marseille soap and it works perfectly on long cycles even at 30°, shorter cycles struggle a bit to dissolve it, but I’ll compromise and won’t do short cycles in order to use this soap which is perfect, cleans my clothes very well and the whites are so bright I’m dazzled…thanks so much :*

  24. Dina says

    6 years ago

    Hi, thks for the great recipe! I live in Singapore & alot of the products are not easily avail. Am trying to find the items! Can I ask of fine or coarse sea salt makes any different? Reason is I can only find fine sea salt on iherb!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      It doesn’t matter that much; coarse sea salt just takes a little longer to dissolve so the effects are spread out more, but fine sea salt will work just fine if that’s all you can find!

  25. Kayla Tobin says

    6 years ago

    Hi could this homemade laundry powder be used for nappies? And wont cause a soap build up?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      I haven’t tried it on cloth diapers, but I hear from others that it works well and doesn’t leave a build up! There are a few other comments on this post about cloth diapers, if you want to read what other parents had to say. But sorry, no personal experience because we don’t have kids yet!

  26. CJ says

    6 years ago

    Since Dr.Bonner’s soap has critic acid in it could one leave the citric acid out?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      The amount of citric acid in Dr. Bronner’s is pretty minimal, it’s only used to adjust the pH level. The additional half cup called for in this recipe will help chelate the metals in the water (especially beneficial if you have hard water) which allows the soap to work even more efficiently. But that said, you can make detergent however you want! If you want to try skipping the citric acid and seeing how it works, give it a go, and let me know what happens!

      • CJ says

        6 years ago

        I will try it and let you know. Also how does this detergent compare against Tide and other commercial laundry detergents?

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          6 years ago

          For me it works just as well or better. This homemade version definitely does a better job of cutting grease, so the sweat stains and grease stains on my husband’s clothing come out in just one wash with no pre-treatment necessary. And you use a lot less of it per load, so it ends up being less expensive to do it this way than to keep buying store bought detergents.

  27. clothespin says

    6 years ago

    I live in Texas along the gulf coast, too. I’ve learned that with citric acid – one way to quickly dry it out, especially in our humid clime, is to use the oven.

    I turn the oven on as low as it will go – in my case, 175. I spread the powder out on jelly roll sheets and cake pans and put in the oven. When it’s heated, I turn it off. Stir every 15 minutes or so. You’ll have to experiment with this to see how long it takes… depends on your humidity. I store my powder in my old Charlie’s soap containers but the lock n lock lidded containers would be great, too.

  28. Jeff says

    6 years ago

    I used to make a dishwasher powder that contained citric acid, washing soda and salt plus a few other things and always had an issue with it hardening and clumping together. I live along the Gulf Coast of Texas so the humidity levels are high most of the time. I don’t know that’s the cause since I’ve lived in other parts of Texas with the same results. Have you experienced this issue? If so, how did you resolve it?

      • Jeff says

        6 years ago

        Thank you for the quick response. I am intrigued by this recipe because my wife and I are trying to not only reduce putting things in and on our body of unknown origin, we are trying to reduce our packaging that’s ultimately sent to a recycling center

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          6 years ago

          That is awesome Jeff! I think it’s a great effort to be making! 🙂

  29. Audrey says

    6 years ago

    I can confirm, I made this and used it in my HE machine, and even 2 tablespoons worked just fine. Thanks for the recipe. Ive only done a few loads, so Im not 100% convinced how well it works, but it seems to be ok so far.

  30. Jen says

    6 years ago

    I’m surprised nobody said this yet. And I read EVERY comment, but you actually don’t need to buy baking soda AND washing . You can just bake baking soda and it will become washing soda!!!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      What?! I didn’t know that! How long and how hot do you bake it?

  31. Antoinea says

    6 years ago

    Would it be ok to substitute the bar soap for DR. Bronner’s liquid version??

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      This laundry soap is a dry, powdered soap, which is why the bar soap works so well. I know it’s possible to make homemade liquid laundry soap by mixing in some water, but I don’t know the exact amounts. But yeah, if you want to use the Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap instead of bar soap, I would just do a little research on how to make a liquid laundry soap and then you can add the liquid Dr. Bronner’s to that! I don’t know the exact proportions, but I think you just need to add some water and dissolve everything in the water, so it should be pretty easy to do!

  32. Sheila says

    6 years ago

    Weird question here. Have you noticed any issues with the salt causing any rust in your machine?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      Nope I haven’t! I don’t know about ten years down the road, but I’ve been doing this for a long time and it’s fine so far!

  33. Linda says

    6 years ago

    Thank you. I’m on a well with very hard water. We do use a softener, but minerals are still an issue and my clothes are look dingy and smell stale. I just started using this laundry detergent but I didn’t have the salt or citric acid. Just with the other ingredients plus vinegar in the rinse I’ve noticed that my clothes are much cleaner and softer. Oddly, my towels are actually scratchier and stiffer. I’m only using 1/16 cup of detergent and rinsing with vinegar. Any suggestions for the towels.

    I also have severe allergies and this laundry detergent doesn’t bother me at all; even though, I accidentally bought the scented castille soap. Next time will get unscented. Thanks for the great tips.

  34. Beth Roe says

    6 years ago

    My daughter is allergic to citrus fruits. Is there a difference in citric acid and citrus fruits?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      Citric acid is derived from citrus fruits, so to be safe, I’d stay away from it. But you can make this laundry soap without the citric acid and it will still work just fine!

  35. ElsieEliza says

    6 years ago

    Can I use Epsom salt instead of coarse sea salt?would it be as effective?
    Thanks!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      In terms of the laundry soap, it should work fine! The only thing to be cautious of is that Epsom salts can harden your water, because of the minerals in the salt. You don’t have this issue with sea salt, which is why it’s recommended. If you live in an area with hard water, I might try for coarse sea salt instead, but if you water is pretty soft, it probably won’t hurt to use Epsom salts instead. It definitely won’t hurt your clothing! Just might harden your water a bit. 🙂 I can find coarse sea salt at my local grocery store, so you might look at your local store if you don’t want to try the Epsom salts.

  36. jenny says

    6 years ago

    One more question…why the sea salt?

  37. jenny says

    6 years ago

    I’ll admit right off the bat, I did not read through ALL the comments because there are SO many. So forgive me if you’ve already addressed this question. The detergent I make uses Fels-Naptha bar soap. How does that differ from the bar you use? I’m wondering if yours would be better… Thanks!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      No worries Jenny! As far as effectiveness go, the two soaps are probably the same! The reason I chose Dr. Bronner’s instead is that it’s all natural and Fels-Naptha is not. It’s really just a personal preference though, either one would work in this recipe! (Also Dr. Bronner’s comes plain or scented so you have some options about how you want your laundry to smell! :-p)

      And as for the sea salt, it does a lot of things! It helps brighten faded colors, helps keep colors from bleeding, it can help get rid of yellowing in your whites, and it’s a great stain remover as it helps soak up grease etc. out of your clothes. And you want to use sea salt or any other unrefined salt over table salt (which is refined) because it’s more natural, and the refining process can destroy some of those good minerals.

  38. Emily says

    6 years ago

    Love this! Can’t wait to try. How many ounces is the final batch? What size jar did you use?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      I didn’t weigh it once I was finished making it, but in terms of volume, it makes about three to four cups depending on how finely you grate the bar of soap (it can be a bit “fluffy” if you grate it really finely, so it’s loosely packed into the jar). I don’t know how large the jar is in the photo, but I actually only got about a third of the detergent into that jar; the rest went into tupperwares!

  39. Kristen says

    6 years ago

    I use this recipe all the time and have found it to be very gentle on clothes and amazing on my towels … I always add a capful of eucalyptus oil to my wash, it smells amazing and fights grease! I also make my own castille soap at home and use that in the recipe, I have had very little trouble clumping as long as I give it a few good stirs within the first 24 hours.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      Ooh yeah, eucalyptus oil would be a great addition! I sometimes add in lavender since the base soap itself is unscented. And good to know about stirring within the first 24 hours, thanks for the tip!

  40. Kate says

    6 years ago

    Hi, made this recently and love it so far (3 loads done so far)! I completely forgot about the desiccant (got too excited, I guess) and sealed my powder up in mason jars right away. Next day, hard as a rock. 🙁 I’ve been working at getting it out, but do you have any tips on what to do if it gets hard?
    Also, I used Dr. Bronner’s lavender soap and have noticed my laundry doesn’t really have much of a fragrance (I love fresh laundry smells). Any suggestions on what I could do to amp up the fragrance a bit? Thanks so much!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      Oh bummer! You can try adding a desiccant in now anyway; it will take a while, but it might slowly draw some of the water out. Another option is, if you can get it out of the jars, drop it back into a food processor or blender for a few seconds to break it all up again. Then stick the desiccant in and it should be ok.

      As for scent, you can always add a few drops of essential oils! They’re really strong smelling though, so I would say start with 3-5 drops in the entire recipe and see how that works, otherwise your clothes might be overpowering!

      Good luck with it, I hope you can get it dried up!

  41. Donna says

    6 years ago

    The silicone desiccant, how long does that last before needing to replace?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      It doesn’t “go bad” necessarily, but you do need to let it dry out every once in a while. Once it soaks up a good amount of moisture from the air, it will get “full” and stop working. You can either replace it at that time, or you can just let it dry out. You can put the bag out in the sun for a day and let it air dry, or you can use your oven. Just open up the bag, dump all of the silica out onto a cookie sheet, and bake for 2-5 hours on the lowest setting. Then put it back in the bag once it has cooled down. I wrote another post with more info on silica desiccants here if you want to take a look! http://practicallyfunctional.com/17-uses-for-desiccants-how-to-make-your-own/

  42. Leanne says

    6 years ago

    Great idea to make your own soap! I could imagine it would be perfect for people with sensitive skin… If I have some spare time one day, I’ll definitely try your recipe 🙂

  43. Lily says

    6 years ago

    How much powder does this mix make, I did rough calulation is it 687.5g?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      I don’t know how much it makes in grams because grams is a weight measurement and I measured all the ingredients by volume. But in terms of volume it makes a little over 3 cups, which is 30 to 60 loads of laundry, depending on whether you use 1T or 2T of powder per load!

  44. Jillian says

    6 years ago

    I’ve used the Fels Naptha/borax recipe for about ten years now. I’ve also used the same set of cloth diapers on all 4 (soon 5!) of my babies with no trouble using the home made soap. I just use plain cotton prefolds, though–nothing fancy. Hope this calms some minds of those wondering if they can use this. I’ve done some loads with the castile soap as well, and its been fine.
    Thanks for the tip on citric acid. Hadn’t used it in laundry before!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      Thanks for the input Jillian!!! Glad to know you haven’t had any trouble with it!

  45. MamaV says

    6 years ago

    Could you make a liquid version of this with liquid Castile soap? I make a liquid detergent with borax right now and I wonder if I could modify it using your suggested ingredients.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      I’m sure you could! I haven’t tried making this into a liquid version, but I know there are tutorials out there for making liquid soaps, so I’m sure you could combine the two. If you do, let me know how it goes!

    • Nikki says

      2 years ago

      I just did a batch using the liquid instead of the bar, I made them kind of like bath bombs so after mixing it up (liquid last) I pressed it hard into my tablespoon and dropped it on a cookie sheet, I just have to let them dry and then i will store them in an air tight container.

      • Diahnne says

        1 year ago

        Nikki how did it turn out and for this recipe how much of liquid soap did you used?

  46. Beth says

    6 years ago

    How effective is this in a cold water wash? I use cold water for all my loads and am wondering how well the mix will dissolve.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      6 years ago

      I haven’t tried it in a cold water wash (we use warm water), but I think if you let the washer fill part way, then add the soap and manually turn the agitator a few times, you can make sure it’s pretty well dissolved before adding in your clothes!

  47. Ashley says

    6 years ago

    I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  48. Melissa says

    7 years ago

    I made this today and I’m a little disappointed to hear from comments above that this is not ok for cloth diapers. I am new to cloth diapers and chemical free lifestyle. Does anyone know what should be used for cloth diapers!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      I don’t have any experience in washing cloth diapers, but from doing a bunch of research I’ve found that this article pretty clearly explains the possible complications from each homemade laundry soap ingredient: http://www.thirstiesbaby.com/blog/homemade-is-not-always-best/ But the important thing to remember is that these are possible complications; I’ve also heard tons of moms say they have no issues washing their cloth diapers with homemade laundry soap. The two ingredients I would definitely stay away from are Borax and Fels Naptha because they are very strong and definitely cause wear and tear on your clothes. But this recipe just uses an all natural castile soap, which is pretty gentle. If you’ve already made a batch, maybe give it a try and see how it works for you! I know this recipe and ones like it (that use castile soap instead of Borax or Fels Naptha) have worked great for cloth diapers for some moms!

  49. Anita says

    7 years ago

    Hi! I’ve used this recipe for my own washing powder and uhhh when I mixed everything up, it sort of foamed up all of a sudden…then it went down again…to form small clumps…left the pot open, stirred and left to rest…and now it seems more solid again. Is it supposed to react like that? And to keep doing what it does?

    Must say that the soap I’ve used is a dutch version or something (can’t buy the soap you’ve used here so had to substitute). It’s called Sunlight soap and can’t say what’s in it exactly since the package doesn’t say but it’s a soap we use to clean.

    Am I doing something wrong here?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Are you just mixing the dry ingredients? This recipe is for a powdered laundry soap, so you just mix all the dry ingredients together, then add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the dry mixture to your washing machine when you do a load of laundry.

      • Anita says

        7 years ago

        Yes I did mix all ingredients dry together…shredded the soap, did that in something…then added one by one the salt, soda and baking soda…stirred and voilá…it foamed, right now it’s still a wettish mixture. Really do not understand what happened here!

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          7 years ago

          That’s really weird Anita! It shouldn’t be wet at all, I have no idea why it’s foaming! Water must be getting into the mixture somehow when it shouldn’t (that’s what would cause the foam), but if you shredded or grated a solid bar of soap by itself it shouldn’t be wet. Wish I could be more help!

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          7 years ago

          You’re using a bar of Sunlight soap right? Not the liquid soap?

          • Anita says

            7 years ago

            Yes Jessi, I’m using a bar of soap and nót the liquid version…just looked at the container with ‘powder’it’s just getting wetter and wetter…and absolutely NO water was in the region of this stuff when I made it…soooooo strange!

          • Jessi Wohlwend says

            7 years ago

            That is so weird Anita, I wish I knew how to fix it for you!

        • Rachel says

          7 years ago

          When you mix an acid and a base, the biproducts are salt and water… I’m guessing the bar soap you used has a high PH. When you combined it with the citric acid it reacted (hence the fizz) and produced water? Try using a different bar soap.

          • Anita says

            7 years ago

            Hya, it took me a while but I made another batch with the same soap but this time microwaved as you did…mixed, it still reacts, but I closed the lid afterwards and…it was ‘powder’ the next day…have to watch out with water though since it tends to get wet pretty soon…and near the bottom…I get a moist bit, ah well if that’s it…it works!

            Have bought a bar of marseille soap locally recently and need to make some new powder so will let you know how the results are with this other type of soap!

          • Jessi Wohlwend says

            7 years ago

            Glad to hear it works! The soap definitely does tend to clump up, so I suggest putting a desiccant in there with it to help keep it dry.

  50. sally says

    7 years ago

    Hi there
    I live in Africa and was wanting to know if your laundry soap can be used for hand washing clothes? Most people in the townships dont own a washing machine.

    Thank you
    Sally

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Yep, it can! I would just make sure to dilute it in water first (don’t pour the powder directly onto the clothes) so you don’t get spots on your clothes. I haven’t tried it by hand, but I can’t think of any reason why it wouldn’t work just as well!

  51. Melanie says

    7 years ago

    Hi, I’ve seen a similar recipe that doesn’t have the citric acid. Do I need it? What’s its purpose?
    Thanks

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Citric acid is really great for people who have hard water, because the citric acid chelates the metals helping to soften the water so the soap can foam up and work better. It also works great to help soften your clothes so they don’t come out all stiff and starchy! But the recipe is just a guideline, you can try making the soap however you want! I’ve just found that, especially with the water here in Chicago, citric acid is a really great addition to the soap. 🙂

      • jeanelle says

        5 years ago

        Citric acid is wonderful for hard water. I use lemishine (and once used expired lemon juice) to clean kitchen sinks. My question about this (and other cleaning recipes I often see) is that wouldn’t the baking soda neutralize the citric acid?

  52. Jen says

    7 years ago

    I made this laundry soap this weekend and I love it! I couldn’t find enough dirty things to wash! I didn’t have any seasalt since I quit salting my food so I just left it out. It seemed fine without it so do I need the salt? I also, added vinegar to the rinse cycle since I don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets. My clothes came out of the dryer static free and less wrinkled! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Glad to hear it’s working for you!!! The salt is mostly there to help keep your colors bright, and it also helps reduce fading and yellowing in your whites. So, nope! Don’t need it, but you can always add it back in later if you want!

  53. Mrs B says

    7 years ago

    Do not use glycerine soap , it will cause a dingy grey build up on your whites

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      Yeah, I definitely like castille soap better, thanks for the advice!

  54. Julia says

    7 years ago

    I have been researching recipes online for this for a few days now. This one seems the most promising!
    Is it the best to use glycerin soap or could you use Dr. Bronners castile bar soap? Would it produce the same results?

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      The first batch I made was with Dr. Bronner’s castille soap, and the second batch was with a regular glycerin soap, and I actually like the Dr. Bronner’s better! It seems to cut the grease better than glycerin soap.

  55. Angela @ Angela Says says

    7 years ago

    I’ve never heard of using citric acid in laundry detergent, just dishwasher detergent. I’m really curious as to how it affects the cleaning abilities. Thanks for the ideas Jessi!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      7 years ago

      I really like it in the laundry soap! I think it’s helpful because it breaks down the grease in laundry stains just like it does for dishes!

      • kathy says

        6 years ago

        It seems that being an acid it would degrade the fabric. You haven’t noticed this??

        • Jessi Wohlwend says

          6 years ago

          Do you mean the citric acid portion? I haven’t had any problems with it and have been using it for a little over 8 months now!

    • Paula says

      4 years ago

      You should never use dishwasher detergent in any washing machine. The supports for the drum… whether top or front loading… are aluminum and will corrode! It’s a very very expensive repair!

  56. 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!

  57. 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.

  58. 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!

  59. 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

        6 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!

  60. 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!

  61. 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. 🙂

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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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