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Homemade Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent

Homemade Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent

These days, everyone is looking for ways to save some money. Fortunately for your wallet and the planet, the easiest way to save money in the laundry room is to make your own laundry detergent.

Making your own laundry detergent will not only save you money, but will naturally help you avoid the toxic chemicals and noxious scents found in store-bought brands.

Laundry detergent ingredients pose a variety of health risks to humans, ranging from relatively minor—like skin irritation and allergies—to the severe—cancer, poisoning and neurological problems. These products can affect not only personal health, but also public and environmental health. The chemicals can go into the air, down the drain and into bodies of water, too.

I often wondered why my neighbor’s “April Fresh” aroma would give me migraines until a 2008 University of Washington study of top-selling laundry products found that the products emitted nearly 100 different volatile organic compoundsResults of the study showed 58 different volatile organic compounds above a high concentration of 300 micrograms per cubic meter. Of these, seven are regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws.

All the products tested in the study gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.

Findings in a new 2011 study by the same researcher show that air vented from machines using the top-selling scented liquid laundry detergent and scented dryer sheet contains more than 25 volatile organic compounds, including seven hazardous air pollutants. Of those, two chemicals—acetaldehyde and benzene—are classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as known carcinogens, for which the agency has established no safe exposure level. 

No wonder laundry products make an estimated 10% of the population feel so ill.

The researchers estimate that in the Seattle area, where the study was conducted, acetaldehyde emissions from the top five laundry detergent brands would constitute about 6 percent of automobiles’ acetaldehyde emissions. In the U.S. we regulate automobile emissions, but completely ignore the toxic pollution coming from our dryer vents—at our own peril.

And if the toxic fragrances weren’t enough, conventional laundry detergents also contain phosphates, sulfates, ammonia, naphthalene, phenol, optical brighteners, EDTA, and more. These chemicals can cause rashes, itches, allergies, sinus problems, endocrine disruption, and have long term toxic effects on the environment.

Lastly, the embedded energy, natural resources and waste involved in mass-producing and transporting billions of gallons of plastic-packaged, toxic laundry detergents is just too significant for small footprint families to ignore.

Believe it or not, in the U.S., manufacturers are not required to list the ingredients used in laundry products, air fresheners and other household cleaning products. Personal-care products often contain similar fragrance chemicals too, and although cosmetics are required by the Food and Drug Administration to list ingredients, no law requires products of any kind to list the chemicals used in fragrances and perfumes.

Even “green” or “eco-friendly” cleaning products are not required to disclose their ingredients, and may contain toxic fragrances or petroleum-derived ingredients.

The safest bet for your family and the planet is to make your own less toxic laundry detergent. Costing just pennies a load, you can get all the ingredients in bulk quantities online (links below), at Costco, or in your grocer’s laundry aisle.

(Note: Many do-it-yourself laundry detergent recipes call for Fels Naptha, Octagon or Zote bar soap, but all of them contain toxic ingredients and fragrances that you really don’t want near your skin or in your environment.)

Both the powder and liquid versions of this recipe work well in cold water and are safe for septic tanks, and both HE and front-loading washing machines. I’ve found no difference in washing quality between the homemade detergent and store-bought brands, and this recipe tends to work much better than most eco-friendly brands.

For extra softness, don’t forget to add a cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle to soften your clothes, and you’ll never go back to conventional, toxic detergents or fabric softeners again!

For Cloth Diapers: If you want to use this detergent on cloth diapers, you must omit the bar soap from the recipe. Bar soap will build up on your diapers, repelling moisture, and eventually need stripping out. Instead, wash your diapers in a combination of borax, washing soda and baking soda in the recipe below, with a vinegar rinse.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder

Makes about 200 loads

Tools

  • Dust mask or bandana
  • Gloves of some sort (dish, latex, gardening, etc.)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Borax*
  • 4 cups Washing soda
  • 2 cups Baking soda
  • 4 cups grated bar soap (2-4 bars) (Choose a non-toxic, real bar soap—not a “beauty bar” like Dove or a clear glycerine soap. We use both Kirk’s Castile and Grandma’s Lye soaps for laundry. Omit for cloth diapers.)
  • Essential oil (Optional for scent. Tea Tree oil is especially nice if you use this detergent for washing cloth diapers.)

Directions

  1. Cut the bar soap into large chunks with a knife.
  2. Grate the soap chunks with a fine cheese grater or throw the chunks into the food processor and blend into as fine of a powder as you can make. (Put on your dust mask and let dust settle before opening processor, so as not to inhale it.)
  3. Put on your gloves and dust mask or bandana.
  4. In a large plastic tub or bucket, mix the Borax, washing soda, and baking soda together. (Washing soda and borax are skin irritants, so wear gloves. Wear a dusk mask or bandana to avoid breathing in the dry ingredients while you mix. You will need to let the dust settle a few times before continuing to stir. If you can seal the container, you can shake it vigorously to mix with no dust.)
  5. Stir in the grated/powdered bar soap.
  6. Stir in 10-20 drops of essential oil, if tolerated. Tea tree oil is great for diapers as it has antiseptic qualities.
  7. Store in a covered, airtight container.
  8. If your powder has trouble completely dissolving, try mixing it in a little hot water before adding to the laundry.
  9. Use 1-2 Tablespoons per load. (Adjust for your machine.)

Homemade Laundry Detergent Liquid

Makes enough for about 80 loads

Tools

  • Dust mask or bandana
  • Gloves of some sort (dish, latex, gardening, etc.)

Ingredients

  • Hot water
  • Clean 5-gallon bucket with lid
  • 1 cup Borax*
  • 1 cup Washing soda
  • 1/2 cup Baking soda
  • 1 cup grated bar soap (1-2 bars) (Choose a non-toxic, real bar soap. Do not use a “beauty bar” like Dove or a clear glycerine soap! We use both Kirk’s Castile and Grandma’s Lye soaps for laundry. Omit for cloth diapers.)
  • Essential oil (Optional for scent. Tea Tree oil is especially nice if you use this detergent for washing cloth diapers.)

Directions

  1. Cut the bar soap into large chunks with a knife.
  2. Grate the soap chunks with a fine cheese grater or throw the chunks into the food processor and blend into as fine of a powder as you can make. Wear your dust mask or bandana, and let dust settle before opening processor, so as not to inhale it.
  3. Place grated bar soap in a pot. Cover with water and simmer over medium heat until all soap is melted, stirring occasionally.
  4. Pour melted soap mixture into a clean 5-gallon bucket.
  5. Put on your gloves and dust mask or bandana.
  6. Add washing soda, baking soda, and borax to the soap mixture and stir. (Washing soda and borax are skin irritants, so wear gloves. Wear a dusk mask or bandana to avoid breathing in the dry ingredients while you mix.)
  7. Add enough hot water to almost fill the bucket. Mix very well until all ingredients are dissolved. (I use a long ruler for this.)
  8. If using essential oil, AFTER the mix has cooled down completely, mix in 10-20 drops, to taste.
  9. Let sit overnight to gel. The gel will be loose and very gloppy—like egg-drop soup.
  10. Use a funnel to pour the gel into clean, recycled detergent containers or leave in the bucket. Cover with an airtight lid if leaving in the bucket to protect children and pets.
  11. Stir or shake well before using. Use 1/2 – 1 cup per load. (Adjust for your machine.)

*A Note About Borax

There are some who say that borax is toxic, including the illustrious EWG database. I disagree.

Almost all of the articles I have read about borax have conflated borax with boric acid. The two are VERY different, though they both contain the element boron, which is an essential trace mineral nutrient important for many functions in the body, like rebuilding bone, hormone regulation, and maintaining communication between your cells. In fact, boron is for the parathyroid gland what iodine is for the thyroid.

That said, humans have mined and used borax since its discovery in Persia more than 4,000 years ago. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral found in dried salt lake beds, and consists of water, sodium, boron and oxygen. 

Borax is toxic in the same sense that table salt is toxic: A small amount can do great things; a huge amount will kill you and other living things.

All of the studies that showed evidence of possible hormone disruption in animals used ridiculously high doses of ingested borax. People could never possibly ingest anything even close to the amount of borax required to do harm—unless they worked for years in a borax mine or packaging factory without using protective gear.

Borax is classified as non-carcinogenic and a mild skin irritant. The high alkalinity of borax is what causes skin irritation, which is the same reason that washing soda and baking soda can cause skin irritation, too. The alkaline pH of borax, washing soda and baking soda is what makes it possible for them to clean your clothes.

Borax is also naturally anti-fungal and anti-viral (but not anti-bacterial), and—here’s the neatest part—through a chemical reaction with water, produces hydrogen peroxide (the main ingredient in OxyClean) to brighten and sanitize your clothes.

There are also several studies in the ToxNet database that show borax is only a very mild lung irritant and causes no lasting damage. In addition, it does not penetrate the skin well, and is not considered to be bio-accumulative.

Borax is used in laundry detergents, hair potions and skin lotions. Like diatomaceous earth, it also can help kill fleas in your carpet by dehydrating them. Some people even ingest it mixed in water to self-treat various health conditions that supplemental boron can really help, like arthritis, fluoride detoxification, psoriasis, and candida.

People should use the same precautions (gloves, dust mask or bandana) with borax that they would use around any dusty substance, like washing soda, bentonite clay, diatomaceous earth, or powdered soap. (Heck, you don’t even want to inhale flour or powdered sugar either for that matter!)

In sum, borax is wholly natural. It doesn’t cause cancer, accumulate in the body, or absorb through the skin. Because the dose makes the poison, borax is not harmful to the environment any more than salt or washing soda is. In fact, the largest borax (borate) mine in the world – found in Boron, California – is considered by many to be the most ecologically sound and environmentally sustainable mine in the United States.

I consider borax a safe, effective cleaner.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog, including Amazon.com links. These small earnings make it possible for me to continue writing this blog for you. That said, I only recommend products I genuinely love, and that I believe would be of value to my readers.
Thank you for your support!

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: Your health is between you and your health care practitioner. Nothing in this blog is intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader.




65 Comments

  1. Think that it’s worth making a distinction between “soap” and detergent ! We are using either store bought “Laundry Detergent” or making a “Laundry Soap”

    All soap is made with lye (sodium hydroxide) or liquid soap made with (potassium hydroxide)
    The term “Castile” should mean a soap made with lye, water, and olive oil. No other oils.
    If your looking for a soap to use for laundry without chemicals, then Fels is out, and so is the Zote. The Fels has some questionable ingredients, and the Zote contains optical brighteners, not sure if the scent is synthetic or not.
    With that said, it’s also important to know that when one used a bath soap (kirks) there are either added oils, or un reacted oils in the soap. They are there to be conditioning to skin, as they should be. However for “Laundry Soap” we are trying to remove oil from the fabrics, not add any.
    What would be a better choice would be to find, or make a un scented soap made with what called a 0% super fat. (All fat reacted, and none added in) or better yet a soap that is slightly lye heavy. This free lye in the wash is.. Well free to seek out dirt and grease.

    The term “Lye Soap” means soap made with lard (pig fat) sometimes tallow (beef fat) these tow fats have a specific fatty acid make up that make them well suited for laundry
    (provided they have a 0% super fat)
    For those who may have issues or or vegan, then a coconut oil soap (0% super fat ) will also work.
    I know that Kirks is coconut, but because it’s meant for bathing, they’ve left some un saponified oil in it.
    If you find a bar of real pure laundry “soap” with out this added oil, you will see and feel am immediate difference in your laundry “soap” formulas

    Hope this is found informative.
    Best to all

  2. I am wanting to use the powder recipe for cloth diapers and was wondering how much detergent you use in a load? and how much vinegar you would use as the rinse in a load?

    Thanks!

  3. Hi There! I am wanting to use your recipe for washing my cloth diapers. How much would you recommend to use in a load of diapers and how much vinegar for the rinse? Thanks!

    • Same amount as for regular clothing, and then adjust as you think might be needed.

      • Great thanks!

  4. I made my own detergent and we were very happy with it…we needed a new washer and dryer, went shopping, basically the sales guy told us that the manufacture recommends a particular brand of soap and not to use homemade because it could damage the machine and it would be covered under the warranty ….what do i do? Do you know for sure the homemade detergent could not ruin the new he front loading washers?

  5. What is the purpose of baking soda in the recipe? I’m curious b/c I thought I’d seen other similar recipes which did not include it?

    • Thanks for commenting! Baking soda is an all purpose deodorizer and cleanser. It also changes the pH of the water making it more alkaline.

  6. Hi,
    Where can I buy washing soda? I’ve never heard of it before.
    thanks!

    • You can buy washing soda via the link in the recipe ingredients. You might be able to find it in the laundry section of your grocery store, but it is a little hard to find off the shelf.

  7. Be aware: Borax is known for clogging septic systems. It does not like cold water. Most reports have come from people with well water. And to unclog your pipes can be VERY expensive.

  8. Thank you so much! I am actually planning to make homemade laundry detergent for the first time for our use and also for part of my homemade Christmas gifts. I had not yet settled on a recipe. We cloth diaper, so I appreciate the information about not using the bar soap because it can buildup. Your post is in my opinion by far the best I have read about homemade detergent. You have taught me a few things I did not know about Borax.

    Thanks again!

  9. ::: If using essential oil, AFTER the mix has cooled down completely, mix in 10-20 drops, to taste. ::::

    TO TASTE?! LOL Ick! But I love the recipe for the liquid detergent and it works wonderful!

  10. What an excellent article, and superb vision you have! You have accumulated a great amount of that rare jewel: Common Sense.

    Your family focus is so important, because kids-these-days cannot get enough help in navigating the perils ahead. If a young person can cook, grow food and sew on a button, they will fare better than gamers.

    As you wrote in defense of borax, it already is an ingredient in commercial detergents in addition to so many petrochemicals that are killing waterways.

    i look forward to your updates and cheerful outlook!

  11. Hello, do you think I would have some problems if I use this for my regular laundry, and use it without the soap for my cloth diapers ? Would I get some residue on my CD because of the soap of my regular laundry ? :S

  12. I love that you’re introducing people to the problem and a great solution. Another option is to look into oxidized water / ozone laundry systems like EcoWasher that hook up to your current washer. After the initial investment, you’re done with hot water, detergent, and other chemicals for good. This not only saves time and a bunch of money, but is also better for your health and for the earth.

  13. I have been searching for a nontoxic detergent for a while now. I was going to make your version until I went on to ewg.org (Envirnmental Working Group) to rate your ingredients.

    The borax that you recommend received a failing grade (F) because of how toxic the ingredient is. I would recommend this website to anyone trying to remove toxins from all items coming into their homes.

    • I made a note about borax at the end of the post. I’ve looked into it extensively and I strongly disagree with the EWG on this one. The studies they are looking at to reach their conclusioin involve a level of borax exposure that the average human simply could not get unless they worked in a borax mine without any protection for years. Borax used at the level of the homeowner is actually less toxic than an equal quantity of table salt. Borax has been used safely for thousands of years, and the main borax mine in the U.S. is one of the cleanest mining operations in the world. Borax is a naturally occurring alkaline mineral that many people use medicinally, even ingesting it in dilute quantities without harm.

      However, as with any dusty or alkaline substance (like washing soda or baking soda), don’t inhale it or get it on your skin as it will be irritating.

  14. I have always been told that baking soda can ruin the pump in a washing machine. Washing soda is fine, but not baking soda. I think we should check with our machine manufactory before using baking soda.

  15. I think this is the same recipe I’ve used. It works pretty good. I like to use a combination of rosemary, grapefruit, and lavender essential oils for fragrance. Thanks for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop! We’d love to have you back again tomorrow: http://blackfoxhomestead.com/the-homeacre-hop/

  16. I use a mixture quite close to this one. Thanks for sharing you detergent recipe. I’m a visitor from the Home Acre Hop.

  17. I have been using this recipe (powder) for 6 years and love it. I have used it even on my cloth diapers and have had no issues. Not sure why you wouldn’t be able to use it for diapers. I still use warm water as I find that with a front load washer, my soap does not dissolve well in cold water and leaves streaks on my clothes.

    • Thanks for commenting! Homemade laundry detergent does work great, but it is precisely because the soap leaves residue (even in warm water, you just can’t see it as much), that you can’t use this recipe on diapers. You can’t use mainstream laundry brands on cloth diapers either. The laundry detergents recommended for cloth diapers typically have no soaps, fragrances, brighteners, etc. at all, and are little more than washing soda.

      • What would you recommend to use for lowering the ph level of the cloth diaper recipe? I have had fungal issues with my youngest and am about to make a batch to hopefully eliminate this problem.

        • Tea tree oil is anti fungal

  18. I have been wanting to make my own laundry detergent for a long time. I even have all or most of the ingredients for it. But I read a couple of articles online that said that Borax IS toxic.

    I also read stuff online that said that it’s not. So I can’t decide where I stand on Borax. Have you ever heard any of the stuff that says it is toxic? Just curious as to your thoughts! ;)

    • All the articles I have read about borax have conflated borax with boric acid. The two are VERY different, though they both contain the element boron.

      Borax is toxic in the sense that salt is toxic. A small amount is required by the body; a huge amount will kill you. People never intentionally ingest anything even close to the amount of borax required to do harm. Borax is classified as non-carcinogenic and a mild skin irritant. The high alkalinity of borax is likely what causes skin irritation (just as excessive use of baking soda would cause irritation). There are also several studies in the ToxNet database that show borax is only a very mild lung irritant and causes no lasting damage. In addition, it does not penetrate the skin well, and is not considered to be bio-accumulative.

      Borax is used in laundry detergents, hair potions and skin lotions. It also can help kill fleas in your carpet by dehydrating them. Some people even ingest it mixed in water for various health conditions that boron would help. (Though I wouldn’t recommend this usage!) Borax is wholly natural. It doesn’t cause cancer, accumulate in the body, or absorb through the skin. It is not harmful to the environment any more than salt is. In fact, the largest borax (borate) mine in the world – found in Boron, California – is considered by many to be the most ecologically sound and environmentally sustainable mine in the United States. I consider it a safe, effective cleaner.

  19. Hi. I have a septic tank, and have no clue what type it is, since the house was built in 1934 (ish) but I think I’m going to try the mixture, maybe in smaller quantities though, to see if I like it. I will use french milled highly scented soap though, as unlike most ‘greenies’ I can’t live without perfume! In fact I buy lots of soap in advance, especially at overstock stores as they are often 1/2 price. I store them in my underwear drawers, my socks and towels and in the pillow case with each set of sheets, especially when I store the flannel ones ’til next winter. The good French, Spanish, and Italian soaps are already harder than cheap supermarket stuff, so they last ages and while they are ‘working’ to scent my linens, they harden even more.
    Question though. My partner wears a lot of ‘stage blacks’, (and gets dirty and sweaty) so I have to use Woolite Dark. It’s expensive so would love to know if anyone has a recipe to mix things that won’t make them fade.

  20. My liquid did not gel when left overnight. Any ideas what may be wrong? It is very watery, with tiny flecks (soap I assume) floating in it. I used Kirk’s castile soap. After melting the soap in hot water, I added cool, rather than more warm water, and the soap seemed to re-solidify in bits. So I added more hot water to reach the 5 gallon mark, and then whole mix seemed to be well-dissolved.

    • I’m not sure what happened. Maybe it is too dilute? However, it should work just fine. Give it a try!

    • I use the power recipe, not liquid because I dont want to cook on the stove. But I add the measured amt of powder to about 2c water and set it aside. Right b4 using it I put it in the blender to finish the dissolving process. Might be just as much work, but works for me.

  21. Hi,

    In your post it states that this recipe works good for cold water… do you not suggest using in with warm or hot washed for some reason?

    • It takes a lot of energy to heat water for washing clothes, which is not only costly to the homeowner, but also uses a lot of fossil fuels as well. If you can do all your washing in cold, it will be good for both the planet and your wallet! The detergent, however, works fine in any water temperature. :)

  22. Hi Dawn,
    Maybe this is a stupid question, but..I was hoping to find one laundry detergent that I could use for cloth diapers and all my other laundry. So if I leave the bar soap out, will it still work well on my clothing?
    Thanks!
    Sephanie

    • You could certainly give it a try! I think you might have trouble with your more dense clothing though, like denim. You might want to pretreat stains on those.

  23. This is by far the BEST laundry detergent I have EVER used! I used the Kirk’s bar without any essential oil (for now). The laundry is clean, bright, and most surprisingly to me…it is SOFT!!!

  24. Hi there,
    I’ve been doing a lot of research about making natural laundry soap and seeking out the most effective, yet safe/natural recipe. I came across your site and noticed that you say Fels Naptha contains napthalene – I’m not advocating using fels naptha because it does have petroleum-derived ingredients, but it says right on the packaging “does not contain napthalene.” Just wanted to point that out :)

    • I guess I have inadvertently dated myself here. :) Good to know that people are conscious enough that they had to change the formula and make it clear on the label. But still, who wants petroleum-derived chemicals and fragrances on their skin, ever, right? Thanks for commenting!

      • Hi. Just a brief note. ‘Fire Eats Fire’ – Petroleum based products, – ‘Oil Eats Oil’ If you have a stain in clothing that has any type of oil-base: then the petroleum part of Fels Naptha gets the stain out, because ‘Fire Eats Fire.’ Oil gets oil stains out. Even body oils, like arm-pit stains. Just a quick thought on Fels Naptha for laundry.

        • I use a product called White Wizard to remove all stains beautifully. It is non-toxic and made of enzymes and it works like a dream on almost all stains and all fabrics, including leather. I even used it to fully remove a 6 year old coffee stain from an industrial carpet that had been treated twice professionally! It also took paint out of a vintage jacket that had been dry cleaned three times with no result. I absolutely love this stuff, and it has saved me so many times. http://amzn.to/1aCexYf

  25. Hi! Which do you think is better for cloth diapers in an HE FL washer, the liquid or the powder? Thanks!

  26. Loved this post! Using my own detergent. Shared your post on my blog http://www.amarmielife.com I also tried the toothpaste. I really like but the kids just can’t seem to do it. I even put a packet of stevia in it to sweeten it for them but they say it is still too salty. I am going to try to tweak some things to see if I can get them to use it. I also tried some dishwashing detergent from another blog but it left a really greasy cloudy film on the dishes. I used borax, washing soda, baking soda, coarse sea salt, and fruit fresh. then added 3 drops of liquid dish soap & vinegar. Not sure where the grease came from. Maybe the dish soap – it’s the all natural kind made from coconut oil?? Any thoughts or suggestions?

  27. Excited to try this but I confused about the number of loads that one recipe covers. In total, your recipe calls for 14 cups of ingredients. Each cup has about 12 TBS – so a total of 168 TBS. If you use 2 TBS per load, that is roughly 80 loads. Did you mean tsp? If it were tsp, you could get at least 300 loads. Can you clarify?

    • Thanks for checking my math! I hate being inaccurate, but sometimes I write these posts in the wee hours. :) There are 16 Tablespoons in a cup, and 14 total cups in the recipe, so if you use just one tablespoon per load, (which is all I have needed, except when clothes are particularly soiled) it works out to make about 225 loads, which I have corrected above.

  28. I used Dr. Bonner Castile soap in mine. We have pretty sensive skin here. I LOVE the powdered soap. I was using a powdered detergent that was about $15 for 80 loads and was only about a tablespoon per load. But with 2 adults and 2 toddlers we create a whole lot of laundry. With the Dr. Bonners I spent about $25 for about 7-9 months worth of laundry detergent (I did a HUGE batch) 1 box of Borax, 1 box of Washing, 1 Large box of Baking Soda, 1 Small container of Oxi-Clean and 3 bars of Soap. I used my food processor for the soap and no issues.

  29. Hi, I saw you mentioned something about this being safe for cloth diapers. Would you still put the extra cup of white vinegar when washing cloth diapers? Also, when do you add the white vinegar when you have a HE front loader?

    Thanks so much!

    • This is safe for cloth diapers as long as you use a lye-based soap to make it. The oils in a castile soap can gunk up the diapers. The addition of vinegar helps keep your diapers fresh too. Use the vinegar as you would use fabric softener in your HE machine.

      • A Castile Soap will also need lye to actually make it soap. So I’m not sure on your logic here. Castile just means it is all Olive Oil (and water and lye). Any other soap is oil and water and lye, just not 100% olive oil. So basically, just use a natural soap, not a detergent soap. Is that what you mean?

        • I mean use a simple lye-based soap, not one like Zote or Fels Naptha which is full of chemicals. Nor should you use glycerine soap, which gums up the mix and can leave residues.

  30. Hi,

    Love your website, “lots of quality Info:.

    We live in an area which does not have a reticulated watersupply and therefore are not subjected to chlorine & Fluoride poisoning.
    However, this means that we use our grey water for growing vegetables & fruit for our own consumption.

    If we were to make the recipes for washing powder with Borax in it, we would soon be oversupplying this nutrient and therefore degrading our soil & produce.

    Can Borax be replaced with another substance in order to produce a more “friendly to the Environment” product?

    Keep up the good work and thanks.

    Cheers

    • Yes, grey water systems that go into food gardens are less forgiving than systems that go out into raingardens or lawns. That much greywater with Borax would be too much for a food garden (though a little really can help fruit trees). You would also eventually face issues with the washing soda too. Even baking soda in excess can negatively affect your garden soil if greywater is your main form of irrigation. The least toxic detergents for greywater usage in a food garden are Soap Nuts or plain castile soap. Thanks for commenting!!

  31. Hi Dawn, :)

    This would be a great post to add to Wildcrafting Wednesday!  I really hope you’ll stop by and share it!

    Thanks!
    ~ Kathy

    • Where is Wildcrafting Wednesday? I’d love to!

  32. So I have been getting ready to make my own laundry soap after readin the label…and you could use it to soak up oil…..UGH…..and I wondered why my babies were experiencing exema…duh?! !jWe have a local company that makes great natural soap…it has glycerin in it…can you use that in laundry soap….? Thanks for the great info!  I will be back!!!

    • Glycerin soap is not the best choice for this recipe because it is very soft and gets goopier than lye or tallow soap, but you can give it a try and see how it works. If even this recipe is too harsh for your baby’s skin, try Soap Nuts for a totally non-toxic laundry wash. Best to you (and your little ones)!

  33. This is cool, I can made some of this 
    Homemade Laundry Detergent Liquid and give it as personal gift to my friends when I go visit them or when they visit me. Thanks a lot for this post and for the clear steps on how to made this.  

  34. Great post Dawn! I love how informative you are! I also love your blog layout, I think this is my first time on your blog! Thank you so much for linking up at Healthy 2day Wednesdays last week! This post is one of my top 3 that will be featured this week! Have a Merry Christmas & hope to see you link up this week!

    • Thank you so much! What a great, unexpected holiday gift! Have a great Christmas yourself!

  35. just wondering, if you have to wear a mask so you don’t inhale the dust, is it really non toxic?  I’ve used borax before, and you can tell when you inhale that it’s not good!  Have you tried those soap nuts or just baking soda, salt and vinegar?  

    • This detergent is not non-toxic, just significantly safer for your health and the environment. You wouldn’t want to inhale grated castile soap, baking soda, or for that matter, powdered gelatin, Epsom salts, or bentonite clay, but all are very useful, natural low-toxic substances for the skin or ingestion.

      Basically, you should probably never inhale visible dust particles of any kind, nor should you eat any type of soap. :)

      If you need to have a completely non-toxic, edible laundry detergent, then soap nuts or baking soda/vinegar/salt are probably your best options. I have found that neither work very well at all, especially on cloth diapers, toddler clothing or sweaty man-shirts.

      However, a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle makes your clothes soft and reduces static.

      Best!

      • I saw this post from the SD Natural Families listserve. This is great, because I’m going to be buying laundry detergent soon. We use our water from the washing machine to go into our yard and our fruit trees. Do you think that this would be okay for plants??

        Thanks Michelle L. 

        • I think it depends mostly on what bar soap you use. Borax contains boron, which is good for plants, especially fruit trees. Since you are using so little detergent diluted in so much water, it shouldn’t be a problem, though make sure to keep a close eye on sensitive or delicate plants, and rotate your greywater around the property so it doesn’t concentrate in one place. To be truly safe, use soap nuts.

  36. I would have never thought to try this.  Thanks for sharing.  I have stumbled this post and I am a new FB fan visiting from Momnivore’s Dilemma. Vicky from Mess For Less  

    • Welcome and Thanks!

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