Homemade, Eco-friendly, Liquid Laundry Soap

Detergent is ToxicFirst of all, it’s important to know why you should STOP buying laundry detergent and START making it…

Laundry detergent is toxic for your health and the environment. Plain and simple.

Your laundry room is said to be the most toxic room in your home, and for good reason. Laundry detergent contains many toxins and carcinogens that can be absorbed into your skin just by wearing your clothes, or breathing in the “fresh” laundry air. Just listing the ingredients in commercial detergents, and the effect that they have on your body and the environment, says it all! Here are some of the ingredients you are washing your clothes with.

  •  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – Chemical foaming agent known as a surfactant. Studies have linked use of this chemical to a variety of health issues from skin irritation to organ toxicity to even cancer.
  • Dioxane (1,4-dioxane) – Found in two-thirds of laundry detergent brands contain this synthetic petrochemical known as a carcinogen (read this!). This is a by-product contaminant of the manufacturing process and is not required to be listed on product labels.
  •  Linear Alky Benzene Sulfonates (LAS) – Synthetic petrochemicals that biodegrade slowly making them an environmental hazard. Benzene may cause cancer in humans and animals.
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylate (NPE) – Petrochemical surfactant banned in the EU and Canada. May cause liver and kidney damage. Biodegradable, but biodegrades into more toxic substances. Can also be found in rivers, lakes and ground water.
  •  Petroleum distillates (aka napthas) – Derived from synthetic crude oil, linked to cancer, lung and mucous membrane damage.
  •  Phenols – Can cause toxicity throughout the entire body.
  • Optical brighteners – Can be toxic to fish and cause allergic reactions in humans.
  • Artificial fragrances – Linked to various toxic effects on fish and mammals, and can cause allergies, skin and eye irritation to humans.
  •  Phosphates – Used to prevent dirt from settling back into clothes after being washed. Can stimulate growth of marine plants that trigger unbalanced ecosystems
  • Ethylene Diamine Tetraacetic acid (EDTA) – Group of compounds used as an alternative to phosphates. Found to cause reproductive and developmental effects in lab animals and does not readily biodegrade.
  • Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach) –A chemical precursor to chlorine, which is extremely toxic. Skin contact can produce caustic irritation or burns. Mixing with other cleaning products can create hazardous and sometimes carcinogenic fumes.

(Read full article )

So as you can see, not only are we putting our own health at risk by using detergents, we are also doing irreversible damage to the environment.  To name a few, artificial fragrances, EDTA, and phosphates, have been found in lakes, streams and ground water, altering ecosystems and the ability of marine species to reproduce. For more information on the effects of detergents and aquatic life, read this article.

I find it odd how I was urged to buy special, ‘baby formulated’ detergents to wash my newborn’s clothes with, because it contained less fragrance, and promised to be more gentle my baby’s sensitive skin. So with this being said, are these detergent company’s admitting that their regular, ‘adult’ version can be harsh on skin? Harsh enough to irritate a baby’s skin? And contain such a strong fragrance, that we are advised not to wash our baby’s clothes in it? What the hell is this stuff? Oh ya, and FYI, after a bit of reaseach, I found out that the leading baby-detergent brand contains exactly the same ingredients as the ‘adult’ brand.

Okay, well enough with all of the depressing facts. Good news: there IS a solution. Below is a recipe for environmentally friendly, inexpensive laundry soap that works better than the commercial brands. It sounds too good to be true, right? Well believe it. Best part is, is that it takes all of 15 minutes to make.

This laundry soap also doubles as an impressive stain remover. Thanks to my best-friend’s boyfriend, who got chocolate on her white couch, we were able to put this to the test. Even commercial brands (rhymes with pray-n-bosh) weren’t able to get the stain out!

Lastly, a pre-warning: unlike commercial laundry detergents, your clothes won’t come out smellinglike ‘a field of spring flowers on the Swiss Alps.’ This took a couple loads to get used to because I was brain-washed to believe that the strong, chemical scent of the flowers signified cleanliness. But, in fact, my clothes come out cleaner now than they ever did. They’re actually clean, not just smelling clean.

Note: this recipe a Laundry Soap, NOT a Detergent. Detergents are a chemically-derived, synthetic version of soap that contain a slew of toxins, and are used in most commercial brands because they are cheaper alternative to soap.

Homemade, Eco-friendly, Liquid Laundry Soap

What you will need:MHH 023

1 Cup Borax, Mule 20 Team, found in the laundry detergent setion (Disinfects, fights mold and mildew, and whitens)

1 1/2 Cup Washing Soda, found in laundry aisle (Cuts grease, softens water, and whitens)

1 Bar of Soap, finely grated, Dr. Bronners or Homemade (Cuts grease and lifts dirt)

½ cup Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (Cuts grease, and lifts dirt)

5 Gallon Bucket

Empty jugs to store laundry soap. (e.g. old milk jugs, vinegar jugs, old laundry detergent containers)

How It’s Made:

  • Bring a pot of water, with a couple litres of water, to a boil of the stove.
  • Turn off heat and stir 

    in grated soap.

  • Once it has dissolved, pour mixture into 5 gallon bucket, add Washing Soda and Borax, and stir again until dissolved.
  • Fill the remainder of bucket with warm water (I just use tap water for this), leaving a few inches of room at the top.
  • Cover the bucket and let it sit over night.In the morning, it will look slightly coagulated–give it a good stir.
  • Add it slowly to clean jugs for storing (a funnel makes this process much less messy.)
  • Before adding it to the washing machine, give the jug a small shake/swirl, and add about half a cup to each load (a little more for extra grimmey loads.)


Washing Tips:

–          OxiClean is basically just washing soda and peroxide, so for “whiter whites, and brighter brights,” add half a cup of peroxide to the rinse cycle (there’s already washing soda in the Laundry Soap.)

–          If you find your clothes are not coming out clean, it is most likely because you have hard water. To soften the water, add half a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar Dissolves mineral deposits in hard water, and removes any soap residue. This is why vinegar is also doubles as a great fabric softener.

–          If you’d like your clothes to come out more fragrant, then make a homemade dryer sheet. To do this, cut an old T-Shirt into small squares, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to one and toss it in the dryer along with your washed load. (Commercial Dryer sheets are just as toxic as laundry detergent, so avoid using these too.)

–          For tough stains, keep some homemade laundry soap in a pump bottle, and squirt directly on the stain. Let it sit for a day, then scrub it out.  I use an old tooth brush to scrub out small, stained areas.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only promote products that uphold to Modern Hippie Health and Wellness’s values.

31 comments on “Homemade, Eco-friendly, Liquid Laundry Soap

  1. Hi, I am interested in making the laundry soap. I have a couple of questions.
    Is the soap ok to use in the new washing machines which require the he soap?
    And where do you get the Dr Bronners soap?
    Thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Cheryle, thank you for your comment and questions! From research that I’ve done, this laundry soap can be used safely in High Efficiency (HE) washing machines because it is low sudsing. I buy my Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, in liquid and bar form, at London Drugs because it’s the best deal, but you can also find it at some health food stores. Let me know how it works out for you!

    2. I can’t believe how clean everything is, yet is is gentle on my specialty items. Tomorrow I will test to see how my skin reacts. I have been allergic to laundry detergent for years and been been living with it until now! I think your recipe might have solved all my worries. Ps. I didn’t have washing soda on hand so I made it by heating baking soda in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 mins.

  2. Hi,
    I was just wondering in your experience, if this laundry soap works as well with cold water washing as it does with warm? Some similar recipes that I have come across mention that the soap is not as effective with cold water. What do you think?

    1. Thank you for your comment, Brenna. This laundry soap works optimally in warm water, and this is because Borax doesn’t ‘work’ in cold water. However, all of the other ingredients do, and from my experience, washing a load on cold turns out just as clean. I decided to add the extra 1/2 cup of Castile soap to the recipe for this reason (extra cleaning power in cold water.) So, to answer your question, yes you can wash in cold and still get good (clean) results! If you’re regularly washing on cold, try 1 1/2 cups washing soda, and 1/2 cup baking soda, instead of Borax. Hope that helps 🙂

  3. Thank you for your reply! I will definitely keep this in mind and am excited for my first experience in making green laundry soap and cleaning products!!

  4. Hi Carly! I’ve been using your natural laundry soap for a couple of months and I love it! This past weekend I decided to wear a sweater from the back of my closet that I knew had been washed in commercial laundry detergent and dried with a dryer sheet. Within about 15 minutes I broke out in hives and was covered in a super red rash everywhere I had been in contact with the sweater….ouchie! It was crazy to me how my body reacted to products that I had used for so long, I think it was my skin telling me that it much prefers your natural soap! Thank you again for sharing your recipe! I’m really enjoying living a greener life!
    Love and big hugs!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Theresa! But….that’s aweful about the hives and rash, yikes! It doesn’t surprise me, but too bad you had to learn the hard way to find out. I’m so happy that you’re enjoying living greener, and that you’ve benefited from my recipes! Love and hugs back!

  5. Hello Carly so I made your do it yourself laundry soap for the first time. I’m just wondering about how coagulated it should be? Mine didn’t seem to coagulate at all overnight and is still very runny is this normal?

    1. That’s totally fine. It will coagulate when the weather cools down a bit, but it’s still the same, great laundry soap in its runny state 🙂

  6. Made my first batch a few days ago and complete several loads of washing. I was so pleased with the results. Thank you. My next mission is to source out citric acid to make some cleaner for the dish washer.

  7. Hi Carly! Thanks for the post! I’ve been making my own laundry soap and have loved the results! With a 2 year old and a 3 month old, though, I found it wasn’t getting the clothes quite as clean as commercial (chemically filled) products. I was using the same recipe, less the liquid Castile soap. Luckily, my batch is low so I’m going to be adding that in hopes it gives me a little bit more power in the wash! Thanks for the tip! Also, have you looked into wool dryer balls instead of cut t-shirts for fabric softeners? On my own journey to a more green lifestyle, that was one of my favorite finds! Here’s my (very mediocre) blog about them! http://www.asimplylivelylife.com/?p=196
    Love you’re site and looking forward to finding more great tips and tricks to getting all natural!

    1. Hi Katy, Thanks for your comment! I have come across the same problem: some the my toddlers clothes don’t come out squeeky clean. Washing the extra dirty stuff on hot, and throwing some peroxide in the rinse definitely helps, though.

      I do use wool dryer balls, and love them. Your tutorial on how to make them is great. You have a lovely, and hardly mediocre, blog. Keep spreading crunchy love!

      Where are you from?


  8. Thanks for the tip with the peroxide! I just recently came across that tip on a few other sites so I’ll give it a shot…but I’ve also just come to the conclusion that toddlers are just filthy!

    Thanks for the kind words about my blog! It’s definitely a work in progress and I’m not sure if anybody’s even going to check it out, but it’s fun and at least the info is getting out there for people to maybe stumble across!

    We are currently living in Indiana, but hoping to make a new adventure for ourselves soon (hopefully sooner than later anyways!).

    Have you come across a natural homemade shampoo that you love yet? I’ve been trying the no ‘poo method and honestly, I hate it! I’ve been trying some honey concoctions, too, but haven’t found anything I love quite yet!

    1. I am always getting asked these days if I have a good shampoo recipe, and the answer is no! I’ve tried SO many including the No-Poo too, and also despised it. My hair is fine so it just looked greasy all the time. I am currently testing and re-testing recipes, to I hope to eventually have it all figured out.

  9. Hi there! I am excited to make this laundry soap– but I have a few questions:

    1. Do you make the laundry soap with both the Castille Liquid Soap AND the grated bar of soap?

    2. If yes, then do you add the liquid soap into the boiling water when you add the grated soap?

    3. Just a couple liters of water to boil at the start? Doesn’t have to be an exact amount? I mean, I know you are just going to fill the 5 gallon bucket with water after all is said in done, but I’m still curious 🙂

    I hope all those questions aren’t confusing. I really don’t want to mess this up. Haha. Thank you!

    1. Hi Christina!

      No, not confusing at all.

      1. Yes, both.
      2. Yes
      3. No, not an exact amount. The water is just used to dissolve everything before it goes into the bucket.

      Hope that helps! Thanks for your comment.


  10. Hi just a FYI check out ewg.org on the hazards of borax. I was a faithful user up until recently. I’m stopping because of my husband and teenager. Not worth it. Washing soda much safer…and can make your own. Bake at 400 deg for about 30 min check out Pinterest for recipe and info.

  11. Hello Carly! This recipe asks for ½ cup Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap (Cuts grease, and lifts dirt) but there is no indication of when you should add it to your home made liquid laundry detergent? Do I add it at all? I’m also a little uncertain of how much water to add to my bucket since there is no indication of size on my bucket. Any tips on measurements on water added? Thanks! Can’t wait to try this.

    1. Hi Nicole,

      Sorry for the confusion. You can add the castile soap at anytime, really. I usually add it straight into the bucket when I’m pouring the melted-mixture in. I use a 5 gallon bucket, which usually makes about 16L and fills four, 4L milk jugs perfectly.

  12. What kind of peroxide are you using? Hydrogen or benzoyl. That’s what u find on amazon and I didn’t know what yo chose. Can you add a link please. Thank you

  13. Hi Carly,
    I’ve used your household cleaner recipes and they work great. Thanks!
    Regarding the laundry detergent, I’ve heard from a few people who have used this recipe that it worked great for a while, but after extended use the clothes started to smell? Have you heard similar comments? Any ideas on how to solve this problem?

    1. Hi Lou,

      Honestly, yes, I have experienced this with certain things – like my husbands work out gear, and dish clothes. When I start to notice this, I double the amount of soap per load, add an extra scoop of washing soda directly to the basin, and wash it on hot. This seems to work really well for me!

  14. Hi Carly,
    Do you find this soap is okay to use on very dark clothes? I’m thinking specifically about my nice new (probably overpriced!) dark jeans…. I notice the borax and the washing soda can both whiten.
    Thanks for sharing your recipes and research!

    1. Hi Lesley, the problem with using this soap on dark loads is that you’re probably going to want to wash your darks on cold, and the borax doesn’t do well in cold water. This soap is best for warm and hot loads.

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