DIY Laundry Detergent (2 Ingredients, Borax-Free)

Hey everyone!
So you’ve probably come across that UN report that says we are all screwed (excuse my language) and the climate change is basically going to fry us up like french fries. I have two friends who are convinced there’s probably nothing we can do to reverse the damage and we will fry up anyway, but I do have a few hopeful ones too and I try to keep my hopes up as well. However, I don’t believe that hoping and praying has ever made any kind of difference. Trying to change my/my family’s lifestyle as soon as possible to reduce our environmental impact is my way of dealing with the harsh reality of numbers.

You will be seeing more of that theme coming up on following posts: focusing on daily life changes we can all make to reduce our waste footprint. This DIY laundry detergent recipe is very easy to do (and fun and meditative too) and it will help you:

  • drastically reduce waste from detergent bottles and boxes
  • drastically reduce the cost of your laundry detergent
  • eliminate harmful chemicals that you can’t even pronounce and that are part of almost all commercial detergents (eco-friendly brands do not contain them but their cost is very high)

So here is what you need:

  • A bar of soap. I always buy soaps free of SLS and stick to olive oil-based soaps with minimal ingredients.
  • About 1 kg of washing soda. Washing soda is NOT baking soda. Baking soda is just not strong enough for cleaning. Here is a nice blog post that explains the differences. But the short version is that washing soda is Sodium Carbonate (Na2CO3) while baking soda is Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3).
  • White vinegar.
  • Lemon essential oil.

And here is what you do:


You grate the bar of soap. That’s the part that I find fun and meditative. But to each their own I guess 😀 . When you are done, it will look like this:

Now you will need a food processor and you will need to add in it about 4 parts grated soap to 6 parts soda. I found many different ratios on-line but most recipes used other ingredients as well. I guess you can play around a bit and see what works best, but I ‘ve already washed a load with that ratio and the clothes turned out clean and fresh and smelling great.


Once the mix is turned into powder, keep it in a glass mason jar or other air-tight container.

To wash, add 1-2 tablespoons in your laundry machine. If you are washing clothes at 30-40 C it’s a good idea to dissolve the detergent with a bit of hot water in a cup first. I read the tip on-line and it makes sense. Since I do wash at 40 C, I used the tip and had no issues with soap ressidue or white spots. You can add the lemon essential oil together with the detergent or you can apply it topically on stains. Which is what I did. My beloved daughter wipped her hands on my jeans. Her hands were full of mashed berries (thank you, baby-led weaning!). I was sure that my home-made detergent plus my persistance to wash at low temperatures would leave my jeans covered in pink stains. But nope! Be it the DIY detergent or the lemon essential oil, the jeans came out super clean!

Instead of softener, you can use the white vinegar. I only had apple cider at hand and used that, but I ‘ve read it could cause staining or leave a bit of a smell on the clothes. I didn’t have any issues but white vinegar is signifficantly cheaper, so I will definitely go with that next time. The great thing about the vinegar is that it gets rid of any detergent residues in your washing machine while softening the clothes.


Do try it and let me know how it turned out here on the blog or on facebook 🙂

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