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Homemade Laundry Soap

Homemade Laundry SoapWhen making the switch to natural products, laundry detergent and fabric softeners play a key role. From the clothes we wear to our pillows and sheets, chemicals used in laundering come in contact with our skin 24 hours a day.

To get an idea of the types of chemicals found in products like detergents, see this article listing the most common chemicals found in 31 fragrance products.

Thankfully, there are many non-toxic options.

Soap nuts grow on the Chinese Soapberry Tree and are sometimes call soap berries. Soap nuts contain naturally occurring saponins, which foam when combined with water. Sources for soap nuts include Eco Nuts and Green Virgin.

Another alternative is to make your own laundry soap. Note that laundry soap will be more natural than detergent, as detergent is made from synthetics while soap is derived from natural elements.

Here are three simple recipes for homemade laundry soap.

Powdered Laundry Soap

This works nicely for high-efficiency (HE) machines because the suds are not overbearing like other powdered detergents. A little goes a long way with this recipe!

  • 1 4-oz. bar castile soap or old-fashioned laundry soap made with animal fat (castile soap is a plant oil-based soap; laundry soap is not super-fatted and therefore a bit stronger. For a pure, fragrance-free castile soap, see our momsAWARE Online Store.)
  • 1 c. borax (see our Borax: Friend or Foe? article for pertinent safety information)
  • 1 c. washing soda *

Finely grate the soap bar and mix with borax and washing soda. To do this quickly and efficiently, purchase an inexpensive food processor for the sole purpose of making laundry soap. Process soap, add remaining ingredients, and mix. Store in an airtight container.

Use 1-2 tablespoons per wash, depending on the size of the load.

The powdered soap works best in warm/hot water. Some of the soap may not dissolve when used with cold water. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of the powder with warm water prior to washing or use liquid recipes below for gentle/cold cycles.

For added potency, add 1/2 c. baking soda to each load and 1/2 c. white vinegar during the rinse cycle.Washing Soda

* Washing soda is sodium carbonate. This is different from baking soda, which is sodium bicarbonate. Washing soda is higher on the pH scale than baking soda and therefore adds extra cleaning power. The higher pH also makes it an effective water softener. Washing soda can be found in the laundry aisle at many stores and is also available online. The most popular brand's packaging is pictured at right. (You can also make your own using baking soda; see How to Make Your Own Washing Soda for the recipe.)

Liquid Laundry Soap

Option 1:

  • 2 1/4 c. liquid castile soap
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. glycerin
  • 10-15 drops essential oil (citrus scents work particularly well)

Combine all ingredients in jar or container. Shake before using. Use 1/4 c. per average washer load.

Option 2:

  • 1 oz. castile soap (1/4 bar if using 4 oz. bar)
  • 3 c. boiling water
  • 1/4 c. washing soda
  • 1/4 c. borax
  • 10 c. water *

Grate castile soap and dissolve in boiling water. Add washing soda and borax. Stir until dissolved. Pour into large container (a 1 gallon glass jar works great). Add 10 c. water and stir. Let set for 24 hours, until it forms a liquid gel. Use 1/2 c. liquid soap for each load.

* Some recipes allow for more dilution. Feel free to add more than 10 c. water.


"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

" age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

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