5 Natural Laundry Detergents + A Recipe to Make Your Own

Like many household cleaning products, conventional laundry detergents contain potentially harmful ingredients. Though way back in the day we used to clean our clothes with basic tallow soap and boiling water, nowadays popular products include synthetic materials, petroleum-based cleansers, light-reflecting chemicals and toxic solvents. The harsh dyes and chemicals are unnecessary and, well, concerning for both you and the environment. Luckily, manufacturers of natural laundry products report steadily growing sales over the last 10 years as brands like Seventh Generation have gained in popularity. “I think people have an increased awareness of the undesirable aspects of traditional cleaning products, just as they do with traditional farming,” says Martin Wolf, director of product quality and technology for the Burlington, Vt.-based manufacturer of a variety of natural laundry products.

For perspective, here are some of the ingredients in Tide. Do you want this stuff touching your clothes and skin?

• Sodium Carbonate
• Sodium Aluminosilicate
• Sodium Sulfate
• Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate
• Alkyl Sulfate
• Sodium Percarbonate
• Sodium Polyacrylate
• Silicate
• Nonanoyloxybenzenesulfonate
• Ethoxylate
• Polyethylene Glycol 4000
• Fragrance
• Disodium Diaminostilbene Disulfonate
• Palmitic Acid
• Protease
• Silicone
• Cellulase

If you’re interested in learning how to make your own laundry products, you’re in luck! It’s an easy and inexpensive craft. While there is some variation in the makeup of DIY detergents, many follow these basic steps:

Each batch yields approximately 32 ounces (between 32-64 loads based on how many Tbsp used per load).

  • 1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of shaved bar soap of your choice
  • 1 cup of borax
  • 1 cup of washing soda

Thoroughly stir together for 5 minutes and enjoy the results! Use 1 tablespoon for regular loads, 2 for heavy loads.

On the next page, see five of our favorite homemade detergents currently being sold online and then let us know your favorite tips and tricks in the comments below!

Organic, stain lifting detergent in lavender (Green Bubbles Home, $9)


Unscented, all natural laundry detergent (Like a Fresh New Penny, $7)

My personal detergent of choice, soap powder in your choice of unscented, lemon, lavender, ocean, floral or pine (Fabled Soap Co., $8.50)

If you’re more into liquid detergents, we recommend this lemongrass, 100% biodegradable detergent (Harlow Creative, $22)

Choose between scents in lemongrass, lavender and personal favorite tea tree (Whispering Willow Soap, $12)

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Karen H.
Karen H.2 years ago

Care2 has featured articles on how Borax is dangerous, and how using certain oils is detrimental to animal life--and then there are articles like this that use the items we've been advised to avoid. Sure, making your own is a good idea--although time-consuming and somewhat confusing--but listing ingredients that Care2 advocates avoiding makes these articles look like nothing more than glorified advertisements.

Amanda M.
Amanda M.2 years ago

I've been using All Free & Clear for years, but I've discovered a DIY laundry soap-making set in the Lehman's catalog that includes bar soap, borax, washing soda, and the tools and recipe for making them into a gel-like laundry soap. According to the catalog, it makes enough for about 800 laundry loads' worth of soap. Considering the price, I'm thinking of crunching the numbers and seeing if it's worth switching from All to the homemade stuff. If it is, you can bet I'll be ordering that soap-making kit next tax season and giving it a shot!

Nichola Mac D
Nichola Mac D2 years ago

thank you...

Terry V.
Terry V.2 years ago


katherine masley
katherine masley2 years ago


Kelly Rogers
Kelly Rogers2 years ago


Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey2 years ago

Thanks for the tip. I personally, liked the toilet bowl cleaning tip using Borax powder, best.

Ligita Z.
Ligita Z.2 years ago

thanks for the article, now i know that i can find replacement for chemicals for something more natural...yeyyy

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola2 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Violeta Stoiculet