4 DIY Non-Toxic Laundry Tips

When you wash your clothes in conventional laundry detergents, you’re getting a lot more than you bargained for. From harmful chemicals that pollute our water supply to “fragrance” that lingers on your clean clothes, that box of detergent leaves a lot to be desired.

Detergent isn’t the only dirty part of doing the laundry. Dryer sheets and liquid fabric softener are not so clean from a health or environmental standpoint, either. They contain a laundry list of ingredients, many of which are rated high for toxicity or are even completely unregulated.

Not all chemicals are harmful, of course. Baking soda is a chemical, and so are salt, borax, and acetic acid (found in vinegar). The trouble comes in when we’re talking about chemicals that harm our health, that pollute the environment, or that breed antibiotic resistance. Luckily, you don’t have to wash your clothes in harmful chemicals! Here are some DIY alternatives to get your laundry truly clean and leave it smelling fresh.

DIY Laundry Detergent Options

Instead of potentially toxic conventional detergents, you can whip yourself up a batch of homemade laundry soap instead! Homemade detergents can be just as effective as the store-bought variety, and they’re often much less expensive to boot.

Soap Nuts

soap nutsSoap nuts are one of the simplest DIY detergent options, because they only contain one ingredient: soapberries. When you agitate soap nuts in the washing machine, they release saponin, which helps the water dissolve dirt and stains from your clothes. You can toss them into the machine whole, grind them up, or make soap nut liquid detergent by boiling them in water. If you need more deets on how to use soap nuts, there are some great recipes here.

The coolest thing about soap nuts? When you’re done using them, you can compost them right in the garden. How cool is that?

Homemade Laundry Detergent

It’s easy as pie to whip up a batch of DIY laundry detergent. Here’s how!

1. Grate 1 bar of castille soap, like Dr. Bronner’s.

2. Add 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda

3. To wash your clothes, use 1-2 tablespoons (depending on how dirty the laundry is and how hard your water is), just like you would store bought detergent.

laundry sachet

How to Make a Laundry Sachet

Dryer sheets are bad news. Sure, they leave your clothes smelling nice, but the way they do that is by coating the fabric in toxins and “fragrance,” which could be anything from a list of chemicals. The term “fragrance” is totally unregulated, meaning that manufacturers don’t have to disclose which chemicals they are using. No, thank you!

Instead of scenting your clothes with synthetics, you can use all natural herbs. Most homemade sachets I’ve seen use lavender, but you can also use other herbs like raspberry leaf to gently scent your clothes without the toxins. To make your own laundry sachet:

1. Cut a piece of organic or scrap fabric to 11″ x 4.5″, then fold and iron it in half, right sides together.

2. Use your sewing machine to stitch all the way around the folded fabric, leaving yourself a 2″ gap so that you can flip it right side out and stuff it.

3. Stuff your sachet with 1 1/2 cups of the dried herbs of your choice.

4. Tuck in the unfinished opening, stitch it closed, and you’re ready to toss your new sachet in the dryer!

Image Credit: Photo by Becky Striepe

essential oils for fabric softener

The essential oils in this fabric softener recipe leave your clothes smelling sweet!

Homemade Liquid Fabric Softener

Just like dryer sheets, liquid fabric softener is bad news. The homemade sort is not only better for your health, it’s much less pricey than the store-bought variety. You can use it in your washing machine just like commercial softeners! Here’s how to make your own liquid fabric softener.

1. Add 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil to a one-gallon jug of white vinegar.

2. Close the lid and give it a good shake.

3. When it’s time to do your laundry, shake it once again, and use 1/3 cup per load.

That’s it!

How do you guys keep your laundry free of harmful chemicals? I’d love to hear your favorite clean laundry tips in the comments!

Clean Clothes, Happier Planet
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Natural Laundry Solutions


Amanda N.
Amanda N.2 years ago

Great tips! I've found instead of fabric softener if you add a 1/4 cup to the rinse cycle it softens clothes while cleaning the washer tub at the same time.
Vancouver Laundry Care

Jane Lindenwood
Jane Lindenwood3 years ago

Instead of making your own soap, you can just buy Rockin' Green Soap. It's actually eco friendly and no optical brighteners, enzymes, phosphates, or other craziness. You only need a little bit of soap per load and you don't have to add anything to make it work well. Check it out!

George N.
George N.3 years ago

Thanks great tip . Another products that is made from natural earth minerals and will get rid of tough odors is odorklenz laundry additive. Unlike home remedies it takes the hard work out and is safe to use around your pets and family..

Ebba Schmutte
Ebba Schmutte4 years ago


Kim Janik
Kim Janik4 years ago

Great posting. Thanks.

Joel Romp
Joel R4 years ago

thank you so much for this read, I had no idea bout soapnuts or even the fact that companies didn't have to disclose what is in their scents! you are awesome!

Sheri P.
Sheri P4 years ago

excellent, thanks!

Michael H.
Mike H4 years ago

Thank you for sharing this

Joanna W.
Joanna W4 years ago

defo gonna try!!! thanx

Joanna W.
Joanna W4 years ago

defo gonna try!!! thanx