Homemade Laundry Detergent & More

homemade detergent recipe

Homemade Laundry Detergent, Pre-wash and Fabric Softener RecipesSimple, effective and so affordable!!

Making homemade laundry detergent is as easy as washing soda (aka washing powder), borax and grated bar soap, that's it....you have homemade laundry soap!!  We also offer a liquid recipe, easy peasy!

We've also included laundry help with a great Pre-wash Solution Recipe, Homemade Fabric Softeners and laundry tips!

Please don't miss reading Why Homemade Detergent following the recipes. The chemicals in commercial detergents will shock you!

With homemade laundry soap you can have clean, fresh, natural laundry that is not only better for you and your family but our environment as well.

Also, don't miss the authentic recipe at the bottom of the page.   You'll realize after reading it that making your own is, truly a breeze!!!

Pre-wash Solution Recipe
Before you start your wash, hit those stains!!

Prewash Solution – Equal proportion of white vinegar, water & dish soap, I use 1/3 cup of each, stir it and pour into a spray bottle from the dollar store.

Spray on stains before washing and give a little scrub if you think necessary, now you’re ready…..

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipes

Homemade Laundry Detergent (DRY) is also safe for HE since it’s low suds. (I bought a really cute container at Ross that says French Laundry – nice addition to the laundry room shelf)

1 C Grated Bar Soap

½ C Washing Soda

½ C Borax

For light load, use 1 Tablespoon for heavy or soiled, use 2 Tablespoons.

I promise, once you find where to buy these 3 ingredients, it’s a piece of cake, not to mention you’ll be using these ingredients for other cleaning recipes as well.

If you end up only using it for homemade detergent, it will make several batches.

For the Bar Soap, you can use any bar of soap but I like to use Dr.Bronner's natural Castile Soap.

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If you let the bar of soap dry out ahead of time, it will grate easier and finer (you want it to be fine) and you can do this by simply unwrapping the bar and leaving in a dry place for a few days ahead of time.

For the Washing Soda, the most familiar brand is Arm & Hammer, if you can't find it on the store shelf in the laundry aisle of your grocery store or Walmart, just google it in your area.

I get mine at Ace Hardware, it is not the same as baking soda, washing soda is a sodium carbonate or soda ash whereas Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.

The washing soda is best for homemade detergent, if you can't find it in your area after Googling  “Arm & Hammer Washing Soda,”  you can call Church & Dwight the suppliers (1-800-524-1328) give them the UPC#33200-03020 and they can give you your local options.

Borax – You should be able to find on the laundry aisle in most stores so don’t let the unknowns discourage you from making your own homemade detergent.

These ingredient are available and hopefully you’ll use them to make other cleaning products.

Homemade Laundry Detergent (Liquid)

3 C Liquid Castile Soap

1/3 C White Distilled Vinegar

1-2 Tbls Glycerin

1 C Water

15-20 drops of your favorite essential oil  (suggestion: divide recipe in half and choose essential oils fitting for male laundry and other half essential oils for female)

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Homemade Fabric Softeners

Fabric Softeners

Vinegar  (distilled white) is probably the most common, effective and simple choice for fabric softener.

It removes soap residue and static leaving clothes nice and soft....it really doesn't need to be any more complicated than that!!   

You can pour the vinegar into your fabric softener dispenser or add to your final rinse cycle.  (1/2-1 C depending on your load size)

You may want to add that extra great smell by adding a couple drops of essential oils to it.  To make a big batch once, just add approx 20 - 25 drops of essential oil to your gallon of vinegar.

Another simple remedy is to add a few drops of essential oils to a damp cotton cloth and toss in the dryer as you would a dryer sheet. (lavender oil is popular but you may have to consider who you’re doing laundry for, there are more manly essential oils available).

Results? Fresh, clean, homemade and guilt free laundry for you and your family. Enjoy!!

Why Homemade Laundry Detergent

The following chemicals are found in commercial detergents.


Many laundry detergents contain 1,4-dioxane a known carcinogen recognized by OSHA as an air contaminant.

It is absorbed through the skin and can cause numerous side effects such as headaches, nausea, respiratory problems and possible kidney or liver damage.


Considered an air contaminant by OSHA, chloromethane is found in some dryer sheets and is known to cause tremors, vomiting and personality changes.

It is also considered a neurotoxicant and can cause long term nervous system damage.


Acetaldehyde is an ingredient in some fabric softeners and is considered a marine pollutant.

It can cause irritation of the sinuses, respiratory system and mucous membranes.

It has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animal studies. It is listed with the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act as a Toxic Release Inventory Chemical.

Benzyl Acetate

Absorbed through the skin, benzyl acetate can cause central nervous system damage and damage to the urinary system.

It is used as a fragrance in laundry detergents and fabric softeners.

It is an eye irritant and if inhaled, can cause permanent injury or death. It is considered an air contaminant by OSHA


Exposure to 2-butanone is considered a skin and sense organ toxicant and can be found in some laundry detergents.

It can cause skin irritation such as dry, cracking skin and inhalation can cause dizziness and drowsiness.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lists it as hazardous substance.

The U.S. Geological Surveys reports detergent metabolites and disinfectants threatens the life and quality of fish in streams nationwide along with various other household chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, etc.  

One of the biggest culprits in ocean pollution is phosphates, common in laundry detergents and some cleaning products.   The average consumer nationwide uses about 30 pounds of laundry detergent a year.   All of this is wreaking havoc and harm to our ecosystem balance.   

The following recipe has been passed down through generations.   I kept the spelling authentic.   

For better or for worse, we've come a long way!!

washing clothes


Build fire in backyard to heat kettle of rain water. Set tubs so smoke wont blow in eyes if wind is pert. Shave on hole cake of lie soap in boilin water.

Sort things, make 3 piles 1 pile white 1 pile colored 1 pile work britches and rags. To make starch, stir flour in cool water to smooth, then thin down with boiling water

Take white things, rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, and boil, then rub colored don’t boil just wrench and starch.

Take things out of the kettle with broom stick handle, then wrench, and starch.

Hang old rags on fence.

Spread tea towels on grass.

Pore wrench water in flower bed. Scrub porch with hot soapy water. Turn tubs upside down.

Go put on clean dress, smooth hair with hair combs. Brew cup of tea, sit and rock a spell and count your blessings.

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