Wayward Living Tip: DIY laundry detergent

This is not soy sauce.


After talking about it for months, Zach and I finally took a big DIY plunge recently. We made our own laundry detergent.

It was so easy!

Although we had the three necessary ingredients on hand – borax, washing soda and a bar of soap – we whipped up our first batch with a pre-made mix purchased at the Farmers’ Market from our friends at Nutressant who have already turned us on to natural toothpaste and natural deoderant.

The little brown bag contains equal parts borax and washing soda and shredded cheese pre-grated soap, plus instructions for mixing it all up.

Basically, you just need to add water to the mixture and heat it over the stove, stirring until the soap flakes dissolve. Then, you add more cool tap water and pour it all into your desired container. In a little while, the liquid turns into a jelly-like state and you have homemade laundry detergent. Plus, you get a label to afix to your end container.


Nutressant’s mix costs $9 and is supposed to make enough detergent to wash 64 loads. The Nutressant folks assured me that the “low suds” recipe would be safe for our high efficiency washing machine, and that seems to be true. No problems so far.

That is, we’ve had no problems with their mix or our own.

We were so excited after making the Nutressant stuff that we immediately made a bunch more of our own laundry detergent. Zach grated the soap — a bar of Nutressant we had on hand. He also added a few drops of essential oils like lavendar and eucalyptus as we transfered our detergent into bottles.

The whole prepping and mixing process took less than an hour and yielded us the equivalent of over two bottles of commercially-availalbe detergent.

We’ve been using homemade detergent for about three weeks now, and I don’t think we’ll ever go back. Our solution is way cheaper, involves no scary, hard-to-pronounce chemicals and is much easier on the environment.

I’m not giving you a precise recipe here because we kind of eyeballed things, based on the Nutressant directions.

But here’s a tip: It’s not recommended to use just any old bar of soap. There are specific kinds of bar soap that are considered laundry soap (Zote is one). You mainly want to avoid using any extra-moisturizing bar soaps becuase they could leave oily stains on your clothes.

The next time we mix up detergent, I’d like to try this Instructables recipe, which calls for a combination of washing soda and baking soda.

Washing soda is supposed to cut grease, while baking soda deoderizes – both key elements for clean clothes.

To learn more about the benefits of non-toxic household products, I recommend the website and documentary Chemerical.

Would you ever make your own detergent? If you have, please share any tips in the comments!

About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on July 10, 2012, in Environmentalism, Wayward Living and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. I’ve always wanted to try DIY laundry detergent….maybe I will finally bite the bullet and do it!

  2. Married with Dawgs

    I love DIY cleaners. I’m currently enamored with vinegar – it gets doggy smells out of laundry like nobody’s business & I use it to deodorize dog beds in between washing.

  3. Well aren’t you guys just the industrious ones. I am impressed. Never even occurred to me to make my own detergent. Now you’ll have me thinking about it all the time, until I finally get round to trying it.

  4. Jen makes her own laundry detergent but doesn’t cook it down… it stays in powder form. Soap, Borax, washing soda, baking soda…. stir and add to wash before clothing.

  5. Great post so great in fact I gave you an award and one you already have at that! Check out my latest post: http://adventuresofadogmom.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/ive-got-sunshine/

  6. We are becoming more and more DIY here on many things.. it saves a lot of money and you control what is in your products that you use! Impressive job! 🙂

  7. Wow! Does it wash as well as brand detergents?

    • So far, it seems to be getting our clothes just as clean as they were before. We’ll probably experiment with the strength of the mix every time we make a new batch until we find our perfect formula.

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