Mother Earth Living

Love Your Laundry: Homemade Laundry Detergents

For fresh, clean laundry without chemicals, make your own powders and sprays.
By Natural Home Staff
July/August 2010
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Make your own laundry detergent to keep harsh chemicals out of your clothes.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison

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For fresh, clean laundry without chemicals, make your own powders and sprays.

Simple Washing Powder

16 cups baking soda
12 cups washing soda
8 cups grated castile or glycerin soap flakes*
3 tablespoons lavender, lemon or grapefruit essential oil

Combine baking soda, washing soda and soap flakes. Add essential oil and mix with a wire whisk. Use 1⁄8 cup per load. Yield: This recipe makes enough powder to last a family of four one year.

*Try Sun Feather Natural Soap Company, or buy bars of castile soap (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s) and grate with a kitchen grater.

Pre-Wash Stain Spray

1⁄2 cup white vinegar
1⁄4 cup baking soda
3 cups water

Stir together and fill a labeled spray bottle. Spray on soiled spots just before washing. Always test a hidden spot first.

Bleach/Brightener Substitute

1 cup hydrogen peroxide
1⁄4 cup lemon or grapefruit juice
12 cups water

Store in a labeled plastic jug. Add 2 cups per load along with detergent.

Extra tips:
For extra-clean clothes, follow your detergent with 1/2 cup of washing soda, an all-natural laundry booster. Add baking soda to wash water at the same time as detergent to soften and freshen clothes and linens.

Buy It Instead

phosphate- and chlorine-free bleach, detergent and stain fighter

Clorox Green Works
naturally derived detergent and stain remover

Green Virgin Products Soap Nuts
100 percent natural hypoallergenic laundry soap

Planet Inc.
100 percent biodegradable detergent

Seventh Generation
nontoxic, biodegradable bleach, detergent, softener

Post a comment below.


7/17/2014 9:40:27 AM
Is the Simple Washing Powder recipe missing borax? Instructions mention it, but list doesn't have it. Thanks.

7/29/2013 1:04:15 PM

Few things - you need to use washing soda not baking soda. For your pre-wash stain treatment: baking soda + vinegar is ineffective. The two pH's cancel each other out rendering the solution useless. You are left with a solution of water and what is essentiall a salt. If you are going to mix lemon juice/hydrogen peroxide you need to store it in an opaque container. If you store it in a jug as suggested, hydrogen peroxide reacts with the light and becomes water - completely ineffective. This article was very porly researched.

3/7/2013 12:55:30 AM
Borax is not safe or good environmentally it gets an F rating from Environmental Working Group and Mother Earth News even posted an article about its dangers. Rather ridiculous to see it in a recipe here!

Marina Ludwigson
12/11/2012 5:07:28 PM
Samantha, I know sometimes it takes a while for anyone to get back us so this is what I'd do. Try it and see what happens. Just put 1/2 the amount right in with the clothes, not in the dispencer for the liquids. I've been putting in borax with mine and it works fine. Another thing I'm going to do is pick up some liquid castile to use and only use about 1/4 at a time. I've been using the borax 1/2c. to help freshen and soften along with the boosting of the laundry soap I'm using now. It's about gone and then I will make my own again. So much more efficient and less expensive. I will add essential oils to this, too. I hope this will be of benifit to you...or anyone else.

Samantha Scheiman
10/18/2012 5:18:57 PM
Is the Simple Washing Powder compatible with high-efficiency washing machines? Thanks in advance.

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