Why you should avoid packaged laundry detergent and how to make your own


So let me ask you…do you wash your clothes? I’m guessing the answer is yes…if your answer is no then I think we should be having a different conversation.

So now let me ask you…have you ever thought of making your own?

I hear what you’re thinking right now and believe me…if you tried to convert me to homemade laundry soap 5 years ago because of “nasty toxic chemicals”, the “effect on the environment” or even for “cost savings” it would have fallen on deaf ears and/or I would have saved you for dinner table talk to giggle at your frugal over zealous change the world hippy ways.

I know that’s not really nice and trust me when I say that now that I am on the educating (preaching) side of things I deal with my own fair share of eye rolling, giggling and teasing. Let’s talk it out though before you give up on the idea of it or sprain a finger pointing and laughing at me.

How many loads of laundry do you do a week? We are a family of 5 + a dog so we go through A LOT of laundry and I do mean A LOT especially since we have a little one in cloth (reuseable) diapers. We probably average between 6-8 loads of laundry a week, give or take. There are many reasons we should avoid commercial laundry detergent;

  1. All of these loads of laundry means a lot of chemicals going into the water.
  2. Toxins seeping into the outside air (honestly how many times have you been outside trying to enjoy the beautiful smell of lilacs in the spring and instead have had to smell the laundry from your neighbours home).
  3. Nasty chemicals on our bodies.
  4. Wasted natural resources – water, energy and waste involved in making, transporting and recycling all of those bottles and boxes to the store shelves.

So I say nasty chemicals and you wonder “like what?” and “why should we avoid it?”. Well how about trisodium nitrilotriactetate (possible cancer contributors) and did you know that there are asthma agitators such as monoethanolamine (an ingredient even found in the leading baby brand detergent)? Not to mention the “pretty” scents they lure us with are synthetic and full of phthalates (hormone disruptor). All of these are contributors or agitators of allergies and sensitive skin. What’s that you say?  What about if you use the “good stuff” well here’s some bad news…terms such as “natural”, “green”, and  ”eco-friendly” are not regulated.  These terms are often used but are not actually monitored by anyone and often times this is a marketing ploy called “green-washing”. These terms are used to make us believe that we are doing some good by buying these products but often they are still using bad stuff but staying away from the worst offenders (I guess a little is better than none though) giving them the opportunity to use these terms.

The best way to avoid this nonsense is to make your own. Be in control of your own health and your own wealth (we estimate that making our own costs us .25 per load as compared to .45 per load when we used the leading laundry brand).


  1. 1 cup washing soda
    (if you cannot find this – use baking soda that you have baked in an oven for 1 – 2 hours at 400 degrees – For a full tutorial please see here
  2. 1 cup baking soda
    (you can use the same amount of borax if you feel this will clean your clothes better but I find baking soda is just fine)
  3. 1 bar of castile soap (grated)
    If you aren’t as worried about health/green factor you can use any other bar soap
  4. Essential oil (optional)

How to make

  1. Grate your soap with a box grater (or in a food processor if you prefer)
  2. Measure one cup each of baking soda and washing soda and pour into a bowl
  3. Add the grated soap to the baking and washing soda
  4. Add 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (I like grapefruit and you could use a couple of drops of teatree oil for the antibacterial effect if you like)
  5. Store in a pretty glass container or whatever you have laying around
  6. If you want a bigger batch to last longer simple double or triple the ingredients. I know I would prefer to make detergent as infrequently as possible so I make a large batch when I make it. (The batch photographed here in the jar is a double batch and this will last us for approximately 50 large loads more if they are smaller.)

How to use

For a small load use 1 tbsp but for a large load or heavily soiled laundry use 2 tbsp. Please note that I do not use this soap on my cloth diapers due to the fact that some soaps (such as castile) can cause repelling and leaking issues from build up.

Why stop there? While you are at it…why don’t you ditch the fabric softener and dryer sheets in lieu of vinegar in the rinse cycle? Don’t worry, your clothes will not smell like vinegar but they will be soft.

How about stain removal – we use Buncha Farmers Natural Stain Stick . This stuff works wonders.

Home made laundry soap is a great step to take towards detoxing your home and being more natural and more self sufficient. Think of it as freedom. Freedom from the synthetic scents that are likely the cause of many of our headaches, freedom from the burden on our liver to clear the toxins from our body, freedom from the packaging and freedom from the skin rashes or itchiness that comes from these unpronounceable ingredients.

It’s easy to do, takes all of 10 minutes and you can feel healthier, wealthier and craftier all at the same time. This formula gets yoru clothes clean, does not irritate your skin and reduces your carbon footprint at the same time.

TIP: Buy some pretty containers for storage and wrap with a pretty ribbon or some jute and give as a gift with a tag telling the recipient how to use and how to make it for themselves so they too can be healthier, wealthier and more self sufficient.

NOTE: This soap is low sudsing so it will not look like the soap  you are used to seeing but this does not have any relevance to how well it’s washing your clothes. Also, because it is low sudsing it should be safe to use in an HE washer although I do not have one so I cannot attest to this (although I understand that HE soaps are low sudsing), that being said please use at your own discretion.

Buy the Ingredients Online

Baking Soda
US Store | Canadian Store

Washing Soda
US Store | Canadian Store

Castille Soap
US Store | Canadian Store

If you are not into making your own soap but are looking for healthier or greener options, try some of the following:

Nellies Laundry Soda
US Store | Canadian Store

I have used this brand and liked it’s cleaning ability and I was able to find it locally as well

Eco Nuts / Soap nuts
US Store | Canadian Store

If you have never heard of soap nuts they are little berries from a soap tree and they are 100% organic, you put a few in a muslin bag and throw them in the wash and they can be reused multiple times although they are not so good in cold water or for heavily soiled items. I have used soap nuts and they were alright but they recommend you take them out during the rinse cycle and I always forget and sometimes they have even accidentally gone into the dryer – oops.

Seventh Generation
US Store | Canadian Store

Little laundry pod type things for those who  hate to measure. I have not used this brand but have read good reviews on it’s cleaning efficiency.

Bio Vert Laundry Detergent
US Store | Canadian Store

I have also never used this brand but have read good reviews on it.

Happy Washing!!!

Disclaimer - The links above are affiliate links and they assist us in the costs of maintaining our blog. 




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