Borax-Free Homemade Laundry Detergent

Glass bottle of Borax-Free Laundry Detergent
Recipe At-A-Glance
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Natural Home10 minutes
Don't shell out all your money for natural laundry detergents. Make your own homemade laundry detergent for less than $5 per gallon instead!

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When we made the switch a few years back to all-natural cleaning supplies, we switched our laundry detergent, too. We started off shelling out lots of cash for all-natural versions on store shelves, but we figured there had to be another way—they were just so darn expensive!

My husband and I started researching homemade laundry detergent out there, and there were a ton of options. And a lot of them used borax—an ingredient that we were hesitant to use. Many folks consider borax completely safe to use in the home, but for us, it was important to use as few ingredients as possible. Borox wasn’t something that was readily available at our small-town grocery store, so we wanted to try our hands at making a laundry detergent with the ingredients we could easily get our hands on. So that meant it was experimentation time!

Ingredients for Borax-Free Laundry Detergent in individual measuring cups

It took a few trials, but we ended up figuring out a borax-free laundry detergent that works really, incredibly well for us. We’ve been using this for years and our clothes get clean—like, really clean. And we’re pretty tough on our laundry.

Why should I make homemade laundry detergent?

Homemade laundry detergent is a huge budget-saver—especially if you tend to purchase organic and natural versions of your favorite detergent. That’s our main motivator! Combine that with knowing exactly the ingredients that go in every batch, and we were sold on it.

Does homemade laundry soap really work?

We do a lot of manual labor around here—playing in the dirt in the garden, hauling firewood, sweating up a storm, and getting our clothes into all kinds of not-so-clean situations. We’ve definitely put this stuff to the test. And we’ve been happy with it!

But I will put a caveat out there that to determine if this laundry soap “works” or not will depend on your personal definition of “clean.” To us, clean means no smells and no dirt! And this laundry soap does the trick. If your definition of “clean” means heavy scents, this isn’t the detergent for you.

Isn’t homemade laundry soap bad for your washing machine?

We get this question a lot, and we can only speak from our experience—we’ve been using this laundry soap for over five years in our modern, top-load washing machine without a speck of issues. When we had a repairman out a few years ago (to look at our dryer), I asked the question about homemade laundry soap, and he said just as long as you don’t use vinegar in your machine—which can erode the seals—he saw no reason why it would be a problem. 

Will this get out stains?

We pretreat all of our stains with either straight castile soap or a purchased stain stick. This detergent will work like typical laundry detergent on stains—it’ll get out the ones that aren’t set in, but you’ll need some more power to get tougher stains out.

Glass bowl being filled with the ingredients for Borax-Free Laundry Detergent

What does this detergent smell like?

I think my favorite part of this detergent is that my clothes don’t smell like anything when they come out of the dryer. No lilac fields or clean summer dew scents. It took me a really long time to learn that “clean” doesn’t smell like something. Rather, true “clean” smells like absolutely nothing. And this detergent gets our clothes to smelling like nothing!

Of course, if you like some scent in your laundry, you could throw in a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mixture (in fact, lemon is an all-natural stain-fighter, and lavender is always a wonderful scent to add to almost anything!).

Glass measuring cup pouring Borax-Free Laundry Detergent into a glass jug

Does this work in an HE washer?

We have regular HE top loading washer, so I have no idea if this will work with the HE front-loading machines. It might—because it’s a low-soap, low-suds mixture—but try at your own risk! We also didn’t use this stuff when we were washing cloth diapers, because I had no idea if it would break down the absorbency—we just stuck to Rockin Green for those.

Glass jug of Homemade Laundry Detergent surrounded by sprigs of lavender.

How much homemade laundry detergent should I use?

This recipe will make a gallon of detergent. About a half cup of this stuff gets a super-large load of our clothes very clean, but you might need to do some trial-and-error to figure out what the right amount is for your machine. 

Is this cost-effective?

It costs me less than $5 to make each gallon of homemade laundry detergent. And using a half cup per load, I get about 40 loads of laundry out of one batch—what a steal! 

Does this work for sensitive skin?

We don’t have many sensitive skin issues in our family, so we haven’t tested this on anyone who has sensitive skin issues. The baking soda might be irritating to some. 

What ingredients are in this homemade laundry detergent?

You only need a handful of ingredients to make laundry detergent, making this super cost-effective. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Hot water
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Unscented liquid castile soap

How do I make laundry detergent?

If you can heat water, you can make laundry detergent! Here’s what to do:

  1. Dissolve baking soda and salt in very hot water.
  2. Add the liquid castile soap. You can add essential oils here if you want to make it scented, too.
  3. Close and label.

Your detergent is ready to go!

Want more natural home recipes like this one?

  • Homemade Linen Spray. Keep your sheets smelling fresh and usher in sleep with this lavender spray.
  • DIY Stain Remover Spray. Pair this with the homemade laundry detergent for some real cleaning power.
  • Reusable Produce BagsCut back on single use plastics in your home by making and using your own cloth produce bags.
  • How to Make and Use Reusable Toilet PaperWe teach you how to make, use, and clean family cloth.

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Glass bottle of Borax-Free Laundry Detergent

Borax-Free Homemade Laundry Detergent

Yield: 1 gallon
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Don't shell out all your money for natural laundry detergents. Make your own homemade laundry detergent for less than $5 per gallon instead!

Materials

  • 14 cups very hot water, divided
  • 1 cup baking soda, divided
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup unscented liquid castile soap
  • 30 drops lavender essential oil, optional, for scent
  • Gallon-sized jug

Tools

  • Large glass measuring cup or bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Spoon

Instructions

To Make:

  1. In a large glass measuring cup or bowl, combine 7 cups of the hot water with half the baking soda (1/2 cup) and half the salt (1/4 cup). Stir well until completely dissolved. The mixture will start out cloudy and fizzy, but when it’s completely dissolved, it should be mostly clear. Pour the mixture into a gallon-sized jug.
  2. Repeat step one with the remaining water, baking soda, and salt, and then add the mixture to the gallon-sized jug.
  3. Add in the liquid castile soap and essential oil, if using. Swirl gently, close, and label.

To Use:

  1. Shake the container to mix ingredients, then either pour 1/2 cup (you can use more if it’s a particularly dirty or large load) of the solution into the washer while it fills, or place it in the soap cup provided in your washing machine.
  2. This recipe has NOT been tested with a front-loading high-efficiency washer. I use it in my top-loading HE washer just fine though.

Notes

  • We break up the baking soda addition mostly because people don’t usually have a 16 cup measuring cup! It also seems to help get the baking soda to dissolve properly. This recipe uses almost the max amount of baking soda density that can dissolve in water, so make sure not to add more baking soda or use less water.
  • If you are having trouble dissolving the baking soda, heat the water, salt, and baking soda in a large pot over medium heat until completely dissolved.

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

145 Responses
  1. Jana

    Aaaaaah, this looks excellent! I started using soap nuts a few years ago, but they (well, the ones I buy, anyway) don’t work all that well for temperatures under 40°. So it’s always a trade-off for me to pollute the environment by heating water more than necessary (besides the fact that not everything can be washed at hot temperatures) vs. using a not-so-natural detergent. Do you have any idea whether this stuff needs hot water to work well?

    1. Cassie

      We use it with cold water all the time. In fact, the only time we wash anything with hot water is when we’re washing diapers.

      1. Jana

        Awesome, that’s great to hear! Thanks for the quick reply! 🙂

        (Also, I just realized I threw celsius temperatures at you, sorry about that. 😉 Then again, maybe being married to Canadian means you’re fluent in both scales anyway.)

    1. Cassie

      We can get it at almost every grocery store in our area (Kroger, Meijer, Trader Joe’s, Walmart, etc.). But, go figure, the cheapest place to find it is Whole Foods! It’s pretty much the only thing that is cheapest at WF. 🙂

  2. Ashley

    I totally appreciate your desire to move towards more natural options, but I have to implore you to please please keep and open mind when it comes to your cloth diapers. If the Rockin’ Green is working for you for now, that’s great. But cloth diapers are cloth. They aren’t anything special and using heavy detergents on them and even bleach isn’t going to do anything to them but get them super clean. The more natural detergents that don’t clean very well can appear to work in the short term, but over time the diapers get dirtier and dirtier and can even develop ammonia from the urine not being washed out, which can lead to ammonia burns on little heinies. It’s very sad and despite what most CD retailers will tell you, it’s not from too much detergent. That doesn’t make any sense at all, more cleaning power should not equal more dirty diapers. I speak from experience (except the burns, I thankfully wised up prior to it getting that bad), and had to move away from soap nuts because it just was not getting things that contain human waste clean. While I’m not a huge fan of Tide for the environment or in general, nothing else gets my diapers clean enough, and after over a year and a half of use I can assure you that even diaper I have is still in great condition with no noticeable wear on the fabric or decreased absorbency.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now 🙂 If the Rockin’ Green continues to work for you, that’s wonderful. But if you start to notice and smells at all (barnyard, ammonia, general funk) when they are clean or immediately after being peed in, please consider a stronger detergent. I have no idea how this myth of detergent = bad got started in the CD world, but I think the desire for most CD families to remain natural is what perpetuates it. And I am ALL for that – unless it means dirty diapers, in which case I happily purchase my Tide alongside my organic veggies and other plant based cleaners 🙂

    1. Gabb

      I am the Operations manager at a large TNR Center/cat rescue. I daresay NOBODY gets more protein based grossness than us…maybe a human hospital…but we get the worst of the worst.

      Any possible gross bodily function there is,
      Post surgical medical messes, blood, dried-in blood, feral cat pee, vomit, feces, flea infestations, pathological toxins of all sorts, parasites, viruses….. we get it all,
      We do about 5-8 loads per day.

      We utilize both a brand new Speed Queen top loader that fills ALL the way up with scorching hot water, and also a whirlpool Duet front-loader HE. machine.

      Until this year, we ran whatever big brand liquid detergents that were around…usually Tide……along with a scoop of borax.

      After a tremendous amount of research and analysis, we have switched to Amway SA8 powder exclusively, and no longer require the borax.
      The SA8 is hands down superior in every single category, from it’s uber-green ingredients to it’s hypo-allergenic qualities, to its clean-rinse characteristics. It contains NO clay, is septic-safe, and is not made of petrochemicals mined by 8 year-old’s in Malaysia like some other globalist puppeteer petrochemical offerings…(cough…proctorandgamble…cough)

      I am still eyeing JR Watkins Detergent…but haven’t tried it yet and and have switched all our operations and protocols over to the SA8 and love it.

      We went from constantly changing and confusing amounts of drippy, messy liquids,.. to a single 3 tbsp scoop per load.
      Simple.
      No muss, no fuss.

    1. Oriane

      Really good recipe, I have been using it for almost a year now and I’m really happy with it. I was wondering though, I have some washing soda at home, could I do half baking soda, half washing soda?

      1. Danielle @Wholefully

        Hi, Oriane! We haven’t tried swapping washing soda for baking soda in this recipe, but it should work. Washing soda can be a bit harsher, so starting with half and half is a good idea. You can always adjust your ratios if you notice any issues. Let us know how it works out for you!

    1. Wendy

      Made some liquid castile soap and thought I’ll try out this recipe. I like that it doesn’t contain borax and I don’t need to bake my baking soda to make washing soda. I used it on my HE front load washer and it was fine. So far I can’t tell the difference between homemade and store bought. That being said, the true test is when the clothes have been in the drawer a few days and my husband isn’t complaining on some funky smell or strange texture.

    2. Kimberly

      I have a he frontloader and I just went through my first full batch of this soap. It worked great. I added apple cider vinegar to the softener dispenser and my clothes have come out amazing every load.

  3. This is awesome. I recently made enough laundry detergent to last us until the apocalypse- however, it’s a recipe with borax and I’m pretty sure it’s making my son break out in hives. Fortunately it was super cheap to make. I’m excited to try this one instead!

  4. I have to ask have you ever used Kosher salt? Also, what about using some of the scented castile soaps? Have you ever tried any of them? There are quite a few really nice scented ones – peppermint, lavender, tea tree – which I think might be quite “clean” smelling and not overly scented. I have a front loading high efficiency and think I might give this a try. Thanks for the post!

    1. Cassie

      I have used Kosher salt, and it works just fine, you just have to make sure it dissolves well if you use the chunky stuff. And we have used the scented ones—lavender and peppermint, but I can’t really remember the smell lingering on our clothes.

  5. Keri

    Hi, I am very keen to try your laundry detergent. I can only find one supplier of liquid castile soap in New Zealand and the ingredients listed are – water, NZ olive oil and coconut oil (all good so far …), along with potassium hydroxide and sodium borate to neutralise it. I have figured out that sodium borate is borax and I have no idea what potassium hydroxide is. As you are only using a little liquid castile soap, what do you think? Does all castile soap contain these ingredients? I have nothing here to compare. 🙂

      1. Keri

        Thank you! I have found several NZ stockists of Dr Bonner’s range. I’m not sure why I didn’t find them initially – my search skills are obviously lacking somewhat! 🙂 I have ordered a bottle and as soon as it arrives I’m in business!

  6. Thank you so much for this. I used to make my own detergent, a powder form, that contained borax,, but I always worries about it. Grating soap got to be too much work when baby 3 arrived last year plus I noticed our whites were getting really dingy and gray. I switched to a natural brand, but I hate paying for it. I can’t wait to try this! No boar band no grating bars of soap!

      1. Natalie

        Hi, does it matter what type of water we use? Only reason I ask is because of mold and metals in the water. However, I understand that same water is going through the washer. Should we add a natural preservative like vitamin E?

        1. Cassie Johnston

          We filter our water at our house, so if you are concerned about the contents of your water, I would recommend doing the same. 🙂

  7. Brooke

    Love the detergent it works great! However I can’t keep it in liquid form and have to put the container in hot water every time I use it to get it liquid enough to come out of the bottle. Any suggestions on how to prevent this?!? Thanks! B

      1. Brooke

        Ok thanks I will try to make it again this weekend and see………I used table salt, do u think it matters what kind of salt you use?

      2. Nicole

        Mine gets that way too, especially when I cook it. I make my own soap then grate it, add the Epsom salts and then the baking soda when it cools. It does this to me all the time…and has a tendency to explode when shaken… LOL… I am going to try and go by this recipe instead of my way… Just a few adjustments and I think it will work just fine.

      3. Caz

        Sodium chloride (table salt) is used to thicken castile soap shower gels etc, so this is why it’s thickening the solution. Just add more water to the mix so that it doesn’t end up like Flubber 🙂

  8. Abby

    I tried this recipe and it’s awesome! The country where I live is filled with detergents with strong fragrances that cause problems for my husband and I. The only places to find unscented natural detergents are 40 minutes away and they are very expensive. I had to make my own liquid castile using a really simple recipe I found on Pinterest (I purchased “baby castile”, which is very lightly scented, but only $0.84). I couldn’t find real salt that was inexpensive, so I skipped it. It came out fantastic anyway! I also found that this detergent is able to obliterate odors that the store bought detergents couldn’t!
    It’s wonderful for anyone with sensitivities or allergies to fragrances and strong chemical cleaners.

    Thank you so much for this information!

  9. Christine

    Thank you for this receipe which I can’t wait to try out. In the UK we don’t have Borax, so great to know you can make a detergent with out. Some very convincing reviews too 🙂 Happy washing !

  10. Hey, I am worried about my white cotton clothes as it not looking clean after the wash. I cannot use the chemical based products because it would be harmful for our us. However, it seems extreme to having a great natural detergent recipe.

  11. Hi – This looks great! Have you tried it with washing soda instead of baking soda? I just bought a box of washing soda and would like to use it for a detergent recipe.

  12. Heather

    Thanks so much for this recipe – Looking forward to trying it!

    Homemade detergent appealed to me every bit as much for the cost savings as for the simplicity and minimalism of the ingredients. So I made up a huge batch from a promising recipe I’d found, and after a few weeks of uneventful clean clothes, I took a nice trip to the prompt care clinic because all of a sudden my whole body from neck to knees was covered in a solid coating of hives and one of my arms started swelling up. The way it was everywhere, I had no idea what was causing it. Three harrowing weeks and two steroid courses later I finally figured it out… the hives were literally everywhere I wore clothes. Who’s got two thumbs and is startlingly allergic to borax? This girl right here!

    I felt really foolish at first, having a bad reaction to homemade when DuPont-made commercial stuff was fine. But I suppose it’s no more “foolish” than an allergy to a common food. I’m so, so glad it’s just that one, very optional ingredient.

  13. washing soda

    is there a reason for baking soda and not the washing soda. I just bought a big box, too, and wondered if it will work the same.

  14. Baking soda

    The baking soda doesn’t actually dissolve, right? I wondered if I could just leave the baking soda out of this recipe? Is the soap enough of a cleanser to be able to leave the baking soda out? Thanks!!

  15. Monica

    Re: baking soda
    From what I’ve been reading baking and washing soda can be used interchangeably, halving the washing soda when subbing for baking soda.
    I am going to try it with washing soda and see how it goes,
    Thanks for sgaring this recipe 🙂

  16. Trisha

    Hi. I’m super excited to try out your recipe! I was going to go buy the ingredients tomorrow, but just noticed that there’s a twelve-pack of Ivory bars in the linen closet. Was wondering if you, or anyone, knows if I can use it as a Castile replacement? Also, I was wondering if your recipe works on really grimy laundry? I’ve got some sort of “uber” body oil that detergents can’t seem to nix. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  17. Carrie

    Not sure how you got the baking soda and salt to dissolve. Am I doing something wrong? I had mine boiling and it still hasn’t dissolved.

    1. Jana

      While salt and baking soda do seem to dissolve somewhat when I make it, the detergent always separates in the jug. That’s not a problem, though – just shake the bottle before using, so you get the right ratio of all ingredients. Everything will eventually dissolve during the washing cycles.

      1. Maude

        I followed the recipe and after a couple of days, it clumped up at the top…I used Dr. Bronners liquid Castille soap.. Now I have to transfer in a Mason jar, and heat it up under warm water to melt the hard part (like harden coconut oil).. This is very annoying.. Any tips anyone to avoid this?????

    1. Aisling

      In my experience, using a powdered laundry mix is more effective. I use castile soap bars (Dr. Bronners), along with washing soda over baking soda (because washinn soda is more effective). You can just grate up the soap bars and use the other dry ingredients. 1-2 TBSP per load will work, and it’s good on HE washers.

  18. What a great recipe for laundry detergent! I have to try it! If I have to be sincere I am new in “green” cleaning because I have a little child and I want to do my best for her! Thank you for sharing!

  19. Jennifer

    Hi there, I’m really keen to use this recipe but I live in the UK, is there any chance you could convert these measurements to uk for me?

  20. Sarah

    Thanks for sharing this, sounds like a great recipe and I love that it doesn’t have Borax in it. How long should it take for the baking soda to dissolve? And does it matter if it doesn’t dissolve?Every time I stop stirring the soda just settles back on the bottom of the jug, even after heating on the stove for 10 minutes. I’m still going to try it though since you say to shake the mixture before using anyway, but wondered if I’d missed something.

  21. Elaine

    I am so interested in this but I have a few questions.. I was using Dr Bronners in my HE washer, and definitely noticed colour fading. I usually wash at 40 degrees. I was using about 1/8 cup per wash as recommended on the Dr Bronner website for HE. This recipe obviously uses much less soap, so I am hoping it doesnt fade clothes? But since it has so little soap to act as a surfactant, does it actually clean well?

  22. Dani

    Hi I just had a question about using salt and baking soda together. I’ve read in body scrubs (mainly in glass containers) that the combo of salt and baking soda create a gas and have caused explosion of glass containers. While I understand I won’t be storing detergent in glass- I was wondering has this ever been an issue with you or anyone in the plastic containers? (Lid popping off?) I’m assuming not but had to ask thanks! And was curious if diluting both in water stabilized the chemical reaction

    1. Cassie

      I’ve never seen any reaction like this—only with baking soda and vinegar. I shake the heck out of it, and have never had the top pop off.

      1. Burn

        I did get a lot of foam when I shook it.. possibly because there was a little bit of my original laundry detergent in the bottle or possibly because I substituted the salt for epsom salts. My lid didn’t pop, but I was surprised by all the bubbles because I thought it would be a bit like the normal eco detergents, which are not bubbly at all.

  23. Robin

    Also, the recipe on the blog says 4 cups of water but the recipe when clicking the laundry label says 2 cups of water. I used 4. Which is it? Thanks!

  24. A Crosby

    I started using this recipe and its magnificent! The clothes come out soft and extremely clean. I like it better than store bought because the clothes do not come out stiff. I put sweet orange essential oil in it to give it a fresh smell. I can say with all these years of washing, this is the best soap I’ve ever used. Plus it gets the clothing clean!

  25. Diane

    I’ve tried Dr. Bonnet liquid soap called them and asked questions love the scent, only problem is when you make one gallon with the liquid you have to use detergent within 30 days , does anyone have any recepies that there is no time limit when to use and how much should be used per load. I’ve wondered about making a gallon powder and adding water to make liquid form (which I like better) unsure how much to use per , I’m in need of help

  26. Kara

    I have been through numerous recipes in search of my favorite one. This one has stood the test of time! Been using it for 3 months now. Easy to make. I have the recipe memorized now. Thanks!!!!

  27. Akriti

    Hi. I have just recently decided to turn our house green and I’ve been researching laundry detergents. We live in India and a part of our laundry load is hand washed. I noticed this recipe does not use washing soda, which is a skin irritant. I have a few questions. Is baking soda as effective as washing soda (since this is one of the few recipes I found that does not make use of washing soda) would it be better for the skin if I add vegetable glycerin to the recipe? Do you think this recipe would work for a prewash soak? And would the addition of lemon essential oil improve the effectiveness of the recipe?
    Thank you!

  28. Jamie

    Thanks a lot for this great information.
    I used it today and it worked so well. Amazing. Simple ingredients , easy to make, inexpensive, and chemical free!! Yaaay
    THANK YOU THANK YOU!! 🙂

  29. Lili Small

    Thanks for posting this formula!!! Have been using this for months and love it…. And I have two teenage athletes with very dirty socks, so that’s really saying something! Just curious why you recommend baking soda as opposed to washing soda. Does it make a difference?

    1. Kristine

      I just finished using up my first batch of this and I love it! I had been using an all natural lavender detergent for years, and it was great but I am trying to reduce plastic in my house and unfortunately my detergent came in these massive plastic jugs. I made your detergent adding lavender essential oil and it smells and works exactly like the one I used to buy. Now I just reuse the same plastic jug. I’m making another batch right now and I’m trying it with half baking soda and half washing soda because I happen to have a big bag of washing soda. Thanks for this recipe!

      1. Danielle @Wholefully

        We’re so happy to hear that you love it, Kristine! Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us—we really appreciate it! =)

  30. Crystal

    I wanted to know what you could subsitute instead of using real salt if there is a good subsitution that will get the same results.

  31. Laurie

    You can always use vinegar in your rinse cycle to strip your cloth diapers if there is a build up from your homemade detergent. Vinegar also acts as a natural fabric softener. I always washed the kids cloth diapers in my regular detergent, but added a cup to cup and a half to the rinse cycle. Never had any problems with build up causing a lack of absorbency (which all commercial fabric softeners will do).

  32. Yolanda

    Hello, do the clothes come out white? Or can I add Oxi Clean to the mix?? Thanks so much. Can not wait to try this. I was getting tired of grating the soap also.

  33. Robin

    I had trouble with the baking soda dissolving also even though I would boil it on the stove. Maybe my water is too hard here in East Tennessee. I was able to dissolve 1/2 cup in 4 cups of water so I am going to try and dissolve in 2 batches and see if that helps.

  34. Yolanda

    I just made this and the baking soda and or salt just doesn’t disolve, It just sits on the bottom. I used very hot almost boiling water. Any ideas? I have a load of laundry in right now with this new soap. Hope it comes out ok.
    Thanks

  35. Jessica

    I just mixed everything like your recipe states and as soon as i added the castile soap everything clumped up. Any suggestions? Maybe I should take out the salt.

  36. jemima

    I have just made the laundry detergent this morning and used it in our front load washing machine. It does not lather well but a huge difference in my clothes. It’s softer and I added Ylang Ylang to my mix. It smells divine.

  37. Kristin

    Borax.. a “chemical”? Borax occurs naturally, it is usually found in evaporated lakes. Our entire planet is made up of “chemicals”- you, me, soap is a mix of chemicals. Borax, it is impossible to be allergic to it, but some may not like the feel of it, if too much is used on a fabric. It could be self-induced psycho-somatic sensitivity. But please, borax is a completely natural thing.

  38. Becky

    I like the idea of this, but it leaves white residue on my clothing every single time, even when made with boiling water and shaking vigorously before using to mix again. Any ideas?

    1. Cassie

      I’ve never had any issues with this, but I wonder if it might have something to do with the temp of your wash water or the hardness of your water?

  39. It works! For all of you who want to save our planet from harsh chemicals this is part of the solution! Once the load is done, sometimes I add a few drops of lemon essential oil to the dryer to add a pleasant smell to the washed clothes. I just shared it on Facebook. It deserves to go viral! Thank you so much for making your recipe available to everyone!

  40. I have used it HE washers. I use about a cup for every 6 loads of laundry. It works great and it make my cloths feels like i washed them 100 times. It also feels like i used fabric softener in the laundry. ( I didn’t ) I will keep using this AWSOME recipe. Thank you. YOU HAVE AWSOME HOMEMADE DIY WORK!!!!!

  41. HANNAH

    Man, tough crowd here!
    Just curious, can I use scented Dr. Bronners? I know it says unscented but I wasn’t sure if that was for sensitivity purposes or because it actually compromises the recipe. Thanks for sharing with us!

    1. Cassie

      Yup, I just leave it out because a lot of people struggle with fragrance (even natural ones), but if you don’t, go for it!

    1. Cassie Johnston

      We put it in old vinegar jugs, and it lasts as long as it takes us to get through it easily—so a month is the longest we’ve had it around.

  42. Bri

    I just made this and after it cooled it got a hard layer of what looks like soap on top that does not mix in even when I shake it! What did I do wrong!? And how do I fix it?

  43. Grace Pauli

    Where do you buy Castile soap for less then $5. Been looking for it, but have not been able to find it. Do you buy giant containers of it?

  44. Robin Mercado

    I’m trying another batch. Unfortunately as the concoction cooled in the jar the Castile soap hardened at the top ?

    I’m not letting the baking soda-salt-water mixture cool down completely as we speak before pouring it into the jug. Fingers crossed!

  45. Tracy Peilecke

    Tried the liquid laundry soap recipe and it works well. I used some vinegar in the rinse cycle for softener and also used 3 wool balls in the dryer but my laundry was still really staticky. Why? Do I need something else?

  46. Din

    In my experience, this does not rinse cleanly and clothes end up smelling dingy after just a few weeks of use. I used a similar recipe for about 3 months, and my clothes *seemed* clean after coming out of the dryer, but just a couple days after sitting in the drawer, they smelled dirty again. You know the ring around the tub from soap scum after your kids’ baths? That is what will build up in your washer after years of using this. Ask any appliance man, and he will agree. Professionally made detergents (different than soaps) are designed to rinse completely clean, leaving no residue. Vinegar also removes residue, but does not soften.

  47. Cassidi Delight

    I love this recipe thanks so much for creating it. I’m wondering if I can add glycerin to help thicken it and aid in cleaning? If so what amount would you suggest? Thanks!

  48. Alisia

    I love this recipe. There have been a few loads where a t-shirt of my husbands or two had to go through again but then I figured out that my detergent dispenser is only about a quarter cup. Also my soap curdled up when I added it to the baking soda and salt solution. Is there a way to avoid this?

  49. Letha

    HI there, I’m new to going all-natural with detergents. This recipe sounded easy-enough and not to time-consuming, so I made my first batch today. I only had Rose Castile Soap left, so used it.

    I have 2 questions. What is the table salt for? Also, can I add washing soda? Isn’t that a natural water softener?

    Lastly, do you have an all-natural alternative to bleach? Would that be real lemons or maybe lemon essential oil? I can see where using essential oils could get expensive.

    Thanks for all the great things you’re doing for our families and environment.

  50. Kelly

    Hi Cassie,
    I I made this amazing laundry soap and here is my problem,……. After being made 2 days it has become sooooo thick . Your looks dense as well in your lovely bottle. How do you navigate with the congealed or clumping of the settled product. I was thinking using my vita mix to make it smooth ……any interesting techniques for this situation? Or is it just par t of the experience. Thanks ,,,,,,gratitude

  51. Janet Richards

    Hi! Just tried this Borax-free laundry detergent, and I have a few questions:

    a.) no suds whatsoever. It may sound like a silly question, but does your clothing still get clean?
    b.) Any clue if I can substitute homemade Castile soap (made from bars of Kirk’s Castile soap) for purchased Castile soap?
    c.) Any clue if I can substitute Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda for the baking powder? Or add Super Washing Soda to the water along with this recipe?

    Thanks for any wisdom you can give me!

    1. Cassie Johnston

      Hi Janet! Yup, no suds (or not very many). This works well on our farm-dirty clothes, but if suds are important to you, I’d recommend another detergent. I don’t see why you couldn’t substitute homemade Castille soap and the washing soda. Good luck!

  52. Erela

    New front loaders require no more than 2 Tbsp of detergent. Has anyone had any issues when using this low amount (as compared to the 1/2 cup, suggested)?

  53. Eva Bubb

    i tested this recipe with a front loaded HE machine, works fine!
    used up a whole gallon without issue, making more now. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Stephanie! We’ve had several folks in the comments say they’ve used it in their HE front loading machine and it worked very well. A few even commented after using up the whole first batch and working their way through the second with great results! Let us know how it works out for you if you try it =)

  54. Misty Whitlock

    I have made this three times and like it overall but can’t get the soap and the rest of the mixture to stay combined. Even when I shake up the jug, it stays clumpy. Any tips on how to avoid or fix this?

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Misty! The key for us is to get it dissolved completely when you first make it. If everything doesn’t dissolve when you mix it up, it will separate as it settles.

      If you’re having trouble getting it to dissolve, you can try adding a cup or two of water. This recipe uses nearly the maximum density of baking soda you can do in a solution and still get it to dissolve. So adding a bit more water will help if yours doesn’t fully incorporate.

      We’re so glad you like the detergent overall. We hope this helps you love it even more! Let us know how it works out for you.

  55. Hi Cassie,
    I’m in Cornwall, UK. I love the idea of this simple laundry detergent, made from a few ingredients. I’ve been buying a commercial liquid made by E Cover for years and it seems okay – but it is punishingly expensive. I’m not even sure it is particularly wholesome and the list of contents is both long and hard to read as the list is printed in such small print. I have a question about the words ‘baking soda’ as I believe the words may mean something different in the States from in the UK. We have ‘baking soda’ and ‘baking powder.’ ‘Baking Soda’ is sodium bicarbonate, and ‘Baking Powder’ is a mix of Bicarbonate of Soda with some other stuff. To confuse myself more, I do also use Soda Crystals (sometimes called Washing Soda) for softening water and de-greasing in my dish-washing and to remove stains and whitening laundry. I just wanted to check that ‘Baking Soda’ is what I need to make your magical, and lovely liquid. I’m 71 and when I was at school we hardly learned any science or chemistry. I love investigations that feel a bit wholesomely productive. I’ve just signed up to your newsletter. Looking forward to hearing some more good things to do and make. Good wishes, Gabrielle

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Gabrielle! Those terms can get confusing! What we call ‘Baking Soda’ here in the States typically goes by ‘Bicarbonate of Soda’ or ‘Bicarb Soda’ or ‘Sodium Bicarbonate’ in the UK. The difference between baking soda and baking powder is the same here, though—baking soda is bicarbonate of soda and baking powder is bicarbonate of soda with other stuff (usually cream of tartar and cornstarch). We hope this helps! Best of luck with your investigation and thanks so much for signing up for our newsletter!

  56. Brandi

    I made this recipe and it seems like one of the ingredients became a solid that is floating at the top of the gallon jar now. Is this normal, or did I do something wrong? It’s happened after it cooled.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Brandi! We haven’t had that happen to us when we make, but some other folks have commented with something similar. Our best thoughts on what’s happening are that either everything didn’t dissolve properly when it was first mixed up so it separated when it settles, or it might be the type of salt you’re using reacting with the castile soap. Table salt, in particular, can make castile soap harden so it’s not the best salt to use in this recipe.

      You should be able to get everything to dissolve again by heating it back up, but this batch might continue to clump when it cools. Next time, see if everything is dissolved fully when first mixing (even add in an extra cup or two of water to help, if needed) and try sea salt or kosher salt instead of table salt. Hopefully that helps! Let us know how it goes!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Natalia! Cassie replied to a similar concern about water quality previously. She said, “We filter our water at our house, so if you are concerned about the contents of your water, I would recommend doing the same. 🙂”

      You can certainly use whatever water you like in this recipe, but if the water that’s running through your washing machine isn’t filtered/distilled then the concerns about water quality are still there! That said, if you’ve been washing your clothes with no issues so far, then it should continue to be fine. So you can make this detergent with whatever water makes you feel best. Let us know how it turns out for you!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Kirsty! Sorry, no! Epsom salt and table salt are different chemical compounds and won’t work interchangeably in this formula.

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Sam! We haven’t tested this with any other soaps, so we can’t say for sure. But please let us know how it works out for you if you try it!

  57. Cindy Whitlock

    I followed the directions. It was very cloudy before I added the Castile soap. And the Castile soap won’t mix. It’s floating on top. What could I have done wrong? Thank You so much!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Cindy! We haven’t had that happen to us when we make, but some other folks have commented with something similar. Our best thoughts on what’s happening are that either everything didn’t dissolve properly when it was first mixed up so it separated when it settles, or it might be the type of salt you’re using reacting with the castile soap. Table salt, in particular, can make castile soap harden so it’s not the best salt to use in this recipe.

      You should be able to get everything to dissolve again by heating it back up, but this batch might continue to clump when it cools. Next time, see if everything is dissolved fully when first mixing (even add in an extra cup or two of water to help, if needed) and try sea salt or kosher salt instead of table salt. Hopefully that helps! Let us know how it goes!

  58. Lea

    Hi! I’m slowly working on changing out the products in our house for more natural and sustainable ones. This looks great! What’s the ratio for all of the ingredients? I’ve never made homemade anything when it comes to cleaning products before so I’m a definitely a newbie!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Lea! At the top of the post you should see our Recipe-at-a-Glance box and at the bottom of that box is “Jump to Recipe.” If you click that it will take you directly to the recipe card with all of the ingredients and their quantities, as well as the exact instructions for how to mix it up. I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any other questions =)

  59. Patricia

    I have been using this mix for some time. I have been using up water softening salt, the mix always separates and the suds harden on the top of the mix . I have been using a citric acid 20% mix as a softener. After 6 months of use my laundry smells ‘doggy’ and unpleasant. I am now reading that these mixes are ineffective and I should strip the fabric to get rid of built up bacteria. I am at a loss what to do as I really want to continue mt ‘Green journey’.
    From your site it looks as though I should be using sea salt to get a good mix but what do I do about the smell?
    Any help you can give will be appreciated

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Patricia! We’ve never tried the formula with any added citric acid, so we can’t be sure what changes that would make—but we’ve never had those smell issues before. If you are interested in stripping your laundry, we’ve used Rockin’ Green Funk Rock before when cloth diapering and can definitely recommend it for getting rid of stinky buildup!

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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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