How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent (4 Ingredients)

This spring, I was headed up to Vancouver for a sailing race, and I decided to extend my visit and tour the Soap Dispensary!  To call it a bulk mecca would barely do it justice.  Among a myriad of things I purchased in bulk were fresh apple cider, pasta, soy sauce, ACV, and most importantly, laundry detergent.  It was the first time I’ve ever found it in bulk, and it had a lovely lavender scent.  I filled a 32 oz. bottle and took it home.  I was very pleased with how it worked compared to the last natural laundry detergent I purchased.  Plus, another item package free makes me one happy woman.

Genevieve Shopping in Bulk

I finally ran out of the bulk laundry detergent, and I haven’t been able to find it anywhere locally, so I decided to try a new recipe.  Some of them called for washing soda, which I didn’t have on hand, but I found a recipe from Apartment Therapy that had 4 ingredients, all of which I had at home.

The first ingredient is Castille soap.  Dr. Bronner’s (LINK) claims 64 distinct uses for it’s soap, which I totally believe.  I use the lavender scent of Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap religiously.  Aside from my shampoo bar and a more nourishing/balancing face soap (I use a eucalyptus bar from my local farmer’s market in the evenings, along with a Rose Clay Facial Polish once a week), I feel that almost all soap is just that… soap.  The same good quality soap can be used for dishes, cleaning, body wash, shaving soap, and apparently laundry.

You can find Castile soap locally in bulk at Ballard Market, Greenlake Aurora and Greenlake Village PCC’s, and Central Co-op (which also carries bulk baking soda).  If you're somewhere else in the world, use their store locator - I bet there's a stockist near you!

The second ingredient is baking soda.  Living in a humid environment (on a boat, in a city with quite a long damp season in the winter), I have plenty of baking soda.  I use it in my fridge to absorb scent and moisture, one of many zero waste tricks I learned from my grandmother.  I use it in the bottom of our closets to keep our clothes dry in the winter.  I use it to clean our stove top, as an ingredient in dry shampoo, to heal dandruff, and sometimes when I make my own toothpaste. 

I’ve learned that what baking soda does in the laundry is three-fold.  First, it balances the pH levels in the load, neutralizing odors.  It also softens the water, meaning you can use less detergent.  And finally, it makes for whiter whites and brighter colors.

The other two ingredients are water and salt.  Pshhhh.  Too good to be true.

The trick is to heat the water before adding the baking soda and salt and simmer until it’s dissolved.  The one other thing you might need is a funnel to pour the liquid into our beautiful 32 oz bottle.  A funnel is good to have on hand for purchasing bulk spices and seeds, too.  They can be easily found at secondhand stores like Goodwill.  I’d suggest finding a metal one since they’re a little more durable.  Plus, you add that lovely vintage feel to your collection.

The best part about this recipe, apart from it being biodegradable and nontoxic is that it only cost me about $3 to make, all in.

How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent

The verdict?  I loved it!  It separates a little in the bottle, but nothing a good shake can't fix.  Got our clothes clean and only took about 15 minutes to make, without going to the store.  Any way I can simplify a task or routine allows me to be more aligned with my minimalist and zero waste lifestyle.  That’s part of what wellness looks like to me too: simplicity and mindfulness.

 

Alright, enough scrolling.  Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup Dr. Bronner's pure castile liquid soap (the peppermint or lavender ones work nicely too!
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1 cups water
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons salt

Note: I halved this recipe to fit in a more convenient 32 oz. bottle.  To make a gallon, double the recipe (to save you a Google search, that would make it 1 cup Castile, 1 Cup baking soda, 2 Cups water and 1/3 Cup salt)

 

Instructions:

Warm the water on the stovetop and combine with salt and baking soda until both have dissolved. Pour into a 32 oz. bottle or an upcycled jar.  Add the Castile Soap and fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Use about a quarter of a cup of laundry detergent with every load.

My version makes a half gallon of laundry soap, which will last 32 loads.

 

Store: In a glass bottle.  You can pick one up from us, which we purchase locally down in Georgetown, or you can repurpose a bottle like the one that held this amazing chai I find at New Seasons.  You could also store it in an upcycled gallon - simply double the recipe.

Homemade Laundry Detergent and Dryer Balls

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