Thursday, July 16, 2009

DIY Detergent for the Non-Naturale

I am not what one would call au naturale. I only briefly experimented with cloth diapers 8 years ago. I do not own a tent. I think lip gloss should be the 8th wonder of the world. I will probably color my gray until I'm 104. 

But I have gone and done something downright granola. I made my own laundry detergent. This is not an endeavor that involves slaving over a boiling vat of lye and stirring with a wooden oar. It requires no cooking whatsoever.

I spent about 10 minutes whipping up my first batch and I have now used it for at least a dozen loads. It works great, smells fresh, and is beyond cheap. 

It even worked wonders yesterday morning when I awoke to Cupcake's misadventures in poo. One overflowing diaper of poo  + one bored 19-month-old + no mommy in sight = a crib, sheet, bumper pad, dresser, wall, and carpet christened with poo. 

The borax and grapefruit seed crush worked fantastically to disinfect and deodorize such a horrid load of linens.

So here's the recipe: Homemade Laundry Soap Powder

* 1 white soap bar (no dyes; I used Ivory)
* 2 C baking soda
* 2 C borax (in your laundry aisle)
* 5 drops lavender essential oil
* 5 drops orange essential oil
* 1/4-C vinegar (per load)
* 5 drops grapefruit seed crush (per load)

Grate soap with fine side of a cheese grater (or have your kids do it.) Here's what it will look like.

Add soap, baking soda, borax, lavender & orange essential oils to a lidded container. Whisk.

Use 4-5 T (about 1/4 C) for a large load. To each load add 1/4 C vinegar (this keeps colors from fading and bleeding; also breaks down hard water.) Add 5 drops grapefruit seed crush as a disinfectant.

Start laundry, sit down, eat chocolate, and put on some lip gloss. You deserve it. For you are now a domestic goddess and homemaker extraordinaire. June Cleaver is smiling down on you from heaven.


You can purchase essential oils at a health food store or order them on-line. I ordered mine from Beeyoutiful, a wonderful company I love to support. Their catalog provided this recipe. The essential oils are $5-$10 dollars a bottle but will last for ages. I've had my tea tree & lavender oil 8 years.

I figured out that this detergent costs pennies a load and isn't full of chemicals and dyes. I was attached to store-bought liquid detergent before but this powder dissolves great.

If you try it out, I'd love to know your results. If you don't try it, don't feel guilty for using Tide. You should still eat chocolate and show yourself some love.

Have any great (and easy-to-make) homemade cleaners or remedies of your own? If so, please share. I'm wanting to learn more. No lip gloss recipes please. I'm hanging on to my shimmery, drug-store goodness.

Head on over to Kimba's DIY Day for more DIY inspiration!


  1. Hi, thanks for coming to & leaving a note! I don't know if I've been by your blog before, but if not, nice to meet you. Your LR tour was great, love all your pieces & the way you've put them together. Beautiful!

    I see we hang out with a lot of the same friends, so I hope you'll become a regular at my blog too!

  2. I love this! I just bought some essential oils yesterday to try this-we'll be using washing soda, is there a difference?

    I didn't think about mixing the oils, or adding them to load as well. I'll have to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  3. What a great idea! I hate buying laundry detergent. I usually add Borax to my wash anyway, so this won't be much different, except I won't have to lug home huge jugs of the store bought stuff. Cool!

  4. Awesome, what a great idea and such huge savings!

  5. I just made soap a couple of weeks ago. It really is cheap and everything comes out so clean. Thanks for letting everyone know.

  6. Okay, so this is a little embarrassing to admit, but I've been reading the "Complete Idiot's Guide to Cleaning" lately and I really like it. I haven't tried these recipes yet, but it suggests you make your own windex and disinfectant powder (the book is big on cleaning well but not having to use any harmful chemicals). I am going to try it this weekend.

    Windex (need a spray bottle for this)
    1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
    1/3 white vinegar
    then fill with distilled water. Distilled water works best because it is free of impurities and will not leave smear marks.

    Disinfecting Cleaner
    Mix 1 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup of borax. Put it in a bowl, scoop it up with a damp sponge and scrub away. Or you can put the mixture into a shaker canister and shake it onto the surface to be disinfected.

    Love the laundry idea! Great way to cut cost! Thanks Marian!


  7. I love this idea, as with four kids, I'm pretty much always in my laundry room. (Well, I'm not right now, 'cause that would be a little weird, plus I don't own a laptop and trying to plug my 'puter in might get a little dicey...)
    I wonder, though, how do you think this would work with a front loader? I use the recommended high efficiency (he) detergent as it doesn't suds as much. Think I could try it, or would it end up like a bad episode of the Brady Bunch? (Were there any good ones? heh)
    Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Oh, this is too funny b/c I made some laundry detergent myself last week and have been using it. And I even chose to use lavendar essential oil. Great minds think alike, eh? Although my recipe is a little different. I used Borax, Washing Soda, Ivory and the lavendar oil. Our clothes don't smell like lavendar though. They don't smell at all. I swear, our dryer takes out all of the good smell. When I used to use fabric softner (haven't for a few years now), they never smelled like that either.

    Oh, wait, do you add the essential oil right to the load you're doing? Hmmm.....maybe I should try that. I put it in the dry stuff and mixed it up. The dry mix smells good, but the clothes just don't smell at all.

    I clean our bath tubs with baking soda. It scrubs well and doesn't scratch. And I clean our mirrors with a mix of vinegar and water. When I acutally DO clean the windows, I use that on them as well.

  9. Neato! if the Scooper can go 'granola' then who's next? Thanks for sharing. This method seems more user friendly than others I've seen. I've gotta try it!

  10. I hve always wanted to try this. Maybe I need to take the plunge.

    I make my own window cleaner using the same recipe as a previous comment. I use vinegar and baking soda to clean my toilets. I hate chemical smells so these have been great for me. Plus you save a ton of money!

  11. I actually started using homemade detergent recently, but this recipe is much better than mine. Thanks for sharing!!


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