Making your own laundry detergents is not difficult



It’s convenient to pick up some laundry detergent at the store, but it’s not difficult to create your own.

Soap and water are a time-tested duo against dirt and germs, and homemade cleaners can carry away grime without added chemicals or perfumes.

All it takes are a few, simple ingredients to make laundry detergent – liquid or powder – and fabric softener. Then cut down on drying time and static cling by tumbling wet clothes with homemade dryer balls.

Faith Goguen Rodgers’ switch to homemade cleaners began a few years ago after she used a commercial-brand cleaner on the bathtub.

“I’d cleaned it, and then I really didn’t want to get in it. The bleach smell and feel – it didn’t feel good,” she says.

“Then when I had kids, it didn’t make sense at all. It feels a lot safer knowing what’s in my cleaners.”

Rodgers is an herbalist with three young children who creates all the cleaners she uses in her Lafayette, Colo., home – even the toothpaste. Though the health piece is “really big” for her, she’s also motivated by cost.

“You save a ton of money making your own,” she says.

Homemade cleaners lack much odor, but a pretty scent can be added with essential oils. This lifts the laundry-detergent-making project up a notch – adding some olfactory fun.

“You and your family can get creative and come up with your own signature laundry scent,” Rodgers writes on The Little Herbal blog, where she posts her natural-cleaning recipes. “Our laundry comes out clean and smelling fresh.”

Her favorite combinations of essential oils for laundry detergent include lemon and eucalyptus, orange and geranium and grapefruit and lavender.

Sherri Griffin’s foray into homemade laundry soap began when she got a rash and wanted something gentler than store-bought laundry detergent. She started researching alternatives and recommends checking out what’s in commercially made products on the Environmental Working Group’s Web site.

An Orlando, Fla., nurse, Griffin started a blog, Overthrow Martha, to educate people about natural cleaners. Besides sharing a fabric-softener recipe, she recommends simple-to-make dryer balls. Dryer balls reduce drying time and wrinkles and eliminate static cling, she says. Essential oils can be added to them every few loads to scent clothes.

“I often hear that people can’t give up the fresh smell they get from using dryer sheets, but what people don’t understand is that smell comes from – chemicals,” Griffin says.

Karyn Siegel-Maier shares laundry and other “green” cleaning formulas in The Naturally Clean Home. The publisher recently posted her recipes for liquid and powder laundry detergent at its blog, Inside Storey, to “sanitize, soften and scent clothes and linens – naturally.”




3 cups washing soda (look for it near laundry products at the supermarket)

3 cups borax

1 cup baking soda

1 bar of castile (olive oil-based) soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap

Organic essential oils (optional)


1. Grate the bar of soap into a bowl and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the washing soda, borax and baking soda. Mix well to get rid of clumps. Add essential oils, if desired. Mix them well to avoid clumping.

3. Add grated soap and mix ingredients together.

4. Store in a half-gallon mason jar or other well-sealed container. Use 2 to 4 heaping tablespoons per load of laundry.



2¼ cups liquid castile soap

¼ cup white distilled vinegar

1 tablespoon glycerin

¾ cup water

10 to 15 drops essential oil (not needed if using scented soap)


Combine the ingredients in a plastic container or squirt bottle. Shake once or twice before adding to the wash. Use ¼ cup per average load; ½ cup for large or heavily soiled loads.




100 percent wool yarn


Essential oil (optional)


1. Wrap yarn around two or three fingers at least a dozen times, then make a bow by wrapping yarn tightly around middle of wrapped yarn. Bring the two sides together and continue wrapping tightly in different directions to make a ball the size of a lemon. Repeat to make several balls.

2. Push the balls into one pantyhose leg, knotting the hose between each so they don’t touch. Run through the washer with a load of towels on hot cycle, then toss into dryer on hot. Once dry, remove from pantyhose. Each ball should appear “felted” – the wool fibers tightly adhered. Snip any loose strands.

To use

1. Scent balls with essential oil, if desired (it’ll last a few loads).

2. Toss at least two balls into dryer with wet laundry.


– Associated Press