Toss Out Toxins with this Easy, DIY Detergent

The following post is written by NC State employee Ruth Dunstan, who shares her recipe for DIY detergent.

A year ago I came across an article about the benefits of homemade laundry detergent. Initially, it appealed to my frugal nature. The cost per load of a batch of homemade powder detergent ($0.06) is a fraction of the cost per load of commercial laundry products ($0.20). Saving money sounded good to me.

But the real benefit of making your own laundry detergent goes beyond the cost savings. Commercial detergents often contain toxic ingredients associated with a host of health and environmental concerns. Some common toxic ingredients include phenols, optical brighteners, petroleum distillates, artificial fragrances and anionic surfactants. You probably won’t see these listed on the side of the box –you’ll have to check the internet for full information. So the real benefit of using homemade laundry detergent is ridding your home of toxins.

The recipe below for Homemade Laundry Detergent is simple and quick to make. The ingredients are inexpensive and readily available at local retailers. One batch will wash 64 loads of laundry. Your clothes will be clean and fresh and your home will be a little greener!

Recipe for DIY Laundry Detergent

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda (not baking soda)
1 bar (4.5 oz) castile soap
5 drops essential oil (optional)


  1. Grate the bar of soap with a cheese grater. To make the pieces a bit finer, put them in a blender or food processor with a little washing soda, which keeps the soap from sticking to the blades.
  2. Pour in the borax and the washing soda. Blend.
  3. If fragrance is desired, add 5 drops of essential oil and mix again.
  4. Store detergent in an airtight container or zip-lock bag.
  5. Use 1 tablespoon of laundry detergent for standard loads and 2 tablespoons for extra large loads. This detergent does not produce suds so do not be concerned about the lack of bubbles in the washer.


Note: The views expressed above are solely those of the post’s author. As with any DIY technique, this recipe is provided for information purposes only, is not guaranteed and may not work for everyone. Experiment sparingly and discontinue if you experience any undesirable outcomes.


Photo credit: Flickr via Kurt Thomas Hunt


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