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How to make Gentle Homemade Laundry Detergent, Quick and easy to make but tough on dirt

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DIY laundry detergent

I started to use this Homemade laundry detergent over 10 years ago! When I began to make the switch from harsh chemicals in my home to use more natural alternatives.

One of the first things I “experimented” with was my Laundry Soap.

I wanted to start there because if you think about it you always have some sort of clothing or fabric touching your skin. And that means any chemical residue left behind when washing can then rub off on your skin and be absorbed by your body.

So many of the Commercial Laundry soaps contain ingredients labeled as fragrances that have been linked to illnesses such as cancer. And I just wasn't comfortable with my girls daily being surrounded by something that could build up in their systems and cause issues later in life.

So I began my quest to find the best homemade laundry soap for my family.

*This post does contain affiliate links to products I use to create this recipe.

Homemade All Natural Powder Laundry Soap for sensitive skin. Can clean up to 330 loads of laundry for less than $0.06 cents a load. HE and regular washer safe. YL member # 3177383

I will admit I first started with using Commerical Laundry soaps that are labeled as free and clear. I loved this Laundry Detergent brand, it did a great job getting our clothes clean but as a stay at home mom, I really wanted to see if I could save some money.

With a husband who farms and two little girls that love to get dirty, doing laundry in my house is not for the faint of hearts. My laundry room never sees a day of rest.

Does homemade Laundry soap really clean?

Oh does the question, “Does homemade laundry soap really clean?”, strike a lot of debate.

I've decided you are either one of two camps, It does clean or homemade detergent is terrible for your clothes and doesn't work.

I'm personally of the camp it works for me and we have hard water which some say makes using your own homemade laundry detergent a disaster.

I've used our Homemade laundry detergent recipe without Borax for almost 9 yrs now and our clothes come out clean and not dingy and we live on a farm that produces some pretty dirty clothing with really tough stains.

You will hear those that are against Homemade Laundry detergent talk about how it wears out clothing faster and that it leaves a residue.

But for me working on a farm wears our clothes out faster than any homemade soap could ever dream of. Plus my girls are growing out of their clothing so fast that their clothing is getting handed down faster than I can wash. Moms of kids you can probably relate.

So if you have clothing that needs extra gentle care or something you want to keep and wear for decades then maybe a homemade laundry soap is a bad idea for your cleaning routine. But for our way of life it works for us.

I also want to add that I have at times when I just didn't feel like making my own laundry soap recipe, I will buy store-brand laundry detergent like this one.

It's a great alternative but my youngest has the most sensitive skin ever and every time I use anything other than my homemade recipe made with simple ingredients or Young Living's Thieves Laundry Soap she breaks out in a rash everywhere the fabric has touched her skin. So she has cured me of being lazy.

Should you make your homemade laundry detergent without Borax?

For years I used a fine powder DIY Laundry detergent with Borax in the recipe but after hearing all the fears people were bringing up about the use of Borax, I decided to give my DIY Powder Laundry Soap recipe a little facelift and try the recipe without Borax.

The main deciding factor of removing Borax was due to the fact that I really didn't have time to do thorough research on the subject of the safety of Borax and I realized if I could come up with an effective DIY powder laundry soap with one less ingredient that meant I could save a lot of money in the long run.

You can read more about Borax safety on the Medical News Today website – Is borax safe to use?

For now, over 4 yrs, I have been using the Borax Free DIY Laundry Soap with excellent results.

If my recipe can get extremely dirty and nasty farm clothes clean and still be gentle on our clothing I think I have a winner.

My DIY Laundry Detergent Ingredient Safety Research

I do want to add that before I wrote this blog post, I did take the time to do some more research on the subject of using Borax safely in a DIY Powder Laundry Soap.

Let's just say that the Borax safety issue is quite the Rabbit Hole and I still am not sure on which side of the hole I land.  

I've decided to just say, if you use Borax or not, it should totally be your own personal decision.

I do not have a medical degree or a background in Chemistry (other than the few classes I was tortured into taking in college) so I'm not going to even pretend to tell you if it is safe or not for your use.

If you land on the “I want to use it side”, this recipe will still work fabulously if you want to add a 4lb box of Borax to the mix. I like leaving it out so I can save the extra $5+ and my clothes get just as clean without it.

I did take the research one step further and made it a point to check to see if all the other ingredients I use are given a high safety level. The website I use to check is It has become my new favorite website. It's been addictive for me to look up different products to see how they rate.

(Edited to add. I did this research before EWG was a sell out and back when you could trust their recommendations. Now so much has changed with EWG that I never use them for my research now.)

Toxic chemical free homemade laundry detergent

My goal was to have each of my ingredients in my DIY Powder Laundry Soap as an “A” or a “B” rating which is way better than the regular store-bought Tide detergent I used in the past which rate at a “D” or “F” on the EWG Database. An “A” Rate indicates very low toxicity to health and the environment along with sharing a detailed ingredients list. While “F” means the product is highly toxic or the product has little to no ingredient disclosure. I checked and the ingredients I use for my DIY Powder Laundry Soap all listed “A” except for OxyClean which was a “B” but Oxyclean does make an Oxyclean Baby if you wanted all your ingredients with an “A” Rating.

Borax rated an “F” for respiratory concerns and seeing I set my standard to “A” and “B” ratings I'm leaving it out.

For the Kirk's Castile Soap, I had to look it up in the Cosmetics Database where the rating is slightly different and is based on a numbered scale with “1 & 2” being “Low Hazard”. The soap I use, Kirk's Castile Soap was a 2. If I could find the Kirk's Castile locally in the fragrance-free bar it would be a 1. Check out this link for the rating- Kirk's Castile Soap

Homemade All Natural Powder Laundry Soap for sensitive skin. Can clean up to 330 loads of laundry for less than $0.06 cents a load. HE and regular washer safe. YL member # 3177383

Dry Ingredients needed for this homemade laundry soap

Arm and Hammer super washing soda

Bars of fels-naptha or Kirk's Castile soap


Arm and Hammer Baking soda

Best homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

The DIY Powder Laundry Soap I'm sharing today is a pretty concentrated recipe.

For a regular load of laundry, I will use 1 TBSP for extra-large loads. For dirty clothes, I will use 2 TBSP. To much detergent can leave a residue in your washer.

For my husband's really really dirty farm clothes I will go up to 3 TBSP per load.

This recipe makes a large batch which is perfect for a large family. It will make up to 165 – 2 TBSP wash loads. Making each wash about .12 cents.

This recipe is a very low suds recipe so it works great for top loading and HE washers.

I used it for years in a top load washer with great results. For the two years, I have used it in top loader High-efficiency washing machines with no problems. Also, my sister-in-law has a HE washer front load. She has used my recipe for 5 yrs with no issues.

Homemade All Natural Powder Laundry Soap for sensitive skin. Can clean up to 330 loads of laundry for less than $0.06 cents a load. HE and regular washer safe. YL member # 3177383

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Yield: 165 – 2 TBSP wash loads.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty: easy

This Homemade laundry detergent recipe makes a large batch. It will makes up to 165 – 2 TBSP wash loads.

Making each wash about .12 cents.


  • Grater
  • Mixing bowl or large container to mix in
  • Metal spoon
  • Glass Storage Jar


    1. Grate the Kirk's Castile Soap with the small grate option.
    2. Mix all 4 ingredients in a large container
    3. Store in an airtight container.
    4. For a regular size load, I will use 1 TBSP for extra-large loads or dirty clothes I will use 2 TBSP.


I suggest wearing a mask if you have breathing issues.

Test this on a small load to see if it is safe for your clothing.

Safe for use with HE washers.

You can add essential oils to this recipe for an added scent. Although I prefer to add my essential oils to wool dryer balls. or even better I love to use Young Living's Thieves Laundry soap along with this detergent for an extra cleaning boost.

What I love about the recipe is how simple it is to make.

How to make Laundry Detergent

To make this homemade laundry detergent it is a two-step process-

  1. Grate the Kirk's Castile Soap or fels-naptha bars using either a food processor or cheese grater
  2. Mix and store all 4 of the ingredients in a large airtight container

I love to store it in a glass container like this one which makes storage easy and super cute.

*Quick note- I bought the store brand Baking soda for this recipe only because it was on an awesome sale. I usually get the Arm and Hammered one.

Tips for making your own laundry detergent

Some ideas that will make mixing your DIY Powder Laundry Soap easy-

I suggest wearing a mask if you have breathing issues. I have Asthma so I always mix this outside in a large bucket with a mask on. You are working with fine powdery ingredients so I always lean to safety first.

I typically mix this in a 5-gallon bucket like this one. This gives room to stir and not make a mess. Sometimes I will use just my hands to mix it. But I like to use a large spoon like this one too. If you have sensitive skin I would use a large spoon to mix.

I like to pour a little of each ingredient in at a time. Then mix well and then repeat until I have all my ingredients mixed together. This ensures the best even mixture possible and doesn't add a lot of time to the process.


Ideas for the grating method-

I use a box grater like this one because it makes holding the grater safer and easy to grate.

The grating of your soap can be hard if your soap is really cold. So I usually like to lightly heat it in the microwave to barely warm it up. The amount of heating time really depends on your microwave and size of the soap bar. It's a good idea to start at 10 seconds and heat the bar soap on a piece of paper towel.

When heating the bar of soap in the microwave, you only want it slightly warm. This makes it easier to grate. If you get the soap too hot it can burn you so use caution. I sometimes will wrap a paper towel around the soap to protect my fingers.

After grating, once the soap has cooled back down, you can break the pieces up even smaller. Just use your fingers to break up the grated soap. The smaller the pieces the better your soap will mix and dissolve.

How to use this homemade laundry detergent recipe

I follow the label directions on the clothing for water temperature. I have found it works best in hot water and warm water. In cold water, you will find it takes a little bit longer for the detergent to dissolve. It still works great.

If you want a natural fabric softener to go along with this friendly detergent. Add a cup of white vinegar to the load for a natural fabric softener, it does a great job.

Adding Essential Oils

In the recipe, I list adding essential oils as an option.

I love mixing up the scent of my laundry. Mixing essential oils in this laundry soap recipe is something I don't typically do.

I like to use wool balls in my dryer. So that is when I use essential oils to scent our laundry.

You can check out my post on using essential oils with wool balls

I also love to use 1 tbsp of this natural laundry detergent. Then add 1/4 of a cap full of the Young Living Thieves laundry soap. That way I really get some cleaning power in my wash.

Where to get the essential oils to scent your laundry-

I'd first like to suggest picking a really good all-natural essential oil. There are many essential oil companies out there that include synthetics in their essential oils. Why go to all the trouble to create an all-natural laundry detergent to then go and ruin it with using poor quality essential oils.

Would you love the chance to find someone to help mentor you through the process?

What if I told you I would help you for FREE!

I'd love the opportunity to walk you through essential oils. And help you choose the best oils to use for you. When you purchase a Premium Starter kit through me. You will receive Free one on one mentoring from me to help you get comfortable and using essential oils in your life. I promise by the time we are done you will be a rockstar user of essential oils!

The above recipes are made using Young Living Essential oils. They are the only essential oils I trust to use on my family. The reason I use only Young Living is pure and simple. I know the quality that goes into Young Living oils.  I only want the best and purest to use on my family.  Young Living Guarantees that with their Seed to Seal pledge. If you are new to essential oils or have been using different brands, I'd love the chance to introduce you to Young Living essential oils. Let me help you get started on a healthier lifestyle for you and your family. To find out more, I'd love for you to check out my post on

Let's get your hands on this box of awesomeness. Click here to get your Premium Starter Kit now! 

How to get started with Essential Oils

It's a fun and informative post about how this normal, plain jane mom got started with essential oils and how you can too! check it out here- How to get started with Essential Oils.

I hope once you try this you will leave me a comment. Tell me how it has rocked your world too!

Homemade All Natural Powder Laundry Soap for sensitive skin. Can clean up to 330 loads of laundry for less than $0.06 cents a load. HE and regular washer safe. YL member # 3177383
Homemade All Natural Powder Laundry Soap for sensitive skin. Can clean up to 330 loads of laundry for less than $0.06 cents a load. HE and regular washer safe. YL member # 3177383

Homemade laundry soap that will save you money.

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Sunday 8th of December 2019

Hi, I have made your laundry soap and I love it, but recentlyI saw an article on homemade laundry soap and how it was not cleaning my laundry. It stated that the homemade laundry soap did not have an affective surfactant, so the the dirt was let in the clothes. What is your thought on the matter?

DIY Natural Household Cleaner Recipe Roundup | Healthy Living for Hot Messes

Saturday 13th of January 2018

[…] Gentle DIY Powder Laundry Soap that’s Tough on Dirt– via By Oily Design […]


Saturday 30th of December 2017

The link to your homemade laundry soap recipe is missing.


Friday 26th of January 2018

Thank you for letting me know! I've got it added back now. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

3 Simple easy steps to a more chemical free home - By Oily Design

Monday 3rd of July 2017

[…] Click here to check out my homemade laundry soap recipe. […]


Friday 9th of September 2016

I also use this recipe from Ruth and love it!!


Friday 9th of September 2016

Thanks Denise! I figure the years we have been make this recipe show show how awesome it works.

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