How to make the easiest homemade laundry detergent

From granola to the easiest homemade laundry detergent

If you’re old enough to remember, granola people were from California, the land of  nuts and flakes.  Of course it’s not politically correct, but we weren’t PC back in the day!   I picture in my mind the type of person I thought was a granola:  gauze skirt, Birkenstocks, graying hair, home grown, homemade food from scratch, homemade soap,  shopped at co-ops, had hairy arm pits and was hippee-like.  I’ve noticed these granola-types for years.  The other day I asked my daughter if her boyfriends’ parents are granolas (because I had my suspicions) and she said “Not as much as you are, Mom”.   Then it hit me.  I AM a granola!  Let’s get one thing straight, though….I don’t have hairy armpits. But, I’ve been lazy about touching up the grays, I make my own soap, I shop at a local food co-op, I wear Birkenstocks, I bake my bread from scratch, as well as make my own yogurt and kombucha.  This simple, natural lifestyle has become so normal to me, that I hadn’t even noticed that I’ve become a granola.  

Speaking of granola, I have a fantastic recipe for homemade granola that I’ll post here sometime soon….but I digress…

I’ve been living more purposeful. I’ve been trying to live simpler, healthier, and I’m working real hard on reducing the amount of toxins and poisons in my home.  I can’t go half a day without running across yet another article about how toxins are making us sick. They are compromising our immune systems, and making us weak.   If I can help my little corner of the world be more aware of healthy living, then I’ve succeeded.

homemade laundry soap only 4 ingredientsIn an attempt to become greener, reduce toxins and save money, I started making my own laundry detergent.  Of all of the natural lifestyle changes I’ve made, this is, by far, the easiest.  There are only 3 ingredients, all very easy to find.

I’ve used several batches of my easiest homemade laundry detergent, and I like it as much as commercial laundry detergent. It cleans just as good, if not better, is cheaper, and I know exactly what is in it.

Here is the recipe for the easiest homemade laundry detergent

 1 bar of shaved soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s castille soap, but Fels Naptha, Zote, or plain old Ivory will work)

1 cup Borax

1 cup Washing Soda 

Put all ingredients in a container and shake.   That’s it!

Use 1 TBSP per load. For a big load or heavily soiled load, use 2 TBSP.

A few notes about making the easiest homemade laundry detergent

  • If using an unscented bar of soap, add 10-15 drops of Lavender Essential Oil (Find it here) and shake well.
  • You can use your own homemade castille soap.
  • I don’t have a food processor, so I shred the bar of soap by hand, then put it in my magic bullet to pulverize it into a powder. 
  • Borax and Washing Soda can be found in the laundry detergent aisle. Wal-Mart has both, Target does not have Washing Soda. I found the Washing Soda at my local grocery store.
  • Washing Soda is not the same as Baking Soda. Baking Soda: Sodium Bicarbonate.   Washing Soda: Sodium Carbonate
  • For HE washers:   Because HE washers use less water, they require low sudsing soap.  This easy homemade laundry detergent is extremely low in suds.  I sometimes think the ‘special’ HE detergent is just another way to push us consumers to buy  more expensive soaps. Try making your own laundry detergent and see how much money you will save.
  •  This is the best laundry soap to use with septic tanks because does not contain phosphates or fillers (like montmorillonite clay) that cause commercial powder detergents to clog lines. It is  non-toxic will not harm necessary septic bacteria like toxic detergents and antibacterial soaps can.
  • Is Borax toxic? Yes, and no. In high levels, yes, just as salt and baking soda is.  Click here, for further reading about borax.

If you’d like to start living more naturally, reduce toxins, and save money at the same time, try making your own easiest homemade laundry detergent, and you’ll soon see how easy it is to live simply.

PennySue Mueller


Penny Mueller
Email: Penny Mueller


Organic herbs, spices, teas and oils.


  1. Dear Penny,
    I really liked your resourcefulness/innovation. Unfortunately we don’t seem to be having things like washing soda and borax in our locality otherwise I would be making my detergent tomorrow first thing. Thanks for that.

    • Thanks for your comment, Alice. Small, local hardware stores often carry the items for homemade laundry detergent. So, also, do some grocery stores. Keep looking, I’m sure you’ll be able to find washing soda and borax. Good luck

  2. In researching the different ingredients of fels-naptha soap, I found this article, which says ‘Naphtha is a hyrdocarbon distillate left over from the process of refining petroleum or coal tar’, and is neither sustainable nor healthy/safe, as a petroleum by-product.

    Instead, I am going to try this recipe using Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps, which list ingredients for their unscented bar soap as
    Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Palm Oil*, Sodium Hydroxide**, Water, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Salt, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
    ** None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin
    It’s available with essential oil scents as well, or you can add your own. Best wishes!

    • Thank you for you comment, Hana! I use the Dr. Bronner’s bar soaps in order to make my detergent as natural as possible. I merely offered the other ingredients as options. Best case scenario will be when I get around to making my own lavender scented castile bar soap. That is when it will get really fun! All soaps contain lye (sodium hydroxide). This is a necessary ingredient in order to have soap. However, after saponifyication, which is a chemical reaction of the lye and the oil, the lye dissipates and leaves you with soap!

  3. Thank you for this article, I will give it a try.
    Have you read The Healthy Home by Dr. Wentz & Dave Wentz? It’s a fantastic review of all the toxins within a home and tips for reducing your toxic load.

    • Hi Jayne. I have not read that, but sounds like something I should look into! I have some exciting changes and enhancements coming to this blog, so please stay tuned. I will be featuring some amazing green cleaning items that require no chemicals….I’m really excited!

  4. Penny,

    I love your granola story introduction…it gave me a chuckle. It always amuses me that our grandmothers had all the ingredients they needed to run a house (all very basic like the ones you mention) and then came the “chemicals” revolution. We now have a choice of 50 different washing machine detergents that all basically do the same thing. Keep up the good work.


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