How to Make Your Own All-Natural Laundry Detergent

Bars of Dr Bronner's soap.
Swap out your chemical-based laundry detergent for this all-natural alternative.

Clean doesn’t always mean healthy. Studies show that the average household contains 3 to 25 gallons of toxic chemicals, mostly hidden inside everyday cleaning products. Despite known linkages between many of these chemicals and our health, only 5 out of 83,000 of these poisonous products have been banned under the Toxic Substance Control Act.

One of the most common culprits for hiding toxic chemicals is something your house uses a lot of: laundry detergent. 

While it may be good at keeping your clothes and linens fresh, most commercial laundry detergents contain harmful chemicals that can harm not only our bodies, but also bodies of water.  

Here are just a few ways that your laundry soap might be doing you dirty:

  • Fragrance in detergents are made of pthalates. These are dangerous to children’s health and have been known to cause infertility, ADHD, thyroid problems, diabetes and pre-diabetes.
  • The manufacturing process of cleaners releases cancer-causing carcinogens and toxins into the environment that are slow to biodegrade and toxic to marine life.
  • Phosphates are an essential plant nutrient, and also a main ingredient in many detergents. High concentrations of phosphates in our aquatic ecosystems have caused excessive algae growth, which ultimately leads to eutrophication—a big word for a bad situation, where waterways fill up with dead algae and eventually turn into deserts. 

If you’re ready to green up your clean up, then try this recipe for an effective detergent using all-natural ingredients.

Materials Needed

  • Washing soda
  • Borax
  • Castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s is great)
  • Water


  1. Grate one bar of soap with fine portion of a food grater or food processor. 
  2. Put grated soap in a large pot with 2 quarts water and gradually heat until soap has melted. Stir to prevent clumping and burning. 
  3. Put 4.5 gallons of very hot tap water into a large container. (Multi-gallon buckets are often available in hardware stores or the bakery section of supermarkets.) 
  4. Stir in 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of washing soda until dissolved. 
  5. Pour your soap mixture from the pan into bucket and stir well. Cover the bucket with a towel and leave overnight. 
  6. Stir and pour into containers. 
  7. Shake well before using. This mixture will be thinner than commercial laundry soaps, but don’t worry. It will clean your clothes just as well! 
  8. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load. Enjoy!