Non-Toxic DIY Laundry Detergent that WORKS!

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a hot minute because I wanted to make sure that it really, really worked (in all-case scenarios), before I shared it with you here.

A little background: I am not what you’d call “brand loyal”. When it comes to laundry detergent, I grew up using powdered soap in 5 gallon buckets from Costco and knew nothing different. It always got the job done and I’ve always been open to using whatever!

Geno, however, grew up using Tide laundry detergent and is incredibly brand loyal. To him, nothing cleans or smells better than Tide, and so after a few failed attempts to get him to switch (early-on in our relationship), I’ve learned to pick my battles and have largely left that one alone.

But my outlook on chemicals in our home is changing.

In the wake of a chemical burn that I got on my hands from using Clorox wipes in Dec. 2019, I’ve set out to eliminate as many toxic elements in our home as possible. For us, our children, and our pets.

I was reading recently and came across a quote of Lisa Bonet’s. She’d told an interviewer that in regards to cleaning and beauty products, if she couldn’t swallow it – it didn’t belong on her skin. And that really hit home for me.

If we’re using a product on our skin, it’s being absorbed – if we’re using it on our surfaces, it’s leaving a residue. If that residue is toxic, we’re transferring those chemicals to our skin every time we touch them.

Kitchen counters.
Toilet seats.
Laundry.
Body soaps and lotions.

Long after we’ve wiped a surface clean, the residues stay with us – and this is entirely true for the clothes that we wash and wear. In fact, laundry detergents and drier sheets are some of the most toxic chemicals that we bring into our homes, and these chemicals touch our skin every single day.

Not long after my Clorox chemical burn, I was in the laundry room spraying our clothes with stain-remover, throwing a few Tide pods into the mix, and my hands were on FIRE. I wondered then if non-toxic homemade laundry products would be rather easy to create AND do a good job?

A quick google search delivered a thousand DIY recipes to me all at once. Staring at the screen like – where do I even start?, I just started looking for common ingredients and started whipping things up to see if they’d work.

So that’s what I’ve been doing these last few weeks – testing out different laundry detergent recipes! And boy oh boy, do I have something good for you!

I’m so proud of what’s been created here: a clean and fresh-smelling semi-solid, semi-liquid, non-toxic, DIY laundry detergent that earns the highest rating of A on the EWG Healthy Living scale (see below) AND cleans our clothes.

Paired with my non-toxic, DIY pre-stain treatment (which I’ll post next and link here) – it’s unstoppable.

•••

Before we dive in, let me preface by saying that one of the ingredients that I’ve used in this recipe (Thieves Household Cleaner), can only be purchased through a company called Young Living. It contains a blend of many different essential oils and is the only non-toxic household cleaner that we use in the house since my chemical burn.

If you don’t have Thieves Household Cleaner in your cupboards, don’t give up on me yet! I’ve made this recipe with and without it, and both batches have cleaned our clothes equally.

If you want to purchase some, you can do that here.

Othewise, just add 10-20 additional drops of lemon essential oil for an added cleaning boost, fresh citrus-y smell, and call it a day.

•••

Okay – HERE WE GO!

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil
  2. Pour washing soda into a large bowl and slowly stir in 2 cups of boiling water. Stir or whisk until washing soda is completely dissolved (usually takes 2-3 minutes or so)
  1. Add 1 Tbsp baking soda at a time (3 Tbsp total) and stir well to combine. The mixture will start to thicken into a pudding-like texture as more baking soda is added. If your mixture is slow to thicken, keep mixing!
  1. Stir in 1/2 cup Castile soap and whisk until combined (you might start to feel like you’re “whipping” the mixture up at this point as it thickens)
  2. Stir in 10-20 drops of lemon essential oil and whisk until combined
  3. Stir in 1 capful of Thieves Household Cleaner (optional), and whisk until combined
  4. Slowly stir in the remaining 3 cups of boiling water and carefully whisk until mixture is fully combined. The consistency will thin out as more water is added, but don’t let that worry you – it’ll thicken back up a bit as it cools down to room temp!
  1. Cool the mixture to room temperature or let rest overnight. It will separate while cooling, (see picture below)
  2. When mixture is completely cooled, you’ll need to (permanently) re-combine by blending or whisking until smooth.
  3. Store laundry detergent in a glass bottle or container to prevent plastic leaching, and use 1/3 cup per load of laundry.

END NOTE: I ran all ingredients through the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Healthy Cleaning Database, which gave this recipe an overall score of A.

EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning provides practical solutions to protecting yourself and your family from everyday exposures to potentially harmful chemicals.

I encourage you to read about their rating system to understand what it means, and to use it often!

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