DIY Detergent

If you are looking for a DIY alternative to store bought detergent in order to cut down on your plastic usage, take a look at this recipe and see what you think.

1 to 1.5 cups washing soda/soda ash
2 cups baking soda
2 bars castile soap
*40 drops 100% Essential oils (optional)

**Washing Soda is sodium carbonate and it comes from the ash of burned plants, which is why it is also called soda ash. Washing Soda is great at removing grease and stains. The way washing soda works is by attaching itself to hard water and “softening” it in order for the cleaning agent in detergent to clean the fibers in fabric. Washing soda is considered highly alkaline, which means that it can break down fabric faster and fade colors a bit quicker than other ingredients such as baking soda, so never use too much washing soda.

Baking soda is Sodium bicarbonate. It helps to reduce and get rid of odors in fabrics, it can naturally soften fabric and it helps to control the amount of suds created by the detergent. It has a milder alkalinity than washing soda, so it is less damaging on fabrics but it still neutralizes odor causing acids and helps to make a detergent more effective.

Castile soap is one of the oldest known soaps and it is natural, non-toxic and biodegradable. It is made from ingredients created from plants, nuts and vegetables. How castile soap works is by creating charged free-floating atoms (when combined with water) which attract and capture dirt. Once the water is softened by the washing soda the castile soap is able to get in there and grab that dirt and do-away with it; and in conjunction to that, the baking soda is working hard to grab those odors and drop kick them to the curb.

Brands like Dr. Bronners are made up of organic fair trade oils and they are packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Some of the soaps also contain fragrant oils and extracts such as orange, lavender and peppermint. When purchasing those soaps it is not necessary to add the essential oils to the detergent. I personally love the lavender castile soap, so I do not add any essential oils when I use that soap. When I pull the laundry out of the washer it has an amazing lavender scent that I can smell without even putting the clothes up to my nose. That scent does die down a bit after the clothes have been put through a dryer cycle, unless you happen to follow it up with a scented wool dryer ball.

Vinegar is another great ingredient that helps brighten colors, remove odors and soften fabric, but never mix the vinegar directly into the baking soda and washing soda powder. Vinegar will reduce the efficiency of the detergent powder by neutralizing the alkalinity of the baking soda and washing soda. Instead just add 1/4 to 1 cup of organic distilled vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser when doing a load of laundry. 

This has been a wonderful laundry recipe for my families use, but feel free to tweak to best suit your needs. Just make sure to do your research when making any DIY recipes before using them. 🙂

How to make the detergent
(Read all instructions before proceeding to make the recipe)

(Keep your face, nose and mouth away from the food processor when mixing the ingredients and when taking the lid off of the food processor. Do not inhale the dust created from mixing the ingredients together. For extra precaution wear a mask during this process. Keep children and pets away when mixing ingredients together.)

  • 1)  Grate 2 bars of castile soap.
  • 2)  Place the castile soap, washing ash and baking soda in a food processor.
  • Optional: Add essential oils to the food processor before mixing.
  • 3)  Pulse ingredients in food processor until mixed. 
  • 4)  Place mixed ingredients into a glass jar with a lid and your ready to wash your first load of laundry.
  • 5)  I recommend an 1/8 cup of detergent per load, but you may need 1/4 cup depending on the size of laundry load.

*Always keep essential oils out of reach of children and pets, and keep away from eyes and mucous membranes. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult a health professional prior to adding essential oils to any detergent.

**Make sure to keep washing soda out of the reach of children and pets. You should wear gloves when handling washing soda because it can cause skin irritation. It can be harmful to the eyes, cause irritation to the lungs if inhaled, and may cause abdominal pain or vomiting if large doses are swallowed. Wear a mask for extra precaution when handling Washing Soda.


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