Melanie is an avid vegan homemaker who has been researching and implementing natural home remedies for over 15 years.
Why Switch From Top Store Brands?
This 5-minute detergent recipe could not get any easier or cheaper to make. About a year ago, I decided to stop using store-bought detergents, because the price was just so unreasonable to me. At the time, I was buying Seventh Generation, and it was almost $20 per container!
I have an eBay store where I sell used women's clothing. I source these things mostly from thrift stores or rummage sales. So the amount of laundry I do is off the charts. With that being said, $20 a pop was just getting to be too much. So I was on the prowl to find a solution.
What I ended up with was a blend of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap, washing soda, and baking soda. These are the only ingredients necessary to make the detergent, however, I always add essential oils to mine.
In my recipe, I use a peppermint liquid castile soap and peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil really helps to remove any odors from all the clothes I'm bringing home from the thrift store, and it's also good for deodorizing sweaty workout clothes. Interestingly, there is no real peppermint scent leftover after washing, only a certain freshness with no identifiable scent. To double up the odor removal, you can always add a few drops of peppermint oil to your dryer balls, which is what I typically do.
Use Cruelty-Free Baking Soda to Make Your Own Washing Soda
The most common brand of baking soda and washing soda out there is Arm & Hammer. Beware of this brand, because it is NOT cruelty-free.
I have linked to a cruelty-free and organic brand of baking soda that I use on Amazon. What's great about this brand is that it comes in a 1-gallon bucket. So it's a very large quantity, and it will last you quite a while.
Another great thing you may not know is that you can actually create your own washing soda by simply baking it in the oven and removing the water from it. The below video from PREPSTEADERS will show you exactly how to achieve this.
The Cost Breakdown
If you purchase these ingredients in bulk you will save a bunch of money, so I highly recommend it. Be sure to check your local natural foods store to see if they do refills on Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap. I purchased the 64 oz. container (linked below) over a year ago, and I have been refilling it ever since. What a great way to save plastic and even save money on the product!
- 1/2 gallon of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap will yield 16 servings @ $2.12 each
- 1 gallon of baking soda yields 64 servings @ $0.45 each
- If you make your own washing soda then that adds an additional $0.45
Total Cost: $3.02/gal
This, of course, is based off Amazon pricing, which may or may not be more expensive than your local grocery or natural foods store. I'm sure that if you search around you could find something cheaper, but even with this cost it's still pretty awesome!
When I was buying Seventh Generation, I was paying almost $20 for only 1.56 quarts. So the fact that I can make just over 2.5 times that for $3 is insane. If you want to add essential oils to your recipe, that will increase the cost a little bit. And of course you're using a bit of water, which contributes to the utility bill.
But those are pennies, no big deal. You now have a natural, organic, cruelty-free, handcrafted detergent that you can be proud of and that works fantastic!
- 1/2 cup Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup washing soda
- 1 gallon water
- 50 drops essential oil, optional
- 1 gallon container, to hold the detergent (I use an empty gallon vinegar jug)
- 4 quart bowl
- 1 funnel
- 1 whisk
- 1/4 cup measuring cup
- Add the washing soda and baking soda to a large bowl and fill with about a 1/2 gallon of hot water. Whisk everything together until the sodas are completely dissolved. DO NOT add the castile soap at this time. I've done it and I'm telling you right now, it's a big mess. It bubbles up and makes it take forever to fill the container.
- Use the funnel (if required) to pour the mixture into the gallon container of your choice. Fill the container up with water, leaving room for about 1–1.5 cups.
- At this point, you may add the liquid castile soap and essential oils if you're using them. After measuring out the soap, I like to fill up my bowl with about 3/4–1 cup of water and rinse the soap off the measuring cup. Then I pour that rinse water through the funnel to give it all one final rinse to make sure I use all of the soap.
- Screw the top on and give it a gentle shake back and forth to mix everything up.
- Congratulations, your detergent is complete! To use, add 1/2 cup to each large load, 1/3 cup to a medium sized load, and 1/4 cup to a small load.
The Joy of Laundry
It's always exciting to be able to make things yourself, instead of having to buy it from the store. Just keep in mind that because it is a natural solution, it will separate. So be sure to always give it a quick shake before using it.
The other thing that I've noticed is that over time—I would say when it's about 1/4 full—it develops white floaties in it. Don't worry about this though, it's totally normal and your detergent has not gone bad. At this point, it's just a further state of separation of ingredients, but it still cleans just as well as when it's first made, I promise!
It really feels great to make things yourself. It gives you a real sense of accomplishment and pride knowing you did it yourself. Now you can feel good about doing all those loads of laundry knowing that you're cleaning them with a detergent that you created. Good for you! If you love this detergent recipe, be sure to share it with your friends and leave a comment below.