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Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Borax

Posted by on Feb 26, 2013 in For Your Home, Green Clean | 39 comments

Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Borax

I never thought I would make my own laundry detergent. After spending the last year making various cleaning and personal products, however, I became more comfortable with the idea. In researching this post, I read through a lot of homemade laundry detergent recipes and tried several. A recipe from My Healthy Green Family emerged as my favorite for three reasons.

First, the ingredients are environmentally friendly. Most DIY laundry detergent recipes call for borax, which I’m not willing to wash down the drain twice a week, or soap like Fels-Naptha, which contains a titanium dioxide that can contaminate lakes and oceans and harm wildlife, according to

Second, this recipe uses dry ingredients only. One mixture I tried used dry ingredients and liquids. That chunky detergent worked but had to be broken up before each use which took time I wasn’t willing to spend.

Third, this recipe calls for one to two tablespoons of detergent per load. Other recipes I considered used 1/4 cup or more which could get expensive.

An added bonus was that the ingredients were pretty easy to find. Most grocery and big box stores carry washing soda (near the laundry detergent), baking soda (in the baking aisle) and citric acid (near home canning supplies or vitamins). I used glycerin soap base which is often used for soap making and is very inexpensive, but other types of soap would likely work just as well. I also had dead sea salt on hand from making a scrub, so I used that as my course salt.

Although all of the ingredients are dry, you do need to use a desiccant so the mixture doesn’t clump. I used silica gel packets that were packed into products I had recently bought, like sneakers.

I’ve been using this laundry detergent for a few months now and it’s been working well.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Without Borax
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
  1. 4 ounces glycerin soap
  2. 1 cup washing soda
  3. 1/2 cup citric acid
  4. 1/2 cup baking soda
  5. 1/4 cup course salt
  1. Mix the ingredients together and store in a sealed plastic or glass container.
  2. Use one to two tablespoons per load of laundry.
A Green Routine

Kim is an eco enthusiast who tries to make small changes that will add up and make a difference.

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  1. Joan Perez

    Thank you for posting and sharing the pieces of information about making laundry soaps. I will definitely have one.

  2. Ashlee

    I was wondering what brand of glycerin soap you use?

    • Kim

      I used glycerin soap base from New Directions Aromatics since I had it on hand.
      You might be able to find bars of glycerin soap at health food or natural markets. I bet a bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap would work well too (thought I haven’t tried it) and you can find that in the organics section of most grocery stores and even Target.

      • Barbara

        I am using Dr. Bronner’s organic castile soap and it works fine.
        I purchased the Lavender scented soap and while it smells great in the container, it doesn’t leave any fragrance on the clothing. My guess is that the Baking Soda neutralizes the scent. I am really big on organic and was able to purchase organic citric acid online.

  3. Victoria

    Is the ounces dry or fluid for the soap?

  4. Candise

    Could I use castile bar soap instead of the glycerin soap?

    • Kim

      I think that would work – that’s what I would have used if I didn’t have glycerin soap on hand already. If you try it, let us know how it goes.

  5. Janet

    What would your measurements be if I wanted to make at least a gallon?
    Thank you:))

    • Kim

      Multiplying by 6 would get you to about (probably, just under) a gallon … if I’m doing my math correctly. That means 24 ounces of soap, 6 cups of washing soda and 3 cups each of citric acid, baking soda and salt.

  6. Heather

    Can this be used for a front loader?

    • Kim

      Yes, I use it with my front loader.

      • Barbara

        How do you use it in a front loader? There is nothing posted about the quantity to use. Do you just put the detergent on top of the clothes once loaded?

        • Kim

          My washing machine has a compartment that’s meant for powdered detergents, so I put it there. Does your machine have that? If not or if you’re not sure, it might be worth checking the manual to see what the manufacturer recommends doing with powdered detergents.

          The quantity to use is in the recipe – 1 to 2 tablespoons per load.

          Hope this helps!

          • Barbara

            Thank you. I’ll check the manufacturer. My machine doesn’t have a separate compartment. Only the one for liquid 🙁

  7. Toni

    is this safe for HE washers and for someone with very sensitive skin (eczema, and dry skin)

    • Kim

      Yes, it is safe for HE washers. Nothing in the recipe is a known skin irritant, so it should also be safe for those with sensitive skin as well.

  8. Michelle

    Could this be made into liquid form?

  9. Jennifer

    What purpose does the salt and the citric acid serve? I have seen similar recipes without these and I was wondering what benefits they provide? Thanks!

  10. Jennifer

    Also, is this safe for cloth diapers?

  11. Krista

    Thank you so much! I finally made and tried this and it worked great! I shared it on my own blog –

  12. Barbara

    Any suggestions on preventing clumping. I put Dr. Bronner’s into my food processor to grate and then added the other ingredients. However, after a few hours, it was a big clump in the jar. I was able to break it up easily, but I don’t want to have to do that each time I do a load. I did some research online regarding adding a desiccant and decided to use Ball Pickle Crisp placed in a muslin bag added to the detergent. It doesn’t appear to be working. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you.

    • Kim

      I’m not sure what else you can do to prevent clumping, but I wonder if you can work with the clumping? Maybe you could measure the amount you need into balls and put those in the container so all you need to do is grab a ball of detergent when you need it.

      • Barbara

        Hmmmm……never thought of making balls. That might actually work while the grated soap is still soft. I will give it a try. Thank you for the suggestion.

  13. Luna

    I was wondering if I could add a few drops of essential oils to this mixture? I need my clothes to be clean and smell good too! If I added a few drops of lavender EO would it do any harm?

    • Nicole

      Lavender EO is perfectly save for your laundry. Tea Tree EO is another popular addition to laundry detergents, and I’m sure there are many others to choose from. However, be cautious and avoid citrus EOs in loads with colored clothing because they may bleach the clothes.

  14. Meklorka

    I’ve heard that baking soda may not be appropriate for conventional machines and may leave residue on clothing regardless.

  15. betheggo

    I am so glad that you are in support of using/eating etc things that are natural in the truest sense, and that you are an advocate for living a better life. 🙂 I would give heed though to studying out in depth the ingredients used in your products, their origin and process of how they are made. You will probably be surprised by how things are made and the effects they can have on the body.
    Citric acid bought that is mass produced, is made by Aspergillus Mold and eats the scraps of leftover product producing citric acid. Only problem is Aspergillus Mold is a harmful mold that is known to cause nose, ear, and lung infection particularly in immuno-compromised individuals.
    Here is a site reference if you wish to look into the subject more thoroughly for yourself:
    Keep on the good work, I appreciate the effort you make to helping others find a natural alternative. 🙂

    • Kim

      Thanks for your comment. What health issues have you seen when people use citric acid as a cleaning agent? Commercial citric acid is made from Aspergillus Mold but once it’s become citric acid I don’t know that it would cause issues for most people provided they’re handling it properly. It is an acid and people should be careful, for example, not to breath it in when they’re using it.

      If people have allergies to the yeast, corn or mold used during the production process, they would want to stay away from it in their food. They would need to decide if it’s the right cleaning agent for them as well.

  16. Lynn

    Oh goodness! I just added liquid castile soap mixed with Lavender EO since that is all I had on hand and boy did I get a reaction! As I stirred, it begin to bubble and swell. Thank goodness my container was big enough. After about five minutes it has become a chalky solid. I plan to wash with it and see what happens.

  17. Lynn

    I really like the detergent in its chalky form and it washes well. I use abt a 1/2 cup for an average load of clothes and add some lavender for scent.

  18. Jennifer Duke

    Do you ever use essential oils to scent it?

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