natural laundry detergents & softener

i’m not quite sure why i’ve taken so long to actually post this… sorry crunchies!

but this routine is by far the easiest and most convenient way to wash your laundry naturally!

NO MIXING INGREDIENTS if you don’t want to! although it is more “expensive”. the cheapest requires a little mixing, but it’s SUPER cheap! here we go!

we’ll also go over 1 type you can BUY 🙂

easy & super cheap natural laundry detergent - get away from the chemicals AND save money!

so what can we use?

  • castile soap or sal suds (as the wash… like dr bronner, dr wood, pure coconut oil soap, kirk’s naturals, etc…bar or liquid)
  • washing soda (as the wash. found in laundry aisle of store)
  • vinegar (as the softener. it can be white or raw acv. i use raw acv because that’s what i have, and it works just fine!)

plain liquid castile soap or sal suds for wash & vinegar for rinse:
1. for each load of laundry (if there’s no funky smells or stains), i put 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of undiluted liquid soap or sal suds in the main wash
2. use 1/4 cup of vinegar in the fabric softener part. if you have a “final rinse” only and not a fabric softener compartment, use less vinegar. i’d say maybe 1/6 of a cup. if you have funky smells or stains, you’ll need to focus on them before the wash by hand. we’ll talk about natural stain removers in a following post 🙂
= 64 loads per gallon @ $0.86 per load for castile soap & $0.55 per load for sal suds

mix of liquid castile soap or sal suds & washing soda for the wash; vinegar for the rinse
1. start with a gallon of distilled water & a funnel. pour out about 2 cups of water first.
2. add 1 cup of your favorite liquid castile soap or sal suds
3. add 1 cup of washing soda
4. close gallon jug and shake vigourously
5. use 1/3 cup per load of laundry
6. use 1/4 cup of vinegar to rinse
= 48 loads per gallon @ $0.10 per load for the castile soap & $0.08 per load for the sal suds

mix of bar castile soap & washing soda for the wash (POWDER); vinegar for the rinse
1. grate up a bar of castile soap
2. mix with 2 cups of washing soda
3. store in sealed container
4. use 1 – 2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) of your new powder detergent for each load of laundry
5. 1/4 cup of vinegar for the rinse
= 24-48 loads per mix @ $0.17-$0.08 per load

mix of bar castile soap & washing soda for the wash (LIQUID); vinegar for the rinse
1. boil 3/4 gallon of water (12 cups)
2. cut up your bar of castile soap
3. add chunks of bar soap to boiling water, and stir a bit. turn off the heat, stir every once in awhile, and let sit till the soap is fully mixed into the water. it’ll look cloudy
4. add 1 cup washing soda and mix
5. let cool and store in a sealed container
6. use 1/4 cup per load of laundry
7. use 1/4 cup vinegar to rinse
= 56 loads per mix @ $0.06 per load 


1. buy nellie’s natural laundry soap
2. use a spoonful (spoon provided) per load of laundry
= 100 loads per container @ $0.18 per load

have you guys tried washing your clothes this way? do you have another natural laundry washing method??

hippie stamp Sig

**castile soaps should NOT be used with hard water. they will leave a film on your clothes. sal suds from dr bronner CAN be used in hard water, as well as the premade nellie’s. don’t worry!
*** 1 gallon of castile soap = $55; 1 gallon of sal suds = $35; 1 55oz box of washing soda = $4; 1 bar castile soap = $3; 1 gallon distilled water = $1

**DO NOT mix the vinegar and castile soap! it WILL unsaponify the soap and your laundry will be covered in a waxy, greasy film AND your laundry will not get cleaned. make sure the wash & rinse cycle compartments are completely separate and come out at separate times in the wash cycle. if not, wait till after the wash and manually add the vinegar to the rinse. 

37 thoughts on “natural laundry detergents & softener

  1. Hi Alex. Thanks so much for your great laundry recipe! I had been using straight Sal Suds recently (after a homemade powder didn’t really work that well for me) but it really is pretty expensive. Your recipe is different from all the other ones I’ve found out there. I made up a test batch of your 2nd recipe (the Sal Suds, Washing Soda & Distilled Water) and have used it a few times and so far I’m thinking it’s doing a good job. For anyone who wants to test a small amount I divided your recipe to fit into a quart-size bottle: 3.5 C distilled water, 1/4 C Washing Soda and 1/4 C Sal Suds. (The Sal Suds works better for me as I have hard water.) Anyway, I appreciate that you found a nice formula without Borax that’s also economical and really easy to make. It’s also helpful that you did the math to show that this really is economical. (FYI, consumer reports talks about price per load of detergents here. They’re not natural but it lets us know what we might expect to pay.

    1. Hi Alex. I’ve been using your recipe (the one with sal suds, distilled water and washing soda) for several months and I’ve been very happy with it – thanks! I now need to replace my washer and am looking at a top loading HE washer. In the comments above Heather noted that the recipes should work fine, but I’m assuming I’d reduce how much I use – is that right? Thanks again!

  2. I’m looking for help! We have hard water, so i can’t use the normal Castile Soap. I would use the Sal Suds BUT: this would cost me 175 Euro!!! for 1 gallon here in Germany. So any other ideas?
    By the way: I LOVE you Blog. Thanks to you I found my way to a more naturale life.

  3. Ingredients:
    2 gallons hot water
    1 bar soap, grated
    2 cups baking soda
    Melt bar soap in a pan with just enough boiling water to cover. Stir until the soap is completely melted.
    In large pail or bucket, pour in two gallons of hot water. Add the melted soap.
    Add the baking soda, and stir well. Use 1/2 cup per load, or more for oversized or very soiled loads of laundry.

    I looked this recipe up online, but I haven’t used it yet! I wanted to ask if you think using castile soap would be okay even though I have hard water? I was thinking it’d be okay since I’d be using baking soda, but I really would rather have your opinion first. 🙂

  4. I plan on using sal suds and washing soda mix and vinegar for the fabric softener. I want to add either lavender or lemon EO. Would it be better to add it to the washing mix or could I just add it to my jug of vinegar so I don’t have to add the EO for every load of laundry I do??

  5. I’ve used the recipe from above with the liquid Dr. Bronners and washing soda. I shook the jug when initially mixing, but it’s been a few days and there seems to be a solidied chunk of soap or something in the top half of the jug. Does that mean I shouldn’t use this detergent? I just shake it up again and pour some out. My clothes seem to be fine. I’m just wondering if this is normal.

  6. If you use a clothes line to dry your clothes, the sun works as a natural disinfectant. Your whites end up amazingly white. Do this in the winter and it is even better. And your sheets and pillow cases smell like sunshine.

  7. I’m having an issue with my dr bronners Castile soap not dissolving in the washer. I pull my clothes out and and there are little pieces stuck to them and free flying every where! They come off easily so it’s not really a HUGE deal, just annoying I have to sweep after every load I do. I get them as small as I can and I don’t have a food processor so I don’t know a way to get them smaller. Does anyone have any suggestions on a better dissolving natural soap I could try? Or anything else? Thanks!!!

  8. What was the reason that borax wasn’t great? I had never heard anything negative about it before…so that was surprising. I used to make my own powdered laundry detergent and switched over to costco’s liquid eco-friendly one awhile ago. When that’s gone I think I’ll switch back to some homemade recipe.
    Thanks for your help!

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