Homemade All-natural Castile Laundry Soap Recipe {Powdered or Liquid}–Fels Naptha and Borax Free {Now with a Thieves Household Cleaner Option}

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homemade all-natural castile laundry soap -- borax and fels naptha free

I love making my own homemade laundry soap. It’s easy to make, works great, and is healthful for my family (even for the babies).

Most homemade laundry soap recipes call for a bar of Fels-Naptha soap, but Fels-Naptha soap is NOT a natural product so I don’t use it any more. The reasoning behind this decision is my recent discovery that Fels-Naptha includes ingredients such as titanium dioxide (a carcinogen) that aren’t so healthful for the body.

In addition, Borax, though a naturally-occurring mineral, has many ill effects including developmental and reproductive toxicity problems.

After being alerted to these concerns, and desiring to live as healthfully as possible now to avoid hospital bills later, I chose to search for an alternative that wouldn’t break our budget.

The best alternative that I found is Dr. Bronner’s pure castile soap. And, to be honest, I have discovered that I prefer Dr. Bronner’s over Fels-Naptha anyway (besides the reasons already given). Here’s what I learned about this soap:

  • It’s typically (but not always) cheaper per bar than Fels Naptha. On Amazon.com (love Amazon!), Fels-Naptha soap usually costs around $4 per bar whereas Dr. Bronner’s soap usually costs around $3.33 per bar. Not huge savings, but every little bit counts (especially for a deal-seeker like me)!
  • It has all-natural ingredients (nothing is questionable).
  • It comes plain or scented with different essential oils (meaning if you want your soap to smell good, you don’t necessarily have to add any essential oils).

The laundry soap recipe below can be made into a powdered version or a liquid version. Both are easy to make and both work very well. I personally prefer the powdered because we seem to go through it at a slower speed.

Castile Laundry Soap

Both versions of the recipe are low-sudsing, which means they’re safe for high-efficiency (HE) washers (which are typically front-loading). I do not recommend using this soap for use with cloth diapers (if you use Fels-Naptha instead of Dr. Bronner’s soap–same thing, don’t use with cloth diapers) because it will build up fairly quickly and cause repelling (I learned this the hard way; however, if you don’t mind stripping them more often, then feel free to use it). Rather, I’d use a detergent specifically for cloth diapers, such as my Homemade All-natural Cloth Diaper Detergent (this detergent also works well for mama cloth).

Before I delve into the recipe, here’s a break down of the ingredients and why I selected them:

  • Castile Soap. Castile soap helps to remove dirt and stains from clothes. It is made with vegetable or fruit fats (mainly olive and coconut oils). This means that they perform better in the washing machine (animal fats tend to clog it over time), especially front-loading (HE) washing machines. Additionally, castile soap is safe to use if your washer drains into a septic system (same thing, animal fats should not go into the septic system).
  • Washing Soda and Baking Soda. These ingredients do well to loosen dirt and stains off of clothing. The baking soda also reduces or eliminates odors.
  • Salt. Celtic sea saltepsom salt, or kosher Real Salt all help to soften the water, thereby preventing mineral build up. If you have hard water, you may need to add more salt. The salt also helps towards knocking dirt and spots out of the cloth.
  • Thieves Household Cleaner. Due to popular demand, I started adding some of Young Living’s totally awesome Thieves Household Cleaner to my liquid laundry soap (not the powdered). This is optional, but does add an extra punch of cleansing power to your laundry.

Oh, and a couple more tidbits before we get to the recipe. If you want keep on the natural path, try these as well:

  1. Add about 1/2 cup white vinegar for fabric softener instead of using commercial fabric softeners. This may sound weird, but it works well and the laundry washes away any vinegar smell so you won’t smell like you just colored Easter eggs. Just be sure to add the vinegar after the castile soap has washed off the clothes (late in the wash cycle, in another wash cycle, or add it to the fabric softener cup if there is one) because you do NOT want to mix vinegar and castile soap nor do you want to mix vinegar and baking soda (or vinegar and washing soda) as these combos cancel each other out.
  2. If you have bad stains on your clothes, add about a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide or a tablespoon of baby OxiClean to the wash (be sure to spot test it on the garments to make sure it won’t bleach them).
  3. If your clothes start to become dingy, try to add about 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (such as Lemi Shine, found by dishwashing products) in with the laundry soap (don’t let it get in touch with any vinegar).
  4. If your white clothes become grayish or yellowed, add some bluing to the load as directed on the bluing bottle.

    USELESS FACT: When I was showing chickens in 4-H as a kid, I would put some bluing in a big plastic bin, fill it with water, then dunk my white chickens (up to their head so they could still breathe) in it and hold them their for about 5 minutes. This made their feathers nice and pretty and won me many a shiny ribbon!


  5. To speed up drying and help to reduce static electricity, use 3 or 4 wool dryer balls (or hang dry, of course). Wool dryer balls also help as a fabric softener.
Homemade All-natural Castile Laundry Soap Recipe
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For Powdered Soap
  1. 1 5-oz. bar Dr. Bronner's pure castile soap (or other pure castile bar soap, including homemade)
  2. 1 c. washing soda
  3. 1/4 c. baking soda
  4. 1/4 c. Celtic sea salt, epsom salt, or kosher Real Salt
For Liquid Soap
  1. 1 gal. (16 c.) water, divided (for liquid soap only)
  2. 1/2 c. washing soda
  3. 1/4 c. baking soda
  4. 1/4 c. Celtic sea salt, epsom salt, or kosher Real Salt
  5. 1 c. liquid Dr. Bronner's soap (or one 5-ounce bar, grated)
  6. 1 tbsp. Thieves Household Cleaner (optional)
For Powdered Soap
  1. In a food processor with a grating attachment, shred the bar of soap (or do it manually if you'd rather, but use the finest grate on your grater). Remove the grating attachment and add the washing soda, baking soda, and salt to the food processor then pulse together until a fine powder results (or if you're doing it manually, just mix the finely shredded soap and the powders together in a bowl).
  2. To use, add 1 tablespoon (2 tablespoons for very soiled clothes) to a regular load of wash.
For Liquid Soap
  1. In a large pot, bring about 4 cups of the water to a boil. Gradually add the washing soda, baking soda, and salt. Stir until dissolved.
  2. Allow to cool until touchably warm then pour into a bucket or some other container (I used to use an empty, cleaned out plastic kitty litter jug; I marked a 1 gallon line on side so it involved less measuring). Add the remaining water then the liquid Dr. Bronner's soap and Thieves Household Cleaner a little at a time, stirring after each addition.
  3. Stir or shake (with a lid on of course) before using.
  4. To use, add about 1/2 cup (more for heavily soiled clothes) to a regular load of laundry.
Notes
  1. About Clumping: Sometimes the powdered version of this recipe will clump, especially in higher humidity. This can be alleviated by pulsing the powder in a blender or food processor. Be sure to store in an airtight container (put plastic wrap over the top of the container if necessary).
  2. For Cloth Diapers: Do NOT use this on cloth diapers. The soap will cause cloth diapers to repel. Use the Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent instead.
Measuring Flower http://www.measuringflower.com/
Disclaimer: This, as with any other inedible recipe, may have had different results when we used it versus when others used it (lots of reasons for this–different water hardness, different fabrics, etc). Use at your own risk.
TJ

TJ

Editor/Contributor at Measuring Flower
TJ is a former chef with a Bachelor of Science degree in writing turned stay-at-home wife to a loving, hard-working husband and mom to two very active, adorable little boys.
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Comments

  1. 2

    Lacey says

    I think you may have been misinformed about Borax. Borax is a natural element mined here in the USA. I would encourage you to do some actual research for yourself. I am a licensed Medical Doctor and work as a Medical Researcher for a privately owned holistic and organic lab. The benefits of this mineral are outstanding! I wouldn’t suggests using it in cosmetics but as far as laundry detergent and household cleaners, it is perfectly safe for the entire family and the environment. It is unfortunate that too many people confuse this element with its nasty counterpart and read one misinformed thing about it and stop their education there and cut out this natural and safe element out of their home.

    Also, if you want to scare people about the products they use that could actually do more harm then good, then maybe learn more about Fels Naptha…thats a product that wouldn’t make it it past my doorstep!

    • 3

      says

      Hi, Lacey. Thank you kindly for your comment! I have in fact done extensive research on borax. Although some may consider it safe for use in laundry detergent, I personally do not. And since this is my blog, I only endorse what I believe is right and what I have researched. I never share anything that I have not thoroughly researched and tested myself in an effort to present the utmost accurate information to my readers.

      In my research, I found a TON of conflicting information. Some say that borax is perfectly fine while others utterly condemn it (and I don’t mean just mommy bloggers, I’m talking top science websites). I have read that borax, when it enters into the body (found articles on ingesting it as well as external application that absorbs through the skin) turns into boric acid once inside the body.

      Since I am not a scientist and do not have the funds necessary to thoroughly and scientifically hire anyone to delve into borax’s safety, I have chosen to stick on the safer side and simply avoid its usage for my family. If others wish to use borax, I personally have absolutely no problem with that as that is their right to do so. I, being a tad paranoid perhaps, will stick to my guns and avoid it.

      I am thankful to see that you also believe in thorough research and don’t believe everything you read. I hope you have a blessed day, Lacey! :-)

  2. 4

    Stacy says

    It’s about 8:30 Saturday morning and I am already deep into reading about homemade soaps. For the last couple weeks or so I have been researching what is actually in my laundry detergent and was stunned! I have since cleaned out my HE front loader ( I hate this machine and it took me a good day to get it clean), and ordered a couple of different laundry detergents to try, such as: Nellie’s NLS-50 All Natural Laundry Soda, Oxy-Prime Powdered, and country save. I picked these because of review, ingredients, and being safe–according to reviews–on cloth diapers as well as clothing.

    However! I am still a little skeptical and trying to learn as much as I can. Can you answer a few questions for me?
    1) what is the purpose of celtic sea salt?
    2) I have heard a lot about Dr. B soap and how great it is. Do you know if it is vegan friendly? I am not a vegetarian, but I have read one of the reason my HE had issues with build up and such is because of the minerals in my water attaching to the animal byproducts found in soap. I am trying to stay away as much as possible from animal byproducts.

    Thanks so much!

    • 5

      says

      Hi, Stacy!

      I know, isn’t it ridiculous! I like to hit up the EWG.org website to start my research on different ingredients and such–they typically have the most up-to-date, accurate information, but I’d definitely recommend delving further beyond what they just say (since they are just one company).

      The purpose of putting salt in laundry soap is mainly to help soften the water to prevent mineral build-up on clothes and what-not. Celtic sea salt (just like real salt or epsom salt) is an unprocessed salt and therefore more pure (as opposed to refined white table or sea salt).

      Dr. Bronner’s soap is in fact vegan. It is castile soap which means it is made using mainly olive and coconut oils. Castile is only made with vegetable or fruit fats, no animal fats. I recommend Dr. Bronner’s because of its HE-friendly and septic system-friendly vegetable fat quality.

      For cloth diapers, I would avoid using any laundry soap that has actual soap such as Dr. Bronner’s because the oils or fats in regular soap (though good at breaking down dirt and what-not on regular clothes) build up on cloth diapers over time, causing them to repel. But you can check out my homemade cloth diaper detergent. All the ingredients in that are completely cloth diaper safe.

      I have issues with my front loader, too! But the recipe here for this soap works great in it. And, unfortunately, the nature of a front-loader is it gets dirty faster because there’s nowhere for some of the water to drain (especially in the “lip” on the front–I’m always finding scum and mold build up in there, yuck!).

      Hopefully this answered your questions. Please let me know if it didn’t or if you have further questions. Have a blessed day!

    • 6

      says

      By the way, just updated the post to explain what each ingredient does (I didn’t realize I never did my ingredients break down–thanks for helping notice that). Have a great day, Stacy!

  3. 7

    Jennifer says

    I have researched a bit and saw that washing soda is also not safe due to the PH 11 making it caustic.
    What would you suggest doing to eliminate washing soda from the recipe?

    • 8

      says

      The causticity is necessary to help get clothes clean, much like lye is necessary in regular soap to make it effective. I wouldn’t recommend removing it else the recipe would not be anywhere near as effective, but if you are concerned with it, you could try subbing it with more baking soda, but baking soda does have a different makeup than washing soda. Washing soda did receive an A rating on EWG.org meaning it is not toxic for human usage.

  4. 9

    Kathy says

    I tried your recipe for Castile Liquid Laundry soap today. There is a discrepancy in the amount of water. Your ingredients list says 16 cups water divided, which I understood just fine. (4 cups gets boiled to melt the soap/other ingreds, which leaves 12 cups to add at the end). The problem is under item #5 where you mention marking a line on your container that is 2 GALLONS. 16 cups is only one gallon, so when does the other gallon come in. Please respond ASAP as I have a measly gallon of laundry soap cooling quickly and I’d like to add the 2nd gallon IF it is necessary. Thanx bunches.

    • 10

      says

      Oops! Thanks for pointing that out! It’s supposed to be 2 gal. water, so 32 cups. :-D Thanks again! Have a blessed day!

      • 11

        Kathy says

        Thanx bunches 4 the quick reply. I went ahead and added the additional water. The Kirk’s website says to use 1/4 cup per load of laundry, while yours says 1/2 cup; I was wondering what your experience has been on this?

        A blessed day to you too! ;o)

        Thanks again

        • 12

          says

          You could try the lesser the amount; we do have hard water, so that could be the reason I’ve discovered that the larger amount works better. :-)

          • 13

            Kathy says

            Hiya again!
            I tried your laundry soap recipe 3 days ago, & it still has not gotten one bit thicker. What do you think? (if you don’t mind addressing my situation) ;o)

            Kathy

          • 14

            says

            It might not, depends on what brand of bar soap you use. The vast majority of soaps get thick after being melted down because the soap has gelling or thickening agents in it to prevent customers from melting it down and using it in its liquified state as easily. If it’s watery, it should still work just as well. :-)

  5. 16

    Christina says

    Hi,
    Just wondering if you could use liquid Castile soap instead of bar soap?
    Thanks,
    Christina

  6. 18

    Christina says

    Thanks TJ,
    Would I still need to heat up four cups of water to dissolve the other two ingredients?
    About how much of the Castile liquid do you think would be enough?
    So, when all said and done, this should end up making around 2 gallons of liquid detergent?
    I appreciate your help,
    Christina

    • 19

      says

      I’d say about 1/4 cup of the liquid castile. And yes, def. still heat up water to dissolve some of the other ingredients. You could bring it to a boil then mix in the other ingredients off the heat. :-)

  7. 22

    Lisa says

    Is Kosher Real Salt the same as Kosher Salt (I believe I have Morton’s at home)? Is Celtic Sea Salt the same as any other sea salt (I have Trader Joes Sea Salt at home)? Just wondering if I can use what I already have or if I need to make a special purchase.

    • 23

      says

      Hi, Lisa! Nope, Kosher Real Salt is healthful, mineral-rich salt. Regular Kosher salt such as that sold by Morton’s is processed and bad for you (contributing to various health conditions whereas real salt does not; but that is mainly when consumed internally). Celtic Sea Salt is another brand of somewhat different real salt that also has not been processed like white table salt has. I’m not sure about Trader Joe’s Sea Salt, it could be processed as well, but I’ve never used it so I don’t know. For use in the laundry soap, however, you would probably be just find with regular kosher salt since it’ll mostly get rinsed off anyway.

    • 25

      says

      Each has a different molecular makeup so do slightly different things. The washing soda does more actual washing like breaking up any yuckies while the baking soda (which also helps break up yuckies) also performs as a deodorizer. :-)

  8. 26

    jwilliams says

    Just wanted to say thanks for the detergent formulas! I made this one and the cloth diaper one, and they are both working amazingly well in my HE washer. The cloth diaper one is the first thing to get my greasy, yucky kitchen towels and cloth napkins clean in forever – they’re like new :) Thanks again.

  9. 28

    Rob says

    I am going to try the powder recipe. I was planning on using Borax as I use that in my laundry now but I am reconsidering that decision! I was to use Dr. Bronner’s soap and I think I am going to use the Rose or Tea Tree version. Any recommendations or suggestions? I want to use a salt, does epsom salt work better than a sea salt?? Thanks!

    • 29

      says

      Sorry for the delayed response, Rob! Some non-spam comments were going to my spam box. :-( Any Dr. Bronner’s castile soap should work. Some might do slightly different things, but I don’t know if the “scents” are strong enough to really do much (and, in my experience, the smell usually washes out, so it’s not good for making smelly). Both epsom and sea salt (so long’s it’s kosher so it’s coarse) should work about as well as each other–I’d base it on what you can get cheaper. :-)

  10. 30

    Lisa Hackney says

    I was curious as to whether you could use the liquid version of the castle soap in the liquid version of the detergent. I use that for cleaning my hard wood floors and walls, so I always have some on hand.
    THanks!!

  11. 32

    Lois says

    Thanks for this, I am brewing it up now! I made a similar version a few years ago. But this time I am using my own home made Castile Soap.
    Very exciting using your own home made soap. I agree with you with regard to the borax – I won’t touch it due to it’s environmental issues. While a natural product in high doses it is really bad for aquatic life and that is where all our washing machine water ends up – in the ocean!

  12. 33

    liz says

    We have a water softener that uses salt to treat our water. Would I still need to add the salt to this recipe? Thanks!

    • 34

      says

      Hi, Liz–sorry for the delayed response, a bunch of comments mistakenly went to my spam box. :-( I would still use the salt because it helps towards breaking up/loosening dirt and spots. We have very hard water,too, and we use salt-based water softener in it, but I think our clothes still fare better with the added salt to the detergent (esp. since it’s coarse). Hope this helps!

  13. 35

    yolanda says

    Hi! I plan to make this castile laundry soap to wash my clothes and my baby clothes in! But I have a few questions…..

    a) have you ever added citric acid as a color brightener?- if so how much would you add in?
    b) also have you made your own washing soda? I read that its just BS heated in the oven for 400 degrees
    c) also what do you store the powder or liquid in? glass only? air tight?
    d) also have you made the liquid one with liquid castile yet?
    e) also with the salt- course or fine?
    f) do you add essential oil scent? per load or in the actual mix? how much?

    PS: Any commercial brands you like? I am considering using All-Free and clear or Arm n Hammer(sensitive skin) or Any “green” detergents you like? such as WF/365/7th Gen brand?

    I am a new mommy….any day now! Just getting prepared for new life!

    • 36

      says

      Hi, Yolanda! Congrats on being a new mommy! :-D To answer your questions:

      a) I have not used citric acid as a brightener because I use vinegar as fabric softener and it duels as a color brightener, but you can add 1/4 c. citric acid to it (I suppose we could add that to the post so others know this is an option, so thanks for pointing that out!).
      b) I have never made my own washing soda because I have TONS of it that I got on sale a while back, but it’s very easy to do and should work just as well as purchased. :-)
      c) The powder I store in an Anchor Hocking jar (like this [aff. link] http://amzn.to/1iLa7DN). I don’t think it matters if it is glass only. For the powdered, if you live in a humid environment where the powdered might get clumpy, then I’d store it either in an airtight jar or keep a cloth, “breathable” bag full of rice in with it so it absorbs the moisture instead of the powder. For the liquid, I would definitely keep it in an airtight container so it does not evaporate.
      d) I have not made the liquid one with liquid castile (I prefer the powdered, mainly because I already have containers for it, lol), but several of my readers have and they report that it works well, though it does turn out kinda watery. I have plans for working on a new, liquid recipe that doesn’t clump yup into egg drop soup and that uses liquid castile soap, only that’ll be concentrated (so you only have to use a tablespoon or two per load; but I have yet to get around to it–still catching up from Christmas!).
      e) With salt, you want to use kosher or coarse. The coarser is better for “beating” off dirt and what-not.
      f) I personally do not use essential oils in laundry because I have a hyper-sensitive nose and it gives me headaches (which, to warn you, might happen to you, too, after giving birth–your nose might get super powers and you can smell a poopy diaper from two rooms over, lol). For this full recipe, I would probably start with like 20 drops of EO and give it a whiff. There is a chance that the smell might wash out in the wash, too. Alternatively, you can scent your all-natural vinegar fabric softener by adding about 30 drops to one gallon of vinegar (to be added during the rinse cycle/to the rinse department or your washer). Another method I’ve heard is to put several drops on a piece of cloth (like a washcloth or something) and throw it in the dryer.

      For commercial brands, I wrote a post on which purchased brands are good for cleaning for when you don’t like to/don’t have time to make your own. Here’s the link: http://mflwr.co/1bokPKw

      Hopefully this answers your questions. Please let me know if I need to clarify or if you have any further questions. Have a blessed day!

    • 37

      says

      Oh, also, you can check out EWG.org to see their rating on different cleansers. They test each one for several different things including toxicity. :-)

      • 38

        yolanda says

        your awesome! I will post back with results soon! Right now I use Allens Naturally because it was highly recommended for cloth diapers :) But I plan to make this and begin using my own and give it away as gifts for my new mommy friends.

  14. 39

    Mary says

    Thank you for all the info! Cant wait to try my first load of laundry with this soap tomorrow!!

  15. 40

    Anna says

    Hello!
    You said not to use castile soap with vinegar. I have a HE washer and I was wondering if I put the soap in the soap compartment and the vinegar in the softener compartment would they still cancel each other out even though they go into the wash at different times? Should I just switch to citric acid instead for a softener?

    • 41

      says

      Hi, Anna! You’ll have to check the directions that came with your washer, but with our front-loading HE washer, whatever’s in the softener doesn’t go in until the soap has already done its job and rinsed off. If yours is different than mine, you could try adding a tablespoon or so of vinegar to the dryer (add 30 drops of a nice-smelling essential oil to one gallon of white vinegar before hand and use that as your fabric softener). Another route is to use wool dryer balls. Hope this helps. Have a great day!

  16. 42

    Cheryl says

    Hi TJ,

    I like your site and find it very helpful. I have a couple of questions for you. One is that you mentioned “stripping” if you use the homemade soaps. Ive been making my own soaps for about 2 years and I have noticed a buildup . The clothes can at times almost smell a bit rancid, which I suspect is a buildup of the oils in the castile soap ( even though I use the liquid Dr Bronner’s. as opposed to the solid bar) Im interested in stripping and how to do it. I assume that may be helpful for the problem Im having.
    Also, do you have thoughts on liquid vs bar soap in laundry soap? I make the powdered ingredients up and add 1 tbsp. or so of the liquid soap to each load.

    • 43

      says

      Hi, Cheryl! Sorry for the delayed response–we’ve had the sickies around here. :-) I have not stripped clothing before, but I do regularly strip our cloth diapers. To do so, I usually just run them through the wash on hot five or six times in a row. That usually does the trick, but if they’re being stubborn (or stinky, as cloth diapers will sometimes do), I’ll run it with just a drop (and I do mean a drop, esp. if you have a front loader) of Dawn original liquid dish soap (the blue one). This is a one in a while thing since Dawn isn’t necessarily the most natural product on the market, lol. The degreasing properties in it remove any oil build up that is causing it to repel.

      For this recipe, I’ve always made mine in the powdered version with the bar soap, mainly because the bar soap is cheaper than the liquid. I have made the liquid version for experimental purposes specifically to post about it, but I can’t say that I prefer one over the other (other than the bar is cheaper). Hopefully this helps! Here’s my post on washing cloth diapers where I mention how to strip them: http://mflwr.co/1dTciQI

  17. 44

    Lael says

    Hey! Pls respond ASAP! I’m currently making it and am curios..I put in the grated soap and the baking soda and the citric acid….once I did, the bubbles almost over flowed…Is that normal or is this a chemical reaction? haha I just realized I’m doing a science experiment in my kitchen…All these are safe to mix right?!?! I’m just asking because I don’t see anyone else saying this in previous comments. Thanks!

    • 45

      says

      Lol, hi Lael! One of my co-writers updated to add the citric acid to this recipe the other day and was supposed to also mention that it shouldn’t be used in the liquid version for this purpose, lol. It is normal and it interacts with the sodas, probably even neutralizing them to an extent. But it should still work. I went ahead and actually removed the citric acid from the post itself because I and a couple others are going to test it first so I can share when things like this happen. So sorry for the troubles and thanks for pointing this out!

      • 46

        says

        Hey, thank you! Good to know…So it’s been two days and soapy but still liquid. Should I just throw it out and start over without the citric acid? I was ready comments and then other blog posts about using vinegar with washing soda and it causes some chemical reaction and it wouldn’t be good to use it in the wash with home made detergent. I guess I don’t really understand that when it’s way better to use all natural ingredients but yet it’s caustic to use vinegar otherwise??

        • 47

          says

          Hi, Lael. I don’t think it’d hurt anything, you could maybe try it on some old clothes that you don’t care get damaged, but I think they’ll be fine. The reason an acid like vinegar or citric acid should not be combined with baking soda or washing soda is simply because it neutralizes the soda, turning it basically into water. So it doesn’t make it more caustic or anything, if anything it makes it milder. The actual chemical reaction is when the two are mixed, it produces carbon monoxide. But once it settles, it’s done and the soda has been neutralized. So putting them in at the same time *might* not be good (but again, it still doesn’t seem like it’d hurt because it’s just carbon monoxide which is the same stuff we breathe out). So like when I say don’t mix the vinegar (used as fabric softener) with the soap, that’s just because you don’t want the vinegar de-activating the power of the baking soda. Hopefully all of this makes sense, lol!

  18. 50

    Jen says

    TJ, I just made your liquid laundry soap version. Your instruction are easy enough, and I really appreciated all the information. I am worried, however, because I used lemon shine for the citric acid and added when dissolving the powder ingredients in the water. Won’t the acid in the lemon shine cancel out the washing soda? I’m worried I ruined it.

    • 51

      says

      Hi, Jen! So sorry for the confusion. One of my co-writers changed the post to include citric acid for me and didn’t put that it shouldn’t be used in the liquid version. It is ok that it bubbled and it will most likely neutralize the sodas to some extent, but should still work. I’ve removed the citric acid from the post so we can do some testing before posting about it (so that we can share what troubles we had and what works). I did just do a load with my regular soap powder and tossed some citric acid in with it, and the clothes came out really nice! Which makes me all the more believe that the liquid version should still work. Please let me know how it goes if you try it. :-) And sorry again for the confusion.

  19. 52

    Lolo says

    Fels Naptha is less than $2.00 in most grocery store whereas Dr. Bronners is almost $5.00 at Target. Just an FYI.

    • 53

      says

      Yes, it definitely depends on where/how/when you get it. I’ve been making my own castile bars now, so it’s only like 50 cents/bar. And I can get Dr. Bronner’s for $1.75 per bar at a local health store when it’s on sale (I stock up!). And if you buy it in bulk it’s cheaper, too. :-) I personally would rather pay extra though for healthier Dr. Bronner’s soap. Have a great day, Lolo!

  20. 54

    liz says

    Hi there, me again :) I have been using the powdered version of this for about a week and I really like it but I am starting to worry that it isn’t working very well. All of the clothes seem fresh and smell good except for the armpits of some shirts. The soap doesn’t appear to be washing out the deodorant/sweat smell. Any thoughts? I have been using 1 tablespoon for my front loader. I have read various suggestions like spray the shirts with vinegar or use TONS of baking soda but I was wondering what your thoughts were. Also, does the powder really last you 90 loads and have you noticed a change in your clothes over time? I have read many reviews of other homemade detergents and there were plenty of complaints about clothes getting dingy. Thanks for the help, I really want this to work :)

    • 55

      says

      Hi, Liz! Mine does last 90 loads, when using it 1 tbsp. at a time. As far as clothes becoming dingy, with the Baby OxiClean in it, it *shouldn’t* become dingy. I’ve used this recipe for about a year now and haven’t noticed any clothes being dingy. If you do have a problem with them eventually becoming dingy (and if you have hard water, that might be the case), you can try upping the amount of salt in the recipe and see if that helps. Or you can add a teaspoon or so of citric acid (such as LemiShine) to the rinse cycle of the wash (don’t add it to the wash cycle because it’ll interact with the baking/washing sodas and render them inactive). OR you could try adding a half cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.

      For the pit stains, you could try pre-treating them just before throwing them in the wash with a mixture of half hydrogen peroxide and half water (put in a spray bottle and spritz it). Just be careful with this concoction because any clothes that are not colorfast can bleach from it (you can test a spot first). A concoction of half vinegar and water ought to work, too (I’d experiment to see which works better).

      Let me know how this goes, Liz. Hopefully it made sense and I’m not rambling, lol. :-)

      • 56

        liz says

        Thanks! Going great so far, about to make my second batch! The sweat smell sticks around even with commercial detergent so I was happy it wasn’t this recipe’s fault. Scrubbing first with BS seems to work so I am sticking with that for now. Thanks for sharing! Now to find a place that sells Dr. B’s in bulk. I’ve been paying $4.29 and would love to pay less.
        Thanks for this!

  21. 57

    Tessa says

    I’m loving your recipe for both laundry and diapers! Just wanted to say thank you for all the work you put into researching the various ingredients thoroughly! (Love EWG) I also very much appreciate how attentive you are to your readers–answering everyones questions, and being pleasant when sometimes not everyone is…
    Thanks! Appreciate what you’re doing!
    Blessings.

  22. 59

    says

    I’ve always wanted to make my own laundry soap but haven’t yet, although I’ve read up on it. I don’t like what I’ve read about Fels naptha and Borax which is why I haven’t done it so far. So am pleased to see an alternative!

    What are you doing in the way of an optical brightner? Do you toss in some OxiClean or are you using Mrs. Stewart’s bluing? Do you think it would be o.k. to add some OxiClean to every load? I don’t want my whites to get dull and dingy, so what has been your experience with keeping the whites white? Thanks.

    • 60

      says

      Hi! Yep, it should be ok to add some OxiClean (I’d recommend Baby Oxiclean because it’s more gentle). Another reader said she mixed in some citric acid as a brightener instead (which I’ve never personally tried, but it does have evidence backing it up online).