Clean it Green: Laundry Detergent

We recently went to a Sustainability Symposium at the Botanical Gardens. It was a day filled with a variety of lectures related to the impacts of climate change in Northeast Ohio, gardening, and green living.

One of the lectures discussed green cleaning products.  At one point, the presenter showed a picture of what it looks like in the cupboards underneath the sink in a “green” home — lots of cloth rags, vinegar, baking soda, and maybe some borax or washing soda.  She then asked, “How many of you have cupboards that look like this?”

I was one of very few people that raised a hand.  Hmm…I guess there’s still a lot of educational work to be done! 

And so, I decided that I should be better at sharing my green cleaning tips with all of you!

One of the changes I finally made just a few months ago was to update what I use to wash clothes.  The good news is — it really works! And it’s very easy to make after you get a few ingredients you might not already have around (but once you get them, they’ll be useful for many cleaning projects).

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1/4 cup liquid Castile soap
Common boxes for washing soda and borax.

Common boxes for washing soda and borax.

All you need to do is mix everything together!  Start with the vinegar and add the powders.  Keep stirring while you combine everything.  End with the Castile soap.

At first, your mixture will be a bit gel-like, but it dries to a powder.  I suppose the only real “work” with this method is that it has a tendency to to become a bit clumpy at first.  However, once broken up it will stay a powder, and has worked very well to clean our clothes.


First Mixed — Looks more like a liquid or gel.

You’ll use 1/4 cup of this mixture per load of laundry.


The final powder.

An additional tip is to find an old container that can be reused for storing your powder.  I cleaned an old cat litter bucket and attached a 1/4 cup measuring spoon with twine for ours.

IMG_1730Happy Green Cleaning!

Other posts about green cleaning:

Lemon Verbena All-Purpose Cleaner

Shared on:

Clever Chicks Blog Hop

Homestead Barn Hop

Backyard Farming Connection

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

HomeAcre Hop

Small Footprint Friday

Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest

16 thoughts on “Clean it Green: Laundry Detergent

  1. Great re-use of the cat litter pail. I recently switched to paper litter after researching how bad clay litter is for the environment and for cats. I was making my own for a while but decided to just buy it instead, it’s pretty cheap and it lasts a long time.

  2. Can you use this homemade detergent with a front loading washer? If so, do you just put it in the liquid dispenser or do you put it in the washer with the clothes?

  3. I’ve been considering making my own detergent, so thanks for sharing what works for you! I am working towards “greening up” my cleaning cabinet and getting rid of products with harmful chemicals so I’d love to read more about your green cleaning tips 🙂

  4. I have been using a dry version of this for some time now with my front load washer and it works great!! I use Borax, Washing Soda and grated bar soap (I’ve used castille, ivory, fels naptha – currently making my own bar soap and think I’ll use a simple lavendar or tea tree bar for cleaning). I’ve only had a problem with suds once, only because I used a bit too much soap!

  5. I make a similar detergent, yours looks very thick and awesome!

    Also, I’d love for you to share this post at Healthy 2day Wednesdays if you haven’t already! (and healthy posts you have every week!) Blessings!

  6. This is a different recipe than what I have used in the past: the one with the soda, borax and fels naptha. We recently moved out to the country and I’ve noticed when I use cold water, the detergent doesn’t dissolve. Does this seem to dissolve pretty well when you use it? Wondering if I should switch…

    • Hi Jenny,
      I usually wash in cold water and haven’t really had an issue with pieces being left without dissolving. In the 3 or more months that I’ve been using this blend, there was only one day when it didn’t dissolve all the way and I think I had just overstuffed the washer. Other than that, it hasn’t happened.
      Maybe this blend will work better for you! (Although maybe it’s the new type of water in the country?)

      • It could be the water. I’ve had problems in other areas like the dishwasher and my poor hair. 😦 I may have to go to a homemade liquid. I’m going to pin this recipe though. Once I’ve used up what I currently have, I’d like to give this a try.

  7. Great idea 🙂 Do you know if this is safe for High Efficiency washers? I have been using a green laundry det, but I buy it and would like to make my own.
    Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop! Stop by on Sundays for The Creative HomeAcre Hop 🙂

  8. Great post! I’m totally one of those people with baking soda and vinegar under my sink, too. Some of my rags are even labelled with permanent marker i.e. “oil for cutting board”, “bathroom floor wiper”, etc 😉

    Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday!

  9. The cupboard under my kitchen sink is looking more and more “green.” Does Seventh Generation products count? I use baking soda a lot more, for lots of things. It’s amazing how well it works for laundry, cleaning, removing odors. Great stuff. Every time my green cleaning service comes by I learn another use for the stuff.

  10. Pingback: 25 Blogs with Tips on How to Make Your Laundry Clean and Bright | Housekeeping

  11. This sounds like a good recipe. I will share it with my sister. We have been using soda, borax and vinegar, but adding them in individually to the wash.

  12. I have never heard of this recipe which seems counter intuitive slightly but could work great! I have a similar recipe that we use and also sell on our Etsy store. We do use vinegar as a ‘fabric softener’ and to assure no residue remains on laundered items. Way to rid the toxins!!

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