Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe Without Borax

The other morning hit me with a tough challenge –  do you remember your chemistry, Courtney?  Nope I answered quickly, I’ll go get Robert.  Robert and I sat next to each other on the couch and hammered out some math problems.  We were trying to work out some concentration questions for my laundry soap.  I was using chemistry equations and he was using logic.  We both came up with the same answers but I had to cheat and google the equations because alas I had forgotten them.

So why was I bothering with chemistry equations, well I had another soap disaster but I won’t bore you with the details this time.  Let’s just say that I trusted another EHow recipe.  I had to rework the recipe a bit and here is what I have come up with.

Laundry Detergent without Borax: 

Amount Needed Per Load:

1 1/2 teaspoons liquid castile soap

2 teaspoons of Dry Mix

Dry Mix Recipe:

1/3 cup salt

1 cup washing soda

1/3 cup baking soda *update 8/2012 I just started adding this to the recipe, can’t tell if it makes a difference but I feel good about adding another odor absorbing safe cleaner to the mix.

You might be wondering why not mix the two together and add them at one time. I found out that the washing soda doesn’t dissolve well in small amounts of liquid.  In your large load of laundry it will dissolve just fine.  So I eliminated the water in the recipe.  Really why do I need to be lugging around a big jug of water I would rather use small amounts of concentrated soap.

                  This is after the Dry Mix was heated in water.  Not dissolved at all.

Another method:  I used my old Charlie’s Soap bottle because it has a measured pump on it.  I calculated how much castile soap and water I would need for the 1 gallon bottle I had.  If you are in the same situation, Charlies’s Soap dispenses 30 ml per load so fill the bottle with 4 cups castile soap and the rest with water.  This is really only worth the effort if your bottle has a measured pump otherwise use the concentrated method above.

I washed my first load of diapers yesterday (a true test of washing ability) so I will let you know how well it worked.  Check out my homemade dishwasher detergent without borax too.

Thanks, Courtney

Update 8/2012 – I’ve been using this for over a year now and really love it.  Heavily soiled items I do use one or two more pumps.  And I have found that it doesn’t clean fruit stains very well – that’s what the enzyme detergents do good at I guess.  Stain treating is the only way to go.  My cloth diapers are on their 2 year of heavy daily usage and are still clean.

17 responses to “Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe Without Borax

  1. Please post back later and let me us know if this works for you without buildup in the diapers. You never mentioned using anything in the rinse like “vinegar” to prevent buildup of the Dr. B’s. Do you think thats an issue. Everyone on the “CD’ing” websites claim this will cause buildup and reduce absorbency in the long run. What do you think? Whats been your experience? I have a blog as well….just posted yesterday my recipe i’m about to give a try. But I did have misgivings about Borax.

    • Thanks for your comment tbiggers. I have considered using a vinegar rinse or in the case of my washing machine I add it in the slot for fabric softener. I am not convinced this extra step is necessary yet though. I feel like my formulation is similar to the ingredients listed in Charlie’s Soap, which does not contain borax, and I never used vinegar then. Another option is to do a vinegar soak once every couple of months or so. Based on your suggestion I will try to test the absorbency issue. So far, so good. Sometimes I feel like people elevate cloth diapers to a status they don’t really deserve, they are essentially rags. To me they need to be chemical free rags.

  2. I wonder if it might work to grate up a bar of castile soap like Dr Bronners and mix it into the dry ingredients so you only have one step in the process.
    I really like the addition of the salt to protect my laundry from hard water. Even natural laundry soap I buy at Whole Foods doesn’t do that! Great tip, and thanks for the post. Good to know someone else is trying to make the world greener.

  3. I love that Suggestion, Amorie! I wonder how much bar soap…?

  4. Pingback: Update for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent | His and Hers Homesteading

  5. Do you know of any liquid washing detergent recipes that don’t use either castile soap or borax? I live in Greece and they simply don’t sell a.) Washing soda, b.) borax, or c.) castile soap. Everything has to be ordered online which can be quite expensive and that’s exactly the thing I’m trying to avoid.

    I’ve been making my own washing powder by taking baking soda and baking it for about 20 mins or so for a powder detergent that I make, but it would be really great to be able to make the liquid myself.

    I’ve also been substituting baking soda for borax in the powder recipe, just so you know.


    • Shannon – You sound like you know more about it than I do but FYI – Castile soap is made from olive oil maybe it’s just called something different in Greece. Good luck and happy hunting.

    • Hi Shannon, I live in Spain and also had problems getting hold of washing soda however, I accidentally came across it in the swimming pool maintenance section of my local supermarket. It is labeled as a PH adjuster and says 100% Sodium Carbonate on it.

  6. How does this work in a front load washer?

  7. Wouldn’t the salt be corrosive to your washing machine and dishwasher. I’ve seen what road salt can do to cars. I like the idea, but this would be a huge concern to me.

  8. Pingback: Borax Free Homemade Laundry and Dishwasher Soap | His and Hers Homesteading

  9. Becky – I’m not concerned about the salt because it gets rinsed out with the rinse cycle- our cars don’t get rinsed off every time we drive, hence the corrosion.

  10. I was wondering why the No borax recipes. I make my own laundry soap and I feel that is what really helps cut stains. I don’t make a liquid form though. I just put one scoop on my clothes in my front loader. I just wasn’t sure if it was a personal reason or if there was something wrong with Borax. My grandmother even used it in her homemade soap too.

  11. I’ve been using this recipe for over a year and really love it. The only issue I’m having is with my cloth diapers. Their absorbency is fine but they stink. I use plenty of water, rinses, etc. but they don’t smell completely clean coming out and reek after even a little pee. Have you ever had this issue? Is there anything else you use with them to keep them smelling ok?

  12. The strong urine smell develops with bacteria producing ammonia. I finally had to bleach mine. The suggestion of drying in the sun might help, as uv light can help disinfect.

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