Natural Laundry Detergent Recipe 

Nothing is worse than going to do a load of laundry and finding out you’re out of detergent. A quick run to your local grocery store, will leave you with only a few options that are actually natural… if any. Plus, many detergent companies use greenwashing to make you think you’re choosing something that is good for you and the planet, but in reality is still chuck full of really harmful chemicals and additives. Ever seen a company like Tide put a picture of a nice green leaf on the front of their jug with some natural looking labels? That’s greenwashing. In fact, Tide makes a detergent called Pure Clean that claims to be a clean option, but was actually rated with an F by the Environmental Working Group, because it contains ingredients that are a risk for developmental and reproductive toxicity. 

Navigating the “clean” detergent world can be super confusing and a bit discouraging. That’s why I’ve chosen to start making my own laundry detergent! It lets me control exactly what goes into it, all while saving me a LOT of money. Plus it only takes a few household items, plus some Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds to make!

a picture of laundry detergent ingredients and a mason jar

What’s the Scoop on Common Laundry Detergents?

Common laundry detergents often contain many toxic chemicals that are bad for your body and the ecosystem. Some of these ingredients are linked to cancer and developmental issues.

– Phthalates

Many laundry detergents contain phthalates, which are an endocrine disruptor. Gross! You can find phthalates in many household products, personal care items, and much more. Endocrine disruptors mimic your own hormones, which can cause many issues within your body, including cancer, nervous system damage, and more. While it is hard to stay away from phthalates all together, switching out your detergents can be a big step to a healthier lifestyle. 

– Formaldehyde

Many detergents contain formaldehyde, which is labeled as a “highly toxic systemic poison” by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and can cause cancers including lung cancer. So what is it doing in our laundry detergent? It’s generally used as a preservative and antibacterial, but it poses a huge risk to health. No thank you!

– Chlorine Bleach 

The National Center for Biotechnology Information says that “Bleach reacts with biological tissues, causing irritation and cell death by protein denaturation”. Not only is bleach used in most detergents, but it is often bought to add straight to loads of laundry. Bleach is generally an unsafe chemical to have in your house, especially if you don’t know how to use it. For example, if you accidentally mix vinegar and bleach, or just accidentally use bleach to clean your shower right after vinegar, it will create scentless chlorine gas which can be lethal if you inhale enough. In fact, chlorine gas has been used in chemical warfare, it’s that bad. Big thumbs down.

a mason jar with essential oil

Why Homemade is Better 

When you make detergent at home, you can control the ingredients and really make sure everything is up to your standards. With simple ingredients like salt and baking soda, you can trust that your laundry days will be toxin free and safe for everyone. 

– Salt

Salt works as a color fixer in your detergent. Many dyed fabrics will fade as you wash them over and over again. Salt can act as a color fixative, keeping color bright and vibrant. And of course it’s super affordable and safe to use, as it’s something we eat everyday.

– Baking Soda 

Baking soda can be used to spot clean, neutralize odor (especially underarm sweat), whiten clothes, and will just generally enhance laundry cleanliness. Because baking soda is so natural and clean, it’s a great choice to add to any soaps or cleaner that you use around the house. It adds an extra boost to cleaning supplies, while being completely natural. I opted to use baking soda over borax because its gentler and better for you and the environment.

– Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds

Sal Suds got an A from the Environmental Working Group! It’s a gentle soap concentrate that is great for washing your dishes, mopping your floors, and making into cleaning sprays. It’s a soap you can trust. I wanted to use Sal Suds because I know how well it cleans and it’s important to me that this detergent actually works.

– It Cuts Down on Plastic Waste

It’s no secret that there’s a ton of plastic waste when it comes to using laundry detergent. Everytime you buy detergent, it will generally come in a gallon size jug that really doesn’t have a lot of uses once you’re out of detergent. Some companies will make paper jugs, but even those are lined with plastic bags. Making your own cuts back on plastic waste, because you can use the same vessel again and again. Eco Tip: Use and old detergent jug to store your homemade laundry soap.

a mason jar full of homemade laundry detergent

Why Homemade Detergent is Cost Effective 

Compared to the leading natural and unnatural brands, including Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers, and Tide, our homemade detergent saves in at 20-30% off the cost. Because the ingredients are so minimal, you aren’t spending extra money on ingredients that aren’t necessary. Plus, ingredients like baking soda and salt are super affordable. it can be even cheaper without the use of ingredients like essential oil, but one bottle of essential oil will go a really long way.

Helpful Tips

You can use this detergent just like any other store-bought detergent, but there’s a few things you may need to troubleshoot.

  1. The baking soda may separate and sink to the bottom of the jar if your detergent has sat for a little while. Simply take a spoon and mix it back in before you add it to your load of laundry.
  2. I find that this detergent does a great job at making my laundry smell clean, but if you want a little extra scent to your laundry, try adding some essential oil onto dryer balls and using them in your dryer.
Natural Laundry Detergent Recipe

Natural Laundry Detergent Recipe

Yield: 4 Cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This natural laundry detergent is easy to make, affordable, and clean!


  • 3/4 Cup Dr Bronner Sal Suds
  • 2/3 Cup Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 35 drops Essential Oil
  • 3 Cups Water


  • Quart Mason Jar
  • Measuring Cups


    Add all of your ingredients except the Sal Suds into a quart jar and stir to combine. Next, add the Sal Suds and shake until it is fully combined. Enjoy your affordable natural laundry detergent!


1. Use a 1/4 cup per load.
2. You can add whichever essential oil you like, or none at all. I used lemon, but try lavender, chamomile, or anything else that sounds lovely to you. The Sal Suds already have a pine scent, so even if you don't add any essential oil, your detergent will still smell lovely.

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