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How to make eco-friendly laundry detergent in 10 minutes

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I’m not a huge DIY person. (Truth: I once experienced craft-panic when a friend invited me to a wreath-making party and told me to bring my “favorite greenery” and I had no idea what she meant.). But there’s one easy DIY trick I’ve done for over a decade: homemade laundry detergent. 

I’m sharing my “secret sauce” with you today because the topic of eco-friendly laundry detergent came up in my Monthly Min group a few weeks ago, when we welcomed guest expert Stephanie Seferian (my good friend + host of the Sustainable Minimalists podcast) to talk about Eco-Friendly Simplicity. 

While there are many eco-friendly laundry detergents on the market, I’ve found that when it comes to laundry, it’s so easy to make it yourself that it seems crazy to me to buy it. 

Because I’m a fan of both simplicity and time-saving, you know that this is going to be quick and easy! You can make this detergent in under 10 minutes, less time than it will take you to heft a plastic jug of chemically-perfumed liquid into your shopping cart, wait in a checkout line, and lug it home. 

This detergent avoids all that plastic, all those chemicals, and saves you time because one batch lasts for SIX MONTHS. Yes, even with my family of five, where we do laundry pretty much every day, I only have to make this stuff twice a year. (Winning!) 

If you want to watch me make it, check out this short video: 

If you prefer to read the goodness, read on…

Step 1: Assemble the 5 ingredients

Probably the most time-consuming part is assembling your ingredients. I can find most of these at my local grocery store, but I’ve learned that some ingredients (particularly the washing soda and Fels Naptha soap) are best bought online. 

  1. Borax (1 box = 4 pounds)
  2. Washing soda (1 box = 55 ounces)
  3. Baking soda (4 pounds, so 4 of the typical-sized boxes) 
  4. OxyClean (3 lb box – this is the only plastic you’ll use) 
  5. Fels Naptha soap (2 bars) 

Step 2: Grate the soap

You want to get the soap into small powdery bits, so you’ll need to grate it. I used to do this by hand with a box grater (annoying and time consuming!) so now I use a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, skip this ingredient completely because it’s not necessary for the detergent to work and I don’t want anyone to waste their precious time grating soap by hand while silently cursing me. 

Step 3: Mix everything together

Truly, that’s it. Get a decent-sized container and mix away. I usually add half of all the ingredients, mix, and then add the other half and mix again. Done. 

Final Tips: 

You don’t need to use much of this detergent. I use one coffee scoop (⅛ cup) per load. If the clothes are really dirty, I might add an extra scoop. 

Speaking of, you’ll need a scoop. Just use the scoop that comes in the OxyClean. It’s ⅛ cup. 

This is a non-sudsing detergent. You’ll need to get over the idea that bubbles = clean. We’ve been cleaning our clothes like this for over a decade and I can assure you, our clothes are clean, no bubbles required. 

This is a non-scented detergent. Again, you’ll need to get over the idea that chemical perfumes = clean. Actually, the chemicals in scented laundry detergents are toxic. (Ya know, in case you needed another reason to DIY this stuff.)  

If you want to continue your laundry DIY and are asking, “But Rose, what about dryer sheets? Can I DIY those, too?” Probably, but I don’t. I simply don’t use them. They aren’t necessary and just add more toxic chemical scents to your clothing. We’ve not used them for years and haven’t had issues with static or whatever those sheets are supposed to help with. If you have static struggles, I believe you can buy wool dryer balls. I don’t know anything about those, but I’m sure there’s an Internet rabbit hole of wool dryer balls out there. Feel free to go down it. 😉 

I hope that inspires you to try making some eco-friendly laundry detergent at your own house! 

Do you have any easy eco-friendly tips to share with me? If so, email me personally at [email protected] and let me know! 

To less stuff and more you,

PS: Simplifying your laundry could be the first step to simplifying your entire house. If you’d like to declutter your home, but aren’t sure where to start, get my FREE Simplicity Starter Guide and let’s get a plan in your hand so you can start decluttering your home today!

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