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DIY Natural Laundry Detergent (without bar soap!)

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Are you looking for a simple DIY natural laundry detergent made without using bar soap? It is super simple, free of toxic chemicals, and only requires four ingredients!

In the past, I’ve tried many different versions of homemade laundry recipes. Most of them required the use of a bar of soap. 

Which may work perfectly fine for most folks who use that type of laundry soap. However, when I would use it, I would find issues with build up on my laundry. 

It didn’t matter which recipe I would follow or what type of laundry bar soap I used. And this was especially problematic for my cloth diapers. 

Plus, most of the bar soaps contain ingredients that I didn’t want to use in my home. That’s when I scrapped the idea and bought an all natural laundry detergent. But I really prefer to make something myself.

Fast forward to present days. I’ve wanted to find a way to make a detergent that would not only clean our dirty farm clothes. But is also totally natural. 

natural laundry detergent in a mason jar with a white towel and sitting on the dryer

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Why Make a DIY Natural Laundry Detergent

Not only is it more frugal and helps to eliminate waste. To me, zero waste is all about making small changes over time. 

But it is also better for our overall health. And around here, we want to avoid as many harsh chemicals as we possibly can. 

girls helping make natural laundry detergent

More Natural Cleaning Posts:

Getting Started with Natural Cleaning Products

10 Homemade Cleaning Products with Essential Oils

How to Use Lemon Essential Oil Around the Home

What Ingredients to Avoid in a Laundry Detergent:

  • Fragrances – Synthetic fragrances contain phthalates, parabens, allergens, or other irritants. Also can include other endocrine disrupters. 
  •  Bleach (chlorine) – This is known to be an irritant and cause of asthma for many. Also an endocrine disruptor, neurotoxic, and carcinogenic. 
  • Dyes They can be contaminated with heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, and lead. Dyes really serve no purpose in the effectiveness of the cleaning product. They are used to make a product more visually appealing. 
  • Phosphates — This is main cleaning agent used in most detergents and other cleaning products. They are known to cause asthma and other respiratory problems. As well as skin allergies and irritation.

girls helping mix up the laundry detergent

More information and toxic laundry ingredients are listed in this post

One important piece of advice that I always share, always do your own research! Find the best options for you and your family. Here is a great place to start

Simple Ingredients in this Natural Laundry Detergent

With only 5 simple and all natural ingredients, this homemade laundry powder is a breeze to make. And it makes a great science, math, and sensory activity for little ones!

I’ve tested this detergent on our dirty farm clothes, on kid messes, stinky laundry, white towels and sheets, hot and cold laundry. 

I have a heavy duty Speed Queen with agitator top load machine. Because farm clothes & kids!

So, I have NOT tested this in a front loader or high efficiency machine. But it is low sudsing so I don’t imagine it being a problem. 

all ingredients on counter

 Ingredients used: 

You can omit the essential oils if you prefer. However, I think that certain oils contain a nice cleaning boost. And some like lemon essential oil, help brighten laundry.

A frequently asked question regarding this homemade laundry soap:

How many loads will it make?

Honestly, I have never counted! It makes about 3 3/4 cups of dry powder. And I will use 1 tablespoon per regular load of laundry. 

And then 2-3 tablespoons for my husband’s dirty farm jeans or heavily soiled clothing. 

I hope that helps a bit. And I will do my best to keep track in the future. But, busy mom (farm) life happens…

laundry detergent in a mason jar with essential oil bottles on countertop

For this batch, I used a combination of my favorite citrus oils for an awesome fresh scent. 

And eucalyptus and Mint are more favorites that make great laundry scent options.

How to Make a Natural Laundry Detergent

This recipe is not overly complicated. And the kids can help, too! 

To make, measure out the following ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sodium bicarbonate
  • 1 1/2 cups washing soda
  • 1/2 cup epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 20-25 drops of your preferred essential oil combination (optional)
  • I used 5 each of lemon, lime, and wild orange

girls mixing up the laundry detergent

Mix all ingredients and really work to incorporate the essential oils completely. 

Store in a mason jar or glass jar of choice with a lid. 

To use this laundry detergent:

I measure out about 1 heaping tablespoon of this laundry detergent per regular load of laundry. For heavily soiled or larger loads, I will use another scoop of detergent. 

No extra boosters have been necessary over here. That’s all there is to it! Easy, peasy! 

laundry detergent in mason jar, with measuring spoon

DIY Natural Laundry Detergent

DIY Natural Laundry Detergent

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: .06 per load

A simple DIY natural laundry detergent made without using bar soap! It is super simple, free of toxic chemicals, and only requires four ingredients!


  • Epsom Salt
  • Sodium Bicarbonate
  • Washing Soda
  • Sea Salt
  • Essential Oils (optional)


  1. This recipe is not overly complicated. And the kids can help, too! To make, measure out the ingredients.
  2. Mix well and be sure to incorporate all ingredients, including essential oils, if using.
  3. Store in a Mason jar or other glass jar of choice with a lid.
  4. Use approximately 1-2 tablespoons per load.


Essential oils are optional. However, I believe that certain ones give this laundry detergent an extra cleaning boost.

And it really helps to keep my whites nice and bright!

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Hope Lewis

Saturday 14th of March 2020

Do you know if its safe for septic tanks?

Mary Woita

Tuesday 17th of March 2020

Yes, there isn’t anything harmful to a septic system…which is what we also have. The ingredients are similar to a natural product I was using before making my own.

Lora Ford

Friday 21st of February 2020

Definitely trying this recipe. Thank you for sharing!


Monday 9th of December 2019

How many recipes can you make from the packages you recommend? I'm wondering if I should subscribe and save on some of these items. Everything you wanted to avoid in detergent is what I've wanted to avoid....with the added bonus of no plastic waste!! So awesome! Thanks for sharing.

Mary Woita

Tuesday 10th of December 2019

Actually, I’m not even sure. I make a lot of natural cleaning products or other items around the home. So I use these ingredients for a variety of things. I’m sorry, that’s not much help!


Friday 8th of November 2019

Thank you! I’m gonna try this! We’ve been using one with equal parts borax and washing soda, but I’m not sure if I like it

Mary Woita

Tuesday 12th of November 2019

Thank you for sharing! :)


Tuesday 5th of November 2019

What can be a substitue for sea salt? Would rock salt be fine?

Mary Woita

Tuesday 12th of November 2019

Honestly, I’m not sure. They have different properties so the outcome would not be the same.