…for 15 cents per load!
Why do I (sometimes) make my own laundry detergent?
I have always had the ingredients to make my own laundry detergent, and for the longest time, I didn’t even realize it! There are several reasons this idea came about – number one is from a strong nesting instinct when I was pregnant in 2021 – everything must be clean and pure! Only the best for the baby! – and while I haven’t completely abandoned this idea, I have definitely relaxed on my standards (my own mental health has only improved! Hooray!). Sometimes baby girl gets chicken nuggets for dinner, sometimes we buy our detergent, and all is still very well.
My husband and I (and our daughter!) also have sensitive skin that breaks out in itchy hives from common scented detergents & dryer sheets (it only makes sense that two sensitive-skin people make a sensitive-skin baby). Free & clear all the way!
Another reason I love this detergent – it is so cost-effective! I broke it down below.
- (14 C) Hot Water
- (1 C) Baking Soda
- (1/2 C) Salt
- (1 C) Liquid Castile Soap
- (20-30 drops) of Essential Oil (optional)
- Gallon-sized jug
1 // As pictured above, dissolve the baking soda and salt in the hot water in a large mixing bowl. If you choose to use a plastic water bottle gallon jug (I usually do, I like the handle on it), allow this mixture to cool after dissolving, then use a funnel to pour it into the jug.
2 // Add the castile soap and your favorite essential oils. Done!
3 // When you’re ready to use your detergent, make sure the cap is tightly screwed on (heh) and give it a good shake (the castile soap naturally separates). Use a (1/2 C) per regular load.
Essential Oil // I love using about 10 drops of peppermint and 10 drops of lavender essential oils. Avoid using too much citrus or orange essential oil to prevent off-yellow staining that isn’t ideal for white linens. You can skip adding essential oil to make this detergent an unscented, pure, baby-skin-friendly laundry detergent.
If you’re going to commit to this clean and easy detergent and want to dive right in, here’s your cost breakdown:
Per recipe cost: $0.43
We buy a 13.5 lb bag from Costco ($9.49) and aside from it lasting forever, it can also be used for everything. (1 C) of baking soda is about 1/22nd of this bag, about $0.43 per recipe
Other great uses:
Slow draining sink? One-half cup of baking soda, and one cup of vinegar…dissolve, and then follow with four cups of boiling hot water.
Diaper rash? I dissolve a (1/2 C) in our the bath water and let baby soak in it for 30 minutes. This is why it works so great in laundry – baking soda neutralizes the water’s pH to keep it from being too basic or acidic, and is therefore a natural laundry softener (great for where we live – we have hard water).
Per Recipe Cost: $0.12
We don’t buy salt at Costco because we don’t run a high-volume salty restaurant, so I usually stock up on two or three Iodized Salt barrels ($0.69 each) from Target when I go once a month. One barrel is 26 ounces, and this recipe calls for a half cup, so I can get about 6 detergent recipes from one barrel of salt.
Liquid Castile Soap
Per Recipe Cost: $4.15
The cost will vary slightly depending on the brand you choose, but I have always bought Dr. Bronner’s “Baby Unscented” liquid castile soap, though I don’t know that you can go wrong with any of them. One 32-ounce bottle is $16.61 at our local grocery store, and this recipe calls for one cup (8 ounces), so there are 4 recipes uses in one 32-ounce bottle.
Total Cost per one Unscented* Recipe: $4.70
One Recipe Yields: 1 Gallon (128 ounces)
Use (1/2 C) per load (or 4 ounces). This recipe makes 32 regular loads.
Cost per one load: $0.15 (woohoo!)
This is assuming you diligently use (1/2 C) per regular load, but let’s be honest, we all over-detergent our laundry the slightest because we think we won’t already get fresh, clean laundry from the recommended amount that doesn’t need a second rinse or wash. No matter if you use double the recommended amount, this laundry detergent is still one of the most cost-effective DIY methods around! The ingredients are easy to find, easy to read, and safe for our skin.
* If you choose to add lavender essential oil to your recipe, I would add about $0.70 per recipe, about $0.02 extra per load. One 1-ounce bottle of pure lavender essential oil is almost $21 at my local grocery store, but there are about 600 drops in one bottle! It is a staggering price for your first bottle, but we also use our essential oils in our home diffuser. Final words: this is incredibly hard to beat against any common laundry detergent brand.
For comparison – one bottle of Tide that promises 32 regular loads is $9.34 at our grocery store. Not a bad price, but it’s double the cost of this recipe. Not to mention that it rates a “D” on the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning based on the ingredient list. We can decide for ourselves what we need, but here’s my best homemade detergent recommendation and I’m so happy to share what works for our family with sensitive skin!