DIY natural laundry detergent is a growing trend, and for good reason. From the days of washing laundry by hand we’ve come a long way.
But it's also the "commercialisation" of this basic household commodity that has caused a large amount of toxic hidden chemicals to infiltrate our lives.
Everything from skin irritations to allergies and respiratory ailments, can be attributed to toxic overwhelm as a result of the daily use of harmful chemical products around the home - and washing detergent is one of the biggest culprits.
Most laundry powder or soap on your super market shelf promises the most refreshing, clean scent with pretty pictures on the box to match. But the truth is, we’re causing more harm than good by using these synthetic products and need to make a shift to healthier natural alternatives that work just as well without the troubling effects.
1. Dangers of Laundry Detergent
Laundry detergent has become incredibly convenient. No matter your pain point, from grass stains to wrinkles and everything in between, there’s a detergent that can easily solve that for you with no extra work from yourself.
But what we don’t realise is exactly what chemicals are involved to make that laundry magic happen, and how dangerous they really are.
When you read the label of most laundry detergent, the chemical names are endless and it’s hard to know what’s what. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, but these are the most dangerous, toxic ingredients:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Sodium Laureth Sulfate/ Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate (SLS/ SLES)
- Chlorine Bleach
- Ammonium Sulfate
- Dioxane (1,4 Dioxane/ Diethylene Dioxide/ Diethylene Ether/ Dioxan)
- Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (Nonoxynol, NPEs
- Optical Brighteners
- Dichlorobenzene (P-Dichlorobenzene/ Benzene
- Benzyl Acetate
If you scan your laundry detergent label, you’ll probably see many of these toxic ingredients listed.
Most of these ingredients are extreme irritants, highly inflammatory, and are dangerous for your eyes, lungs and even internal organs.
Some other ingredients like added fragrances and perfumes do nothing to increase the effectiveness of the product, but can cause rashes and inflammation.
They’re also incredibly destructive to the environment, because the water used for your laundry goes right back into waterways and sewage and causes damage to wildlife and their habitats.
Finally, minimal testing is done to see what sort of adverse effects the laundry detergents have on our bodies. And companies are often not even required to disclose the ingredients in laundry detergent as they are in cosmetic products, because laundry detergent isn’t designed to be used directly on skin.
But when you consider the fact that traces of it stay in your clothes all day long and rub against your skin, there’s plenty of opportunity for adverse reactions.
Learn more in 7 Natural Hay Fever & Allergy Relief Remedies That Actually Work.
2. Benefits of DIY Natural Laundry Detergent
DIY natural laundry detergent takes a little bit more effort than store bought detergent, but when you realise the risks above, it’s the clear choice.
By making your own detergent, you can control exactly what goes in it and what your family is exposed to every day.
It can be an adjustment at the start to make the switch, since all the added fragrances of store bought detergent make us think that’s what clothes should smell like and the chemicals make us think that’s how easy it should be to do laundry.
You’ll need a little more patience, a little elbow grease, and an understanding that clean clothes don’t naturally smell like spring breeze or orchids.
By cutting out store bought detergent, you may even find breathing issues and skin problems disappear, allergies improve, and sleep becomes easier.
You’ll also rest easy knowing you’re doing your part for Mother Nature.
3. How to Make DIY Natural Laundry Detergent
Making your own natural laundry detergent is fairly easy and quick. You probably have most ingredients on hand already.
- 1/2 Cup Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate)
- 1/2 Cup of Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate)
- 1 Cup of Borax
- 1 bar of natural soap such as coconut or ‘Castile’
- 20 drops of essential oils of your choice
How to Make:
- Grate up the soap with a grater or food processor into small particles
- In a large bowl mix grated soap in with the baking soda, washing soda and borax
- Stir in drops of essential oils
- Store in a large glass jar
You can tweak this recipe as needed depending on your results. If you’re finding soap residue left on your clothes, try using a little less of your natural detergent.
For tough stains, make sure you put in the time to soak the item for a few hours, and a small scoop of washing soda can help stop it from setting into the fibers. When it comes to drying your clothes, try using fresh air and sunlight as much as possible.
The sun is great for killing bacteria and brightening clothes, and it’s much better for the environment.
Learn more in The Hidden Chemicals in Laundry Detergent & How to Make Your Own.
4. More Natural Laundry Tips
It can take a bit of getting used to, but moving to the DIY laundry method is well worth the effort. Here are some more laundry tips to keep your clothes looking and smelling fresh--without all the toxic ingredients.
- Forget about added fragrances and perfumes and embrace essential oils. They not only smell much more natural and subtle, but they can have a wide range of positive effects from calming to cleansing. Choose pure, potent essential oils to use like doTERRA brand.
- Run an empty cycle through your laundry machine with just hot water or add vinegar. This will help clear out any funky smells or residue,
- Clothes weren’t meant to be wrinkle-free naturally. Skip the wrinkle-removing laundry booster and hang your clothes to dry instead, ideally out in the sun. You’ll avoid toxic chemicals, get that fresh air smell, and be able to skip the ironing.
- Are you washing your clothes too often? Jeans, for example, definitely don’t need to be washed after every wear. Bras, jackets, and even sweaters can go multiple uses without washing them. You’ll extend the life of your clothes (Mother Nature thanks you!), cut down on your weekly laundry load, and have to use up less of your DIY natural laundry detergent.
Learn more in 5 Environmental Toxins to Avoid & What to Do If Exposed.
If you’re tight on time and can’t make your DIY natural laundry detergent, try this Earth-Made Natural Laundry Detergent.It’s environmentally friendly, free of chemicals, and a great natural laundry detergent to keep on hand.
While you’re at it, it might be time to take a look at the other cleaning products you’re using around your home.
Everything from dish soap to window spray can be potentially laced with toxins and causing skin problems, allergies and respiratory issues to worsen without you even realising the cause.
Making homemade versions can take more time but it’s usually more cost effective, not to mention safer for your family.
Making your own DIY natural laundry detergent will quickly become second nature to you, and you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with the chemically-laden versions at the store.
The health benefits are incredible, but you’ll also soon prefer the more natural texture and scent of clothes washed in your DIY natural laundry detergent.
Find more natural home products at our store.
Tolman Self Care.