Thursday, September 19, 2013

Natural Laundry Detergent that gets the Dirt Out

Natural Laundry Recipes are abundant on Pinterest and the web in general. I am a believer in cutting down the  number of harsh detergents that we use in our homes, and it makes sense to use a natural laundry detergent since clothes sit on our skin all day long. The first laundry soap I made just did not cut it with two boys that collect dirt on their clothes throughout the day, every day.

I have adapted a recipe that I found on the web and changed it so it will include more natural ingredients. The clothes that we wear all day long still hold some of our laundry soap in them so we want to make sure to avoid harsh and irritating detergents that can aggravate eczema, psoriasis or dry skin conditions.

Here we go!  I will list the recipe first and then include some photos that may help you make your own:

Lemongrass Jill's Favorite Dry Laundry Detergent Recipe:

Full box of Borax:  4 lb 12 oz  (purchase at grocery store in detergent aisle)

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda 4 lb  (grocery store)

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda 3 lb 7 oz  (grocery store in detergent aisle)

Two Bars of Lemongrass Spa Signature Bar Soap (shredded in food processor)
One Bar of Tea Tree Face Soap by Lemongrass Spa (shredded in food processor)

The Lemongrass & Tea Tree Soaps may be purchased here:
Bonus: when you purchase 3 or more handcrafted soaps, they are discounted!

How to Use:

Use 2 Tablespoons for normal wear and tear (when clothes are not excessively dirty)
Use 4 Tablespoons for kid's clothes or an extra dirty load of laundry

Tip: use a big mixing bowl and alternate the ingredients, having a chance to stir/mix well....
Note: the lemongrass essential oil in the bar soap is a natural odor killer!  (ditto with the tea tree)
This is my favorite DIY soap recipe and I like that it is a powder.

It took about 45 minutes to mix, which surprised me, but that included the time to grate the soap bars in the food processor and mix it twice to ensure that it was thoroughly mixed.

Tip: You can also run everything through the food processor with the mixing blade if you do not want the bars of soap to be in that grated form. The value of doing so is that you won't have to allow that extra minute or so for it to melt in the washing machine. I think this is a time saver in the long run, as the detergent is broken down and no matter who is doing laundry in my home, that step to allow the soap to dissolve can be skipped.

How long does it last?
This recipe lasted my family of five four months and we use the 4 Tablespoon quantity so it will last much longer if you are able to use the two tablespoon quantity more often than our family. This is a much more economical version than purchasing natural laundry detergent in the stores.

Here are all the ingredients ready to roll on my kitchen table.

This is a close up of the Lemongrass Signature Bar Soap from
and the natural whitener (stain remover) that I like to use from
Note: this ecostore whitener is no longer available, but this detergent works beautifully without it.

Here is my happy helper!

Handcrafted Soaps:  Lemongrass Hand & Body Soap and Tea Tree Face Soap
In this photo, the bars of soap are ready to be shredded just like cheese in my food processor. The Lemongrass Spa soap that I sell is locally made in Pine Colorado and these hand-crafted bars of soap are the key for this recipe because they add a natural fresh scent to the detergent via essential oils (and not yucky heavy perfumes!)  The essential oils work double duty, as they also are natural cleansers. 

I use two bars of the Lemongrass Signature Soap and one bar of the Tea Tree Face Soap. Bonus: we give a quantity discount when 3 or more bars are purchased and they are only $7.00 each. The link for your convenience is:

Step One:  I slice the soap with a butter knife into sizes that will fit in my food processor.

Step Two: I use the cheese grater blade to slice the soaps in a food processor (the soaps are somewhat soft) and don't you think that this looks just like cheese?

Mixing the dry ingredients:  Borax, Washing Soda and Baking Soda (scroll to the top for the recipe and the quantities)

This is a photo of the shredded soaps sitting on top of the dry ingredients so it takes a little bit of mixing to pull it all together. Total time to create this laundry soap:  45 minutes

I used a huge pretzel container for my soap and I store it right on top of my dryer.

The finished product saves my family a ton of money! We use 1/4 cup per load and some families can easily use half that amount if they don't have kids with extra dirty clothes.

 I'm pretty thrilled that this lasts our family of five four months!

Here is a visual of how I use two bowls to mix all the ingredients to ensure that everything has been mixed well. Another tip is to pour the ingredients in stages so that you are mixing as you are pouring.

I prefer a dry laundry detergent, but have found that it works more effectively if I add the detergent to my washer, turn on the warm water to cover the detergent, wait three minutes for it to dissolve and then add the clothes. This trick makes a BIG difference. It isn't as tough as it sounds--I usually add the detergent, start the water, turn it off and then go grab a load of laundry. By the time I have returned to my washing machine, the soap has dissolved and is ready to do its magic!

This is 1/4 cup of detergent at the bottom of my washer. I add it, turn on warm water just to cover , turn off the water and let the detergent dissolve for approximately three minutes. This step allows the detergent to work the MOST effectively! If you have a high efficiency washer, you can dissolve it in a measuring cup.

Here is the soap sitting right on top of my dryer for the whole family to use. The label has been well loved and is ready to be replaced!

For a natural fabric softener and brightener, add one squirt of Vinegar in the Fabric Softener compartment. I found this handy squirt attachment at a cloth diaper store. 

Here is the soap in my washing machine after it has dissolved. The clothes are ready to be added and life moves on...  Happy Cleaning and Whistle while you Work! 

Do you already use a natural laundry recipe?  OR 
Are you ready to make your own?  
Let me know your experiences and share below! 

Copyright 2013; Lemongrass Jill; All Rights Reserved


  1. Jill, I am going to try your soap recipe. I've been making my own bar soap for almost 30 years, but no added lemongrass (that's in my homemade face lotion tho) nor the tea tree oil. I've also tried the typical recipes online with both the FelsNaptha and the Zote (which I threw away not liking it's perfuminess). But both those could have optical brightners which I don't want. So adding the natural Oxygen Brightner will make me happy. BUT I make a gel soap. I've got a front-loading machine and have always wondered whether the powder would effectively dissolve. Maybe I'd need to premix some with water - extra step, but then that's what I do already with my recipe. Any comments from front-loader users?!

  2. Hi Karey- I agree with you about the heavy perfumes in Zote and FelsNaptha and that is why I don't recommend either of those. I look forward to hearing how you like this recipe. I will keep my ears open for ideas of turning this into a gel or liquid.... Thanks for stopping by my blog and thank you for giving this a try!