There’s lots of good reasons to make your own laundry detergent. It’s less expensive, it has less irritants for the skin, it’s better for the environment, it has more natural ingredients, you name it.
When I started looking at homemade laundry detergent recipes, I noticed that they pretty much all use Fels Naptha laundry soap. Well, I went to read the ingredients in it and I wasn’t a huge fan. It contains titanium dioxide, which is harmful to the environment, and also has artificial colors and fragrances, two of my big no-nos.
Not only do I want to avoid artificial colors and fragrances for the reasons listed in my 13 ingredients to avoid, but for laundry-related reasons I have very sensitive skin and wouldn’t want to get irritation or a rash from the artificial fragrance. So I looked into recipes that had no Fels Naptha in it. I found this recipe from Measuring Flower that had no Borax or Fels Naptha. It mentions that it sometimes clumps, so I thought it was the perfect candidate to make into a tab!
And it only costs $3.23 to make 28 tabs. You can adjust the size to make them larger or smaller. I made mine on the larger side. So they’re definitely a good value.
I like to explain why I use each of my ingredients. Do you ever look at a label and wonder, what the heck is that and why do they need it in there? Well you won’t need that with my products.
- Baking Soda: Removes odor from clothes, removes a variety of stains
- Washing Soda: Alkaline compound that complements baking soda to remove stains. Also reduces the effects of hard water. (You can make it yourself from baking soda- see the tutorial here!)
- Castile Soap Bar: Removes dirt and stains from clothes. Made from vegetable fats and will not damage your washing machine or septic system
- Salt: Helps soften hard water and reduces mineral build up, and also helps clean dirt off clothes
- White Vinegar: Fabric softner and binds the tabs together
- Essential Oils: For scent, depending on the oils you choose may also have other beneficial properties like anti-bacterial or anti-fungal
I decided to grate my soap bar because I wanted to use my food processor to make the crust for my gluten free strawberry pie on the same day and I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to wash it. Well, let me tell you, it would have been a lot less work to wash the food processor than it was to grate the entire bar of soap. My arms got a little work out! So I recommend using the food processor unless you really like grating.
Here you can see what the tabs looked like before they were mixed and then after the vinegar was added. You can see it starting to clump up as the vinegar was added.
Be careful when you mix this, as washing soda can be an irritant if you breathe it in. I made the mistake of leaning over the bowl as I was mixing it and it was a little unpleasant.
I filled the ice cube tray tabs about half way full, and the tabs were still pretty big. So you could do even less than that. Just make sure to really compact them down, or you will end up with powder instead of tabs!
Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs
- 1 4-ounce bar of castile soap
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup washing soda
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1/4-1/2 cup white vinegar
- 5-10 drops essential oils (I used about 6 drops of lavender and 2 drops of tangerine)
- In a food processor with a grating attachment, shred the bar of soap (or grate it manually with the finest cheese grater you have)
- Mix the grated soap, baking soda, washing soda, and salt in a large bowl
- Slowly add the vinegar a little at a time, mixing until it starts to clump and is easy to manipulate
- Press into ice cube trays (really press hard- don’t skimp on this step)
- Set the trays out to dry in a sunny spot for at least 24 hours
- When you use the tabs, add them in with the load and not in the separate area for detergent (if your machine has one). They won’t dissolve properly without enough water.
I think my first attempt at making my own laundry detergent was successful. And I’m a fan of anything that saves time and doesn’t require me to measure out amounts. Just grab a tab and that’s it. Fast and easy. Oh, and the vinegar is a natural fabric softener, and it’s built into this recipe. Pretty awesome.
I am so excited to be rid of the chemicals in my laundry. You wear clothes and uses linens every day. And now I can rest assured knowing exactly what ingredients mine were cleaned in. That’s my favorite part of making my own cleaning products.
The tabs did a good job cleaning and didn’t leave any residue or odor. Exactly what I was looking for. And all natural and inexpensive to boot! Successful new creation.
Try making your own laundry detergent tabs and let me know how it goes for you!
supplies used in this post
Like this tutorial? You should check out my homemade dishwasher detergent tabs!