Low Waste Laundry Detergent

laundry detergent

This isn’t completely zero waste, and I wouldn’t even it call it DIY, because … it’s really just buying some basic ingredients and mixing them together. If you have a lower waste laundry detergent method that works really well for you, please share with us so we can pass it on! Sometimes to get to zero waste, we have to meander through low waste first.

That said, this is the laundry detergent I’ve used for the last 5 years! I made the switch for three primary reasons: 1) I hated buying laundry detergent. I would rather spend my money on things I can eat. 2) Store bought detergents tend to have excess packaging, fragrances that make me nauseous, and dubious marketing claims. 3) I may have control issues. I like to know what trace elements may end up against my skin from the products I use, ya know? With this recipe, I know that there’s no chlorine bleach, no synthetic fragrances, and no added enzymes or softeners that could break down the absorbent fibers of my cloth pads … these things matter to me.

I really love this detergent. I wash everything (co-mingled) on cold and it all comes out clean (kid clothes and cloth pads, too!). And as I think back on it, I’ve only made it 5 times in 5 years, so that works out to me mixing up detergent just once a year, which ends up being super economical (about $14/batch) and with minimal packaging that’s mostly recyclable/compostable.

You Need:

  • A lidded bucket – Mine’s a 5 year old cat litter bucket. Don’t have a cat of your own? Ask your neighbors.
  • 1 65 oz. box of Borax
  • 2 64 oz. box of Baking Soda (or 128 oz. however you get there, if you can’t find the Value Size at your local grocer)
  • 4 bars of Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap
  • 6-7 drops of your favorite essential oil (I did lemon this time, lavender and jasmine are my other favorites)
  • Cheese grater or food processor

All You Need To Do:

Take the lid off of your bucket. Dump in the Borax. Dump in the Baking Soda. Grate in the Castile Soap (you could also use a food processor — it’s only soap after all). Mix it up with your hands or a long handled spoon. Put in half of your essential oil and mix again. Put in the other half of your essential oil and mix again.

Done. Now you can get back to the never-ending pile of laundry, and maybe even feel slightly better about it! I use 2 scoops per load (my scoop says .25 cc — the standard size that’s included with most powdered detergents) and I have never had a stain it couldn’t tackle (including menstrual blood and grass stained baseball uniforms).

(I take that back. Olive oil is a doozy. Just … don’t spill olive oil all over yourself or your children. Learn from my mistakes.)