In this post, see how I make a pleasantly scented laundry detergent that gets your clothes clean.

I’ve been making Homemade Laundry Detergent, off and on, for a while now.  The problem was I wasn’t all that consistent with it.  I was using Fels Naptha soap, and it was okay, but I never could bring myself to like the smell of it.  It’s not that it smells all that bad and to many, it may smell great, but I have never been all that impressed by the scent.  I think this is the reason I didn’t make it consistently.

One day, a friend told me about Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap and how it’s her favorite soap to use, for her and her family, for bathing.  I went to our local health food store where she purchased hers and decided to get a couple of bars.  I agree with her, wholeheartedly, after using it.  Then I got this great idea – since it’s a pure castile soap, I decided to try it in my Homemade Laundry Detergent recipe.  It made ALL the difference in the world.

All ingredients to make a recipe of homemade laundry detergent.

This recipe is the same Homemade Laundry Detergent recipe I’ve always used, except I now replace the Fels Naptha for the Dr. Bronner’s.  In the first batch, I made I used the Unscented Baby-Mild soap.  Just recently, I made a second batch using the Citrus Orange – great scent.  I also add high-quality lemon and lavender essential oils (EO) to each batch – the combination smells terrific. Dr. Bronner’s soap is more costly than the Fels Naptha, but it’s worth it.  I’m still saving money with each batch, and I’m ending up with a natural detergent which is equally important to me.  The soap is pure castile soap made with organic oils, and there are many scents to choose from.  I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this!

Is it easy to make?

It is SO easy to make: All you’ll do is grate the entire bar of soap, or coarsely chop and run it through your food processor with the other ingredients.  I like mine very fine, so I let it run a while in the processor.  I do stop and stir it often because the heat from the processor can cause it to warm up and collect on the bottom.  If you’re not using a processor just mix the grated soap with all the other ingredients and mix well.  I put the laundry powder in a jar and attach a cute little tag with the recipe written on it.  This way I always have the recipe at hand when I’m ready to make a new batch.

Does it really work?

I still only use one tablespoon per load, unless the clothes are very heavily soiled – then I’ll use two tablespoons.  Although Dr. Bronner’s soap will lather in the shower, it doesn’t create bubbles in the wash.  I know some of you may frown at this as we’ve always believed that sudsy bubbles = clean.  The truth is – that equation is just not accurate.  Clean laundry can be achieved without the bubbles we’re so used to seeing floating on the surface of our wash-water.  Also, there’s no need to use a fabric softener with this recipe unless you really want to.  My clothes come out CLEAN and FRESH.

Close up of a jar of homemade laundry detergent with an attached tag that includes the recipe, and a little silver scoop sitting on a wooden pallet board.

This Homemade Laundry Detergent is a great place to start if you’ve never made it before. I would love to know if you use homemade detergent. Tell me in the comments if you do.

Homemade laundry detergent in a glass jar with a tag attached that includes the recipe.
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5 from 1 vote

Homemade Laundry Detergent {DIY Laundry Detergent}

Author Kim


  • 1 bar Dr. Bonner’s Magic Soap, grated, or chopped if using a food processor I love Citrus Orange
  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups super washing soda
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 20-30 drops essential oils I use 15 drops or both lemon and lavender.


  • Grate the entire bar of soap and mix it with the other ingredients.
    If using a food processor – coarsely chop and run it through your food processor with the other ingredients. I like mine very fine, so I let it run a while in the processor. I do stop and stir it often because the heat from the processor can cause it to warm up and collect on the bottom.
    Store in an airtight container

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Homemade laundry detergent in a glass jar with a tag attached that includes the recipe.

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  1. It’s a amazing discover to make homemade laundry detergent in our home. Putting detergent in a glass jar would be great over here where the humidity clumps up detergent quickly.

  2. I miss homemade laundry detergent! I never minded the scent of Fels-Naptha (reads somewhat lime to my nose & I adore limes) but I’d also love to try to Dr. Bronner’s! I had no idea you could use their bar soap in laundry & I’d feel better using castille with little ones. I feel like my low-H2O high efficiency top loader just doesn’t do well with powdered detergents & I sincerely miss the ability to pre-soak in a basin full of water! Does anyone else have these issues with homemade detergents in low-water use machines? In any case, I appreciate the post! I’m also a Virginia girl (Pungo) & love the aesthetic/mission of your site. Thank you!

    1. Hi Christy!
      First, we lived in Hickory, and my husband grew up on a dairy farm in Pungo. And we have family in Pungo now. It was always part of our “stomping grounds.” We always went that way to head to Sandbridge and Knott’s Island. Small world!

      I don’t have a low-water use machine, so I don’t have any experience using this detergent with one. Three years ago, when we needed a new washer and dryer, after much research, I decided to go with Speed Queen, and I love it. A big part of that decision was based on the fact that I wanted to be free to use whatever detergent I chose. Thank you so much for stopping by. It’s great “chatting” with a fellow Virginian.

      P.S. I also love the ability to pre-soak in a basin.

  3. Oooo, this sounds like it would smell so yummy! I can’t wait to give it a go :D It might even be enough to motivate me to stay on top of my laundry! :P :P :P

  4. Rose McClain says:

    5 stars
    I’m also concerned about using it in the High Efficiency washer that I own. I can’t just throw it in the basin because there’s a pre rinse cycle and it just goes all down the drain. If I use the top loader and add water it seems like it works pretty well. Any other suggestion about this? I’ve read bad things about home laundry detergents being bad for the newer washers and I just want to be sure it’s ok because I love this idea!

    1. Rose McClain says:

      Oh also, I did use it. I did a load of towels and they came out feeling clean. I did the Lavender Dr. Bronners soap and added 30 drops or so of lavender to the mix. However, after drying, I didn’t smell any lavender. Just wondering if that’s normal.

      1. Hi Rose!
        Yes, that is normal – sometimes you may smell a hint of fragrance, other times not so much. You can add essential oils to wool dryer balls, often giving you a pleasant smell coming out of the dryer. Thanks again for stopping by!

    2. Hi Rose!
      I’m unfamiliar with HE machines, so I can’t say how it would work with those. I have read where people have done it without issues, but since I don’t have personal experience with it, I don’t feel qualified to say if it’s okay. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Jessica Phillips says:

    Do you think this be made without the borax? Just trying to make a super sensitive soap for my kiddo.

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