How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent That Will Effectively Clean Your Clothes

Use this expert-approved DIY detergent to remove dirt, stains, and odor.

We can all agree that washing our clothes regularly is essential, but what's less straightforward is choosing the detergent we use to get them clean. Store-bought options are touted for their stain-fighting and color-boosting properties, which keep clothes looking their best. But according to our experts, you can make a homemade laundry detergent that has the exact same cleaning power, sans the synthetic fragrances and chemicals commonly found in commercial products. If you want to use a detergent that is eco-friendly and effective, look to this DIY mixture recommended by laundry and cleaning professionals.

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

To make our homemade laundry detergent recipe, use these essentials: baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, borax, and a gentle dish soap, like Dawn, says Rechelle Balanzat, a laundry and dry cleaning expert and the founder of Juliette. "These ingredients have been proven to be extremely effective in cleaning laundry and removing stains," she says.

Adding borax to your laundry detergent in particular will help to absorb dirt, and baking soda will extend the life of your garments by brightening white clothes and making colorful fabrics more vibrant. The latter also helps neutralize odors and soften wash water, which will make each cycle more effective, says Balanzat.

Materials You'll Need

  • Baking soda
  • 3% Hydrogen peroxide
  • Borax
  • Gentle dish soap

Here are our experts' steps for making homemade laundry detergent:

  1. Begin by boiling 8 cups of water, says Balanzat.
  2. Next, add 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of baking soda.
  3. Dilute 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 2 cups of water; add to mixture.
  4. Add 2 cups of dish soap and another 8 cups of boiling water.
  5. Once the mixture is well dissolved, you can choose to add in an essential oil (about 50 drops). This will personalize the scent of your detergent, says Kathy Cohoon, a cleaning expert and the director of franchise operations at Two Maids.
  6. Let your homemade laundry detergent cool down to room temperature. It will thicken into a white powder consistency.
Hand filling detergent into the drawer of a washing machine

DIY vs. Store-Bought Laundry Detergent

While there are plenty of shoppable laundry detergents on the market, using a homemade mixture has its benefits—starting with the fact that it's effective and cost efficient. Commercial cleaners are expensive, especially if you have to buy extra-large iterations for your family (and you know how fast it goes). Making your own detergent also makes laundry time more eco-friendly, since it reduces the amount of plastic you have in your home and will eventually have to dispose of.

In addition, you have full control over the formula—which is a major plus if you have sensitivities. "Many laundry detergents that can be purchased in the store have synthetic fragrances and chemicals," says Balanzat. "A huge perk to making your own laundry detergent is that you control what ingredients are being used."

When to Use Store-Bought

A homemade mixture is effective, but it isn't necessarily formulated for certain materials, like silk, says Cohoon. "When in doubt or dealing with specific fabrics, store-bought could be the better option," she says.

How Much Homemade Laundry Detergent to Use Per Load

For standard loads, add 1 tablespoon of homemade laundry detergent. Up that to 2 tablespoons for heavily soiled laundry to remove excess dirt—but don't overdo it. "Using too much laundry detergent can leave a residue in the fibers of your clothing," says Balanzat. "It is important to not overuse laundry detergent, as it can create a surplus of suds, leaving your clothing oversaturated."

And if you also want to soften your fabrics as you wash them? Try our recipe for homemade fabric softener (our formula also whitens, brightens, and reduces odor using all-natural ingredients).

How to Store Homemade Laundry Detergent

Always store DIY laundry detergent in an airtight glass jar away from pets or children.

How Long Homemade Laundry Detergent Lasts

When stored properly, homemade laundry detergent will last for about six months at maximum efficacy, says Cohoon. "DIY laundry detergent contains powders like borax and baking soda which have a longer shelf life," says Balanzat.

Of course, how long your batch lasts also depends on how regularly you do laundry and the amount of people in your home. Our mixture can last up to one year for a small family or a couple who does one load of laundry a week; larger families will likely use it up within six months.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles