When I started on my journey towards a natural, unprocessed life about 4 years ago, one of the first things I changed was my laundry routine. (Some of my fermentation students know that making yogurt was another change I made early on, but that's a story for another time!) Changing laundry detergents seemed like an approachable swap to make. It was a minimal impact change and I didn't need to add anything.
Although choosing where to start was rather arbitrary for me at the time, the important thing is to start to make changes that minimize the toxic load on your body. There are varying amount of toxins in your laundry and other household and personal care products. The crazy thing is, contrary to what you may believe, this industry is not regulated and formulations can change at any time without notice. Ingredient lists don't even appear on many of these items. I don't know about you, but I want to know what is going in, on and around my body. There are many toxins we can't avoid, but we have the power to choose what happens in our own home. Similarly to my feelings on food, I choose to use the most natural products and avoid chemicals where I can. Because we all know there are times when we can't avoid them, so I want my body to be able to process those efficiently when they creep in.
Why would I bother? Well, the chemicals in laundry detergent that give laundry its signature smell are actually toxic hormone distrupters. Many contain carcinogens - that's right - cancer causing agents right there in your laundry detergent! The perfumes are also a huge contributor to asthma problems. This industry isn't required to list its ingredients on the bottle, so the average consumer wouldn't even know.
Additionally, making your own will be cheaper than buying store-bought detergent and is very quick and easy to make.
With all that information, I did a little research and stumbled across some laundry detergent recipes. I'll share the recipes that I've tested, tweaked and used in my house for many years.
*If you don't have the time to do this on your own, message me to make some up for you!
Washing Detergent - combine and use 1 tbsp per load:
In the rinse cycle add 1/2 cup of white vinegar. [I'm linking to this so you know what I'm talking about, but vinegar should be really cheap at your supermarket. Like $3/gallon. I want to show you the products I use, but don't necessarily price check the links I've added, so be sure to do that before you buy. ] I put this in a fabric softener dispenser ball, but you could also put it right in your fabric softener dispenser if you have one.
For the same reasons, I also swapped out my dryer sheets. Now I use wool dryer balls. I will say, especially in the winter, there can still be some static cling. But I've found my best bet is to use dry natural fabrics this way separate from synthetic fibers. Synthetics, especially performance athletic wear, really hold static for some reason and I've really not had great luck with those.
I've got a really great natural spray that's super easy to put together. It's toddler approved and even gets out blueberry stains! This is tried and true! (Just test your fabric to ensure its colorsafe first)
Combine in a spray bottle:
Now, there are still times when I need to use store-bought detergent. Washing cloth diapers is definitely one of those times. The stuff I use is approved by Thirsties brand diapers, my favorite. And sometimes, washing food-filled toddler clothes and bibs also requires the store-bought stuff. In these cases my favorite these days is Planet Laundry Detergent. I get it for a great price on Thrive Market. I've also heard that plain old Tide is a cloth diaper tried and true, but I haven't used it for myself yet.
Would you make your own laundry detergent? Let me know if it works for your family!