Simple Living: Homemade Laundry Products


Over the past few years I have been dabbling in the world of crunchiness. I say I... I'd be remiss to leave out the fact that Tommy has greatly encouraged and supported this whole movement. He's awesome! Since I started sharing our adventures off and on through social media, I've had a lot of questions about the specific recipes we're using and the choices we've made. 

I'm (probably too) excited to share that as of today, I am starting a new series on my blog about the more crunchy things we do in our lives. I know there are a ton of websites out there that talk about and share great resources for living simply, and I'm a big fan of a few of them. However, I'm going to be extremely open and honest about our experiences. We don't live this way 100% of the time, because let's face it: we live in the United States, which makes it nearly impossible. But doing these things even 10% of the time can make a difference, and that's what I'm passionate about sharing. I'll be writing about a lot of things including homemade cleaners, using essential oils, our cloth diapering experience and clean eating. 

First, it should be noted: I am NOT an expert in this area.

I am also not a super-huge researcher and a lot of the information I will be sharing has come from google, talking with friends, and my personal experiences. So let's just go into this new series as if it were a conversation between friends. Mmkay? 

One of the first things I started experimenting with was our laundry detergent situation. 



In the past, I've used a wide variety of laundry cleaning solutions: 

  • Amway laundry detergent products (and boy do they do the job - good stuff, with the exception of all the harsh chemicals included as you clean your clothing)
  • Seventh Generation
  • Tide
  • Arm & Hammer Clean and Clear, Unscented
  • Whatever is on sale

The list goes on. In our quest to simplify, I thought I'd give homemade laundry detergent a try. In the very least, I thought I'd save some money and rid our home of a few toxins along the way.  

My first experience was when I went out and bought all the ingredients needed for the following recipe: 

Homemade Laundry Detergent 

1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of soap (Dr. Bronner'sFels-Naptha)
1 cup of Borax
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
Grate bar of soap. I use my food processor to do this in about 30 seconds, but if you want it powder-like, you can use a cheese grater. Just be prepared for it to take a little while. Stir soap in with other ingredients and voila! Use 1tbsp of powdered detergent per load.
Original recipe found here.

This recipe worked just fine until it ran out - quickly. I didn't have bar soap on hand to make more, and because I don't usually buy bar soap, I kept forgetting to buy more at the store.

Then, I went nuts.

I distinctly remember our laundry piling up and telling Tommy "Wait, don't buy laundry detergent. I bought some from Amazon and it'll be here in two days." (Yeah Amazon Prime!) Well, I left town the next day and Tommy was left to discover that when I said laundry detergent, what I really meant was soap nuts. Literal nuts, you guys. EcoNuts, to be exact. They are 100% natural and free of scents, dyes, and other chemicals. Tommy got a good laugh once he realized what he was dealing with, but he was intrigued. He read the directions on the box and promptly washed his dirty, stinky running clothes. They came out no longer smelly, and supposedly clean. We were sold. 

Until a few months later. We started realizing over time our clothes were gaining a build-up and eventually the nuts couldn't rid the clothes of their dirty scent. And they definitely were not smelling good. I would like to mention at this time how thankful I am for Tommy's stinky exercise clothes to help me test this stuff. I just don't stink when I sweat, you know? :)

So EcoNuts were out.

After that I made another batch of homemade laundry detergent and, again, it worked just fine. I especially love the lavender scent from the Dr. Bronner's bar soap. But then that batch ran out again and I didn't have another bar of soap on hand to make another one. (Story of my life... as you can see.) At this point Tommy took matters into his own hands (laundry is truly my least favorite chore in the world) and bought some Arm & Hammer for Sensitive Skin laundry detergent. We've basically been going back and forth between using a mix of this detergent and homemade detergent. 

If you peek into our laundry shelves right now you will find:

  • all of the ingredients listed above (waiting to be mixed together)
  • Arm & Hammer for Sensitive Skin laundry detergent
  • OxyClean powder - I occasionally add it to our white loads to keep them bright
  • OxyClean stain remover - not sure if I'll ever be able to give this up!
  • Wool dryer balls - Add to the dryer to help shorten drying time
  • Cloth wipes for homemade dryer sheets - simply add a few drops of essential oil to a small square of fabric and toss in the dryer with  your laundry
  • Essential oils - lavender is my favorite
  • Vinegar - add to your washing machine's fabric softener compartment for a natural fabric softener

This back-and-forth dance of buying laundry products and making our own is the perfect representation of our entire journey to living more simply. While I'm looking forward to sharing more of this journey with you, I'm more excited to show that anyone can take small steps to ridding his or her everyday life of toxins and discovering a more simple life along the way. It doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing. :) 

Have you taken the first step towards a healthier, more natural lifestyle? What was it?


Liz Cook

Liz Cook is a wedding, birth, and motherhood photographer based in Central Virginia. Her intuition and creative perspective allow her to connect both professionally and personally with her subjects, and thus, her portfolio is saturated with authentic emotion. Whether she's sharing her story with fellow entrepreneurs or enjoying quality time with her husband and two daughters, Liz is both present and passionate about capturing and celebrating life. Her work has been featured by O "Oprah" Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Glitter Guide, Essence Magazine, domino, Rue Magazine, among others.