Acute How-To: Eco-Friendly Laundry and Dish Detergent

I love eco-friendly cleaning products.  They smell great, they don’t irritate my eyes or skin, and I don’t have to worry when my dog licks the shower.  {Yeah, he does that…}

I do my best to purchase products labeled eco-friendly or safe for the environment, but this can get expensive, especially with laundry detergent.  My solution? Make my own.

For a fraction of the cost of environmentally safe detergent, you can make a HUGE amount of green detergent.

What you will need:

  • 1 bar of plain soap {non antibacterial and free of dyes or harsh perfumes… I used a bar of Burt’s Bees soap}
  • borax {you can find this in the laundry detergent aisle at most stores}
  • washing soda {I had a hard time finding this so I ended up buying Target brand oxygen cleaner.  Its main ingredient is sodium carbonate which is the main ingredient on washing soda.}
  • sea salt
  • grater or food processor
  • air tight containers

Laundry Detergent Steps:

Grate the bar of soap either by hand with a cheese grater or chop it into small cubes and put it in the food processor until it turns to powder {which is what I did}.

Put the grated soap into your container and mix in 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda.

Shake up until well combined.  Use about 2 tablespoons per load of laundry. 

Dish Detergent Steps:

Mix together 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda, and 1 cup of sea salt.  Store in an air tight container. 


  • If you want your detergents to have a scent, add a few drops of essential oils
  • For the best results with your dishwasher, put vinegar in the spot where rinse aide should go – your dishes will sparkle!

19 thoughts on “Acute How-To: Eco-Friendly Laundry and Dish Detergent

  1. Thank you for sharing those how-to!

    Question for you:
    Did you try the laundry detergent with something really dirty? (like cloth diapers…….)

    Thank you!

  2. I’ve been making liquid laundry soap for about a year now using the same ingredients, but this is SO much easier & I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the simpler method! xo

  3. I’ve found that even the “green” detergent makes my skin itch so this is a godsend, can’t wait to try ’em out!

  4. Thanks for sharing!! I love homemade soap though I had to quit using the laundry soap since I use cloth diapers. (Most recipes create a build-up over time so the * won’t soak in = sore butt)

    But this would be awesome for dish detergent! I can’t wait to try it! For homemade household cleaners and hand soap I swear by thieves and Dr. Bronner’s. I did a post on my blog sharing those recipes here

    Off to get clean 😉

  5. Is it okay to use 100% sodium carbonate? (you can get in the pool chemical section of the hardware store) Or is it too strong in its pure form? I use it for fabric dyeing and have always been told to wear gloves when I handle it.

  6. FYI: I found washing soda at my WalMart on the same aisle as the laundry detergents… just a few feet away from the borax actually.

  7. We’ve been using the laundry detergent for a while now, LOVE it! With the dish detergent, we use citric acid as well, but I’m finding that it may be best to add a teaspoon separately to each load because my dear husband (who does the dishes) has to get out a knife to break up the mix in the jar because it’s stuck together! Oops! Live and learn :) Oh and the Country Save oxygen whitener is the BOMB! so much better than the other brands.

  8. My husband has been bugging me about making our own detergent, so I’ll have to pass this over to him. Though I am a little concerned about borax, being a naturally derived pesticide, but I need to look into that idea more. Has anyone tried making a detergent without it?

  9. I just wanted to comment about the borax since another reader was concerned about it: Yes, it is a natural pesticide, but once you know how it works it probably won’t bother you so much. It basically dries out bugs from the inside out… which is why it only works if you can convince them to eat it (I mix it with grape jelly or honey and leave it in the inevitable trail of ants that takes over my home in the summer. Takes a few days but gets rid of them!). Truth is that if YOU ate the stuff it would probably just make you really thirsty… unless you ate a whole lot of it… then you’d start getting dehydrated. That’s why I feel safe using it around my kids and pets… and that’s why I feel safe using it in laundry detergent.

  10. * Jennifer *
    I bought a box of powdered Clorox2 color booster & stain fighter instead of borax & washing soda – Works great!
    The borax is used as a whitener – the Clorox has that
    & the washing soda is sodium carbonate- again main ingredient in Clorox2 powder –
    Plus it has a nice “citrus” scent :)

    * Found it at Dollar General for only $2.50 :)

  11. Can you use Clorox 2 with stain fighter and color booster in place of washing soda? If not what can I use?

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