Laundry Soap Recipe – Borax Free DIY Tutorial

Part of being a good steward of this platform we are given online is being able to say that I may not have given the best advice at one time or another. So here goes, I may not have given the best advice in my original post for the Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe. For that, I apologize.

What I’ve discovered is that it may not be a good idea to use Borax in washing powder. It also isn’t so bad grating soap to make your own laundry powder. I’ll give you my new laundry soap recipe below, complete with a Borax free DIY tutorial, but first let me share the thoughts that brought this about.

During my blog break I had some time to think about it and do more research. I’ve also had lots of time and way too many loads of laundry to let it sink in. In fact, it was while doing the laundry that I realized that whatever you put in that machine is likely to end up in your body. Let me clarify what I’m talking about.

I’ve received lots of emails about the use of Borax with different studies cited as stating Borax is not safe. Let me go on record as saying that I do believe that Borax is safe for some uses. But… please research for yourself. So many people blindly follow the suggestions or opinions of others without investigating for themselves. We should never just take someone’s word for things like this.

I’ve read and seen debates on the Borax topic and with the in-depth help of two friends I trust (SIL is an environmental engineer and a dear friend is a chemistry professor) I have come to the conclusion that Borax is safe for most uses. I won’t cover all of the evidence and contributing factors that brought me to that conclusion (although I may in a future post) but I’ll hit on the main points.

The study some of you mentioned was done in Europe and the reason for it was that many Europeans were ingesting small amounts of Boron daily. That is the first misconception. Borax is not boron. Borax is a compound that contributes to boron. However, Borax, in my opinion and based on what I’ve learned, should not be consumed. I only say that because there is a minute chance that it could cause reproductive issues when orally ingested. Reproductive issues happened in rodents and rabbits that ingested the Borax but tests on humans showed no effects. However, I wouldn’t eat it just to be safe! And, it isn’t the Borax that is the problem but rather the chemical reaction that takes place once it is mixed with internal body acids.

This does not happen on the surface of the skin.

As far as the amount that is absorbed into the skin (it is not easily absorbed), more than 90% is excreted within 24 hours with the remainder soon to follow. But, study after clinical study shows that Borax is very difficult to absorb into the skin. Usually it only happens if there is an open wound.

Borax is not listed as a carcinogen and it does not accumulate in the body.

I also think it is important to note that Borax is considered just as safe table salt and baking soda. In fact, some spices and seasonings we use regularly get a higher warning than Borax. I think it is safe to use but I recommend you go with your knowledge and your gut instinct.

The reason I use Borax in my other natural cleaning recipes is because it allows me to skip a step in cleaning. You can get the same effects without the use of Borax but you will have to add a bit of time and additional product to your routine. Sprinkling an item with washing soda and then hydrogen peroxide will give the same effect as using Borax in the recipe. The difference is that you have to use the HP and WS before washing whereas the Borax can be added during. Both function the same and cause the same chemical reaction. So yes, you can substitute the Borax with hydrogen peroxide and washing soda. Just be sure to use that first and then wash or mop after using a plain water or vinegar solution.

Here is the part where I tell you why I don’t use it in my laundry detergent.

While cleaning my unmentionables that are used for that oh so not the best time of the month (cloth sanitary napkins), my son walked in and asked me what they were. First, yes, embarrassing but a great opportunity to teach him about women and hopefully he’ll have some compassion on his future wife. You’re welcome.

Then he asked why I used those instead of the throw away kind. I told him all about the toxic chemicals and plastics that are used to make the disposable ones and how it is safer to use a washable organic cotton pad instead because of how easily things are absorbed into that area of the body. *lightbulb*

That is when it hit me. Whatever I use to clean could leave residue on underwear, unmentionables, and all other things used “down there”. Why oh why take a chance with using Borax when it is not necessary?

So, I went to work putting together a recipe that not only cleans, whitens, and smells good but it is perfectly safe for unmentionables. I was even able to find a replacement for the Borax that works the same but is safer. Here it is:

Ingredients

  • 1 bar Castile soap or 1/3 bar of Meyer’s soap
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup natural oxygen cleaner (ignore the name, it does not contain bleach but refers to the act of bleaching/whitening)
  • 1/2 cup Washing Soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid or 3 packs Real Lemon

Washing Powder Recipe
Start by grating the soap.

laundry soap recipe

Measure out all of the ingredients.

Laundry detergent recipe

In a food processor (I use a Hamilton Beach), layer the ingredients. Put 1/2 dry ingredients in the grated soap then the rest of the dry ingredients. This helps prevent the soap from sticking together and forms a dry powder instead of a goopy mess.

I do think a food processor is a necessary tool for this recipe. I’ve tried the blender and it didn’t work out so well. I’d love to hear if anyone else has found a way to do this without a food processor.

laundry soap tutorial

Pulse to a powder. Add 20-25 drops of essential oils if you want. I prefer Young Living essential oils. Pulse again to combine the essential oils.

washing powder recipe
Use 1/2 tablespoon per load or 1 tablespoon if very dirty. I hardly ever use a tablespoon and I have four boys and a dog. ‘Nuff said.

washing powder recipe

 

You can find more recipes here: 17 Days of Natural Cleaning

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Comments

  1. This is just what I’ve been looking for! My son is allergic to borax, so this is perfect! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for the borax-free recipe. We run our washing machine, showers and kitchen sink outside to water the plants (we live in the desert). Borax kills plants, so I stopped making my own (used Duggar recipe for liquid detergent) and went back to my inexpensive Mexican laundry powder. This is great–will hop right on it!

  3. DIY laundry soap is the best! I never thought of not using borax in it though, I will have to give your recipe a try, Thanks for sharing!

  4. I used a blender because I don’t own a food processor and it was fine. I just made sure to use small amounts so I don’t overload it. So a blender is okay to use too 🙂 I also used some peppermint essential oil as I don’t have any lemon and am looking forward to my clothes smelling minty fresh!! 🙂

  5. Kim Wilber says:

    Hi! I am anxious to give this a try. However, I’ve never heard of “natural oxygen cleaner”. I’m still fairly new to natural cleaning. Is the one you linked the only one available or can I find something like that locally? It is showing as an “add-on” item from amazon and I can’t always spend the $25 first in order to get the add-on. Thanks.

  6. Rebecca Waddle says:

    Literally making this right now in my kitchen… Huge question… How much is “one bar” of soap. I just grated to SMALL bars (5 oz each) and have WAY more grated soap than what appears in your photos. I have 8 cups of grated soap. How much should I use for a single batch? HELP! :0). LOL…

    Also – I plan on using this on our diapers. I’ll try and remember to come back and post my results. Currently using Charlie’s Laundry Soap. Anxious to see how I like this yummy homemade brew!

  7. Any idea how this recipie works for cloth diapers?
    Thanks!

  8. I use the borax in my detergent I make n I love it I haven’t bought any detergents or cleaning products sin Aug an I w
    ant go back I love my homemade products

  9. Exactly how much detergent does your recipe make? I do not own a food processor. Any suggestions?

  10. I can’t wait to try this recipe! I love your website and the fact that I know what I am cleaning with is safe AND good for the environment! I was just wondering if you could tell me about how many loads this is good for and if you have a rough estimate of how much a batch costs to make? I would love to be able to tell people how natural AND cheap this stuff is! Thank you!

  11. Hi Amy, just wondering if you stopped using Soap Nuts. If so, why? I have been using them for a few months and am still on the fence regarding whether I think they are thoroughly working. Would love your opinion.

    • Hey, Tara! I think the soap nuts work great. But…I was blessed with a man who does his fair share of housework including laundry and he just would rather use soap. It really is so much easier to toss a tablespoon of this in the wash than to get the soap nuts ready and remember how many times I’ve used them, etc. I do still use the soap nuts for the little ones clothes.

  12. Amy, what a great idea to make your own laundry detergent! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Hi Amy, I am totally new to this natural-making stuff, so I was wondering where you purchase your supplies? I found washing soda at my local Kroger supermarket, but what is “real lemon packets?” I can order citric acid through my Azure Standard coop, but can’t do so until next month. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Jackie. I purchase everything from WalMart, Target, or the local Ace Hardware store. You can get it from Amazon too but it costs much more that way.

  14. Amy, Thanks so much! We make our own bar soap – so I think this will be a great add for our home.

  15. A friend gave me a bottle of homemade liquid dishwashing detergent, and I found that it didn’t get our clothes clean. They didn’t even smell clean – and I’m not talking about and unscented clean, a literal unclean smell (think socks and underclothing). It’s a “recipe” that the Duggars use, apparently, and lots of my friends use it successfully. I think the problem is that everyone we know has high efficiency washing machines, while my washing machine is from 1980. I’m thinking that my washing machine just isn’t “good enough” to use with the homemade washing machine detergents. Have you had any feedback from people that own old washing machines – and do you think this would work well in them? We finally switched to commercial liquid detergent about a year ago (from Costco) because we were finding undissolved powder in our clothing even though I put it in and dissolve it in warm water before adding the clothing. I might give this a try, because I do make our own liquid hand soap and cleaning sprays, but I’m wondering if your research online found anything about using things like this in older washers. Thanks!

    • I don’t have a front loading machine. I got rid of my front loader and bought another top loader because I just couldn’t stand the thing anymore. I use this recipe in my top loading machine.

      What you are describing sounds like one of two things. Either your machine has a build up and too much soap is being used or the Duggar recipe is having a reaction with your water. To figure it out, put your clothes through an extra rinse and see if that remedies the problem. If so, cut the amount of soap you use in half. We do not need to use as much as we tend to use. If that doesn’t fix it then it could be that you have hard water and the soap is reacting with it leaving behind ash. In that case, unless you install a water softener I’m not sure how you could fix it.

      I just though of this but it could be that the washer is just old. We had old appliances in our previous home and both the washer and the dishwasher began to stink. Everything was leaking and not working properly so we had to buy new ones.

      I hope that helps some.

      • I don’t think we were using too much soap when we were using the homemade liquid clothes washing soap. We were using what was suggested, and then we tried to use more, but the clothes were definitely not coming clean. We’d never had this happen even when using commercial “free & clear” types of liquid laundry detergent. It was definitely the homemade liquid detergent that was causing the problem.

        We don’t have hard water here. Years ago, when we moved in to our home, I called the city and found out how many grains are in our water. (I’m sure that’s not how it should be worded…I don’t know!) Anyway, our water is soft and while not the softest water on the planet, it is definitely not hard water. No one here uses water softeners in their homes unless they are way up on a mountainside somewhere and have a well of their own that delivers hard water to them.

        We completely think it’s the old washer. Yup, we do. But since it operates and doesn’t break down, we’re not willing to spend the $$ on a new washer that will break down in 2-5 years. Appliances are far overpriced for their levels of reliability these days. So, our plan is to keep using our 1980 washer, using “free & clear” (no dyes, no scents) liquid detergent, and even repair our washer in the future, just so we have a reliable machine. I know too many people who buy new washers, dryers, dishwashers, etc. every 2-3 years, and we’re not going that route. Can’t afford it! 🙂

        • Hi I had the same problem. I went to Walmart and by the dish washing liquid is a product called Lemi-shine??? Anyways put 2 packets in the washer and flushed HOT WATER from the kettle down the spinner, ran a hot wash and the smell went away. I think our washers just get buildup and without the perfume of store purchased laundry soap you are able to smell it better…

          • That’s a good suggestion, Cody. However, we are using unscented, no perfume, free-and-clear laundry detergent, and we only notice a smell in our machine during the summer, if I leave the clothes in the washer for more than an hour or so. During 9 months of the year, it’s not a problem at all. But with the homemade laundry soap, the clothes themselves stank – socks and underwear. Sock smell, and, well, yeah, odor. Not good! It wasn’t the entire load that smelled. 🙂

  16. This so makes sense!!! Thanks for the thorough explanation. I used to make my own detergent and now am paying a crazy price — but this . . . I like. Thanks for the great and improved recipe!

  17. I have been using your dish washing recipe for about a year now. is it still safe to use?
    also, I have noticed that my silver bowls and some utensils are getting a powdery residue on them. what is that from and how to prevent it?? it looks bad.

    • Hi, Cheryl! It is still safe. The clothes absorb the Borax but the dishes don’t. And the Borax rinses so clean from dishes that I don’t believe it is a problem at all. However, if you are starting to see a powdery residue that is usually a sign of a reaction with your water. I used this recipe for years and didn’t have this powdery residue problem until after a hurricane. The waters in our systems were stirred up and all kinds of stuff was flowing through the pipes. It completely changed the outcome of using the dish soap. I had to go back to using store bought stuff. I have not found a solution to this problem yet since I am not sure what exactly is causing the reaction.

      I wish I could be of more help but I am searching for this answer myself.

  18. 2 things….can you use powder in front load washers? and do you have a pattern for the reusable lady products or recommend where to purchase?

  19. I’ve made my own detergent for many years. I guess I never thought about the Borax before. I’m going to try your version! Thanks for sharing both the recipe and, more importantly, the reason for it!

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