Homemade laundry detergent and oxygen bleach: easy, cheap, effective, and safe | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Make Your Own Laundry Detergent


Recipes for Homemade Detergent and Bleach

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In recent years, I’ve started making my own laundry detergent. It’s less irritating on my skin and works as well as any commercial detergent for a fraction of the cost. Here’s the simple recipe.

“After the ecstasy, the laundry.” I’d say that this famous Zen saying also holds for agony. Yes, the laundry always awaits! Ecstasy or agony, laundry serves as a metaphor for everything about daily living that demands attention.

Homemade Detergent

For years, I had made homemade detergent out of borax, washing soda, and grated hard soap.  However, after a while, I found that the borax was irritating to my skin. 

Here’s my recipe. Toss these ingredients individually right onto the clothes you are about to wash:

  • A good squirt of liquid Castile soap (three or four tablespoons).
  • Half a cup of baking soda (light load) or washing soda (more alkaline, better at lifting grease/oils from heavy work clothes). Use protective kitchen gloves if you need to break up clumps of washing soda, which can be slightly irritating.
  • A handful of plain salt (I use non-iodized kosher from a big box; brightens colors, helps remove stains).

Works as well as any detergent I’ve used. Give it a try yourself!

Homemade (non-chlorinated) oxygen stain remover

If you need an oxygen bleach, I have a recipe that’s a cinch to make. It not only works well on most fabric stains, but you can also use it to clean just about everything—even as a gentle disinfecting wash for fruits and vegetables.

Here’s how I make it:

  • Mix equal parts of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and baking soda with two parts of hot water and shake well. For deeply set stains, use washing soda in place of baking soda.
  • Funnel the solution into a light-excluding bottle to maintain the stain-fighting strength of the peroxide. That’s it!

Note: This homemade solution doesn’t spray the way commercial liquid oxygen bleaches do, because the baking soda settles. I just shake it well and squirt or sprinkle it onto stains, or add half a cup to the wash water.

That’s it! 

See more tricks to remove stains from clothes!

About The Author

Margaret Boyles

Margaret Boyles is a longtime contributor to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. She wrote for UNH Cooperative Extension, managed NH Outside, and contributes to various media covering environmental and human health issues. Read More from Margaret Boyles

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