Updated on 2021-08-12
In 2016 I was diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema. There is no specific known cause for the skin ailment, but there are suspected triggers such as synthetic fragrances, artificial preservatives, and certain foods. I’ve also discovered that anything that boosts or modulates the immune system, specifically certain herbal remedies, triggers atopic dermatitis flareups for me.
Our family has just about always used Tide laundry detergent. I began using Tide Free & Clear due to concerns about the synthetic fragrances used in the scented versions and their effects on humans and the environment. However, I later read that Tide laundry detergent has a chemical called 1-4-dioxane that seems pretty nasty, so I began using Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus laundry detergent.
My atopic dermatitis was pretty bad, so I was somewhat desperate to remove things from my life that might be causing and/or aggravating the condition. Seventh Generation laundry detergents have preservatives in them, so I desired to find something that worked well for laundry without synthetic fragances or preservatives. I looked at other supposedly natural laundry detergents, but the ingredients in those also didn’t appeal to me. I had recently discovered DIY household cleaning recipes by searching the Internet, so I thought maybe there might be some DIY laundry detergent recipes as well.
I did a bit of Internet searching and came across a post (warning: the ads on the site are obnoxious) by Matt Jabs on the DIY Natural blog about a homemade laundry detergent recipe. I read the post, but wasn’t very interested in the recipe because the recipe is for a powdered laundry detergent. I very much prefer liquid laundry detergents because I’ve had issues with powdered detergents not completely dissolving or leaving a white residue on fabrics. I read through the comments on the blog post and another reader provided a recipe for a liquid version of the DIY laundry detergent.
The following recipe is my modification of the recipe I discovered in the comments section of the DIY Natural blog post.
- Pyrex 8-cup (64-oz) measuring cup
- Pyrex 4-cup (32-oz) or 8-cup (64-oz) measuring cup
- 1/2-cup measuring cup
- Small bowl large enough to hold 1 cup of dry ingredients
- Large and small spoon
- Aluminum foil
- Gallon jug with lid
- Distilled water
- Washing soda
- Dish detergent/soap
- Essential oil for scent or other properties (optional)
01. Heat 7 cups of distilled water for 4 minutes in a microwave; stir.
02. Heat distilled water for another 4 minutes and remove.
03. Measure out 1/2 cup of borax and 1/2 cup of washing soda and place in a small bowl while heating the water.
04. Slowly empty the borax and washing soda into the heated water.
05. Stir the water with the large spoon until the borax and washing soda are completely dissolved.
06. Add a 1/2-cup of dish detergent, using the small spoon to scrape out the residual amount, and stir with the large spoon to thoroughly mix and dissolve the detergent.
07. Cover the solution with aluminum foil and set aside for a minimum of 3 hours to cool.
08. When the solution has sufficiently cooled, add up to 150 drops of essential oil, if desired, in the gallon jug and then pour 64-oz of distilled water into the gallon jug.
09. Slowly pour the solution into the gallon jug, tilting the jug while pouring to avoid creating suds.
10. Cover the gallon jug opening with plastic food wrap, cap the jug, and shake well or turn upside down several times.
If you do not have a microwave, you could also heat the water over a preferred heat source. I’ve been able to purchase borax and washing soda at a local Walmart store.
I like to cover the gallon jug opening with a piece of plastic food wrap until I have used about half of the detergent. Using the plastic food wrap allows me to turn the gallon container upside down several times to insure a thorough mixture of the dish detergent without getting the lid liner wet. I replace the piece of plastic food wrap after each use of the laundry detergent.
I prefer using distilled water for any DIY cleaning solution recipe because distilled water is pure. Tap water contains impurities that may cause issues with any DIY cleaning solution. I prefer to use Sun & Earth dish soap because it is plant-based and has no preservatives or synthetic fragrances.
I use 1/2 tablespoon or 1 1/2 teaspoons (175 drops) of eucalyptus essential oil in the liquid laundry detergent that I make. I did some research on natural remedies for dust mites and learned that eucalyptus oil is the most effective essential oil for killing dust mites. The normal recommendation to kill dust mites is to use hot water, but I found using hot water to cause accelerated wear of my bedding materials. Using hot water also increases your energy useage and costs, unless you use a solar water heating setup.
The DIY liquid laundry detergent recipe works best on lightly soiled fabrics; e.g. towels, washcloths, bedding, underwear, etc. I have found that it doesn’t remove stains well enough to use for fabrics exposed to a lot of dirt; e.g. clothing worn to do gardening or yard work.