Make Real Food

On a Journey to Love Myself and (the food in) the World Around Me.

Homemade Laundry Detergent & Dish Washing Detergent [Vegan! & Gluten Free!]

by Chelsea @ Make Real Food on June 27, 2013, 8 comments

There are a lot of eloquent words that I could start this blog post with.  Like about how vegan cleaning products are really awesome (which they are), or about how much this laundry detergent has helped my sensitive skin (which it totally has), or about how many plastic jugs aren’t going to the landfill (also a totally true story).  

But, the honest truth is, I began making my own laundry and dish washing detergent about 10 months ago because…I’m cheap.  And I got sick of paying outrageous prices to get detergents that still made my skin itch, and made my dishes filmy, and my food taste weird (yep,  I’m that person, the one that can taste scented dish washing detergent in my food. Yuck.  Trust me, it is not an evolutionary-ly beneficial trait.  It may mean I starve to death.  Survival of the fittest.  I lose).   

So, we were spending tons of money to get ‘allergen free’ and ‘ultra mega unscented’ detergents.  And it just totally wasn’t worth it.  At one point, we were buying detergent that they only sold 1.5 hours away.  In tiny bottles.  For way way to much money.

But I digress. Even if you’re not (apparently, now looking at it, insane like me), you can seriously benefit from making your own laundry and dish washing detergents.  Your wallet will thank you.  And so will mother nature.  (now I’ve gone and gotten all crunchy on you).

This recipe is, in no way, new or unique.  It’s all over the internet.  I just took pictures of me making it.  And wrote silly words about it.  I was even going to split them in to two blog posts, to spread out in the week, but the truth is, when you’re making one of these, you may as well make the other.  The ingredients are so so close to the same.

I use ingredients to make the mix vegan (by using a vegan bar of soap) as well as gluten free (uhm, I didn’t dust it with flour?!).  (If you have a serious gluten intolerance using gluten free house products is a must – have you checked your shampoo ingredients lately?)

Let’s do it!

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What you’ll need for both:

  • The ingredients below
  • A container (I like quart size mason jars) for each detergent, plus a roughly-tablespoon-size scoop for each
  • (If using a mason jar) I like to use a jar funnel (blue thing) to help guide
  • A food processor, or a cheese grater, if you’re super overly zealous and in need of an arm workout


Homemade Laundry Detergent [Vegan/Gluten Free]

Homemade Dish Washing Detergent [Vegan/Gluten Free]

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda (not to be confused with baking soda)
  • 1/2 a cup of sea salt (I promise this is the only time I will ever allow you to use 1/2 a cup of salt in anything!)
  • 2 packets of lemon sugar free kool aid (the instructions on this kool aid will tell you to add sugar)

Make them both:

  1. Before you get started, stick your bar of soap in the freezer for a few hours, or over night, or just store it in there (if it’s highly fragranced – like fels naptha – put it in a sealed bag or container so you don’t have soap – food) (being cold helps it grind up better)
  2. Take your soap out and break it in to about 4 pieces (bang it on the counter, cut it with a knife)
  3. Put the soap in the food processor and grind until a find powder OR grate with a cheese grater (kudos to you if you do this.  I lasted uhm, 10 seconds)
  4. Add the soap shavings to one container (laundry detergent container)
  5. Add the salt and kool aid to the other container (dish washing detergent container)
  6. Take the ingredients and containers outside … this isn’t mandatory, but the borax does kick up a lot of dust.  Way easier outside.
  7. Add the borax and washing soda to each jar
  8. Cap and shake
  9. Done.
  10. So Easy.  Use one tablespoon per load (in respective machine).  I also love to use white vinegar for fabric softener as well as rinse agent!


Want to watch me make it?! Here’s a video tutorial!

What homemade cleaning products have you made?


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8 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Detergent & Dish Washing Detergent [Vegan! & Gluten Free!]

  1. I’ve made my own laundry powder for years -is great! I use a bar of soap and 1kg of washing soda. .. easy! I do also sprinkle in about 1/4cup of baking soda and put similar amount of white vinegar in the softener tray

  2. Pingback: How to Line Dry Laundry Inside | Make them whole foods. Make them delicious. And make sure you feel great eating them.

  3. I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for a couple of years using the same ingredients, but I’ve always added warm water in a 5 gallon bucket and poured into empty 1 gallon vinegar bottles. I would love to use the powder to save on space, but I’m wondering if you ever have problems getting the soap and powders to dissolve in cold water washes? Thanks!

    • Hi! We always wash in cold (except for towels) and have no problem with it dissolving! I always put it in the drum of the washer (I have a front loader), then put the clothes in. Very rarely will we have a few grains of soap around the door, but otherwise it completely dissolves.
      Thanks for stopping by! I hope it works for you!

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