One Ingredient Natural Laundry Detergent

I’m so happy to share with you guys this easy homemade laundry detergent. It’s no secret that store-bought laundry detergent is not the healthiest of products.  From sulfates to dioxanes to fragrances, conventional laundry detergents are sudsing up a toxic soup in your washing machine.

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If you’re like me, sensitive skin complicates the problem even further. While I haven’t had a skin rash from laundry detergent in a while due to careful avoidance, I know that exposure to certain brands will leave my skin burning and itching for days.  But, even the unscented detergents have less-than-desirable ingredients.

I’ve tried for years to find a natural laundry detergent that I liked, to no avail.  Then I tried several recipes for homemade laundry detergent. Then, when I returned to work a few years ago, I found making my own laundry detergent to be too time-consuming.  I needed a natural laundry detergent solution that was fast, easy to use and uncomplicated.  I wanted to avoid having to mix up or cook the ingredients myself and I didn’t want to have special instructions for my then 12-year-old and 10-year-old old sons, who do their own laundry.

I searched for a solution to my homemade laundry detergent problem and found these:

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What are these crazy-looking things, you ask?  These are soap berries, or soap nuts as they are also called.  They are the simplest form of natural laundry detergent that you’ll find.  

What are soap berries?

Soap berries come from shrubs and trees in the Lychee family.  The soap berries are the fruit of these shrubs and trees and happen to make a great soap.  They’ve been used for centuries in Asia for washing and are also used in Ayurvedic remedies.

They have a faint vinegar smell, but they don’t make clothes smell like vinegar.  They suds up in the washer and rinse cleanly away, leaving no residue.
Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent

How to Use Soap Nuts Directly in the Washing Machine

The soap nuts I buy come with little muslin bags included.  To use the soap nuts for laundry, I place 5-6 of them in a muslin bag and throw them in with my laundry.  I also like to add essential oils to naturally enhance the cleaning and the smell of the laundry.  (My favorites are Purification, Citrus Fresh and Joy.)  That’s it!  Simple, easy and natural!

You can use the same 5-6 soap nuts for 5-6 regular loads of laundry. You should remove the soap nuts before drying the clothes, but I’ve accidently tossed mine in the dryer more times than I can count with no issues.

If you wash in cold water, soak the soap nuts in hot water for five minutes before using them to activate the saponification.

If you’ve got tough stains, add Borax as needed.

How to Make Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent with Soap Nuts

When I have more time, I like to put four muslin bags full (about 20-24 soap nuts) in a large pot of water (about 5 gallons) and let them boil for an hour or so. (The soap nuts turn a greyish color when they’ve had all of the “soap” removed from them.) Then I add 3 tsp of salt per gallon of water to help preserve the detergent for longer. I add about 5 drops of essential oils per gallon of water, as well, for a light, fresh scent.

I store the homemade laundry detergent in large glass jars. I use about a cup of detergent per regular load.