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One Ingredient Natural Laundry Detergent

It’s no secret that store-bought laundry detergent contains ingredients that aren’t great for the environment and our bodies.  From sulfates to dioxanes to fragrances, conventional laundry detergents are sudsing up a toxic soup in your washing machine.

If you have sensitive skin it complicates the problem of conventional laundry detergent even further. Exposure to some brands of laundry detergent will aggravate eczema and other skin conditions. But, even the unscented detergents have less-than-desirable ingredients.

That’s one reason I turned to making my own laundry detergent many years ago. The other reason? Well, homemade laundry detergent saves money, making it a perfect choice for us frugal-minded mamas.

But, what about all that time spent mixing up a batch of homemade laundry detergent? And what about storing it?

There’s got to be an easier way, right?

Yes! I discovered a one-ingredient natural laundry detergent that will save time and money. Oh, and storage hassles.

Read on to find out more.

Pin This Tip For LaterEasy Homemade Laundry Detergent

My Easy Homemade Laundry Soap Solution

I was happy with my multi-ingredient homemade laundry detergent recipe for years. Then, when I went to work outside of the home for a few years, 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, 10-year-old old, and 8-year-old homeschooled sons, who did their own laundry.

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


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.

Wait! What Exactly 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.

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 the washing machine 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!

How Long Do Soap Nuts Last?

Soap nuts are a frugal laundry solution because you can use the same 5-6 soap nuts for 5-6 regular loads of laundry.

A one-pound bag of soap nuts will last over 200 loads.

You should remove the soap nuts before drying the clothes, but I’ve accidentally 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 simmer 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.

Natural Alternative to Dryer Sheets

Hey, before you go, be sure to check out my natural alternative to dryer sheets. It’s a frugal, reusable option that reduces static cling and drying time.

Here’s to keeping laundry simple, natural, and frugal! Win, win, win.

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