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Homemade Laundry Detergent (powder recipe)

Did you know that the laundry detergent you are using may be loaded with chemicals?

Chemicals that can (and do) cause many illnesses and diseases. I didn’t. I really didn’t. 

There are many ingredients in laundry detergents that are known carcinogens, and the manufacturers are NOT even required to list them on the package! 

In America, NOTHING (and I mean NOTHING) has to be labeled to show you what is in a product. It is sad. Very sad for us consumers. 

Companies can hide toxic ingredients with hard-to-pronounce names, prefixes, and/or syllables. Hiding all these toxins is a great marketing scheme, though. I mean, would you buy products that clearly state in the list of ingredients that they contain aluminum, formaldehyde, and 1,4-dioxane? No? I wouldn’t either. But most actually do contain those ingredients. 

Shocked yet? I was and still am. It frosts my cookies that our government allows this! 

Common Chemicals in Store-Bought Laundry Detergent

Two  big (and I mean BIG) controversial ingredients are:

  • formaldehyde
  • 1,4-Dioxane (also known as 1,4-Diethyleneoxide).

1,4 Dioxane

1,4-Dioxane is found in many laundry detergents (not to mention baby products). The National Institutes of Health (which is a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) has a study on their website that states:

“1,4 Dioxane is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals.”

-report on carcinogens, fifteenth edition from National Institutes of Health (.gov)

The FDA’s website states:

The compound 1,4-dioxane is a contaminant that may be present in extremely small amounts in some cosmetics. It forms as a byproduct during the manufacturing process of certain cosmetic ingredients. These ingredients include certain detergents, foaming agents, emulsifiers and solvents identifiable by the prefix, word, or syllables:

  • “PEG”
  • “Polyethylene”
  • “Polyethylene glycol”
  • “Polyoxyethylene”
  • “-eth-” 
  • “-oxynol-”  


Oh formaldehyde! How you are hidden in everything! And you my friend cannot rock with me in my casa!

The California of Department and Health has a GREAT information sheet on formaldehyde. This sheet states:

“Overexposure to formaldehyde irritates the eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Formaldehyde can cause allergic reactions of the skin (dermatitis) and the lungs (asthma). Formaldehyde is a known cause of cancer in humans.”

The info sheet also lists synonyms and ‘trade’ names for formaldehyde in products. There are TONS:

  • formalin
  • BFV
  • methaldehyde
  • Fannoform
  • methanal
  • Formalith
  • methyl aldehyde
  • Formol 
  • methylene glycol
  • Fyde
  • methylene oxide
  • Ivalon
  • oxomethane
  • Karsan
  • oxymethylene
  • Lysoform
  • paraform
  • Morbicid
  • paraformaldehyde

***If you see one of the above in any product, it is actually formaldehyde***

My Old Detergent

I used Tide original for years.

Yep! Good ‘ol Tide (Tide’s New Ultra Tide Powder HE Detergent ingredients can be found here).

OHHHHHH, how I LOVED Tide. Everything about it! From the smell to how great it worked on cleaning my clothes.

The first step I took to start eliminating harmful products from our home was learning to decipher ingredients. 

I was appalled at what I found.

Now you try it. There are two steps involved:

  1. Learn to decipher ingredients.
  2. Take a quick peek at the ingredients of your laundry detergent.

I will give Tide some (small) props though.  Tide has agreed after a petition was signed on change.org to LOWER (not remove) the high levels of 1,4-Dioxane from their detergents.

Lori from Groovy Green Livin started the petition. You can read all about it here.

Guide to Help Decipher Ingredients

So, what can you use to help you decipher the ingredients besides using Google to look up every ingredient (yep, this lady did just that at first!).

I like to use the Environmental Working Group (EWG)  site to check products that I use in my home. They rate and grade them on the safety of each ingredient that the product contains. You can search for pesticides in produce, household cleaning items, and health and beauty products.

As an example, check out this link to the EWG’s site to see why they graded Ultra Tide Original HE Detergent a ‘F.’

I searched and tried and searched and tried and searched and tried at least 1,427 various DIY recipes for laundry detergent. The task was just as daunting as typing that…

I made liquid. I made powder. I heated soap. I grated soap.

It turned out that I hated the liquid (just a personal preference). We cloth diaper (and now use family cloth too) and the soaps in the detergents were causing buildup. I thought… ‘if it can do that to my diapers then it can do it to my clothes.‘ So, I sat and brainstormed. Executed a few recipes and failed. Then, I sat and brainstormed again. And failed….again. Homesteader life, baby!

I wanted an EASY homemade laundry detergent in powder form for my HE front-loading washing machine. After 1,428 trial and errors, I came up with it!!

Homemade Laundry Detergent {Powder Recipe}

You will need:


  1. Pour borax, washing soda, and SUN in the container.
  2. Cover container.
  3. Shake! Shake! Shake!

How to Use

  • Use 2 Tablespoons for a top loader
  • Use 1 Tablespoon for a HE front loader added directly to the drum with the laundry.

Special Notes:

The links above have expensive prices on some of the items, or you have to buy in bulk. My local Walmart sells a box of Borax and Washing soda for around $4.00 a box. They sell the Sun for $6.00 for 96oz! I also use a plastic container from the Dollar Tree with a lid to store the detergent in. I keep a stainless steel 1T measuring spoon in my container.

Happy Washing!!


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Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to replace or be construed as professional health advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or veterinarian before implementing or altering the diet of your backyard animals. The author assumes no responsibility for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use of any suggestions, preparations, or procedures discussed on this blog. If you are reading this for the purpose of making major financial or life decisions, please consult a professional before doing so. By reading and using my website, you are agreeing to my terms and conditions. Thanks y’all!

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