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How to make natural DIY laundry detergent: 3 ways

natural DIY laundry detergent

Are there ways to make natural DIY laundry detergent at home? Yes, our guide outlines 3 recipes to do this — and some other sustainable tips.

Everyone is talking about environmental protection. Many people are now trying to contribute at least a small part to it, for example by choosing the most expensive but more environmentally friendly products when shopping. However, most people resign when it comes to cleaning products because they assume that environmental pollution in this area simply has to be accepted. This guide to make natural DIY laundry detergent shows that this is not the case. It focuses on better detergents and environmentally friendly solutions.

Find more solutions for environmentally-friendly living in our Sustainability section

How do detergents pollute the environment?

Detergents contain ingredients that accumulate in the environment because they are not completely biodegradable. Even after intensive treatment in the wastewater treatment plant, they still pose a great burden to people and the environment. They are particularly harmful to organisms in water that they enter via wastewater.

The non-degradable ingredients primarily include fragrances, trickles and antibacterial preservatives. The fragrances it contains, for example, are one of the most common triggers for contact allergies. The trickle materials serve, among other things, to stretch the detergent and can lead to salinization of water. This in turn can have a devastating impact on flora and fauna. 

In water, microorganisms in particular suffer from the chemicals and preservatives. All of these are good reasons to rethink your own washing behavior and consider the environmentally friendly alternatives of natural DIY laundry detergent.

3 variants for natural DIY laundry detergent

Home-made detergent protects the environment and your wallet. Here you can find out which ingredients a high-quality detergent can be made from and how you do it.

✢ Make your own detergent from soap and soda

To make around 2 liters of detergent, the following things are required:

  • 40 to 50 g of core natural soap
  • About 5 tablespoons of sodium carbonate
  • optionally 5 to 10 drops of essential oil
  • 2 l of lukewarm water

Furthermore, a high saucepan for heating the ingredients and a canister or similar clean container for filling the finished detergent are required.

»By the way: sodium carbonate is a salt of carbonic acid. Colloquially, it is also called washing soda or pure soda. It has been used as a cleaning agent since ancient times.


❖ Step 1:
First, grate the core soap with a commercially available kitchen grater or, alternatively, chop it up with a knife. Heat the water in a medium-sized saucepan and add soap and sodium carbonate. Now bring the whole thing to the boil while stirring, for example with a whisk. When the curd soap is liquid, remove the pan from the heat and let everything cool for about an hour. Particular care should be taken to ensure that the pot used is of an appropriate height, as the mixture boils and foams quite high.

❖ Step 2:
After the hour, the mass is boiled again. Here, too, stirring is continued. After a few minutes it is time to cool down again. This time, this process can take up to 24 hours, but at least 6 hours.

❖ Step 3:
One last time it goes to the stove. The now rather solid mass is carefully warmed up to liquefy again. The different phases of heating are necessary so that soap and soda combine better. After the last cooling process, an essential oil can be added to the self-made detergent. Ten drops are sufficient for the amount prepared. So you can give the detergent its own personal touch. However, many also swear by the rather neutral scent of simply freshly cleaned laundry – combined with the good feeling that they have done their part to protect the environment.

❖ Step 4:
The finished product can then be filled into one or more containers. To keep it well, it should be sealed airtight. If you are particularly proud of your work or would like to give it away, you may choose beautiful glass bottles and decorate them as you wish. Of course, a canister or an empty bottle for liquid detergent is enough for storage, which will then also find its happy ending.
A funnel is suitable for filling. Should something go wrong, you can use it to clean the kitchen straight away – very environmentally friendly.


The application of the homemade detergent is also completely uncomplicated. It is advisable to shake the bottle well before use so that the consistency becomes a little thinner. If the mass is still too viscous, it can be diluted with a little water. Then get into the machine and off you go! The handling is the same as that of a conventional liquid detergent.


On average, around 150 ml of detergent are used per wash. Depending on the amount of laundry and the degree of soiling, you can take a little more or less. By trying it out, everyone will quickly find the dose that is tailored to their own needs.

»Note: This product is not suitable for silk, wool and other sensitive fibers because the fibers would swell too much.

✢ Make chestnut natural DIY laundry detergent

If you like to collect horse chestnuts on a long walk in autumn to tinker with crafts with the children, you should take a few more with you. The pretty balls are useful for laundry because of the saponins they contain — which have cleaning properties.

Only chestnuts are actually needed for the production, which are soaked in water.


The only real task with this project is to keep the collected chestnuts small. After all, you don’t have to peel them. However, cleaning before crumbling is essential. The entire fruit, more precisely the horse chestnut seeds, is used. To crush, you need a knife or a hammer in addition to some effort. If you choose the hammer, you can put the chestnuts in a bag and then hammer on them. The pieces should be at least about a quarter of a chestnut in size. The smaller the pieces are, the better.

»Tip: The smashed pieces of fresh chestnuts are soft enough to be crumbled even smaller in the blender.

Now the pieces are poured with hot water and soaked for 3 to 24 hours.


A rough yardstick is: about 3 tablespoons of the crushed chestnuts in 1 glass of water. After the exposure time, the saponins have shown their effect and the water turns discolouring to a milky color. Now strain the whole thing through a sieve. It is then washed with the brew obtained.

applicationPut the chestnut water in the washing powder compartment of the machine, done.
storageThe homemade washing powder from the horse chestnut cannot be made in stock because it develops an unpleasant smell from the third day at the latest. The question now is whether you want to take the hammer out every day before washing or whether you have to resort to alternatives in the remaining seasons. Fortunately, this is not the case.

There is a good and extremely decorative way to access your organic detergent all year round:

  • collect a lot of chestnuts in autumn
  • Crumble chestnuts and let them dry well
  • pour into mason jars or pretty screw jars

It is important here to let the chopped pieces dry really well, as chestnuts tend to mold. The autumn sun and the tiled stove are ideal for drying. If both are missing, the oven will do the same. Energy can be saved here by using the residual heat to dry. Otherwise a temperature of 70 degrees is sufficient. Depending on the method, the drying process takes a few hours to days.

In this way, the amount of chestnut pieces adapted to the washing project can be removed and soaked at any time. Make sure that only the milky liquid gets into the machine and not the chestnuts, as these could damage the device.With this method of detergent production, an annual supply of free detergent can be prepared within a few hours.

✢ Make natural DIY laundry detergent from ivy

Another way to make environmentally friendly laundry detergent yourself is to use ivy leaves. The costs for this go towards zero. If that’s not an argument! The easy preparation and use of the DIY ivy detergent are also unbeatable. Like chestnut, ivy is one of the plants that contain saponins. This soap-like chemical compound forms a foam when combined with water. The ivy itself already contains all of the detergent substances that are needed for a detergent.


Tear a handful of fresh ivy leaves and stems and stuff them into a laundry net or sock. Close well and into the washing drum. It’s easy, isn’t it? Note: ivy is poisonous and not suitable for consumption! Even if no one came up with the idea of ​​eating the leaves when making the detergent, it is advisable to wash your hands after tearing them.

What to do if the washing result is not optimal?

Commercial detergents contain many ingredients that are potentially harmful to the environment. They also make a big difference when shopping. So they pollute the environment and the household budget equally. Homemade laundry detergent is a fantastic alternative. It is organic and is extremely easy on the wallet.

However, homemade detergents made from natural ingredients do not always have the same detergency as the chemical variants. However, they can be used reliably for normally soiled laundry and achieve the desired results.

The following table shows which difficulties can occur and what can be done about them:

problemlaundry detergentsolution
gray hazeallThe addition of vinegar removes gray veils from white laundry and ensures stronger colors for colored laundry.
Insufficient washing resultivyFor an optimal washing result, the use of older ivy leaves is recommended. They differ from the young, light green leaves in their rich, darker color.
Insufficient washing resultIvy, chestnutFor heavily soiled laundry, one to two tablespoons of washing soda should be added. This enhances the cleaning effect. Please do not use for wool or fine.
Water too hardallDepending on the region, the degree of hardness of the water can be very high. The addition of vinegar or washing soda makes the water softer.

Limescale deposits in the machinenoneSince the homemade detergent lacks the chemical decalcifying agents of conventional washing powder, it makes sense to occasionally add vinegar to the laundry. This removes limescale.

Tips to reduce the burden on the environment while doing laundry

” Fully loaded

The washing machine should always be fully loaded. Of course, this does not mean overloading the machine. However, if you repeatedly insert individual parts into the machine, you are wasting money and unnecessarily polluting the environment. Ideally, many parts of the laundry are always collected and then washed together. The machine should be so full that its capacity is fully utilized without having to press the laundry in.

»Only wash laundry at 60 degrees in exceptional cases

As a rule, the laundry has a normal degree of soiling. If it only needs a refresher and only slight stains have to be removed, 30 degrees for colored laundry and 40 degrees for white laundry are sufficient. An astonishing 40 percent energy can be saved in this way. The omission of the prewash also has great advantages, which is unnecessary in most cases.

More heavily soiled items of clothing can in turn be collected and washed at 60 degrees monthly. This also benefits the hygiene of the machine and prevents the growth of germs.

»It depends on the right dosage

Contrary to popular belief, excessive use of detergents does not make laundry even cleaner. However, this costs money and – as you can already guess – harms the environment. It is therefore perfectly possible to experiment with the dosage of the laundry in order to determine the smallest amount required for an ideal washing result. This rule also applies to the use of fabric softener . This is particularly common for excessive use.

»Analyze your own cleaning habits

Often, items of laundry are washed out of habit after just a single wear. This washing behavior is too much of a good thing in most cases because the clothes are usually still clean at the end of the day. Merely hygienic reasons and odors justify washing immediately before the next use.

Conclusion: make natural DIY detergent yourself? Win win!

Environment, household budget and laundry benefit equally from this alternative method. The preparation is simple, fun and the finished product is an excellent gift. In this way you contribute to the fact that the love for the environment is carried on and can bear its fruits.

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