A simple and non-toxic laundry routine is a great starting point to transition to a healthier and cleaner lifestyle. Make some simple swaps or follow the DIY recipes below to keep your linens clean with natural ingredients. The DIY recipes I provide here are easy to make, inexpensive, and naturally toxin free- all wins in my book!
As a newlywed, I enjoyed experimenting with DIY recipes for all sorts of household products. Although it took some time, I’ve established a non-toxic laundry routine that’s both safe for my family’s health and effective for our cleaning needs. One of the best parts is that these DIY recipes require 3 ingredients or less. I make them in larger batches so that they last months on end, saving me so much time along the way!
Are Laundry Detergents Toxic?
The answer to this question entirely depends on the brand you’re using. Most store-bought laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and scent boosters contain toxic ingredients that are more harmful than helpful. Even some of the brands that label their products as “natural” are greenwashing chemical laden merchandise. There are some exceptions to this standard, and the EWG is an excellent resource to determine if the products you’re buying are safe. They give household, cosmetic, and even food products a grade on a scale from A (healthy) to F (toxic). EWG also shares evidence based articles regarding the most concerning chemicals in these products.
What Toxins are in Laundry Detergents & Softeners?
- Formaldehyde– Labeled as a probable known human carcinogen by the EPA, acute or chronic formaldehyde exposure can also lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation.
- Sodium Hypochlorite– Also known as bleach. Clorox’s safety data sheet warns users to use eye, face, and skin protection, and avoid inhaling the fumes, when handling.
- Quaternary Ammonium– “Quatz” may make your clothes feel softer out of the wash, but can lead to respiratory irritation, including asthmatic reactions.
- Fragrance– Your clothes may smell fresh as a spring breeze, but did you know that any chemical can be labeled as a “fragrance” on personal care products? Anything can be disguised using this cover word.
Best Non-toxic Laundry Detergents & Softeners
The laundry products listed below are on EWG’s Verified list, meaning they meet the strictest standards on transparency about the safety of their ingredients. There are 172 other products that scored an A, which shows little to no concern regarding the toxicity of their ingredients. You can read through the A list HERE.
- AspenClean Laundry Detergents: Eucalyptus Rosemary, Lavender Lemongrass, Unscented
- Blueland Laundry Tablets
- BranchBasics Oxygen Boost
- HealthyNest Laundry Concentrate
Non-Toxic Laundry Soap Recipes
I use three DIY laundry detergent recipes for my non-toxic laundry routine. The first one involves pre-mixing 3 ingredients into an air tight container and scooping 2 tbsp out for each load. The last two are 2-ingredient recipes that don’t require pre-mixing, but you’ll need to measure the amounts of each product per load. They’re all extremely simple and easy to execute. Let’s get started!
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How to Use Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap for Laundry
This recipe is amazing because these Castile soaps come in various scents, which is always a plus when they’re natural and non-toxic! The Castile soap is my go-to for homemade personal products since it can be used on humans (and pets)! The company provides users with a dilution cheat sheet which shows the various ways you can use the multi-purpose soap, including this laundry soap recipe! Simply measure out the ingredients and pour them into the washer before your clothes.
Interested in other ways you can use this Castile soap? Check out my DIY foaming hand soap recipe HERE.
How to Use Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds as Laundry Soap
Sal Suds is a more concentrated cleaner when compared to the Castile soap, making it an effective and convenient multi-purpose household cleaner. It also has a natural, pine like scent which is a plus! I prefer using Sal Suds for household products because I feel like I get more bang for my buck this way.
Homemade Powder Laundry Soap
- 5 oz bar of Castile soap, grated
- 2 cups washing soda
- 1 cup unscented epsom salt
1. Grate the bar of Castile soap using a cheese grater. Alternatively, you can chop the bar up into small pieces, and then grate them down using a food processor.
2. Add the grated soap and remaining ingredients into an air-tight container, and mix well.
3. Use 2 tablespoons per standard sized load.
Non-toxic Fabric Softners
After studying EWG’s website, I’ve decided to ditch fabric softeners all together- especially dryer sheets. They’re harmful to human health, toxic to the environment, and contribute to air pollution both inside and outside the home. There are much healthier alternatives that can reduce static, soften clothes, and cut down drying time. Here are some alternative options that are both safe and effective!
Wool Dryer Balls
These reusable wool dryer balls help absorb moisture as they’re tossed to and fro among your clothes and other linens. They make the drying process more efficient by promoting air circulation, which saves time, money, and energy. As if you needed more reasons to add them to your non-toxic laundry routine, they also help soften your laundry and reduce wrinkles! Add a few drops of essential oils onto the wool dryer balls to add a little bit of fragrance to your laundry. My favorite oils to use are lavender, lemon, and tea tree.
How to use Vinegar as Fabric Softener
Believe it or not, vinegar is a fantastic fabric softener! All you need to do is add 1/2 cup to the rinse cycle of your load. Better yet, if your washer has a compartment for fabric softener, you can pour the vinegar here to ensure it’s released at the appropriate time. No need to worry about the smell lingering on your sheets, towels, or clothes. Once your laundry is dry, no-one will ever know you used vinegar in the wash.
Homemade Epsom Salt Fabric Softener and Scent Booster
My personal favorite non-toxic fabric softener alternative: Epsom Salt and essential oils! It’s probably the easiest recipe in this post, and it helps with the transition from heavily scented softeners to a more natural laundry routine. I love that you can customize the scent based on the season or type of fabric you’re washing.
- 2 cups unscented Epsom Salt
- 20-30 drops of essential oils
- Pour half of the epsom salts into a glass jar.
- Add 10 drops of essential oils and stir until combined.
- Pour in the remaining epsom salts, add another 10 drops of essential oils, and stir again.
- Use 1/4 cup of your DIY softener/scent booster per load of laundry. Add it in with your detergent before loading up your clothes.
Other Non-Toxic Laundry Routine Recipes
Homemade Natural Bleach
– 1/4 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide
– 3/4 cup water
– 10 drops lemon essential oil
-Mix all ingredients together and pour into the bleach compartment of your washing machine.
Homemade Stain Remover Spray Pre-treatment
– 1 part Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
– 1 part water
– Mix the suds and the water into a spray bottle.
– New stains: Spray directly onto affected spot and lightly scrub before the stain sets in. Wash as usual.
– Dried stains: Spray onto stain and let it sit for about 25 minutes before washing.
– Heavy stains: Spray onto affected spot, then soak in cold water up to an hour before washing.
This recipe comes from Lisa Bronner herself! I wanted to include it here since life gets messy, and stain remover is a must.