Making Products, Shopping, Zero Waste

Natural Laundry

Natural Homemade Laundry Detergent:

After trying various zero waste options I have now started making my own natural homemade laundry detergent. We’ve had loads of questions about how we make this so decided to write this blog post to share our experience so far.

Like most people I used to buy branded washing liquids without a second thought, albeit in larger containers. Overtime I switched to more ‘eco’ alternatives but I still had an issue with the amount of waste this was generating.

I had started shopping more at zero waste stores, buying in bulk, so naturally I decided to try their liquid clothes detergent and conditioner. They worked perfectly well but I didn’t really like the smell and they were also quite expensive compared to the other eco brands.

After we began reducing our plastic consumption I began searching for an alternative. Boxes of eco powder are available but I like a challenge so looked further afield than the detergent aisle of our local supermarket.

After seeing other people on Instagram posting about using ‘Soap Nuts’ I thought my search for a replacement was over. I hunted around and finally found some for sale in a French bio store. When I arrived home and opened the sac I was disappointed to find that, despite being in a cotton bag the actual nuts were wrapped a plastic. In all honesty I should have realised but when you’re rushing to get your shopping done with a hungry child in tow these things happen.

The soap nuts actually work really well but I wanted to find something that avoided buying more plastic. I had already begun making my own surface cleaner so I started looking for DIY laundry detergent recipes.
The first recipes I found involved castile soap but I couldn’t find it in Switzerland or France. I could order it online (in plastic) but wanted a local plastic free option.

I was in one of our local zero waste stores and started chatting to the shop assistant who told me all about Savon de Marseille. Until then I assumed it was just hand & body soap but it has actually been used in France since the early ninth century with various properties and practical applications.

Here are a few facts about this wonder soap:

  • It is 100% natural & biodegradable as it’s made from vegetable oils in an environmentally friendly way
  • It contains no animal additives and requires little packaging
  • Savon de Marseille is very moisturizing and is recommended by dermatologists for dry skin conditions as a hand and body soap as well as a shaving soap
  • It is a powerful stain remover so can be used as a laundry soap, dish soap and also to clean irons & jewelry
  • It can be used as an antiseptic cleaner and for cramp pain & arthritis relief
  • Finally, it can be used to wash your dog or made into a spray to control plant pests and is a natural repellent for clothes moths

Anyway, I was sold when I learned I could use it for my laundry and dishes. Luckily the store sells the shavings in bulk so there was no need to grate it myself. I also buy my bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar in bulk too.

After researching various recipes online this one is my favourite, adapted from the Soapedia blog. It makes 1.5 litres of liquid laundry detergent.


  • 40g Savon de Marseille – flakes or hand grated
  • 2 Litres of water
  • 3 Tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 Tablespoons of white vinegar
  • An essential oil of your choice – I use lemon


Add the bicarbonate of soda and savon de Marseille to a pan with 1 litre of hot water. Making sure the water doesn’t boil keep stirring the solution until the soap is fully dissolved. Take off the heat and leave to cool for 2 hours.

While you’re waiting find a large bottle and wash it throughly (mine is an old fabric softener bottle). After a couple of hours heat the remaining 1 litre of water and vinegar until warm and add it to the cooled soap solution and stir throughly. Funnel the mixture into your bottle and add around 10 drops of essential oil.

Use 100ml of your homemade laundry detergent in each wash but shake well before use as the mixture may separate. You can also blend it up in a food processor to achieve a slightly better consistency.

Adding half a cup of bicarbonate of soda and half a cup of white vinegar to your wash will also help whiten your whites and preserve colours, soften clothes, reduces odours and helps to descale your machine – it doesn’t make the wash smell of vinegar either.

I hope you find this recipe useful and we’d love to hear how you get on.


I have now also started adding 3 tablespoons of Soda Crystals to my recipe.

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