How To: DIY Laundry Detergent

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Homemade laundry detergent: something free of chemicals, toxins and other undesirable ingredients – should be a staple in everyone’s home, right?

If you care about the chemicals your family is exposed to, you should be finding a way to create your own, safe-to-use laundry detergent. At least, that’s the message we’ve seen repeated and widely spread.

With the internet and blogosphere having been flooded with hundreds of (very similar) DIY detergent recipes, an important distinction needs to be made.

While these recipes include a medley of ingredients – borax, shaved soaps, washing soda, baking soda, lemon essential oil and vinegar – it’s critical to note that none of these recipes will make real laundry detergent.

Instead, these methods are for ‘laundry soap’, meant for the same purpose of cleaning your clothing, but a different substance altogether.


Creating a laundry detergent at home would require you to have an extensive understanding of chemistry and the unique ability to transform hydrocarbons to alcohol in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Since most of us are not capable of such complex work, it’s safe to say that the recipes you’re finding online are for less-effective ‘laundry soaps’.

So what is laundry soap?

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It’s a milder, natural substance combining a water softener and soap. Its goal is to clean your clothing and serve as a safe replacement for laundry detergent. And while this may sound great, it’s important to remember a few key points:

1. While soap is great at removing oils and dirt from your smooth skin, it does not have the ability to penetrate into the intricate texture of modern fabrics. i.e. Your clothing is getting a surface clean at best, and all the dirt and bacteria trapped inside the fabric will remain.

2. Washing machines do not scrub your items, so soap residue will stick to your fabric and your washing machine drum no matter how many rinse cycles you try.

3. Remaining soap residue is not only a bad thing appearance-wise, but it will also trap more dirt, bacteria and germs in your newly ‘cleaned’ clothing.

Instead of cleaning your clothing, you’re actually creating a new problem – you’re trapping excess bacteria and filth in your clothing, which can be even more harmful to your health.

Though it’s tempting to try shunning all chemical-based laundry detergents in favour of a substance where you actually know what every listed ingredient is – in the end, you’re doing yourself a disservice.


Not to worry, if the natural element really is the most important factor for you there are plenty of plant-based detergents available on the market.

But if this is more of a fad you thought you’d try and over time you’ve come to see that some chemicals are necessary for the proper, hygienic cleaning of your clothing, we’re more than happy to help you out there.

If you live in London, Paris or Berlin, Zipjet offers a simple Wash & Fold service, with hypoallergenic and scent-free detergents available per request.


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