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The Ultimate Guide to Homemade Laundry Detergent from Natural Ingredients

Conkers to make homemade laundry detergent

How To Make Your Own DIY Natural Laundry Detergent

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Average reading time: 7 minutes


Are you looking for an easy way to make natural laundry detergent without worrying about harsh chemicals? This ultimate guide will answer all your questions about what natural laundry detergents are and why you should think about switching.

Not only do traditional laundry detergents contain harsh chemicals that harm the environment but they also leave a residue on your clothes and can cause irritation or allergies. In this article, we’ll cover what natural detergents are and, just how you can make your own DIY laundry detergent from four separate natural ingredients, with four simple recipes.


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What are natural detergents I hear you ask? Natural detergents are eco-friendly and biodegradable alternatives to commercial laundry detergents, typically made from natural ingredients. These natural detergents do not contain any synthetic chemicals which can cause irritation, like phosphates, sulphates or artificial fragrances.

By going with a natural detergent you reduce your exposure to potential toxins and they’re almost always safer for pets and children. Interestingly, they are also much less likely to cause water pollution without phosphates, which can contribute to harmful algae blooms.


What Can You Use As A Natural Detergent?

There are several different natural alternatives to commercial detergents. Many of these natural ingredients contain saponin, a natural soap-like property that breaks down dirt and grease on clothes. This natural occurring cleanser avoids any waterway pollution while working as an antibacterial cleaner.

In this article, we’ll explore four natural detergents made from ingredients you can easily source and make yourself at home.

1/ Conkers

Conkers, or horse chestnuts are glossy seeds grown on a horse chestnut tree. They grow in green pods that you’ll find all over the floor in winter, and they’re used in a popular children’s game where children compete to smash their opponents conker with theirs until one breaks.

But they have another use too. Conker’s contain a high amount of saponins, the soapy property that can naturally clean your clothes, perfect for people with sensitive skin.

As you can find conkers all over the floor in the winter, you can collect the nuts and store them in the freezer until they're ready to be used. Remember to leave some out for the squirrels and deer who eat them over winter.


Conker Laundry Detergent Recipe


  • 10 conkers
  • 1L water



  1. Freeze the conkers overnight
  2. Cut & peel the conkers into smaller pieces
  3. Add 500ml boiling water & leave for at least 1 hour or overnight
  4. Strain the mixture
  5. Blend the conkers with another 500ml of hot water
  6. Strain into the previous mixture
  7. Add essential oils, white vinegar & bicarb as you wish
  8. Wash with 50-100ml of detergent

Watch our guide on making your own conker laundry detergent.


2/ English Ivy

Think of a traditional English cottage and you’ll likely picture it covered in ivy. A misunderstood plant, Ivy (Hedera helix) is an evergreen, woody climber that sticks to surfaces as it climbs, providing a habit for bats and many insects. What many people don’t know is that the leaves from an ivy plant contain high levels of saponin too. 

To create your homemade laundry detergent from ivy, the saponin needs extracting from the leaves. A simple way to do this is by crushing, bruising or chopping them up to release the saponin-rich sap. 


English Ivy Laundry Detergent Recipe


  • 50-60 English Ivy leaves
  • 1L water


  1. Crush, bruise or chop the ivy leaves to release the sap
  2. Simmer in 1L of water for 20 minutes
  3. Leave the ivy in the water overnight
  4. Strain the leaves from the water and squeeze out any water from the ivy leaves
  5. Wash with 100-200 ml detergent

English Ivy homemade laundry detergent

    3/ Soapnuts

    Soapnuts or soapberries are a natural shell from the seeds of a soapberry tree. It is the fruit shell that is dried and used as a soap, while the seeds can be replanted. Soapnuts have been used for centuries in India and subspecies are also native to tropical and subtropical regions in the Americas and Pacific Islands as well as Asia where they are used as a natural way to clean.

    These dried fruit shells also contain high levels of saponins, up to 37%, which is released when washed with water.

    We unfortunately don’t live in a tropical environment in the UK, so it is impossible to harvest them yourself at home, however you can purchase soapnuts to use as a laundry detergent at home. 


    Soapnuts Laundry Detergent Recipe


      • 4-6 soapnuts


      1. The soapnuts are ready to use, add 4-6 nuts to a cotton bag
      2. Add the bag directly into your laundry

        Watch our guide on washing your clothes with a soapnut laundry detergent.


        4/ Marseille Soap

        Marseille soap is a natural bar soap made from vegetable oils, traditionally olive oil. It is made by mixing olive oil with sea water and alkaline ash. Marseille soap is particularly good for those with sensitive skin or young children as it is primarily made from natural oils without any chemicals or additives. 

        The olive oil in the soap is moisturising yet very gentle and together with the other ingredients, Marseille soap can be grated into a liquid laundry detergent good at cleaning stains and whitening laundry.


        Marseille Soap Laundry Detergent Recipe


          • 1 Cup / 60g grated Marseille soap
          • 2L Water


          • ¼ cup baking soda
          • ¼ cup white vinegar


          1. Melt the Marseille soap shavings in warm water
          2. Allow the mixture to cool before adding baking soda and vinegar.
          3. Add 100-150 ml to your laundry load

           Watch our video on how to use Marseille soap, including making a homemade laundry detergent and find out more about Marseille soap's many uses.



          There you have it, our favourite natural recipes for your own DIY laundry detergent.


          Frequently Asked Questions

          Is It Better To Use Natural Laundry Detergent?

          Incorporating natural detergents into your laundry routine will be safer for both you and the environment, and they can often save you money in the long run. Natural detergents are biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and won't introduce harmful chemicals into the water supply. They also reduce the risk of skin irritation and allergies which can be caused by commercial detergents.

          What Is the Best Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Recipe?

          The best recipe ultimately depends on your preferences, but for a liquid detergent, Marseille soap is a popular choice. It is easy to make and offers an effective, gentle clean, as well as being easy to source at all times of the year.

          What Ingredients Should You Avoid In Commercial Laundry Detergent?

          It's important to be aware of and avoid the following ingredients in commercial laundry detergents which can cause irritation to skin or damage to the environment, including phosphates, sulphates, artificial fragrances, chlorine bleach and formaldehyde. If you don’t want to or have the time to make your own detergent, look for natural detergent with the labels: sulphate-free, fragrance-free and biodegradable. 

          How Long Does Natural Detergent Last?

          When making natural detergent from a natural ingredient like ivy or conkers, these should be made and used within a week. To make them last for longer, you can store them in a glass jar in the fridge. Marseille soap detergent will last for longer as the soap itself has been cured but should be used within a month.


          Making the switch to natural laundry detergents is a small yet impactful step towards a more eco-conscious lifestyle, as well as looking after your skin and home environment. With various options to choose from, you can find the recipe that best suits your needs while contributing to a cleaner planet.

          Have you tried any of these recipes? Let us know in the comments and share this article with your friends and family so they can try their own homemade laundry detergent. 


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