DIY No Borax Laundry Detergent {copycat Molly Suds}

Homemade laundry detergents and soaps have always been intriguing to me. Since the early days of this blog I’ve always had some recipe or another that I’m using. I go through streaks where I don’t use the homemade stuff quite as much, but I usually always have a batch available and I’ve learned a few of the pros and the cons over the years.

A couple of the pros are that it saves money, it’s simple to make, and can do a good job of cleaning and deodorizing. A couple of the cons are that if you use grated soap, it doesn’t always dissolve well, and doesn’t always rinse off as well either which can make clothes dingy and less fluffy over time, and can make towels less absorbent.

My recent strategies have been to not use the grated soap much at all anymore and instead I opt for the DIY liquid laundry soap made with Dawn, or my no-grate powdered laundry mixture using OxiClean. Theose two recipes have been my current favorites – BUT –  I might have a new favorite!

Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent - A copycat Molly Suds version with no borax and no grated bars of soap

The new favorite came about for a few reasons:

  • I’ve been asked a few times recently if I have a no borax laundry detergent recipe. There’s debate on the safety of borax but some folks prefer to avoid it to be on the safe side and keep it out of their homemade mixtures.
  • I was fiddling around on the EWG website (Environmental Working Group) and started investigating the ratings they gave various laundry and other cleaning products. The EWG site grades products on a scale of A to F (just like school papers). The website states that “an “A” indicates very low toxicity to health and the environment and extensive ingredient disclosure. An “F” means the product is highly toxic or makes little to no ingredient disclosure. A “C” indicates an average cleaner that poses no overt hazards and provides some disclosure of ingredients.”
  • I became aware of a brand called Molly Suds that makes safe and natural laundry products and I wondered if I could make my own!

Make Your Own Natural Laundry Detergent

The Molly Suds listing on Amazon (*affiliate link) gives full disclosure of their ingredients. It says that it contains Sodium Carbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Magnesium Sulfate, Unrefined Sea Salt, and Organic Peppermint Oil. Now those first three things may look like a list of weird chemicals, but they’re actually quite familiar:

Sodium Carbonate = washing soda
Sodium Bicarbonate = baking soda
Magnesium Sulfate = epsom salt

All of those ingredients are easily available to us and at reasonable prices too. The other two ingredients are no problem either if we use some sea salt and an essential oil.

AND if we take a look at washing soda, baking soda, and epsom salt on the EWG website, they all receive an A rating.

Based on this information, we can make these three ingredients the base of our copycat Molly Suds mixture. I used:

1½ cups Washing Soda
1½ cups Baking Soda
½ cup Epsom Salt

Using just this base mixture, I did a test load that included my dirty homemade swiffer cover. Although my quick photos might not do it justice, my homemade swiffer cover came out looking very clean with just these three ingredients!

Homemade swiffer cove cleaned with DIY laundry detergent with no borax

A Few More Additions

Because I like to add OxiClean to my homemade powdered laundry detergents, I also added in a ½ cup of OxiClean Free. This product gets a B on the EWG site. If you can find OxiClean Baby, that product gets an A, however I can’t find that on the store shelves in my area. Regular OxiClean gets an F. 🙁

I added 10 drops of lavender essential oil to my mixture too. This gives it a lovely scent as you open the container and scoop out your mixture, but none of the scent lingers on the clothing after washing and drying, which is OK with me.  You could also try peppermint essential oil to make it more like the Molly Suds mixture.

I opted not to add any sea salt because it seemed like the epsom salt was already taking care of that type of ingredient, but a couple tablespoons can be added in if you wish.  If you leave out the OxiClean and add the sea salt, your mixture will more closely resemble the ingredients in the Molly Suds disclosure.

Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent - A copycat Molly Suds version with no borax and no grated bars of soap

A Low-Toxicity and No-Grate Solution

So far all the loads I’ve done with my new No-Borax Laundry Detergent have come out looking just fine! Of course we are empty nesters and so I don’t have kids’ clothes that are very stained or anything, but we do still manage to sweat and spill on ourselves over here and need clean laundry too. 🙂

So this mixture has several good things going for it that make it a good solution:

~ Quickly mixes together with no grating of bar soap
~ No bar soap in the mixture to build up on clothes or towels
~ Low toxicity ingredients that receive good ratings from the EWG
~ Saves money
~ Cleans and freshens laundry very well

Those are some very good reasons to give this homemade laundry detergent a try, and a simple and quick way to make your own homemade version of a Molly Suds type of laundry cleaner.  It’s a new favorite at my house, and if you give it a try, it might soon become a favorite for you too!

Related Reading:

Is it Homemade Laundry Detergent or Soap?

Homemade with no chemicals? Not really

DIY No Borax Laundry Detergent {Copycat Molly Suds}

Make your own laundry detergent with no borax with these economical and friendlier ingredients.
Keyword: Homemade Laundry
Author: TheMakeYourOwnZone.com

Materials:

  • cups Washing Soda
  • cups Baking Soda
  • ½ cup Epsom Salt

Optional Add-Ins:

  • 2 tablespoons Sea Salt
  • 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • ½ cup OxiClean Free or OxiClean Baby

Instructions:

  • To make the base mixture, combine the washing soda, baking soda, and epsom salt and mix well.
  • Stir in any of the optional add-ins.
  • Keep in a container with a tight fitting lid.
  • Use about 2 tablespoons per load.

Notes:

I usually omit the sea salt, but like to add in the other two optional ingredients (the OxiClean Free and the essential oil).
For a mixture that more closely resembles the Molly Suds brand, you may wish to use the sea salt, and leave out the OxiClean instead.
Different scents of essential oil can be used as well. 

 

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52 Comments

    1. I would not recommend it as epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, and kosher salt is sodium chloride so they are chemically different. Epsom salt helps provide fabric softening, which regular or kosher salt will not.

    2. The recipe I found at another place calls for kosher salt, but I use sea salt. The salts soften the water, so depending upon your water chemistry, you might want to add a little more salt. But adding essential plant oils…that is defeating the purpose of chemical free. EO’s by their own natural chemistry can be very very bad, even carcinogens. i.e., terpene, like tobacco, cannabis and lavender create formaldehyde. Citrus is the most common EO used in plants and it creates formaldehyde because it is also a terpene. It is in vaccines in place of pure formaldehyde, because they can hide the formaldehyde by adding citric acid. Beware of foods with added citric acid. Not good…please get citric acid free. I use Redmond salt from USA Utah. It looks like pink Hymalaya salt, but it is mined in deep ancient sea caves in Utah. It is plastic free sea salt. If you taste test it next to the regular white table salt, it is amazing taste, but use much less in foods, it is very salty/condensed salt flavor. I write a lot of letters asking companies to use less sea salt…a tiny bit goes a long way. lol Take good care, and kindly remember clean is healthy. Clean does not smell at all. I love Kirks Fragrance free bath soap…same recipe since 1839. I buy it at Swanson Health online, but you can probably find it in some local stores. If I get mosquito bites mowing my yard, a warm shower with the coconut oil soap will calm them right down. Coconut oil is great and the soap is refined, with no odor.

  1. I’ve been using this home made laundry powder for done home now and just love it. The first time I made it,I tipped nearly a whole bottle of lavender oil in not realising it wasn’t a dropper bottle, it still worked and the perfume so so good.
    Thanks for that recipe

  2. Thanks for posting this! I done the whole “DIY Detergent” at home and quickly realized my problem: I was making laundry SOAP at home, as most of us aren’t making real detergent (via surfactant) but using soap. And with our hard water, our clothes all got build up on them, including our washer. It was awful, no matter what I used. Castille soap seemed to work okay, in small amounts, but our water is just too hard (over 400ppm). I have been making my own real detergent (1 T Seventh Generation dish detergent, free * clear, mixed with 1/4 c baking soda and 1 cup water plus essential oil per load), but detergent is so hard on my skin (making it and sometimes measuring it, although I make it by the gallon), but longed for a powder mix as I used to make with soap. Your version, like Molly Suds, smells great! I usually add lemon and orange essential oils. It works great too. I’m still baffled by a couple things: how can washing soda and baking soda clean away dirt and oils better than soap? and 2)I’m super confused how Epsom salts are used since they are a water hardener, making water hard, not soft (we have horribly hard water!). I’m guessing the alkalinity of the washing soda/baking soda and added salt I use counteracts that. On Molly’s site, they also mention that they use Epsom salts to help clean and scrub clothes–more of a physical property than actual water treatment, I’m guessing. Anyway, it works and I love it! Thank you!

  3. Okay, so whenever I’ve tried making this, no matter how I store it, it always seems to draw water from somewhere and within an hour or so it’s turned to goop and then when it dries out again it’s a rock solid lump. And this happens regardless of whether I use a plastic container or a glass container (both air tight). I literally can’t figure out how it’s happening… have you ever had this reaction and if so how do you stop it from happening?
    Thanks
    Liz

    1. I have never had this happen and am quite confused as to what is going too. Could it be picking up moisture from any utensil or bowl you are using to combine the mixture? Maybe you could try leaving the essential oils out? This is very puzzling . . .

      1. Epsom salt is a heptahydrate. Washing soda is a decahydrate. Baking soda isn’t. So it’s drawing water mostly Epsom salt, which is in turn drawing water from the atmosphere. The mixture is hygroscopic. If you desiccate it in an oven and store it sealed airtight it will be OK.

        Whether or not you understand it or believe it, science is always right!

    2. I’m curious about your post and how it could be a “goop”–do you mean a gel-like or wet, sandy substance? All the ingredients are dry: washing soda, baking soda, epsom salts and salt (I use Himalayan pink salt in mine also) . The only “wet” ingredient would be a few drops of essential oils, if you choose to use them. Those are almost instantly absorbed when you stir. Perhaps you’re in a really humid environment? I’d combine ingredients in a plastic zip-type bag, press out excess air, and it should be completely a dry mix. P.S. Be sure you’re using 100 percent epsom salts..not a solution of wet “mix” that has other ingredients (check label). Let us know what you discover! 🙂

  4. Hi, what kind of epsilon salt do you use? Could I use Dr.Teals that already has essential oils added or should I find just a regular epsom salt?

    1. I usually just epsom salt that I can buy at my local grocery store or dollar store. I think if you want to use the Dr. Teals with essential oils, that should be find in this mixture.

    1. Plastic works fine. I have kept mine in a plastic container for a couple of years now with no problems.

    1. Yes, you can put the drops of essential oil directly into the mixture and stir it around with no clumping problems.

    1. Yes, this dissolves OK in cold water. I find that bar soap and borax are the things that usually need hot water to dissolve well and neither of those ingredients are in this mixture.

    1. I have found that for most of my homemade mixtures, I like to do a couple tablespoons in a load. Even though Molly Suds suggests one tablespoon per load, it seems like a very little amount and I find some comfort in adding just a bit more.

    1. I think it would be better to stick with epsom salt. Sea salt has a variety of other minerals in it, as compared to epsom salt which is just magnesium sulfate, and therefore I’m not sure how sea salt might affect the laundry if used in a larger amount in this recipe.

    1. I usually use about 2 tablespoons per medium sized load and that amount has been working well. You can adjust that up or down a bit for smaller or larger loads if you wish.

    1. I believe many of the dispensing drawers are intended for liquids so you may prefer to just put it in the drum. I have a top loading machine and always put it right in the drum and it works very well.

    1. I do not currently have a DIY Sal Suds recipe, but I’ll do a little research and see if I can figure that out!

  5. I just made this recipe and tried it for the first time. I’ve noticed that the powder doesn’t dissolve completely. About half of it became solid, rock-like. I did a quick web search and learned that Epsom salts and washing soda can have this reaction when mixed and water added. I wonder if subbing sea s alt for the Epsom salts would solve this issue?

  6. Hello! Wanted to see if you are still using this recipe since the posting in September? If so, can you give me feedback on how it is holding up to whites, darks and cleaning over this period of time?

    1. I’m still using this mixture Bea and I’m still very happy with it! Because it doesn’t have grated soap in it (which can be harder to rinse off clothing), I haven’t seen any graying of whites. Also I’ve always felt borax can be the thing that can fade brights and darks, and because this mixture does not have borax, I’ve not seen that problem either. So after six months of using this, I have not yet encountered any problems. I’ve been using it every week and enjoying it!

  7. Bev, this is a very nice mix for laundry detergent. I have another that I was using that required grating castile soap and it was good, but it was a pain to do the grating. I have been using this one for about six weeks now and find it works very well, is quick and easy to put together, and I almost always have the ingredients on hand. My husband is a big time do-it-yourselfer and frequently has very dirty work clothes. Am finding this formula cleans them very well. I use eucalyptus essential oil because although I don’t care for it normally I find I really like it in laundry detergent. However, an advantage of making your own is you can make it the way you like it! Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. I’m so happy to hear you’re enjoying this mixture Norma, and that it’s working on the dirty work clothes too. The more I use this mixture the more I’m liking it as well, and I think I might also have to give the eucalyptus scent a try!

  8. I am so happy I found your site and this recipe, a few years ago, when making your laundry soap became popular (at least for me) 🙂 I made a huge batch of it and felt so good about the savings and how good it was for my family and the environment, well… my husband had an awful allergic reaction, it was bad! the rash so awful (between legs, armpits, hands, feet) that he had to take time off from work as it was during the summer months and the skin was raw, the itching was unbearable, first thing the doctor asked was, are you using something new to wash clothes, after I explained to him what I was doing and the ingredients we suspected Borax was the cause but never knew for sure.
    I felt awful and disappointed, I thought I was doing something good for my family and couldn’t understand why this detergent caused that but he was fine when I used regular laundry soap. Now I am more convinced than ever that Botax was the cause and that Borax can be quite dangerous.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I will always use caution when trying new things but this sounds promising. ?

    1. Usually when something disappears from the shelves it’s because the stores feel there is not enough customer demand for it anymore. Kind of frustrating though when you are one of the customers that does still like to buy it!

    1. From my own personal experience, I’ve never had a problem with my machines and homemade laundry soap, however I have a pretty basic top load machine (no fancy HE machine or anything). I think if you have concerns on that, use a mixture without any grated soap. I had one person tell me she discovered gunky stuff had built up in her machine. I would suspect that somehow that was from the grated bar soap. The washing soda, baking soda, and epsom salt in this recipe for instance, are all things that should dissolve in the wash load.