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The Tide Is Turning: Save money by making your own toxin-free laundry detergent

story by Leah R. TroianoAs with many household products, we rarely look closely at the ingredients. But next time you’re in the laundry room, check out your detergent. Some common ingredients are:
  • Phenols Can damage your lungs, heart, kidneys and liver, and are easily absorbed into the skin. Deemed toxic by the National Institutes of Health
  • Optical brighteners Can trigger strong allergic reactions in humans, and are extremely toxic to fish (can cause mutations). 
  • Ethanol, benzyl alcohol, linalool, phosphorus, ammonia, naphthalene, phenol, sodium nitilotriacetate Can cause skin irritation and respiratory issues.
Then, consider the residue detergent can leave on clothes that can be absorbed through our skin. It’s hard to believe that something so commonly used can pose such serious risks to our health. Here’s a less toxic alternative that’s easy to make, inexpensive and gentler on both the environment and your skin.  

 For a top load washer

You will need:

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • 1 bar of non-moisturizing soap
  • 1 cup Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 2 cups of water, plus three gallons for the bucket


Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan. Grate soap bar. When the water comes to a boil, add the grated soap a little at a time. Stir to completely dissolve. (Add slowly—the water may bubble up.) 

Add three gallons of water to the five-gallon bucket. Add the completely dissolved soapy water mixture to the bucket. If you see soap chunks in the mixture, break them up and stir to dissolve. Add Super Washing Soda. Stir well. Add Borax. Stir well. 

Cover and allow to sit for 24 hours. You may notice a jelly-type substance, or soap curd, on top of the mixture. This is perfectly fine. Just give it a good stir. Use one cup per load

For a front load washer

  • 1 bar of non-moisturizing soap, grated 
  • 2 cups of Borax
  • 2 cups of Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)

In a container with a tight-fitting lid, grate the soap. Add Borax and Super Washing Soda. Mix well, breaking up the clumps. Use about 1 tablespoon per load. 

*With this product, and all other cleaners, keep out of reach of children and pets.

Leah R. Troiano, a certified cancer support educator, works with people who have cancer or would like to prevent cancer. Lowering toxicity is just one of many ways to get your body in cancer-fighting shape. For more information, visit or e-mail

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