homemade laundry detergent

Dear Food52,

I've read mixed reviews on the use of homemade laundry detergent for HE Washers. Some say it's terrible for the washer and can cause damage while others say it's perfectly fine.

Do you all have any input on this topic?



  • Posted by: Emily
  • March 6, 2017
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Susan W. March 7, 2017
I make homemade laundry detergent and give it to my mom who has an HE washer. It has borax, washing soda and either liquid or bar Castile soap, so low sudsing. She checked with the manufacturer and they said it was perfectly fine.
Amanda S. March 6, 2017
Emily, such a good question. This doc from the Cleaning Institute might be of use (http://www.cleaninginstitute.org/assets/1/page/he.pdf); it explains that HE-compatible detergents are formulated to be low-sudsing. Use of a high-sudsing soap in an HE machine will hamper performance/efficiency in the short term, and can eventually wear on the machine.

So: As long as your homemade detergent is low-sudsing, it should be fine to use. You could test by putting a small amount, along with some hot water, in a jar and shaking it to see how many bubbles are produced—and comparing that with the a shaken jar of regular detergent and hot water. Less bubbles = better.
HalfPint March 6, 2017
@Emily, what homemade laundry detergent recipe are you using?

I've made laundry detergent in the past using ivory soap (grated), borax and washing soda. No problems for my HE washer and no damage that I can see. Only reason I stopped was a baby. I didn't have the time and could not make it fast enough for the increase in laundry that accompany a newborn (and now toddler).
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