Homemade Cloth Diaper Detergent - Recipe #1

After a few weeks of washing my cloth diapers with my homemade laundry detergent, I realized it just wasn't working for the diapers. They were smelly and had an even worse odor when ... in use. Realizing my kids weren't eating heaping amounts of asparagus, I knew the detergent wasn't strong enough. Let's face it: washing dirty diapers is probably the most demanding job for any laundry detergent. I needed a fix - and fast. 

Before I started making my own cleaners, my cloth diaper detergent of choice was Rock in Green. And I loved it. It did a great job, but it was too hard on my wallet. I wash cloth diapers every. single. day. For too long, I assumed that making your own cleaners and detergents was too hard or couldn't be done because it involved some really complex chemical process I couldn't replicate in my own home. Well, anyone who knows me will say that I'm a very determined person, and this time was no exception. After reading the ingredients of Rock in Green, I found all the supplies I needed to make my own for sale on the trusty internet.

Here's the surprising facts: Rockin' Green is made of six simple (or seven with scent) ingredients

  1. Sodium Carbonate - Soda ash. It's the same stuff that you'll find in Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. 
  2. Sodium Percarbonate - A water-soluble adduct of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide. It's basically the main ingredient in OxyClean.
  3. Natural Chleating Agents - Extensive reading on my part tells me this is some sort of water softener. Natural forms are salt or citric acid. 
  4. Sodium Sulfate - An inorganic salt, and basically used as a filler.
  5. Sodium Bicarbonate - Baking soda.
  6. Natural Surfectants - Soap. Natural forms are plant derived oils like cottonseed (vice petroleum synthetic oils).
  7. Essential oil for scent
Looking up the ingredients and finding a place to buy them online was easy. The tricky part was figuring out the ratios. How much do I use of each ingredient? Back to the internet for more research! I found many sites describing diaper detergent concoctions, and I found the ratio to be pretty much 1:1, with 5 oz bar castile soap per cup of detergent.

Seems pretty straightforward. But how much do I really save making my own? Is it worth all this effort? Here's the basics:

$15.95 for 45 oz of Rock in Green
It costs $0.35 per load to use Rock in Green (2 tbsp per load per manufacturer's instructions).
Washing one load of diapers/day = $127.75/year.

Here's what I bought to make my own and how much it cost (much larger quantities are available, but I didn't really have a good place to store them, so I opted for the smaller amounts):
  1. Sodium Carbonate - 7 lbs for $9.07 (112 oz, $0.08/oz)
  2. Sodium Percarbonate - 6 lbs for $10.60 (96 oz, $0.11/oz)
  3. Sodium Bicarbonate - 13.5 lbs $6.59 (I bought this at BJs)  (216 oz, $0.03/oz)
  4. Solid Castile Soap - 2 lbs for $7.46 (32 oz, $0.23/oz)
The recipe:
2 cups sodium carbonate ($1.28)
2 cups sodium percarbonate ($1.76)
2 cups sodium bicarbonate ($0.48)
10 oz castile soap (finely grated) ($2.30)
(I left out chleating agents, sodium sulfate, and the essential oils.)
TOTAL: $5.82 to make 58 oz
USE: 2 tbsp, or 1 oz, per load = 58 loads
COST PER YEAR = $36.63

Overall, I saved $0.25 per load making my own. Or, $91.12 per year. I could have saved even more if I bought larger quantities, but I don't have a good place to store them. Where would I put a pallet of sodium bicarbonate?

I've been using this for two weeks and so far, it does a great job! The diapers come out smelling clean and all the stains are removed. Since it does such a great job, I started using this detergent on heavily soiled clothes (loads of really dirty kids clothes, sport clothes, and funky towels). It takes the dirt/food/funk out and leaves everything smelling clean, no chemical smell or scent whatsoever.


  1. I've just started making my own detergents and have been trying them on cloth diapers. I'm having the same problems you mention. Still smelly. I'm trying the rock in green for the first time as we speak. It has so many good reviews and I love that it only has a few ingredients, but yes it'll definitely hurt our wallets if we use it regularly (we have 6 month old twins) so I was looking for a DIY recipe. Thank you for posting this and the cost savings so I don't have to figure it out myself :) I will be giving your recipe a try!

  2. Thank you for checking our my blog! Commercial detergents are harsh on the skin and the wallet...I wish you luck in your homemade endeavors. I've had the best luck with diaper detergent using store-bought ingredients, believe it or not. Here's the link: http://mammagoesgreen.blogspot.com/2013/07/homemade-cloth-diaper-detergent-recipe.html. If you have coupons to Babies 'R Us, you can save some additional green, too! Let me know how you make out!

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  4. I really want to find a recipe similar to the Funk Rock product to beat ammonia stinkies. I can't find their ingredients anywhere! Any idea what Rockin Green puts into that product??

    1. Hi Kim! Good question. I have not done the research yet, but will post the recipe when I figure it out. Keep on living green!
      Cheers - K

  5. I've read that for cloth diapers you want to avoid castile soap as it will cause repelling???

  6. Thank you, I was looking up the ingredience one by one, and now I don't have too!


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