DIY culture is on the rise (that's "do-it-yourself," for those not in the know), and the craftiest folks try to make their own versions of everything. Cleaning products, including laundry detergents, are especially popular.
We've looked at a handful of the most popular DIY detergent recipes, and wondered whether something you can scrap together from ingredients beneath your sink can compete with a brand-name, purpose-made soap.
So we decided to go ahead and test them in our labs.
How We Did It
First, we whipped up our own batches of the DIY detergents in our labs, following the recommended recipes to the letter. Check out the ingredient lists and mixing instructions here.
Then we ran five test cycles: one with a store-bought, name-brand liquid detergent as our control, and one for each of the four popular DIY detergent recipes. Each test cycle was conducted in a Hotpoint HSWP1000MWW washing machine, with an industry-standard test strip loaded into a standardized 8-pound mixed load of laundry. (It's the same setup we use when we test a washing machine's effectiveness—except here, the variable is the detergent, not the actual machine. Read more about how we test.)
After each cycle, we used a photo-spectrometer to measure how good—or how bad—the detergent was at cleaning a series of pre-made fabric stains.
We’re sad to say, none of the DIY detergents performed very well—at least not compared to the name-brand detergent. Even just glancing at our test strips, the store-bought soap visibly cleaned the fabric more effectively than any of the hand-made options.
Detergent No. 1 from One Good Thing was the best of the DIY detergents, but was still 8.82% dirtier than the name brand. Detergent No. 2 from DIY Natural scored significantly lower, at 11.21% more residue than the brand detergent.
While the brand detergent is the clear winner, it’s important to remember that making your own detergent is likely to cost you less over time—and it’s also kind of fun. Well...sort of.