Easy DIY washing detergent made of ivy

Our grandmothers might still know it: Washing detergent can be easily produced by using common ivy leaves. Nature provides it for free in our back gardens, in woodlands or parks. English ivy leaves contain saponins, which are a natural detergent and foaming substance that lifts grease or dirt from our clothing.

There are several DIY recipes out there. The one I successfully tested so far is quite simple and zero waste:

Ivy zero waste washing detergent*

  1. Collect 20-40 English ivy (hedera helix) leaves, preferably darker (older) leaves, one big handful should be enough. The leaves can only be used fresh, so you have to collect them prior to your laundry.
  2. Tear the leaves apart in little pieces, using your hands. As English ivy can leave skin irritations (if you have sensitive skin), you might want to wear gloves doing it.
  3. Put the leaves in a closed laundry net and put it together with your laundry in the washing mashine. Can be disposed as biowaste after use.


  • To prevent limescale, you can use vinegar in the fabric softener department (every 4th or 5th time should be enough), also for whites.
  • 1 spoon of washing soda can be added in the fabric softener department for whites. Also useful for hard water.
  • 1 spoon of baking soda helps if your laundry is a bit ‘smelly’.
  • Prepare staines with gall soap.


Make sure to collect the right common ivy leaves. Be aware that touching English ivy can cause allergic skin reactions like itching, rashes, or weepy blisters.


If you are looking for a recipe made of horse chestnuts, you can look for example here.

Image: (c) Option

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Written by Sonja

Down: recycling instead of textile waste

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