Tuesday, August 16, 2011

All-Natural Homemade Laundry Powder Detergent

DIY Homemade Laundry Soap

A big thank you to my dear friend, and Super Mom, Nance, for introducing our gang of mommy friends to the wonders of homemade laundry soap!

Now, why would anybody want to make their own laundry detergent, when every grocery store, drug store, big box store, and even the corner convenience store carry the ready-made stuff?  First, it's frugal!  I finally have the HE (high-efficiency), front-loading washing machine that I was salivating over for years, and I love that it uses so little soap per load.  Still, that soap doesn't come cheap.  Whereas some detergents can run upwards of twenty cents a load, homemade laundry soap works out to mere pennies. 

Our go-to brand of all-natural powder detergent does list all of its ingredients, but many popular brands do not.  Just like cooking your own meals at home, making your own laundry detergent also means you know exactly what went into it. [Note: please don't eat your soap.]

Many of our friends have family members with sensitivities to perfumes and chemical additives.  This is definitely one way to get around those issues.  Avoiding those nasty chemicals also means that they're not being released into the environment, every time you do a load of wash.  Basic ingredients go into this recipe, which works out better for everyone.

This is also going to be one of the simplest DIY projects you could do.  A quick detour down the laundry aisle at my grocery store was all it took to locate a box of borax, and washing soda (not to be confused with baking soda).  Please don't try to substitute baking soda for washing soda; it's a totally different animal.  Besides, both boxes were a mere couple of dollars each.  For the final ingredient: choose one bar of your favorite soap (preferably petroleum-free, like castile, glycerine, coconut-based, or olive-oil based like what I used).  That's it!  Here's how I assembled my stash of homemade laundry powder, in about 20 minutes, while standing in the kitchen, catching up on HGTV:

Box grater with non-slip base
Flexible, non-slip cutting board
Mixing bowl
Mixing spoon
1-cup measure
Storage container with tight-fitting lid
An old 1-oz. plastic scoop
*optional - food processor

1 bar of soap
1 cup of borax
1 cup of washing soda

Place the box grater on top of your flexible cutting board, and grate the entire bar of soap (finer is better).  Use the flexible cutting board to pour the grated soap flakes into your mixing bowl as you go.

After grating, if your soap flakes are still a bit large, you may optionally pulse them in your food processor.

Add the borax and washing soda to the soap flakes in the mixing bowl, and blend thoroughly.

Store in lidded container, and use 0.5 oz (1 tbsp) per load.

We have a quilt that we keep on our bed, for the sole purpose of keeping the rest of the bedding clean, from our beloved cats (and sometimes the dogs) who think we don't know that they steal up there to nap when we're not around.  That quilt was the Level 5 test subject for this newly-minted batch of soap.  It passed with flying colors!  I have another friend to thank, Jill, for reminding me to use a bit of plain, white vinegar in place of fabric softener.  Even with no dryer sheet, the quilt came out fresher, cleaner, and softer than ever!  No lingering vinegar smell; I promise! :)

Thank you, ladies, for your fabulous, eco-frugal laundry tips!

Happy wash day :)



  1. Thanks for this!! I made this two weeks ago and so far so good!!

    What do you use on stains? Do you have a homemade DIY recipe? I haven't washed anything with big stains yet.

    I have an older washing machine where I pour the detergent directly over the water once I start it. Do I add the vinegar in the beginning or later in the cycle?

    Any help would be great, thanks!

  2. Hi Courtney!

    Glad to hear you gave this stuff a shot :)

    As for stains, I'll sometimes add a tablespoon of some kind of oxygen bleach powder (Oxi-Clean, Oxo-Brite, or our latest brand, GrabGreen). That seems to do the trick.

    No problem with using an older machine. Just add the vinegar at the beginning of the last rinse cycle, just as you would with a regular fabric softner.

    Happy Washing :)


  3. Also, quick update:

    The last batch I made, I did entirely in the food processor; using the grating disc to tackle the bar of soap. That saved a lot of time, and prevented a lot of soap flakes from flying up my nose. Definitely the way to go, from now on.

    Off to start Batch #3 :)

  4. I've got the first load of laundry from my first batch in the washing machine now... I decided to "dr." mine a bit by adding 2 cups of oxyclean to the mix because my children are messy and it's hard to remind my husband to pre-treat, so I figured this may help with the stains a bit.