Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent
There are a lot of recipes out there for homemade powdered laundry detergent and to be honest I have never given them a try for a couple of reasons.
- I usually can get laundry detergent pretty cheap with coupons – my stock-up price is about 7 to 8¢ per load and to me that is pretty inexpensive.
- Many of the recipes I have come across for homemade laundry detergent require cooking and big 5 gallon buckets of what ends up being described as “snot” textured laundry detergent. And call me weird, but I already hate doing laundry and the thought of a 5 gallon bucket of “snot” does not make me want to drag my butt down to the basement to do yet ANOTHER load of laundry.
- Even if I was going to give this homemade powdered laundry detergent idea a try, I don’t want to experiment with 5 gallons of anything. What if it was a failure? Then I am stuck with 5 GALLONS of laundry detergent that I don’t like….sorry I will pass.
But then I came across a few recipes for powdered laundry detergent and I thought “OK I can do that”. I researched a bunch of recipes to see what the pro’s and con’s were, read all the comments from others and decided to give it a try. This recipe is what I decided on and I am actually happy with the results.
Couple of notes before we get to the actual recipe…
I have a big family – 6 people and we do on average 20 loads of laundry a week when you take into account I wash bedding every week (or more – I still have a bed wetter).
From what I have read homemade laundry detergent seems to work better if you have “soft” water. We have hard water where we live however we also have a salt water softener. So I guess we have “soft” water.
I have sensitive skin, many laundry detergents give me hives. I have never been able to pin point what ingredients in some commercial laundry detergents cause this reaction so I have just had to experiment. It is not the fragrance, for me, it is something else. I have found for myself that Tide actually gives me hives while Purex, All and Arm & Hammer brands are OK. Go figure. This homemade laundry detergent did not cause any hives for me and cleans just as well as Purex, All and Arm & Hammer brands. I know there are some people out there that swear that Tide cleans better, I have just never found that to be true.
As I mentioned above, we still have a bed-wetter. My 7 year old son is a sound sleeper and occasionally he wets the bed. This laundry detergent did a great job on cleaning and removing any trace of urine odor.
I used Fels Naptha soap as the soap base in this detergent. I have always loved this soap and have used it for as long as I can remember as a stain remover. When my oldest daughter was a little girl she tripped and cut her chin requiring 14 stitches in her chin. She bled a lot all over her new party dress. Scrubbing her dress with Fels Naptha removed all of the dried blood on her precious little party dress. I have heard of others using other kinds of soap. Ivory, any bar soap, or other laundry bar soaps. It seems from my research that Ivory and other body bar soaps did not do quite as well of a job cleaning as those designed for laundry. I suggest you stick to a laundry bar soap such as Fels Naptha or Zote.
I have a HE front loading washing machine. This is a low sudsing laundry detergent and is HE safe. You only need 1-2 tablespoons of this detergent. It cleans well and does not create a lot of suds.
I have now been using this detergent for 5 weeks. That is 20+ loads of laundry X 5 weeks = about 100+ loads of laundry. I think that is sufficient of a test to make sure it cleans well, does not leave a build up on the laundry, does not make my whites grey. And it doesn’t. It does the job, cleans everything, leaves a slight clean scent, not too over powering and is actually cheaper than store bought.
I purchased all of the ingredients at my local Walmart except for the oxygen bleach which I bought at my local dollar tree. I actually already had that on hand, but I usually buy that at The Dollar Tree because it is usually cheapest there.
Find coupons for many of the ingredients in our coupon database!
Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe
- Over a bowl, grate the bar soap on a fine cheese grater.
- Add the 2 cups of Borax, 2 cups of Arm & Hammer washing soda and 1 cup oxygen bleach to the bowl.
- Stir everything well with a spoon or spatula.
- In a blender, blend on high one cup at time until you have a fine powder. Dump powder into a container with a tight fitting lid. Continue with the rest of the detergent, blending in the blender one cup at a time.
- Once you have done all of the detergent, stir everything up just to make sure it is all well combined.
- The finished product!
- Fels Naptha Soap – 97¢ at Walmart
- 76 oz. box of Borax – $3.38 at Walmart
- 55 oz box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda – $3.24 at Walmart
- 16 oz. container of oxygen bleach – $1.00 at Dollar Tree
So that is
97¢ – soap
64¢ – Borax
96¢ – Washing Soda
50¢ – Oxygen Bleach
$3.07 or about 4¢ a per load
- Can easily be doubled or tripled. Go for it. I now make a double batch.
- It is a little easier to grate the bar soap if you unwrap it and let it sit out for a couple of days. This just dries it out a little. Does not make that big of a difference just slightly easier. I am now unwrapping my bars of soap and putting them in my linen closet – they add scent to my linens and the soap dries out a little more.
- Many stores sell the ingredients in the laundry detergent aisle. However some stores are weird and put the bar laundry soap in the health & beauty section of the store next to regular body soap.
- I store my homemade laundry detergent in a Tupperware container made for storing dry goods like flour and sugar. I got it at a yard sale, it holds a double batch of soap nicely, I found a lone tablespoon measuring spoon in my kitchen drawers that I tossed in the container to measure the soap when doing laundry.
- The oxygen bleach is optional – most commercial detergents have optical brighteners added to them – I added the oxygen bleach to do sort of the same thing. Oxygen bleach is safe for colors and can be used with chlorine bleach when washing whites. However care should be used when using oxygen bleach when washing wool and silk as it can discolor these items. We don’t have a lot of clothing made out of wool or silk. In fact the few items we have made from wool or silk we have dry cleaned or hand-wash.
- While I have not noticed any graying our our whites using this detergent I am also not a stickler for perfectly white socks. I sometimes use a little Bluing (an old fashioned product that adds a slight blue tint to your whites – the slight blue tint is an optical illusion and it makes your whites appear whiter. – you can find it in your laundry detergent aisle).
- Fels Naptha soap is not an “all natural soap” and the scent can be a little strong. I found while grating it it was a little irritating so I opened a kitchen window just to mix in some fresh air. There are all-natural soaps that you can use – I have heard good things about people using Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Magic Soap Bars which come in various scents such as tea tree, lavender, rose, citrus, etc. I would bet that the lavender would smell great!
If you have been thinking about making your own laundry detergent give this recipe a try and let us know what you think!