DIY – Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent (Recipe)

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Homemade Laundry Detergent

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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…

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.

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.

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

Homemade Laundry Detergent Recipe

Easy to make homemade laundry detergent recipe that cost about 4¢ a per load.
4.63 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: DIY
Keyword: DIY, Laundry Detergent
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 80 Loads

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Over a bowl, grate the bar soap on a fine cheese grater.
    Homemade Laundry Detergent - Grate Bar Soap
  • Add the 2 cups of Borax, 2 cups of Arm & Hammer washing soda and 1 cup oxygen bleach to the bowl.
    Homemade Laundry Detergent - Add Borax, Washing Soda and Oxygen Bleach
  • Stir everything well with a spoon or spatula.
    Homemade Laundry Detergent - Mix 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.
    Homemade Laundry Detergent - Blend Dry Ingredients In Blender
  • Once you have done all of the detergent, stir everything up just to make sure it is all well combined.
    Homemade Laundry Detergent - Stir To Combine Once More
  • The finished product!
    Homemade Laundry Detergent - Finished Laundry Detergent

Notes

To Use: Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per load of laundry. Use 1 tablespoon for regularly soiled laundry and 2 tablespoons for heavily soiled laundry.
Yields: 5 Cups of powdered laundry detergent OR 80 tablespoons of laundry detergent. So if you are only using 1 tablespoon per load this makes enough for 80 loads of laundry!

Cost:

  • 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

Notes:

  • 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!

21 COMMENTS

  1. I have to say it works very well
    I make dry washing powder and also liquid washing powder so they both work well and good. They last long and don’t cost a whole lot of money there are short cuts that you can do.

  2. Simply stated:. Homemade laundry detergent may clean your clothes IF they aren’t heavily soiled. I made it — just like all the other DIY sites say to. After about 3 months, however, the clothes were dingy. Reason:. Commercial laundry “DETERGENTS” have phosphates, brighteners, and other chemicals that pull dirt away and suspend it in the water so it doesn’t re-deposit back on your clothes. That’s why they get your clothes clean and bright. DIY “SOAP” won’t give the same results. Period.

    • Have you done a laundry strip? Wash a load in the bath tub with nothing but vinegar and see what kind of gunk comes off the clothes.

    • I totally want to try this but with a fragrance free bar of soap. I have been having serious issues with allergenic reactions on scalp to hair products, but now everything seems to bother me. I can’t even use Dawn dish soap without gloves. It just seems like it set everything off.

  3. 5 stars
    Although I haven’t tried this recipe yet, I have been making and using a similar mm for about a year now. Mine is one bar Fels Naptha and 1 cup each of borax and washing soda. I have very hard water and found I need 3tblsp per load for clean, extra soft, and fresh smelling laundry. My granddaughter says she can “smell Grandma’s house” when I wash her clothes. For stubborn stains I rub a piece of soap onto the wet stain – has always worked for me.
    This recipe here with twice the borax and washing soda might work even better in my hard water, and I like the idea of adding oxidized bleach. I will definitely be trying it.
    Btw I used Tide for years and found this cleans my laundry just as well, and everything comes out of the dryer so fresh and soft. It’s worth the hassle of grating that soap!

  4. 5 stars
    I have made homemade laundry detergent and it works good .i do use white vinegar in the rinse cycle because it will wash out any detergent left in clothes and softens your clothes if you are allergic to softener or fragance it helps.

  5. This is very similar to a recipe I have used. I also let my soap bars dry out. I let my good processor grate the soap and then change to the S blade. I just put a bit of the borax or washing soda in with the grated soda, and that is enough to get it to a fine powder. Then I mix everything together.

    • I’m curious about using my food processor, i only have one blade, its the metal one that looks like an S . Is that the one that’s best to use?
      I’ve never used the processor before. It’s been in my cabinet since it was give to me over 20 years ago….
      Maybe I found a way to use it that’s useful to me;)

  6. I have used a variation of this recipe for a couple years and love it. One thing to make it a bit simpler is to microwave the Fels Naptha bars (I cut them into chunks first) until they puff up. Let them cool and you can then crumble them with your hands. I use a food processor to get the bigger crumbles and make it a consistent powder before adding to other ingredients.

  7. This stuff works; I’ve been experimenting and I’ve been happy with my results, but my best results came when I added Biz laundry booster to the recipe. In addition to sodium carbonate (washing soda) and sodium percarbonate (Oxiclean’s base), it has enzymes. Enzymes are great for grass, wine or blood stains (I have daughters; don’t ask how I know). The real downside is cost. Biz runs $4.50-$6.00 per box. There are generics that do ok and cost half that (Kroger has a bleach alternative cleaner with the main three ingredients I mentioned) and it’s good, but the amount is smaller and I haven’t applied the math yet.

    I skimp on washing soda and Oxiclean’s and use the formula of Fels Naptha + Biz (or Kroger Bleach alternative powder with enzymes) and add small amounts of washing soda and generic Oxiclean to fill my standard container.

    Sorry for going on and on. A cheap alternative to my method would be to just use the enzyme powder on stained loads. Also: three of our four have sensitive skin; this doesn’t break us out and our laundry is super clean. Grease, blood, grass, red wine, bring it on. It’s cheap, but not as cheap as the above recipe.

  8. I’m going to try this. I’ve never made my own detergent before, so I’m really curious.!
    I will update after I make it and use it.
    If i like it then I will try dish washer detergent.

    Thank you for the idea and the how to.

  9. 5 stars
    I have used this recipe for more than a year now and find it works great. The only thing I do differently is to use Zote, it comes in bars and flakes, I use the flakes so I don’t need to grate the bar soap. My old blender turns it into a fine powder and makes the whole process so simple. I have saved a lot of $ and our clothes look, smell and feel terrific.

  10. I am going to try this for sure. I started looking for an alternative to buying liquid and contributing to plastic waste. I recycle everything but only about 9% of all plastics are reused! I have about 1/2 a bottle of store bought liq. to finish before I do start this journey. After reading others comments I am going to use vinegar in the fab. soft. spot in the rinse and I have high hopes. Thank you very much for this information and the pictures you providd.

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