Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

homemade powder detergent

My recipe for liquid laundry detergent is the best thing that’s happened to my laundry routine, so when I finally ran out of my first batch, I was more than excited to make some more!

However, with my now 7 month baby hanging on my every limb :) I knew I didn’t want to be handling boiling water around him. So I went on a search, made some tweaks, and came up with this great powdered detergent recipe!

It’s much easier and quicker to make than the liquid version, but I still prefer the liquid version just because I’ve never been a big fan of powdered detergent. Plus the liquid one just lasts for so much longer! But if you’re in a hurry and don’t have the time to whip up a batch of liquid detergent, this recipe for the powdered stuff will work just as well!

What you need:

homemade powder detergent
The very short ingredients list.

What to do:

  1. After finely grating the bar of soap, add it to a bowl along with the borax and washing soda.

    homemade powder detergent
    I used the smallest side of the grater to get it really fine.
  2. Whisk together very well to make sure it is all evenly distributed. Then, add the essential oils (if using) and mix very well to distribute the oil throughout.

    homemade powder detergent
    All mixed together.
  3. Put in an air-tight container to prevent clumping.

    homemade powder detergent
    The batch fit perfectly into a yogurt tub – hello, reusability!

That’s it – three ingredients and three easy steps will get you a quick batch of laundry detergent!

I use about 2-3 tablespoons of powder for a load in cold water, depending on the size; but you should experiment to find what works for you. Don’t forget to read up on how to naturally freshen your laundry!

Again, I still prefer the liquid version but that’s just a personal preference. I could see this powdered version coming in handy if we’re traveling or visiting family and don’t want to lug around a jug of detergent with us. :)

NOTEFor HE/Front-loading washers – Since this detergent is low-suds, it’s PERFECT for HE/front-loading washers, but you just want to use less detergent (about 1 tablespoon).

Where can you buy washing soda? Here are some tips on where to find washing soda (which is NOT the same as baking soda!)

  • in the laundry aisle
  • in the pool cleaner aisle at Walmart, brand name is AquaChem. Just make sure the only ingredient listed is sodium carbonate!
  • call this phone number 1-800-524-1328 and have the UPC code 33200-03020. The service will ask for your zip code and then tell you places in your area that sell the item.
  • you can make your own by cooking baking soda in the oven until it becomes washing soda!

Powdered Laundry Detergent
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Ingredients
  1. 1 bar castile soap (or Fels Naptha or Ivory), finely grated
  2. 1 cup borax
  3. 1 cup washing soda
  4. 3-5 drops essential oils (optional)
Instructions
  1. After finely grating the bar of soap, add it to a bowl along with the borax and washing soda.
  2. Whisk together very well to make sure it is all evenly distributed.
  3. Add the essential oils (if using) and mix very well to distribute the oil throughout.
  4. Put in an air-tight container to prevent clumping.
  5. Use 2-3 tablespoons per load.
Nature's Nurture http://naturesnurtureblog.com/

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Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, , began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Karimah, This is the first time I’ve tried this recipe so I can’t tell you yet, but for reference, it filled up a yogurt container and I only use a few tablespoons for each load, so it should last a good while :)

  2. says

    Oh no! Well, if you can’t find it in the laundry aisle at your grocery store, I’ve known some people to call the Arm-n-Hammer company for help.
    Call this phone number 1-800-524-1328 and have the UPC code 33200-03020. The service will ask for your zip code and then tell you places in your area that sell the item.
    Let me know if this works!

  3. Traci says

    I’ve been making this for awhile…I also add Oxi-Clean and baking soda for added cleaning “oomph”.

    • Sarah says

      Great ideas, Traci! I also add baking soda to the wash cycle (as well as vinegar to help soften clothes).

  4. Sally says

    Love your soap receipe! Where do you find essential oils?
    Thank you Sally
    Also how do you make liqued detergent?

  5. Mrs Martinez says

    Thank you for a great recipe of dry laundry soap. Just had washed my first load of towels. Everything is clean and no soap residue left on my towels. For a soap bar I used cheapest soap what I could find in a supermarket. Added vinegar for a last washing circle and everything is very soft.
    Ladies and gentlemen, who are in Canada and cannot find washing soda, you can look at the website well.ca or in your local natural organic stores.
    One more time: thank you for great ideas and recipes.

    • Sarah says

      Thanks for coming back and commenting, Mrs. Martinez! I’m so glad it worked for you :)

      You know what’s funny? I just received my first order from well.ca in the mail today, with a box of borax and box of washing soda!

    • Sarah says

      By its nature, this detergent does not lather much. Bubbles are not what wash clothes, so don’t be afraid of no bubbles. ;)

  6. Juan says

    Hello,

    I decided to try this out for the first time and since I’m a college student the powdered detergent works best because I don’t have a place to cook the liquid detergent. However, the soap I used is the Mexican soap Zote, and its not solid like the soaps you suggested which can be finely grated. Instead I got some fine strings of soap. But I hope all works fine. Should I try to use your suggested soap instead or can any laundry soap, whether soft or solid, work equally fine? I did have some trouble mixing them equally, since the powdered ingredients kept falling through the soap to the bottom of the container.

    • says

      Hi Juan, I’ve seen many people use Zote soap without a problem. Sometimes they grate it on the small holes of a cheese grater, and others have also chopped it up into small pieces and then threw them into the food processor to get really small bits. If you have a food processor, I would put all the ingredients in there to try to grind it down to a fine powder. That way, they will combine together much better.

    • says

      I use the pink Zote soap in my homemade laundry detergent. 1 bar, 2 cups of Borax, & 2 cups of washing soda mixed in the food processor lasts me over a year using 1-2 tablespoons per load. One YEAR of laundry for $8?!?!? Can’t beat that!

  7. Kathy says

    I have been wanting to try this for some time. I have all the ingredients now, after much searching, two markets and one hardware store. I really like that this is as close to natural as one can get. I currently use Seventh Generation laundry detergent and need to get away from it due to the cost, so this should help greatly.

    For those having trouble finding the ingredients I suggest you ask your local hardware store about them. My local Ace carries all of them, so helpful. I just wish I had know it from the start. You can also get the items sent to your home if need be, by ordering online.

    I will continue to use baking soda during the wash and white vinegar for the rinse. I only line dry as dryers really do ruin clothes. Just look at the lint trap that is you clothes falling apart.

    Thank you for this recipe. It does look to be the same as keeper of the home ‘s the main difference being they use a blender to mix it to a fine powder.

  8. Dianne says

    I love this detergent! I was tired and disgusted to be honest, of getting that sour smell in everything including and especially linens!!! I had to use Fels Naptha, castile is hard to find. I used baking soda instead of washing soda for the simple reason that our clothing does not get badly soiled, just two of us seniors. Do you think that the washing soda would help to make my whites whiter? Or perhaps there is something else I can add to the mix to achieve that. I live in Prescott Ontario and am on city water. Thanks a million!! Regards, Dianne

    • says

      Oh that’s great, Dianne! Actually I add a cup if baking soda to my wash load to help whiten and also to deodorize, so I think you’re good to go! :) I know some people also add some oxi-clean to their detergent as well, although I haven’t personally tried it.

  9. AlisonA says

    One comment mentioned throwing everything in the food processor to get a well-mixed fine powder. Has anyone tried grating the bar soap with the grater blade on the food processor? I don’t want to mess up a bar of soap or my grater blade, but if it would work, that would save lots of time (and knuckles!) over using a box grater. Thanks for any feedback!

    • Stephanie says

      I grate the Fels-Naptha bar in my mini chopper/processor with the grater blade and the chopper blade in there and it comes out in tiny little ball-like pieces- PERFECT! I will have to start wearing a dust mask because the fine particles make me sneeze tremendously while I am mixing the powder.
      I like the smell just as it is so I do not add any essential oils.

    • CHRISTIE says

      I cut the bar of soap in chunks with a knife then i put it in the coffee grinder.so Im sure it will be ok . just soak in hot water to clean it after your done.

  10. Brynn says

    I have very sensitive skin, and have psiorasis. Would this be gentle enough for someone who has sensitive skin?

    Thanks

    • says

      I’ve used it on my kids’ clothes (both my infant as well as my toddler with eczema) and haven’t had any issues with their skin. It’s worth a shot, but if it gives you problems, it may be from the borax in this recipe, depending in how sensitive you are. I’m working on a borax-free version soon!

  11. Allison says

    Washing soda can also be foun on amazon.com plus you can get free shipping. Borax seemed pretty cheap too. I can’t wait to try this recipe. I’m glad I found your site through fb. Thanks!

  12. EM says

    Two questions, please.

    1. About the soap: Fels Naptha bars are bigger than Ivory (or Kirk’s Castile or Dr Bronner’s), and Ivory has a lot of air mixed in (it floats!). So it seems to me that the ratio of soap to other ingredients would vary relative to the other ingredients — so that a batch with Fels Naptha would contain more soap than one made with Ivory. Is there a way to find more precise proportions for the soap portion?

    2. I’ve seen similar detergent recipes, and recipes for other cleaning products that contain Borax and/or Washing Soda. Both of these products are caustic, and the Washing Soda box suggests that it should be added to ‘regular’ detergent for very greasy clothing (such as Fast Food uniforms or machine oils/grease). My laundry does not include these kinds of greasy/oily items , so these ingredients seem like ‘overkill’ to me. I’m also concerned about the effect of these caustic particles on my respiratory system (I don’t have a washer/drier and do a lot of hand-washing), and on their possible corrosive effects on fabrics. So, the question: Can less-caustic (and less abrasive) products be substituted for the Borax and Washing Soda.

    I’ve used Borax for other housecleaning (scrubbing the tub, for example) and I’ve learned to be very cautious about how I apply it — not sprinkling it, which puts dust in the air and had caused painful sinus trouble) but mixing it with vinegar and applying the mix with a scrub-brush. So my concerns here are from experience, not theoretical.

    • says

      You can usually just get away with a bar of any soap, but in terms of weight, I’ve seen the number 4 oz floating around before. So that’s a start :-)

      As for the borax and washing soda – if you’re hand washing and not using a washer, I can totally see your concerns here. Because I use a washer and the soap goes right into the water in the wash basin, I’m not really concerned with it. I’ve seen other recipes that omit the borax completely by replacing it with baking soda, but I haven’t come across a recipe that omits both the washing soda AND the borax. I know that washing soda can be hard on the hands because it’s caustic – maybe wearing gloves when washing can offer enough protection for you? I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help. :-/

  13. says

    I have used your liquid recipe for the past 6 months and love it but the process of making it is a little messy and time consuming. I am trying the powder version for the first time today.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Oh Jodi, I haven’t made the liquid recipe in probably a good year or year and a half – like you said, too time consuming, especially when you’ve got 3 kids under the age of 4! ;-) The powder recipe is my quick go-to.

  14. Deb Winger says

    Sarah, My daughter in law also named Sarah was a stay at home and made wonderful high quality soapy things for all of us including laundry soap.. alas her child has grown and she has gone back to work full time.. I will be making my own laundry soap w ur recipe later today Thank-you.. but oh how I miss her wonderful home made lavender bath and face soap.

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