Thursday, June 07, 2012

DIY Powdered Laundry Soap

Our laundry room. Washer and dryer via Craigslist!

Making my own laundry detergent is one of those things I always say I'm going to do, until I run out of my current bottle of detergent. Then it's right back to the store for a new one. Well, not this time. This time, I planned ahead. I researched different "recipes" online, found an easy one that only called for three ingredients and didn't require any complicated steps like boiling, and yesterday, I got to work.

Cast of characters.

You will do nicely.

Borax, washing soda, and a bar of soap. Nothing more, nothing less. I was able to find all of these things at the grocery store (not Whole Foods - while you can shop for groceries and keep your bill pretty low, their cleaning supplies are way overpriced). I chose Yardley because it was the least offensive when it came to ingredients - mostly all natural stuff, mostly things I could pronounce, 100% recyclable and, most important to me, not tested on animals. Also, it smells like lavender, which is just dreamy.

Detergent making tools.

To make this soap, all you need it is a measuring cup, a cheese grater, something to catch the grated soap (I used a cutting board), and a clean, dry container in which to store your detergent.

Begin by grating the soap. (This is when I really began to appreciate that lavender scent). This was by far the most difficult part of the process, and I say that only because everything else was so ridiculously easy.

Grated soap.

Once the soap is grated, throw it in your container. Then, add one cup each of borax and washing soda. Mix thoroughly. And then... you're done. No, really. That's it. You just made your own laundry soap. It's actually that easy.

One cup, two cup.

Laundry soap!

But, you may be asking, how does it work? I decided to try it out on some towels still sandy and wet from the beach, along with the quilt on our bed which, thanks to the dogs, always needs a washing. Directions say one to two tablespoons should suffice, and I went with one heaping tablespoon. When I wash loads of clothing (including our sweaty workout gear and Nathan's work clothes) I'll probably use closer to two tablespoons. We get pretty dirty and smelly, especially in these hot and humid summers.

Putting it to the test.

For a load of towels and a quilt, though, this seemed to work fine! My laundry came out smelling faintly of lavender, feeling soft, and looking clean. Also free of dog hair, which is always my main concern. I'm so glad this experiment worked. Not only because I can cross a goal off my list, but because making your own laundry soap is so much cheaper than buying it at the store. 

Next project: making my own dishwasher detergent. I'll let y'all know how it goes!


  1. We started making our own powdered laundry soap a few years ago and havent even considered store bought since... we love it! Our recipe is similar except we use Dr Bronners liquid castile in place of the bar soap. Works great in our HE washer.

  2. Oooh! I need to find out if these homemade detergents are safe for HE machines. I don't see why they wouldn't be but I should probably research it anyway. Can't wait for the dish detergent recipe. I have some copper sulfate at home but don't really want to use it because I like having it in my nerd collection. (I think the blue detergents like Dawn use copper sulfate.)

  3. Wait... seriously? It's that easy? I'm gonna make some!

  4. Wow, wow, wow. This is the first recipe like this I have seen that looks do-able!!

    I am so doing this.


  5. You are SUCH a hippie. But not a dirty one! ;-)

  6. Wow. I never even considered making my own, but now I am more than tempted!
    Especially since my daughter have food allergies, which has turned me into one of those people who read the backside of everything... Which has been a revelation. And not in a good way. The less ingredients, the better! Not only for food!

    I can only hope to find the ingredients here in ol' New Zealand!

    Great post!

  7. It's so easy!! I'm doing this once our giant tub of detergent runs out.

  8. Thanks for posting this! I'm totally going to do it too :)

  9. Very good post! So, just to clarify - you grate (and add) the entire bar of soap, to one cup each of the powders? Trying to think ahead to make large batches....

    1. Exactly! So if you double the recipe, you'd add two cups of each powder and two bars of soap. And so on with the multiplication. :)