How to make your own safe, nontoxic laundry powder that is roughly half the cost of buying good quality, green commercial brands.
If you do a lot of laundry in your home, it might make sense to investigate making your own laundry powder and homemade fabric softener.
The cost to make one batch, which washes 40 loads, is about $3. This translates to 8 cents per load.
By contrast, a good quality, (truly) nontoxic laundry powder (such as this brand) costs 16-21 cents per load depending on the retailer and the size you buy.
Thus, buying your own green laundry powder can save roughly half the cost of buying it!
Beware that many brands of so-called “safe” laundry powder are questionable at best when you actually look at the ingredients ?
Read labels carefully and take care not to be fooled by buzzwords!
When it comes to making your own green, unscented, hypoallergenic laundry powder, only a few simple ingredients are required.
Some may question my suggestion to briefly microwave the soap bar listed in the ingredients to soften it up before grinding into soap flakes in a food processor.
While it is best to never use a microwave for cooking food or heating water, it does occasionally come in handy for projects such as making your own laundry soap.
If you prefer to hand-grind the unscented Castile soap bar, that definitely works as an alternative.
However, it takes a lot of elbow grease and the results are not as good in my opinion.
Truth be told, if I had to hand grind the soap bar to make every batch of DIY laundry powder, I probably wouldn’t do it as it is quite tedious!
Homemade Laundry Powder
- 1 bar unscented castile soap bar
- 2 cups Borax very cheap buying locally
- 2 cups Washing soda
Microwave the bar of Castile soap for 30 seconds. Turn the bar over and microwave for an additional 30 seconds. Repeat for an additional 30 seconds on each side.
Remove the softened bar from the microwave and coarsely cut it up into pieces while it is still hot.
Cool the cut soap pieces for 5-10 minutes.
Finely grate the still-warm, coarsely chopped soap pieces into soap flakes in a food processor.
Mix the borax, washing soda, and soap flakes in a half-gallon container. Close the lid tightly and turn several times to ensure it is blended thoroughly.
Use 2 tablespoons of this DIY laundry powder per medium load.
Whoa! Like seriously? Just 10 mins to prepare your own detergent? This sounds great but how does it look on the hand? Will leave my feedback after I have tried. I’m gonna this with my wife!
Yes, it is quite easy! I am surprised more people don’t do this.
I’ve been using Charlie’s Soap laundry powder… I thought it was good but just looked up the ingredients and have no idea what they are…can anyone shed any light on these for me?
Thanks so much, Geri
Sodium Carbonate (497-19-8) [water softener]; C12-16 Pareth-9 (68551-12-2) [surfactant]; C10-14 Alcohol Ethoxylates (66455-15-0) [surfactant]; Sodium Metasilicate (6834-92-0) [drying agent]; Water (7732-18-5)
To me, they don’t sound so great as I usually don’t like using anything I can’t pronounce.
Sarah – how do you alter the recipe steps if you don’t own a microwave and have no plans to get one?
One of the comments below says that just chopping the soap bar into coarse pieces and then using the food processor to make the soap flakes works without use of a microwave. The microwave just softens the bar so the chopping is easier.
John, I’ve used Better Life in the past, but they have changed and added a not so great preservative. It doesn’t show up on all the bottle labels (dish detergent, dishwasher detergent, laundry, etc.), but if you look online you will see it listed. Methylisothiazolinone. Interestingly, I just now looked on their site (www.cleanhappens.com) and they no longer list laundry detergent, but it still shows up in the dish detergent and the laundry stain remover. Seventh Generation is the same. I switched to Better Life from Seventh Generation for that reason, but them BL changed their formula, too. So hard to stay on top of all these formulas!
I’ve used the recipe that Sarah uses. I just chopped up the bar soap into cubes and then used my food processor, so if someone doesn’t have a microwave, that works just fine. There are ways of making a liquid soap along the same lines, but adding water, too. I get what someone says about enzymes, etc. It’s a tough decision sometimes for many.
Thank you, Sarah,
Is this detergent tough on really dirty clothes, stains, etc? Would it work on whites?
You will have to be the judge. I use it for everything. If there are bad stains, I soak them before washing.
Thanks for an unscented recipe! I have been making my own with a similar recipe that calls for Fels Naptha soap but recently learned that some members of my family don’t like that smell.
Does this work well for HE washers?
I used to make my own laundry soap over 20 years ago but realized anything without enzymes just doesn’t get our clothes clean, and soap isn’t recommended for cloth diapers. You’ll have stink in no time, and rashes galore from ammonia build up. After raising 6 children on a farm with hard water, we quickly realized Persil Sensitive works the best. I never looked back, even after using every other green option out there.
Can you use a cold water wash with this? Also, can you heat the soap any other way? Our microwave died and I don’t want to buy another one.
I don’t think heating the soap in the oven will work but you can try it. Microwaves heat from the inside out (ovens from the outside in), which is why this works without melting the bar first.
Nellie’s Laundry Soda is my new favorite way to clean clothes. It only has 4 ingredients, and gets my clothes nice and clean. Each load only requires 1 tablespoon of the laundry soda. It’s amazing how concentrated it is! You should look into it. When I buy used clothes at the thrift store, I always have to wash the items about 5 times to get the horrid, traditional laundry detergent smell out. How do people live with those chemicals 24/7?
Hello Bob. Google Nellies Laundry Soda Ewg.org. It gets an exceptional rating of A+, but then goes on to report cancer and respiratory effects being of concern. Moreover, the other health effects listed seem equally worrisome to me, i.e., digestive concerns, potential vision loss, etc. How does one explain this A+ rating and then have a report “of concern.” It’s like the “safe label” that we see everywhere on cleaning and laundry products. It’s not trustworthy because many of these products do contain synthetically scented ingredients. I use Better Life and also Seventh Generation free and clear. The latter is not perfect, but I have no reactions with severe multiple chemical sensitivity.