Save money by making this super easy washing powder recipe at home. With only a few inexpensive ingredients, that you can pick up at your local supermarket, this DIY Laundry Detergent makes a big batch that cleans just as well as any commercially available laundry powder I’ve used in the past.
I’ve been curious about making my own household cleaning supplies, not only to save money at home, but also to reduce our environmental impact and exposure to unnecessary chemical additives.
I seem to be doing endless loads of washing, so we get through boxes of washing powder quite quickly. Personally I’m quite sensitive to fragrances, so the strong artificial perfumes added to commercial powders sometimes trigger my allergies.
Rather than reaching for the ‘sensitive’ laundry detergent during my most recent shop, I thought I’d try making a batch of homemade washing powder myself.
Making my own washing powder was actually simpler than I expected. I actually whipped up this batch while I was cooking up a big pot of liquid hand soap. I’ll share the recipe for Liquid Hand Soap soon.
Conveniently I had most of the supplies to make DIY Washing Powder in my laundry cupboard already. The only ingredient I needed to purchase was Borax, conveniently available in the cleaning aisle at my local supermarket.
The basic recipe I used as a reference was from an old Readers Digest book that contained lots of money saving tips and recipes. The book is currently out of print, but you can see the cover here, and it’s worth picking up if you find it in a secondhand bookshop.
The original recipe was for 500g, but I quadrupled it and made about 2kg. I also added some tea tree essential oil to give it a nice fresh fragrance.
Once I mixed up all my homemade laundry detergent powder, I placed it in an airtight glass jar to keep it moisture free.
Because I’m a little bit crafty, I couldn’t resist designing an elegant vinyl label for the container. If you have a Cricut cutting machine you can download and cut the ‘Laundry Powder’ label design here.
How well does Homemade Laundry Powder work?
I’ve been using my homemade washing powder for several weeks now and am fairly happy with the results. It seems to be no better, or worse, than my regular supermarket brand washing powder.
Depending on how hard your water is in your area, and whether you wash with hot or cold water, you may find the results vary.
I have a front loading machine, and mainly do cold water washes. Melbourne has very soft water so there is no issue with the soap forming scum.
To prevent soap buildup in the machine, which apparently can happen with homemade washing detergent, I’ve been running a hot wash about once a week (or when I have particularly grimy clothes to deal with).
How to make Homemade Laundry Powder
You probably have everything you need to make your own laundry powder at home already. I’ve just used some basic kitchen equipment to grate up the soap, measure and mix up the powder.
Here are the kitchen utensils you will need:
Grater – to grate soap bars. Just the regular one that you grate your cheese on will do fine. Some people also chop up their bars of soap and pulverize them in a food processor.
Measuring cup – a regular 250ml (One cup) measuring cup is all you need for this recipe.
Large Bowl – a bowl is required to mix all your ingredients in.
Wooden Spoon or Whisk – to combine all your ingredients.
Sieve – you may find a sieve is helpful to remove lumps in the bicarb powder. Just push any lumps though with a wooden spoon.
Airtight Container – a large glass jar or airtight plastic container is the perfect way to store your homemade washing powder and keep out any moisture.
Scoop – keep the plastic scoop from your old washing powder and use it with your homemade powder.
Face mask or hankie – an optional extra, but I found that covering my nose and mouth was helpful to prevent inhaling any fine airborne powder during mixing.
Kitchen utensils can be cleaned in the dishwasher and rinsed thoroughly before returning to food use.
Here are the supplies you will need to make Homemade Laundry Powder:
All the ingredients are readily available in your local supermarket. Look for them in the cleaning aisle.
Read on for the quantities and printable recipe sheet.
Pure Laundry Soap Bars – I’ve used Velvet pure laundry soap, but any basic laundry soap bar will work. Many people use Castile soap bars which is a traditional vegetable based soap.
Note: The soap bars I used have been in my laundry cupboard for YEARS! They were very dry and grated up into a fine powder. You may find that if you use fresh soap with a higher moisture content, your grated soap may end up more chunky (like grated cheese).
Washing Soda – the common name for sodium carbonate. Softens hard water by binding to the mineral and allows the soap to clean clothes properly. It’s high alkalinity helps it act as a solvent to remove a wide range of stains.
Borax – Borax is a natural mineral, sodium tetraborate that has great cleaning powers. It acts as cleaning agent, disinfectant, water softener, and helps neutralize odors. It can be harmful if inhaled, so be careful when mixing up powder. (If you have a septic water system or use grey water on your garden it’s best to omit the Borax from this washing powder, it should still work ok).
Bicarbonate of Soda – acts as a water softener, helps remove odors and controls excess suds in High Efficiency washing machines.
Tea tree oil – has natural anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Also smells nice. You can substitute any essential oil of your choice. Good choices are eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, or peppermint oil
How much Homemade Washing Powder do I use per load?
I have found that the small plastic scoop that comes with most commercial washing powders is sufficient for my front loading machine. Maybe even a little bit less. I estimate it’s about 1/3 cup.
You can adjust the quantity to suit your circumstances. You may need more or less depending on how soiled your laundry is, how hard your local water supply is, and if you own a top loader or front loader washing machine.
- 2 bars Pure Laundry Soap (about 200g)
- 2 cups Bicarbonate of Soda
- 1 cup Washing Soda
- 1 cup Borax
- 30 Drops Tea Tree Oil (or preferred Essential oil)
- Large Bowl
- Wooden Spoon
- 1 cup Measuring cup
- Airtight container
- Face mask or face cover
- Laundry powder scoop
- Grate the Pure Soap into a fine powder. The drier/older the soap, the finer the powder you will get. As an alternative cut your soap into chunks and process to a powder in a food processor.
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, taking care not to inhale any airborne dust. Sieve any lumps to make the mixture smooth.
- Add 30 drops of essential oil and transfer to airtight container.
- Use 1 scoop, about 1/3 cup per wash load.
Keep away from children and pets. Just like regular laundry detergent, this powder is harmful if ingested or inhaled.
Keep dry to prevent clumping.
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