I’ve seen lots of recipes for homemade laundry detergent, especially on Pinterest. And then a friend of mine told me she had made some herself and really liked it. Making your own is supposed to be much cheaper than buying it, and I’m always looking for ways to save money…so I told myself that as soon as I used up the laundry detergent I had on hand, I would try making my own.
I made powdered detergent because it seemed a little easier and less messy to make. I looked at quite a few “recipes” and many were very similar. Most of them had these ingredients—Borax, Super Washing Soda, and Fels-Naptha. I added some baking soda to mine because that’s such a good cleaner. I also decided to use a bar of Ivory Soap along with the Fels-Naptha–I’ve read that you could use either, so I thought I’d try one bar of each (I forgot to add the Ivory soap to the photo below).
You start out by grating the soap bars, which you can either do by hand or in your food processor. I grated mine by hand—I bought a separate grater just to use for soap, and the Ivory soap grated easily…the Fels-Naptha takes a little longer if you’re grating it by hand. One of my readers, Barbara, mentioned in a comment that she found it much easier to use her long Microplane grater that she normally uses for Parmesan cheese—so that’s another option, too. Here’s what the soaps look like when they’re grated—I used the smaller grating side of my hand grater.
Then you just mix the grated soap with the other powdered ingredients, and you have your very own homemade laundry detergent! You don’t even need to scent this with anything because it has a wonderful fresh-smelling scent of its’ own! This is a low-sudsing detergent, so don’t expect a lot of suds. But I thought it did a good job of cleaning. You can store your detergent in a container with a tight-fitting lid—I used this glass jar I bought at Wal-Mart and made a tag for it, which I attached with a ribbon at the neck of the jar. You can also use an unbreakable plastic container, which may be a safer option.
When you’re doing your laundry, here’s a helpful tip I found for using your laundry detergent correctly: Which goes first: the detergent or the clothes? If you have a regular top-loading machine, it’s best to fill your washer with water first, then add your detergent, then add your clothes. This helps evenly distribute the detergent in the water before it hits your clothes.
Here’s the “recipe” for my homemade detergent…
Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent
HOMEMADE POWDERED LAUNDRY DETERGENT by NancyC
Makes about 6 cups
- 1 (5.5-oz.) Fels-Naptha soap bar (or you can substitute similar sizes of Kirk’s Castile or Zote soap bars*)
- 1 (4.5-oz.) Ivory soap bar (or use another one of the bars mentioned above)
- 2 cups Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
Grate soap with a hand-held grater or break into pieces and process in a food processor until powdered (if you grate with a hand grater, your soap will be a little coarser, but that’s okay—I grated mine by hand using the smaller grating side of the grater.
Put grated soap in a large bowl or small bucket (you can line the bucket with a plastic bag if you like) and add the washing soda, Borax, and baking soda, mixing everything together well. Store in an airtight container.
This makes about 5 1/2 cups of powdered detergent (this detergent is low-sudsing, but it still works fine). Use 1 1/2 Tablespoons of this detergent for a regular load of laundry. For a light (small) load, or lightly-soiled clothes, use 1 Tablespoon; for a heavy (large) load or heavily–soiled clothes, use 2 Tablespoons. Depending on what size loads you have, this makes enough for about 50 to 87 loads.
NOTE: For best results, fill your washer with water first, then add your detergent, then add your clothes. This helps evenly distribute the detergent in the water before it hits your clothes.
*Note on soap bars: It’s best to stick with the brands listed; do not use heavily perfumed or moisturizing soaps—the oils in these kinds of soaps can create spots on your clothes.
To add a lemon scent to your laundry, I’ve read you can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice to each load of laundry, depending on if your load is small or large. The lemon juice is supposed to give your laundry a light lemony scent and it also adds extra whitening power! If you use lemon juice, you can leave out the baking soda in this detergent “recipe.”
Recipe from NancyC | nancy-c.com
Some of you have asked if this detergent can be used with HE washers, and I don’t know the answer to that—it’s best if you check directly with the manufacturer of your washer.
Have you tried making homemade laundry detergent yet? What did you think of it?