Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent


Do you cringe every time have to shell our your hard earned dollars for overpriced laundry detergent?  I do!  The newest kid on the detergent block is Tide Pods, which costs about .25 cents per load if you buy at WalMart.  I can attest that these pods work great, but I gag every time I have to pay for them.

Last Christmas, my friend gave me a mason jar full of her homemade liquid laundry detergent.  I loved it, but was hesitant to make my own after hearing her horror stories about grating the soap and waiting for it to dissolve on the stove top.  I’ve also read  many blogs with  recipes for liquid detergent and even watched videos on how to properly cook the ingredients.  I have to be honest, that is too much work for me.  It seemed to me that making a powdered detergent would take a lot less fuss.

A Google  search for “homemade laundry detergent” shows over a million hits! This is a hot topic and there are almost as many recipes as there are hits!  Today, you will have an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and get an easy recipe for powdered detergent.  I don’t claim to be the only person who invented this recipe – it’s pretty basic.

Most recipes on the internet use the same ingredients – soap and laundry boosters.   Here is my simple recipe:

  • 1 bar Fels Naptha (or any other bar soap of your choosing,some people use Dove)
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)
  • 1 cup Oxygen Booster – I chose the cheapest at WalMart
  • 1 cup Borax

Now comes your opportunity to learn from my errors.  This is my second batch of this detergent, and because I didn’t write down the directions I was doomed to repeat my mistakes.

1.  Assemble all your ingredients, a one-cup measuring cup, microwave safe plate, knife and a container for your detergent.  I used my old Tide Pods container.

2.  Cut the Fels Naptha into 6 pieces and place on a microwave safe plate.

3.  Microwave the soap on high for 3 minutes.  It will expand, so don’t be alarmed!

4.  Remove the plate from the microwave.  It will be hot and so will the soap!  Use a potholder!

Be careful! It’s HOT!

5. Use a utensil to place the soap in your food processor with the chopper blade.  Don’t use your fingers unless you want to get burned – take it from me!

6.  Process the soap until it is a powder.  This may take longer than you think.  The soap is lighter than the other ingredients, which is why you need to process it separately.  I placed all the powders in the processor, then added the microwaved soap thinking I could easily mix it all together.  Both times I have made this detergent I could not get the soap pieces to go to the bottom of food processor – they rode on the top.  I ended up spooning out the soap pieces, pouring out the powders, then processing the Fels Naptha by itself.  Once the soap was powdered I stirred it into the other powders and poured into my container.

Process the soap into a powder FIRST, before adding the other ingredients!

One challenge is that you are making powder, and the soap is hot unless you’ve allowed it to cool.  The whirling hot powder in the food processor is so fine that it “smokes” out of the processing bowl, even when the lid is sealed, so opening and closing the lid repeatedly releases some of your detergent into the air.  While I love the clean smell of the detergent, it can get a bit overwhelming and anyone with asthma or a sensitive nose may protest!  I suggest that you wait 1-2 minutes after processing the soap to allow the aerosolized bits to settle.   Then add your other powders and process a few seconds (let settle again) or mix with a spoon in your container or a bowl.  If there are lots of  large, pea sized lumps of soap on the top of your detergent that won’t mix in, you didn’t process your soap long enough.

The finished product. It took about 7 minutes to make, even with my mistakes!

I use this detergent in my top loading, HE washer and it works well.  It dissolves in hot or cold water and leaves a clean, fresh scent that is not overpowering.  My clothes are as clean as they were when I used Tide, and it costs about .04 cents per use.  Some people suggest using 1-2 tablespoons, but I use closer to 3 because of the large capacity of my washer.

I wrote the recipe on the top of the container so I don’t have to look it up each time

Have you made you own detergent?  Please share your experiences in the comments section!

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