Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tutorial: Homemade Laundry Powder

When I had my twins in 2007, the budget was tight here in the Brown household.  I clipped a lot of coupons, made our own baby food, and made my own laundry detergent.  Once I got my head above water time-wise, I learned to quilt.  The couponing fell by the wayside and everyone outgrew baby food, but the laundry powder is something I still use.  This is an easy recipe...there are tons of variations out there.  I prefer the powder to the soap because I have no desire to stand over a stove and stir soap soup.

I still like to use "commercial" detergent, especially for the really dirty clothes.  I think it's a mental thing.  I love using this for quilts & linens, though.  It would be great for the fabric pre-washers, as well.

  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1 cup Borax Powder
  • 1 bar soap (I'm using Fels Naptha.  You could also just use whatever bar soap is on sale...Ivory, Dial...whatever)
  • Microplaner or grater
  • large bowl for grating into
  • Airtight container for storing finished product
If you'd like to make a BIG batch at once, use 1 box of the washing soda, 1 box of the Borax, and 10 bars of soap, and biceps of steel.

 First grate your bar of soap into your bowl.

 The Fels Naptha is a very hard soap so it is harder to grate than Zote's, but Zotes is weaker and very fatty.  I don't like how it mixes up or how it smells.   Be careful not to microplane your thumb.

 If you do, seek immediate medical attention before continuing.
 Add in your 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda.  Mix well. 

Store in airtight containers.  I think I've carried this Strawberry Shortcake jar around since college...nice to finally put it to use! As you can see I've put some of it in a small candle jar I saved...that's just to save space on my dryer, but you can also travel with your detergent if need be.

Use 1 TBSP of your homemade detergent per load.  You can use up to 2 TBSP for heavy loads.  This is PERFECT for HE machines because it doesn't make suds. 

Why Homemade?  For one thing, it's something you can use on charity quilts and baby quilts without worrying about allergies.  It's gentle for sensitive skin.  It's also supposed to be gentle on your fibers.   Many people report their clothes lasting longer using homemade soap...wouldn't that be great for your quilts!   It's super cheap.  I found all these items in the laundry aisle at my local Kroger.  Here is the money savings rundown based on average prices and the bulk recipe:

$12.50 - 10 bars of Fels Naptha
$4- Washing Soda
$5- Borax
= $21.50 for 10 batches. 
Each batch has about 64 loads worth (if using 1 TBSP per)

640 loads at $21.50= less than 4 cents a load. 

One note: your detergent will "settle" and it needs to be shaken before scooping so you have a good mix of all three ingredients.  You can add essential oils but I choose not to.  I think those are better suited for those making liquid detergent.  If you want a cheap fabric softener, throw some vinegar in your Downy Ball when you load your washer.  Easy Peasy!

What do you like to use to wash your quilts and fabrics?


  1. Two years ago I read through all the recipes out there for making laundry soap - this is the exact one I landed on for ease of making, use, and effectiveness. I ended up buying a small food processor (watch the thrift stores or grocery market sales) dedicated only to grating the Fels Naptha. I still have to cut the Fels into smaller chunks but the processor helps with the hand injuries!

    Just discovered your blog and am enjoying so much!

  2. Dude - I am SO making this stuff! I spend so much stinkin' money on detergent it makes my hiney pucker. Can I add fragrance in the form of essential oils? And what should I be looking for in terms of soaps - do they need to be lye based? I heart you, MLB.

  3. Do you have top loading machines? here in britain we have front loaders, and I think that means we have to use a different sort of detergent.
    also we do not have fels naptha soap.

    I admire your thrift in doing this - hope the thumb recovers soon!

  4. This is the exact same recipe I use for my homemade laundry powder! I have been using it for several months now and I don't think I could ever go back to expensive store bought detergents. My husband and I both have psoriasis so we are sensitive to heavy perfumes (and sometimes not so heavy perfumes) so this is just perfect. And the vinegar takes away any residue that might be left on clothes and helps prevent static cling and eliminates odors. Could it get any better than this?!

  5. my shopping list! Looking forward to trying this today!

  6. aren't you smart? I love this... what is laundry soda? and the naptha soap,, is it in the washing powder aisle, too? never seen it...

  7. My sis makes her own too. I need to. Big savings!

  8. Ok, so I made the soap & I really like it, but I'm wondering, how do you get the bar to grate into powder? At least in your pics it looks like powder? Mine looks like tiny little cheese curls. It seems to work fantastically so I guess it's fine, I was just wondering.

  9. My daughter was here last week and we made laundry detergent, but it was a liquid (you have to heat it up on the stove and then use your infuser mixer every hour for 12 hours)-using basically the same ingredients. Makes 2 gallons! We added lemon essential oil and it is great stuff! Love how lots of people are choosing to make stuff like this which is WAY better than what we buy!


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