How to Make Laundry Powder

>> Thursday, August 26, 2010

Well, Erin is in the throngs of relocation so you get to hear from ME again today. Aren't you just so so so lucky?

I was not really a huge proponent of really making my own laundry soap, UNTIL Henry (my four-year-old) developed this wicked weird rash and it didn't appear to be caused by his bath soap. So, rather than spend a fortune on pricey "free" laundry soap (you know, free of dyes, scents, etc.) I just decided to give the whole "homemade" idea a whirl.

And surprise surprise, it's EASY and okay, little bit FUN.

I had to search high and low for the type of laundry detergent I wanted. See, I saw no reason to create a liquid because, well, um, it was really just adding WATER to something. I thought that was a step I could skip. Most of the "make your own" ideas out there are liquid. Not my thing.

PLUS, I have this, like, phobia of stinky smells. I don't mean like body odor smells (that too though) I mean like, how some earthy, "organic" types of soaps have a weird "after-smell" to them. I am NOT describing it properly...). I needed something guaranteed not to smell weird to my overly-sensitive nose.

PLUS, I didn't trust myself to add my own "essential oils" for "scent." I am just no bueno at deciding when enough is enough. Ya know?

So, with all that in mind, I needed a POWDER that was either 100% scent-free (and smell-free) or that smelled GOOD and didn't require too much attention and thinking from myself.

I am a tough sell.

So, I found this recipe (and then promptly FORGOT where I found it and have spent a month searching it out on my hard drive again. I should have just re-googled it! Good grief.)

I'm reposting it exactly from However, I'll share my own variation and feelings on the matter.

Homemade Laundry Powder
(Makes approximately 5 cups)
2 cups (finely) grated castile soap
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1 cup soda ash (washing soda)

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I used her suggestion and ordered Dr. Bronner's organic soap. I ordered peppermint and his citrus orange. Both are fabulous. But citrus orange is our favorite. LOVE!
From The Diet Coke Diet
From The Diet Coke Diet
However, any castile soap will work. You can even make your own if you're feeling incredibly ambitious!

But, I was feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of making my own laundry soap, so I just bought some. I bought five bars (I think), and the shipping was free.

Step 1: Grate the bar of soap as finely as you can. (Don't let the kids eat it, they'll think it's cheese!)
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Step 2: Measure the Borax, Washing Soda and Baking Soda all together.

Step 3: Add the grated soap, and stir. 
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Please note the huge mess I was making. 
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How it looks all stirred up:

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Step Four: Store in an airtight container
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I believe in recycling, so this is an orange juice container.

The grated soap does tend to settle so give it a shake before you add it.

Between 1/8-1/4 of a cup per load, depending on water-hardness and clothing's soil level. 

The original recipe said that it took 1 and a half bars of soap to get two cups of grated soap, but I found for my needs, that one bar alone is plenty. It makes about five cups and this lasts me about twenty minutes. Just kidding! This much lasts us about 2-3 weeks depending on how dirty my kids are being. 

Truth be told, it has NOT solved Henry's rash, which is a bummer, but I really REALLY like the smell, and for the price, it's a lot cheaper than buying a high-quality laundry soap, so we're sticking with the homemade kind. 

It's a lot easier than you might think. You know me, if it ain't easy, I probably won't do it. ;)


Emily August 26, 2010 at 9:11 AM  

I've been thinking about doing this for a while, and I also liked the Dr. Bronner's idea when I saw that, so thank you for the kick in the rear to actually do it. We're starting to get low on laundry soap, so I'll make myself do it soon. Was it really that easy to find the laundry ash/washing soda stuff? I swear I've never seen it. And you use this soap for cloth diapers too? Do you use less or the same? Thanks :)

TJDKG August 26, 2010 at 9:34 AM  

Ok so I know plenty of others who make their own too. I think they may use a different recipe for it.. BUT my question is.. how does it compare to Tide or Tide with Bleach.. I love that stuff..and Tod refuses to use anything BUT Tide.. (though I have found Era to be a GREAT stain remover.. like amazing.. non washable marker that wasn't treated.. blood that wasn't treated, chocolate.. etc)

Morgan -Ing August 26, 2010 at 6:08 PM  

I use 1/8 a cup + vinegar for diapers. It works great. No smells. I get the washing soda and borax at Harmon's, but really, I would THINK a normal grocery store would carry it... I could be wrong.

I don't know how it compares to Tide, my dear, but I'd say, our clothes have been clean, and today Derek asked me, "Have you been using homemade soap on our clothes?" He couldn't tell the difference. I'd say that is a good sign. :)

Dixie Mom August 28, 2010 at 9:03 AM  

Did you find that it is going to save money too?
Just curious.
I hope the rash goes away. :)
Stopping by from MMB.

Sharon Cohen August 28, 2010 at 12:52 PM  

They say, "You learn something new every day." I'm old enough to remember life before all the expensive detergents but I did not know of "washing soda". "Washing soda"? You're sending me away from reading Posts of the Week to Google this now. Even if I don't make my own soap- I have a feeling that "washing soda" might be a new trick to have up my sleeve.

I'm visiting from Mormon Mommy Blogs' Post of the Week. If you find time to check out my post and leave a comment, I would be delighted. Mine is #23, When You Choose What You Got.

Ken and Jen August 29, 2010 at 1:18 PM  

I have been doing this for almost 2 years now. Before, I only used Tide. I use the exact same recipe, except I use Fels Naptha soap (but I am going to find some Dr Bronner, it sounds yummy!). The thing that sold me was washing my firefighter husband's stinky, nasty uniforms and they comeout looking and smelling perfect!

Angela August 30, 2010 at 9:20 PM  

Want to hear something weird?...several of my children and I are allergic to borax! I thought that was so strange since it seems to be all "natural" and all, but it definitely broke us out. We'll have to stick with All Free and Clear. I have heard of great results for others using similar recipes, though. Hope it works great for you!

Morgan -Ing August 31, 2010 at 9:17 AM  

It costs me about $20 for six weeks worth of laundry doing. Not sure how that compares to the cheaper store brands, but it's a wee bit less than Tide, I'd say.

@ Angela- That IS weird. But I suppose it could happen. ;) People are allergic to natural stuff all the time. Bummer though.

Hilary August 31, 2010 at 3:29 PM  

Ok, this actually made this sound humanly possible... and that perks my interest.
You're impressive. :)

Chelsea September 3, 2010 at 1:01 PM  

I am a BIG fan of this post. Hmmmm.

JessieMomma October 11, 2010 at 11:35 PM  

Ok, so I'm a late reader.... I LOVE the idea of homemade soap. I have always used Amway SA8 because commercial detergents give us rashes, but I am almost out of my 50lb box (2 years x family of 5 / $130 = TOTALLY WORTH IT! We use an old baby formula scoop as a measure) I'm thinking I really like the idea of peppermint soap though, I may have to try it.

As for the rash, I hope it's gone away.... if not, is it possibly some sort of thrush/yeast rash?

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