It’s been years since I originally created this recipe for DIY laundry detergent or thought about making homemade laundry detergent.
It’s important to point out that my recipe is for a powder concentration, not liquid.
This page may contain affiliate links, which means I may be compensated if you click a link. However, there is no cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more info, please see my Privacy and Disclosure page.
Anyway, much like my DIY dishwasher detergent, I came up with this powdered version of laundry detergent for two reasons.
One, this was back in our frugal days, so I wanted to save money.
And, two, I wanted to see if I really could make homemade powder laundry detergent. I love taking on challenges and this was a small challenge to try. I succeeded.
3 ingredients for DIY laundry detergent powder
Since dry or powder DIY laundry detergent seemed to be the easiest to make, that’s what I did all those years ago.
There are just three ingredients in this recipe.
You can find them easily at the supermarket.
Those three ingredients are:
Where to find ingredients in the store
If you decide to buy your supplies in person, keep this in mind: washing soda is not the same as baking soda. Whereas baking soda is in the baking aisle, washing soda will be in the laundry aisle.
On the other hand, Borax may be in the laundry aisle. Or, it could be in the cleaning aisle.
Finally, you should find Fels-Naptha Soap in the laundry aisle, too.
My take on Fels-Naptha stuff is that it is like an old-school stain-removal stick except it comes in the form of a bar of soap. In fact, you can use Fels-Naptha to remove stains. You can use it when you pretreat items before you do the laundry. Just wet a corner of the bar of soap and apply.
Note: I’ve since learned about two other kinds of soap: Zote and Castile bar soap. You can use either of these as a substitute for Fels-Naptha, if buying Zoe or Castile is easier for you. However, all three are available on Amazon so I’ve linked to them below.
There is a baby version of Castile soap that is unscented, if that’s important to you. However, I really like the scent of Fels-Naptha.
|Product Name / Price
Castile soap scents
You can find a large range of scents of Castile soap on Amazon. As I mentioned there is something called the “baby” scent, which is actually unscented. Some mimic the smell of essential oils.
Here are the other scents available:
- Tea Tree
- Citrus Orange
DIY powder laundry detergent recipe instructions
My plan was to store this DIY detergent in a reusable Rubbermaid 10-cup container with a lid.
So as I went through the steps for this recipe, I mixed all of the ingredients right in the container as I made my batch.
It was so easy. I hope you’ll find these instructions easy, too.
One, use two parts washing soda.
I did this quite literally and started with two cups of washing soda.
Two, use two parts Borax.
Again, I took the literal approach with two cups of Borax.
Three, one part grated or chopped Fels-Naptha soap
I’ve read that some people put the soap in a food processor to get it into tiny bits.
I just got out my cheese grater and put it to work. Again, the one part added up to one cup of the grated soap.
Note: if you’d like to use Zote soap, you can buy it as Zote soap flakes instead. That will save you time from grinding or grating a bar of soap.
Four, mix all ingredients.
Simply put, I put the top on the container and gave it a couple of shakes.
I could have stirred it with a spoon, too.
Five, do laundry.
How much to use in a load of laundry
I measured out one-quarter cup.
Most of the recipes I’d read recommended using anything from 3 tablespoons to 4 tablespoons of detergent in the washer.
I figured why not just measure out the 1/4 cup–which equals 4 tablespoons–and be done with it.
It took me five minutes only to put this all together.
Really, only five minutes.
Grating the soap is what took the longest.
DIY detergent works in all kinds of washing machines
Since creating this DIY powdered detergent years ago, I’ve used it in all kinds of washing machines.
One house had a front-loading washing machine that required HE or high efficiency laundry detergent.
My DIY laundry detergent recipe worked.
That’s probably because it doesn’t make a lot of bubbles like traditional laundry detergent.
Then we moved and the house had an old-fashioned top loader machine, with an agitator in the middle.
Same outcome–laundry detergent worked.
Finally, that washing machine died and we got another top loader–this time without the agitator in the middle.
And once again, success.
I can confidently say that, for me, this powdered laundry detergent works well in all kinds of washing machines.
Now one of the things that I do differently with this homemade laundry soap is I do not use the detergent dispenser. I find that the powder works the best when you add it directly to the washing machine drum, regardless of washing machine style. That’s because it can form clumps in the dispenser, especially if your water pressure isn’t great. On the other hand, directly in the drum, it gets plenty of water to dissolve.
Works great on body odor
I do Peloton every day. So, I sweat a lot.
Also, I’m always washing my workout clothing. I need a laundry detergent that can get BO out of my clothes.
This easy DIY recipe works on that, too.
However, if need a scent booster, you can try adding one of the commercial laundry scent boosters, like Purex Crystals. Or if you forgot your laundry in the washing machine and now it smells musty, you can add white vinegar and then run the cycle again.
Note: I’ve never used fabric softener. Not a big fan. Even with this homemade laundry powder, my clothes feel the same as when I was using a commercial liquid laundry detergent. In other words, I still don’t need to use any fabric softener.
However, if you want to get a similar effect of softener without using it, I can recommend using reusable wool dryer balls in the dryer. They act like a natural fabric softener. They’re the coolest laundry hack I’ve discovered of late. Previously, I would put tennis balls in the dryer. However, on high heats, everything started to smell like rubber.
Final thoughts on my DIY laundry detergent
Here’s the upside to my DIY laundry detergent powder.
One, I can say that I made my own laundry detergent.
And, two, I’m saving money.
The one downside to my DIY dry detergent?
I’m still scarred by those “ring around the collar” Wisk commercials from the 1970s.
Therefore, I’m pretty anal about trying to get those rings out of my husband’s work shirts.
In the past I would pour the liquid detergent on the “ring” and then sprinkle some Borax on it.
Usually just water and Borax didn’t do the trick, which is why I added the liquid detergent to the mix.
However, I did find a laundry hack that works–clarifying shampoo.
It does a great job getting out that ring around the collar.
Usually, I can find clarifying shampoo for about a buck at the dollar store.
So, all of my DIY laundry hacks are still saving me money.