Homemade Laundry Powder

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My sister and I have talked about making homemade laundry soap for years – it’s so much more economical, and environmentally friendly, plus it’s so easy to make.  I’d shied away from it because, frankly, the laundry soap my friends were making looked like snot, and I wasn’t up for it.

Then, a friend told me that she had started making Amanda Soule’s recipe for powdered laundry soap. It was like a revelation!  I didn’t have to make snotty noodle soup soap!  I could make laundry powder!

I did some fishing around on the internet, and tried some recipes, and here’s the one I like best (a blending of several):

Larksong’s Laundry Powder

1 Bar Fels Naptha Soap

1 Bar Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint or Lavender Soap (it’s 3x as expensive as Fels Naptha and I found two bars is too strong of a scent for me) OR you can use 1 bar Ivory soap.

4 cups Washing Soda (soda ash)

4 cups Natural Borax

(you can also add 1 cup of Baking Soda if you need it – I sprinkle it on diapers in the pail,  so I didn’t add it)

Directions:

1.  Unwrap Fels Naptha soap, place on a paper towel, and microwave for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes.   (Caution!!  Soap will be very hot!!)

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Here’s a bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap straight out of the paper.

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This is what it looks like after 2 min in the microwave – it puff up, and is very easy to quickly grate.

Repeat with Ivory soap.  Note: Dr. Bronner’s is a castile soap, and tends to melt in the microwave more than puff up, so I just grate it as-is.  It takes a little more elbow-grease, and the kids usually aren’t up for it – they much prefer to grate the “puffy soap”.

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Let soap cool thoroughly (about 10 min), and grate into a bowl.

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Measure and stir in borax, washing soda (and optional baking soda).    Stir thoroughly, and pour into a sealable bucket.   Makes 32-64 loads, depending on whether you have a conventional machine or an HE machine.

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Soap flakes have a tendency to settle to the bottom, so I invert the bucket a few times before measuring.

You may have to fiddle with the measurements a bit – depending on your machine, and how dirty your laundry is -

I use 2 Tbsp per load for our HE machine, and 3 Tbsp for diapers (since it’s low-sudsing, it’s perfect for HE machines), and I had read that folks with conventional machines use 3-4 Tbsp per load.

Next time I think I’ll use ivory instead of Dr. Bronner’s mint soap, and add a little orange or lemon essential oil – while the mint is nice, I think I prefer my laundry to smell like citrus.

I estimate my total cost per load is about $0.09!  Not too shabby!


About Angela

I am a 34 year-old mom unschooling her four rowdy kids in the Pacific NW. I love making big messes with my kids, knitting, permaculture, baking, and flat track roller derby.
This entry was posted in Homemaking, Moderation and Economy, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Homemade Laundry Powder

  1. Patty Hicks says:

    Angela…you absolutely crack me up!! I was laughing so hard at the snot comment I almost choked! I think your tutorial here is one of the best I’ve seen yet and I’ve been so hating the price of laundry soap in the stores. I am always asking, “Why on earth does it have to cost that much money?!?!?!” Mostly because I know it probably costs them less than a nickle per load to make and we are paying through the nose (now that is snot for ya. Where’s my hankie?). I am definitely going to give your recipe a try and thank you for the HE machine instrux.

  2. Meg Thomas says:

    Where are you finding fels naptha? I’ve been using Ivory b/c I can’t find fels naptha.

  3. Agi Widman says:

    Where do you get your supply of washing soda? I looked in some mainstream stores and none had it–I had to order it from ACE hardware of all places. Also, do you use this combo for colored clothes? I’ve heard washing soda tends to whiten (colored clothes as well). I’ve only tried it with whites, and I love it.
    I also use vinegar for fabric softener. Works great.

  4. crystal says:

    This post is so exciting to me! I love homemade cleaning products.

  5. Angela says:

    Agi – I got it at Fred Meyer, it was next to the Borax. I have been using it on my colored clothes, and so far haven’t found the clothes are fading.

  6. Angela says:

    Meg – you can get Fels Naptha at Fred Meyer – it’s by the Borax. I think Ivory works well, too.

  7. Pumpkinbear says:

    Woo-hoo! A homemade soap that I can use in my he machine! I’ve been wanting to make laundry soap for a looooong time, but I’ve shied away from goofing around with my he machine, because I figured that pre-he recipes wouldn’t work. I am SO going to try this one!

  8. I have been featuring a tutorial on how to make the snotty noodle soup version of this homemade laundry soap. Didn’t come to think of that you can make a powder version of essentially the same thing. Thanks you very much for sharing.

  9. Fels Naptha soap is usually in the laundry isle but not all stores carry it, once in awhile you’ll find it in the soap isle of your store, Market Basket in New Hampshire does not carry it. Not to worry if you can’t find it locally you can order it from
    http://www.soapsgonebuy.com

  10. Bobby Sporing says:

    I have been making homemade laundry soup for about 4 yrs maybe 5 now.. I do liquid version and I condense it some and I use it in my HE machine with no problems … one fals Naptha bar grated 1 1/2 cups washing soda and 1 1/2 cups borax and 22 cups hot water .. bol about a gallon of that water to melt the Fals Naptha then pour into a 5 gallon bucket add the other soaps and stir then add the other 21 cups of water and stir often. cover with a towel and let set over night ( I do stir a couple times during that time) next day I pour it into old used laundry soap bottles

  11. Lue says:

    now does the grated soap desolve when you wash you clothesi can the powders desolving shouldnt use hot water on darks please explain

  12. Lue says:

    what i meant to say was powders i can see desolving but want to know about grated

  13. Angela says:

    Lue,
    I haven’t had a problem with the soap shavings not dissolving. I don’t wash much on cold – even our darks are separated blues/greens and purples/reds and I wash on warm. We have a super-low water washer (Cabrio) and haven’t had any residue from the powder. The key is not to use too much. It doesn’t take much to clean a whole load.

  14. Angela says:

    Bobby,
    I have used the liquid method before, I’m just lazy and the powder is quicker and easier and I haven’t found the liquid to be more effective despite the greater amount of effort… :)

  15. Ellen says:

    I use a similar recipe in our HE machine and only wash on cold and have had no problems with the grated soap flakes dissolving….also use this on colored clothing with no fading thus far. Thanks for the microwave tip! Makes grating the fels naptha a breeze!

  16. Liz Gossom says:

    I have seen pictures of the Ivory “cloud” and googled to find out if I could do that with fels naptha. Yay! Great post – I add 2 cups oxyclean to mine, no baking soda, and my husband loves the fragrance. He actually reminded me I was out of fels naptha lol

  17. clickycas says:

    Here’s a tip to skip grating:
    after microwaving stick soap in freezer. wait maybe half an hour. soap will crumble in your hands.