DIY: Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent


DIY: Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent | GrowingUpHerbal.com | Make your own powdered laundry detergent and decrease the toxins in your home!

Did you know that many store bought laundry detergents have some serious chemicals in them that are no good for your or your little tot’s skin and/or the environment? It’s true.

The Ickies

Here are just some of the chemicals in many name brand detergents. Alkyl benzene sulfonates or ABS

  • Alkyl phenoxy polyethoxy ethanols
  • Artificial fragrances
  • Diethanolamines
  • EDTA (ethylene-diamino-tetra-acetate)
  • Optical brighteners
  • Petroleum distillates
  • Phosphates
  • Polycarboxylates
  • Polyethylene glycol (also PEG)
  • Quaternium 15
  • Xylene sulfonate

This list is from Mother Earth Living so if you’re interested in finding out more about these particular chemicals, just click the link and it will take you straight to the page that explains what each one is.

All I know is I can’t even pronounce 1/4 of those words and from their descriptions, they don’t sound too good for your body. They may help clean your clothes and make them look whiter and brighter, but there are plenty of other natural ways to do the same thing – minus the harm!

Today I thought I’d share with you how I make my laundry detergent for my family. I posted this all natural liquid laundry detergent recipe on naturemoms.com a while back, but today I’m gonna show you how I make powdered homemade laundry detergent step-by-step with photos so you can actually see what everything looks like!

8 Steps to Homemade Laundry Detergent

Here’s what you’ll need:

1. Grate And Powder

DIY: Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent | GrowingUpHerbal.com | Make your own powdered laundry detergent and decrease the toxins in your home!

DIY: Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent | GrowingUpHerbal.com | Make your own powdered laundry detergent and decrease the toxins in your home!

DIY: Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent | GrowingUpHerbal.com | Make your own powdered laundry detergent and decrease the toxins in your home!

Grate 3 bars of soap or chop it into small pieces and add it to your food processor. Add in 3 cups of washing soda, 2 cups of Oxyclean Free, and 1 cup of borax (optional). Process until you have a fine powder. (You may have to process this in smaller batches depending upon the size of your food processor.)

2. Scent, Store, And Use

DIY: Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent | GrowingUpHerbal.com | Make your own powdered laundry detergent and decrease the toxins in your home!

Once you have a powder, you can choose to add any essential oils you prefer to scent it. Of course, you can always leave it if you prefer, especially if your soap was scented in the first place.

Next, put your powdered detergent in a storage container. I love using gallon sized glass jars personally!

When you’re ready to use, simply add 1 TBSP to small loads and 2 TBSP to large loads. Be sure to start off using the hot water setting on your washer. This will help your powder to dissolve quickly. As soon as it’s dissolved, you can adjust the water temperature setting to whatever you need it to be.

Be sure to use with a natural fabric softener as well.

Some final thoughts!

  • There are many natural laundry detergent recipes out there. You have to find one that’s right for you.
  • Some people have mixed feelings about using borax in their homemade products. I’ve personally not found enough evidence to convince me I shouldn’t use it based on how often I use it. With that being said… do your own research, and if you wanna leave it out, leave it out. Just replace it with more washing soda. It won’t effect the outcome.
  • Don’t just assume that because a store bought detergent says it’s for babies that it’s good for you. Dreft and All Baby have icky things in them.
  • Also don’t just assume that because a store bought detergent says it’s natural and eco-friendly that it is. Seventh Generation also has some no-nos in it as well. Not as many, but some.
Have you ever made a homemade laundry detergent? Do you prefer liquid or powdered? What were your thoughts on how well it cleaned your clothes?
  1. becca says:

    I made a powder version of this… I want to say 2 years ago– and it’s ALMOST out. (talk about saving $$)

    I’m wanting to make a liquid one so I’ll have to try out your method. Powdered seemed easier & quicker to make- but I usually dissolve it in hot water first before adding to wash- especially if I’m washing on cold. So I’m looking forward to the convenience of liquid again 🙂

  2. Jean Butts says:

    But what is in fells naptha and borax?

    • Meagan says:

      I personally don’t have any problems with borax… I suppose I’ve never found any good, solid information to convince me to not use it. I’m totally open to recommended reading though if you know of anything.

      But, fels-naptha… HOLY COW! I’m not sure how I’m now just seeing this, but I so DO NOT recommend using this for anything. I just looked up the ingredients and was shocked! Maybe the bars don’t say that… do you have to look it up online. I’m fairly certain the bars made it sound like fragrance was the only iffy thing in it, but boy was I wrong. I’ve been using Dr. Bronners for a while and I’m very happy with it. This just goes to show how old this post is. It needs a redo… minus fels-naptha soap!

      Thanks for your comment Jean or maybe I’d never thought otherwise and looked into it!

      • stefanie says:

        I once bought some Naptha to make homemade detergent and I went to take the wrapper off and it just about killed me. I had a horrible reaction. Stole my breath and my husband had to put it in a bag and throw it out for me. I would NEVER recommend it to anyone, especially if they have sensitivities and need something natural.

        • Meagan says:

          Very true… the smell is very strong. I usually use soaps that aren’t scented because even if they are, you can’t smell them after the wash all that much. I’d rather use essential oils when I dry my clothes to help them smell better than use them for making the wash smell good. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Jamie says:

    Fels naptha changed their formula several years ago. They’re now owned by Purex

    • Meagan says:

      I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing Jamie as I haven’t looked at Fels naptha soap ingredients in a while. Last I looked, they were no good.

  4. Erin says:

    Soap (sodium tallowate*, sodium cocoate* (or) sodium palmate kernelate*, and sodium palmate*), water, talc, cocnut acid*, palm acid*, tallow acid*, PEG-6 methyl ether, glycerin, sorbitol, sodium chloride, pentasodium pentetate and/or tetrasodium etidronate, titatium dioxide, fragrance, Acid Orange (CI 20170), Acid yellow 73 (ci43350)

    The current ingredients, copied directly from the Purex site.

  5. Jen says:

    Have you ever used Kirk’s Castile soap? Looks to be a cheaper alternative?

  6. Clara says:

    Is this formula safe to use on cloth diapers?

  7. Ann says:

    Ivory soap and Castile soap both work well. I don’t bother to dissolve the soap in hot water, but do grind it in a food processor or blender so the soap flakes are as small as possible.

    • Meagan says:

      I’ve heard a lot of people say they use Ivory soap in their homemade laundry detergent. I’m not sure about the ingredients in it, but I’d say it would be cheaper than a lot of other soaps. I’ll definitely look into it. Thanks for sharing Ann!

  8. Kimberly says:

    This is the first time I’ve seen Oxyclean Free in a recipe. What does it add? Any idea what the ingredients are?

    • Meagan says:

      Oxyclean is supposed to help lift stains out and whiten clothes and the main ingredient is powdered hydrogen peroxide. From my understanding, the oxyclean free is the better option compared to regular oxyclean. It’s like a more natural version of bleach. I’ve not read anything negative on it, but that could be out there somewhere, and I haven’t found it. It’s not a requirement for good homemade laundry detergent… just an extra. Hope that helps!

      • ioannka says:

        Hi Meagan,
        Oxyclean, Nappysan and all those which contain the active ingredient Sodium Percarbonate, are usually full of awful fillers and stinky fragrance.
        I use Eco Store nappy soaker here in AUS , clean ingredients. But if you just want the active ingredient ( sodium percarbonate) it’s usually sold in brewing/beer making stores or online. It’s used to clean bottles and tubes etc…
        It is great stuff and used to clean off any organic material around your home.

        • Meagan says:

          Interesting Ioannka. I use oxyclean free and clear and it’s not supposed to have any dyes, fragrance, or chlorine in it. It says it contains sodium percarbonate and sodium carbonate though. Is the sodium percarbonate the powdered hydrogen peroxide? I’m thinking that’s what is in the oxyclean that helps it whiten and lift stains.

  9. Brittney says:

    Hi Megan,
    Just found your website and am loving it. Just ordered the things we need to do all the Calendula challenges. I was wondering if you have ever used/heard of Tropical Traditions laundry soap. I am not ready to make my own yet, but wondered if the ingredients seem good. The link is http://www.householdtraditions.com/laundry_detergent.htm

    • Meagan says:

      I’ve never used it, but it looks good to me. All it is is washing soda, hydrogen peroxide, and detergents or soaps. Tropical Traditions has a great reputation so it should be fine.

  10. Zoya says:

    Is this ok to use in high efficiency machines? Will it cause build up? Thanks!

    • Meagan says:

      Honestly Zoya, I’m not sure as I’ve personally never used it in one, but I do know a lot of people who use this in HE machines. I’m not sure if there’s build up or not though. So sorry!

  11. Talmerian says:

    Her is a link to a site that points out what is bad about oxyclean.


    • Meagan says:

      Thanks for sharing that Talmerian; however those are the ingredients in the regular Oxyclean… not the Oxyclean Free and Clear, which, from my understanding, is supposed to be better that the regular one as far as toxins go. Unfortunately I can’t find the ingredients for the Free and Clear on the Oxyclean website so I’m wondering if they’ve quit making it. I’ll have to look into it more, and if they quit making it, I’ll have to come up with something else. I wonder if there’s a form of powdered hydrogen peroxide one could buy and just put that in with the washing soda to help lift stains??

      • Jessica says:

        There is a “oxi” made by All that is also free of dyes. I don’t know the ingredients but if you can’t find the Oxy Free you could try the All version. Usually my big lots has the All and I recently scored a large tub of the Oxy free there too.

        • Meagan says:

          Interesting Jessica. I’ll have to check that one out if I can’t find the “healthier” version of Oxy Clean. Recently, I’ve been leaving it out of the detergent entirely, and it works just as well. I do think it helps to brighten the white clothes, though. Thanks for the tip!

  12. Grace says:

    What is in Seventh Generation that is bad?

    • Meagan says:

      I’ve not checked their ingredient list in a while, but I think they use sodium laryl sulfate in their soaps/detergents. Their products are definitely better than most store-bought products, but homemade will be less toxic.

  13. Kim says:

    I make a similar recipe using Charlie’s Soap Oxygen Bleach which claims to be clean and green :).

  14. Anna says:

    Instead of using oxyclean, I bought uncoated sodium percarbonate in bulk online from Pro Supply outlet for fairly cheap (should last me a couple years at least!) and it seems to work really well as a booster for now until I make my detergent.

    My son is allergic to coconut and sunflower so finding a bar soap that will not break him out has been a challenge. I finally found an olive oil Castile soap that is allergen free for him, but was wondering if olive oil would Work as well as a coconut based? Don’t know if you know, just wondering?

    • Meagan says:

      Yes, it should work just as well as it’s the lye in the soap that actually does the majority of the cleaning… at least the binding of dirt and oils comes from the lye. Anyway, coconut oil is great for adding lather to soaps, but if you’re using it in laundry detergent, you really don’t need it. Hope that helps, and thanks for sharing the tip about the oxyclean replacement. I’ll have to check that out!

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