laundry bask

Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent Recipe

Here’s one that will save you tons of money and it’s better for you, your home, the environment, your clothes AND your washing machine. (Even if it’s one of those new fangled HE ones).

What you’ll need:
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda (This is NOT baking soda, it’s found in the laundry aisle)
  • 1 bar of Soap – I like Octagon, Fels Naptha laundry soap, or Dr.Bronners, some people even use good-old fashioned Ivory
  • Box Grater
  • essential oil (optional)
  • 1 wide mouth container
  • 1 tablespoon or small tbsp scoop


1. Grate the soap. I use the medium grade side.You can use the smallest grade if you want, but it takes longer. (I usually do this while watching TV or simmering dinner or even on the phone.)

I found this FAB grater at IKEA. It’s basically a container with grater top. Perfect for containing the grated soap!

2. Pour all dry ingredients into an airtight container and add 3 drops of essential oil (I like lavender) shake vigorously to mix. This makes about 3.5 cups of detergent, BUT you don’t need to use as much as you would if you were using conventional detergent. You could always double or triple this recipe if you want.

How to use:

  • Small loads – use 1 tablespoon of powder per loads
  • Normal loads –  2 tbsps
  • Heavy loads – 3 tbsps

Even though I have a front load washer, I like to let a little water in the washer first, then add the powder and then the clothes. For particularly large dirty loads,stop the washer and let the clothes soak for a little while, and then continue the cycle. This soap powder does NOT gets very sudsy because there’s no sulfates in it. Don’t worry, your clothes are getting clean.NOTE:  Even though these ingredients are better for you and the environment than traditional detergents, THEY ARE STILL CLEANING PRODUCTS. Please use the same “common-sense” precautions you would as with other cleaning products. (In other words, don’t eat it, ok?)

Here’s a great a article about how to make your own liquid laundry detergent.
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56 thoughts on “Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent Recipe

  1. Pingback: How to Whiten Your Clothes Without Using Bleach | Savvy Brown

  2. Lowbudget

    I just subscribed to your blog. I love it. I have a question about the Ikea grator shown in the blog entry on Jan. 30th. I have searched their site and have not found it yet. Can you help me locate it by giving me the measurements of this grator and possibly the name?
    Thanks so much! I am a big fan of all things homemade! :)

  3. Savvy

    @Lowbudget hi there! Thanks so much for subscribing! And I’m glad you like the site! I don’t know the name of the grator, but I didn’t find it online. I found it at the Ikea store in the Marketplace section in one of those bins out in the middle of the floor. They come two in a pack. One blue and one red. The red one has bigger grating blades on it. HTH

  4. Lowbudget

    Thanks for replying to my comment. My friend is going to IKEA in Ohio and she is willing to try and locate this item for me. :)

  5. Lowbudget

    My friend was able to locate the grater for me. Thanks so much for your help. Making the homemade laundry detergent will be less messy now.

  6. Oju

    I just made my 1st batch of laundry powder. I used Dr. Bronners citrus soap and I added 2 drops of geranium ess. oil and 1 drop of lemon oil…smells sooooo good. Washing a load of sheets with it now. Will let you know how it turns out :)

  7. Savvy

    Please do! I’d love to try it! I just made some with Dr. Bronner’s lavender castille soap and that smells good too! I never thought of using geranium, that would make a good air freshener too!

  8. Oju

    Worked like a charm. Sheets came out clean and smelled as fresh as if I had dried them on the clothes line. Love it.

  9. Savvy

    Yaaaay!!! I KNOW you’d put me on blast if it didn’t work! LOL Thanks for coming back and telling us the results!

  10. Pingback: 15 Healthy Green Ways to Save Money On Your Grocery Bill Now | Savvy Brown

  11. MzZiXiu4U

    Wow! That is one recipe I’m going to try. We’re trying to go greener where ever possible. This is simple and sounds like it will save us some money too. Thx for the 411 I will definitely pass it along over at

  12. Janemanny2

    Hey Savvy, thanks for posting this recipe.
    I was wondering how much of Dr. Bronner’s soap I should use, I’d really like to try this with rose or lavender soaps.

  13. TraceyJoy

    I’m so excited to find this blog and all these wonderful gems you have posted. I’m like a kid in a candy store LOL. Seriously I’m eliminating as many toxins from my home as I can. That includes household cleaning supplies, body, makeup, nail polish and hair care products. I will have be making this up very soon. Even the the so call “natural” line of products from the store still have SLS and other harsh detergents that are harmful to the body. I really like this. Now I’m looking for something for the dishwasher machine besides the toxic little washing tablets/ action pacs. Do you need to store the detergent in an air tight container, I do like that IKEA grater. Another reason to go down to the store. So happy we have 1 in Atlanta, hehehe. Thanks again Savvy Brown

  14. SisterBoyd

    What would happened if I used the liquid castile soap instead of the bar? I just bought a bunch of the liquid soap.

  15. SisterBoyd

    I’m about to make this now. I made the mistake of buying my bar soap at Target for almost $5 and then went to Trader Joe’s today and they have is for $3. TJ didn’t have it in Hemp-Lavendar. That smells so good!

  16. SisterBoyd

    I just mixed it up and it smells OMG so good!!!!! I can’t wait to wash…and I hate to wash hahahaha

  17. SisterBoyd

    Yes! I’m sitting here trying to get some work done, but I can’t stop thinking about my mixture. I used the lavendar castile soap and added tea trea oil and tangerine oil. ha ha haha I’m so tempted to sort a load of clothes and go wash right now.

  18. SisterBoyd

    Ok I’m finally washing and my first batch of clothese are in the dryer. I used my laundry detergent and fabric softener. When I took the clothes out of the washing machine there wasn’t a strong scent. Even with the fabric softener they smell light and fresh. This includes my son’s running clothes. However, my father’s clothes (which smell horrible) didn’t pick up the scent. I think I might have to use something stronger on his clothes.

    I did feel like I needed to use more detergent so I started with 2 scoops and ended up using 3-4. I used all of the detergent I made so I may have to make a bigger batch. I normally wait until the very last minute to wash because I really hate washing hahaha.

    I’ll let you know what I think once the clothes are out of the dryer.

  19. Savvy

    @SisterBoyd thanks for the update! Why do you feel you needed to use so much detergent? Do you have a large capacity washer? IT doesn’t soap up very much but it does clean well. Here’s a tip: If you want a stronger scent to your clothes, take a washcloth that’s a simiiliar color to your load, dampen it with water, and ad 12-16 drops of your favorite essential oil to it. Then throw it in the dryer with the rest of your clothes.

  20. SisterBoyd

    Our clothes are really dirty. If you remember my issue with the carpet in my father’s room; his clothes are the same way. So that and the fact that my son and I exercise regularly I feel like I needed extra to get the clothes clean and clean smelling. Everything smelled really good with the exception of my father’s clothes. I washed 8 loads of clothes with the detergent and only one load came out not smelling so fresh but it was a load that had most of my father’s clothes so I’m not surprised by that load’s results.

    I’m not going to give up on it. I may have to try to soak my father’s clothes or something. I live in an apartment building so soaking will be kind of hard, but I’ll figure something out.

    Since I used my whole batch castile bar soap is on my grocery list already ;)

    But I do want to know why can’t we use the castile liquid soap?

  21. Pingback: Why Hot Water Doesn't Get your Clothes Clean | Savvy Brown

  22. Geneva Girl

    I’d love to try this, but I live in Switzerland. They wouldn’t know Borax, washing soap or Fels Naptha if they hit them in the face.

    I can only buy hypo-allergenic products without fragrance because of my daughter’s eczema. Do you know if these products would be irritating? Thanks.

  23. Savvy

    @Geneva Girl. “Teja!” *waves* You’re lucky actually. Because in Europe there are a lot more eco/healthy detergents than there are here. I found this Borax “substitute” on a British site. You don’t have to use Fels Naptha. I actually grate up one of Dr. Bronners soaps in a scent that I like. Dr. Bronners is made with palm and coconut oils, and hemp. As long as your child isn’t allergic to that stuff you should be fine. BUT, I would reccommend using this Baby Mild version of the soap.

    I’m not a doctor, just a blogger, so what I would do is try the recipe with just the grated soap and a plain uncented washing powder of your choice. Also, peppermint should not be used on the skin by people with eczema. I’ve also heard of a great swiss company called Held that makes eco-fragrance free products. Check them out here.

  24. Geneva Girl

    Thanks for that info! Held is a Swiss German product and I’ve never seen it down here, but I’ll look for it. I’m going to search for it. I’m really looking forward to trying this.

  25. PonyGirl

    I’ve been using this recipe with Fels Naptha for several years. My mom introduced me to it. After years of grating, she discovered that if she starts with 1/2 cup of borax in the blender. Chop the FN into 5 or 6 pieces. Drop them in the blender with the borax. Blend away. Then put that mixture in your container and add the othere `1/2 C borax and 1C washing soda. Done.
    (Don’t start with the soda in the blendere – it’s too fine and doesn’t work).
    No more grating.

  26. Hondo69

    Great idea PonyGirl. The worst part of making the mixture is dealing with the Fels Naptha. Darn shame you can’t buy this stuff in bulk because the price at the stores just keep on rising, and the boxes get smaller too.

  27. Jacquelin

    Hey, I just Googled home-made powdered laundry soap and this popped up. I’d seen recipes for the liquid and I just didn’t want to deal with the mess and storage of that I guess. Thank you for the recipe, I will be making this once I’ve gone through what I have left of the commercial liquid stuff.
    Anyway, there’s another website I know of that sells what they call ‘Soap Noodles’. It’s just pre-grated soap they sell to soap makers to melt and add their own coloring/scent. I’ll be using this recipe but ordering the soap noodles. It might even be more cost effective than buying the bars you suggested, I guess depending on shipping. I’m not with their website or company or whatever. I just wanted to share on the off-chance anyone else would like pre-grated soap. Plus I like the super short ingredients list, which I’m sure others can appreciate too. :)
    The website is:
    Thanks again. I can’t wait to go through the rest of your site to see what other gems I can find.

  28. Megan

    Hi there, I just recently started looking into making my own laundry detergent. Just one question; is it still okay to use the grated soap with cold water? I only use hot water with bath towels and such.


  29. Pingback: Review: Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner and Mop | Savvy Brown

  30. Erin

    I made this laundry detergent the other day for the first time. I love it. My clothes were so clean with only a Tsp. The only thing i didn’t like was grating the soap. I will try the blender method next time. My local Walmart carries all the ingredients in the laundry isle which is conveinent.

  31. Edna P

    I bought all the materials, but I picked up baking soda rather than washing soda. In some sites they say it’ll work and some say it won’t. I’m going back to another store to get the washing soda to make sure I do it right. Now is 2 tablespoons enough for one load? I guess I’m comparing to the 1cup of regular store bought laundry detergents (powder).
    Btw, your page rocks! :)

  32. Savvy

    @Edna Baking Soda won’t work as well in my opinion. I use two scoops per load. The scoops I use are a little less than an 1/8 cup. HTH!

  33. Edna

    I tried but used 4 tblspoons, now that I read your comment, I’ll use 2 cups. Because even after soaking them the stains were still there. Any advice on this? Also, I noticed the clothes are “dull” looking. How can I make them look bright again?
    Thanks in advance.
    (Btw, I used 1 bar dr bronners lavender soap, drop of eucalyptus oil, 1 1.5 cups of washing soda and 2 1.5 cup of borax. All shook up in a container.

  34. Savvy

    @Edna Wait! The scoops I was referring to are the little ones, like the type you find in powdered iced tea containers. Two scoops equals just under 1/4 cup. NOT two cups! Blood and grass stains can be removed with a little hydrogen peroxide. Pour a little on a cloth and dab in inconspicuous area first to make sure the item is color fast before pouring directly on the stain or in the water that the item is soaking in. As I mentioned in the post, stains and grime will need to soak before washing. What I do, (especially with my whites), is I add the detergent and 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide to the water and let the tub fill then stop the cycle to let the clothes soak. (And yes you can even do this with a front-loading washer, I’ve done it). Then after about 30mins I let the cycle finish. For brighter colors and whites try adding Oxo Brite to the wash or OxyClean if that’s more convenient.

  35. elizabeth hollingsworth

    i can NOT find washing soda!!! i’ve looked at our local Winn Dixie & Fred’s as well as the closest Walmart, and none of them have it! i still have to try Harvey’s & the closest Publix. i might even try the drug store to see if they might have it.

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