This homemade borax-free powdered laundry soap takes only a few minutes to make. Best of all, it will get your clothes perfectly clean using only natural ingredients!
Over the years, as I have become made more aware of all the chemicals and toxins in our home, I have gradually tried to replace store-bought products with healthier homemade alternatives. With a household of 9, we do A TON of laundry! For these reasons, homemade laundry detergent has always been something I have wanted to master.
I am so excited to have finally found a recipe that meets all of my requirements! It’s super simple to make. It has zero unsafe ingredients. And it works!
In case you are on the fence about whether making your own laundry detergent is worth it or not, here are some facts that every laundry-washing health-conscious parent should know…
What toxins are in store-bought laundry detergents?
- Synthetic Fragrances: known to often be carcinogens and endocrine disrupters
- Acetone: a known irritant and the active ingredient in paint thinner and nail polish remover. Studies on animals have shown reproductive and kidney problems as well.
- Sodium lauryl sulfate: a skin, eye, and lung irritant and toxic to aquatic life
- 1,4-dioxane: a known carcinogen and declared by the CDC to be potentially toxic to the brain and central nervous system, kidneys, liver, and respiratory system.
- Nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE): mimics the hormone estrogen and disrupts endocrine function. According to the Sierra Club, Fish exposed to NPE have actually gone from being male to being both males and female. NPE is banned in many other countries!
- ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA): possibly carcinogenic and environmental accumulation can lead to toxicity in plants and animals due to the fact that it doesn’t easily biodegrade
- Petroleum distillates: often carcinogenic and may cause mucous membrane damage, lung damage, and asthma.
- Phenols: a toxin that is especially dangerous to those that are hypersensitive, in which it can cause serious side effects or even death at very low exposures. These can cause damage to the central nervous system, heart, blood vessels, lungs, and kidneys.
- Anionic surfactants: during their production, carcinogens and reproductive toxins are released. They are also slow to biodegrade.
- Optical brighteners: designed to remain in your clothes so that they reflect light and make clothes appear brighter. These toxic chemicals are often irritating to the skin and have the ability to make the skin more sensitive to the sun. They are also toxic to fish and can cause bacterial mutations.
Did some of these blow you away? These are just some of the toxins found in common laundry detergents, but one thing to keep in mind is that there is no law requiring manufacturers to list the ingredients on their packaging.
In a study done by Washington State University, however, all 6 of the common laundry detergents that they studied “gave off at least one chemical regulated as toxic or hazardous under federal laws, but none of those chemicals was listed on the product labels.”
Steinemann goes on to say in her report that, “five of the six products emitted one or more carcinogenic ‘hazardous air pollutants,’ which are considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to have no safe exposure level.”
As toxins become more well-known, they are often voluntarily removed from products. However, you can bet that as those toxins are removed, others are added.
All of this information was enough to have me completely convinced that homemade was the way to go so that I could know for sure what was in the soap I was cleaning my family’s clothes, bedding, and laundry in!
Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap Vs. Powdered
I used to make a liquid laundry soap that worked great, but there were a few things I didn’t like about it. First of all, it contained Borax, which is no longer an ingredient I feel comfortable using in our home. Also, it was quite the process to make, and then it required shaking before using, as it would separate. The tipping point for me was the fact that little laundry helpers + liquid laundry soap = a hot mess! I knew there had to be a better option.
The Best Powdered Homemade Laundry Soap
Here it is! The recipe contains only safe ingredients, is quick to make, inexpensive, and most importantly, IT WORKS!
We live on a farm. We are messy. Things get seriously dirty and smelly around here, and I’m here to tell you that this laundry detergent is up for the job.
Here is what you will need to make homemade powdered laundry soap:
- 4 cups of washing soda (Not the same as baking soda! They have a different chemical makeup.)
- 1 cup of oxygen powdered bleach
- 14 oz. bar soap (homemade, Fels-Naptha, Zote, etc.)
- A large bowl for mixing up the ingredients (or a garbage bag works well for mixing up a large batch)
- A large spoon for mixing
- A cutting board and a sharp knife for cutting the bar soap
- A food processor (You can use a cheese grater, it’s just going to be more work and the end result will not be as fine of a texture.
- A container with a lid for storing your detergent
- A tablespoon measuring spoon for adding the powder to your washer
Also, you can certainly double or triple this recipe!
Steps for making homemade powdered laundry soap:
- Add the washing soda and oxygen-powered bleach to the mixing bowl.
- Roughly chop the bar soap, and then add to the food processor. If you don’t have one, finely grate the soap with a cheese grater instead.
- Pulse in the food processor until the soap turns into tiny balls.
- Add the soap to the powdered mixture, and stir well.
- (This step is optional, but I think makes all the difference!) Add 2 cups at a time of the detergent to the food processor and run on high until the powder is fine and the soap pieces don’t stand out. This finer texture ensures that when you grab a scoop, you are getting an even mix of the ingredients!
- As I do this process, I then add the finished detergent to my storage container.
That’s it! The whole process only takes a few minutes. Give this recipe a shot and you will be wondering why you have been buying this stuff all along!
To use this detergent, simply measure 2 tablespoons into your normal detergent dispenser.
Feel free to double or triple this recipe!
- 4 cups washing soda
- 1 cup of oxygen powered bleach
- 14 oz. bar soap
- Add the washing soda and oxygen-powered bleach to the mixing bowl. Stir, and break up and clumps with your fingers
- Roughly chop the bar soap, then add to the food processor. If you don’t have one, finely grate the soap with a cheese grater instead.
- Pulse in the food processor until the soap turns into tiny balls and no large chunks remain.
- Add the soap to the powdered mixture, and stir well.
- (Optional, but I think this step makes all the difference) Add 2 cups at a time of the detergent powder to the food processor and run on high until the powder is fine and the soap pieces don’t stand out as much- the finer the better! This finer texture ensures that when you grab a scoop, you are getting an even mix of the ingredients.
- As you go, add the finished detergent to your storage container.
To use the detergent: Add 2 tablespoons of powder to the appropriate dispenser in your washing machine.
Is homemade laundry soap safe for HE washers?
Yes, this recipe is safe for HE washers.
Is homemade laundry detergent safe for cloth diapers?
Yes, this particular recipe is safe for washing cloth diapers.
Does making homemade laundry soap actually save money?
Yes! The total cost of the above recipe was $4.80 and will last about 64 loads. That’s just about 7.5 cents/load, which is almost exactly half the price I was paying with store-bought detergent!
Not bad for a safer, healthier alternative!