Thursday, June 14, 2012

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

When I first started using coupons, I ended up spending a lot of money on a lot of laundry detergent.  That was before I figured out that coupons don't always make products a "good buy" -- even when the blogs say it's "rock bottom price".  If "rock bottom" Tide is more expensive that what you would be using anyway, don't buy it!!

Then, I noticed all the recipes for homemade laundry detergent.  I read a lot of mixed reviews and different combinations before I decided to try it for myself.  There are different brands of soap, ways to scent the detergent, the choice between liquid detergent or powder detergent... and many, many more options for you to consider.

Here is what I do:

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap

Step One:  Chop the soap up into cubes.  This soap is pretty easy to cut - I was expecting it to be harder, but I didn't have to put a lot of effort into cutting it.

Step Two:  Add 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of Washing Soda, and the soap cubes to a food processor.  I use my Ninja blender because it's big enough to hold everything and mix it up really well.

Step Three:  I give the Ninja a few quick bursts (3 or 4?) and then I turn it on a let it go until all of the soap is chopped into very fine bits.

See how tiny the soap gets chopped up!!!  I store the powder in a Tide box and I use a measuring spoon to measure 1 tablespoon for each load.

I've been using this detergent for months and have made it several different times.  Here is what I've learned:
  • Powdered detergent:  I grew up using liquid Era.  That's what I was using for my first year of homemaking.  However, I "stocked up" on some powdered Tide using my coupons and I was just as satisfied with the results.  The powdered detergent seemed a little easy to make and store.
  • Fels-Naptha soap:  I read a lot of recipes suggesting to use Ivory soap.  I also read a lot of reviews that said the Ivory soap left the clothes dingy but smelling good.  Ivory is a body soap.  Fels-Naptha is a stain-remover.  I'd rather have the stain remover in my detergent.
  • Chopping the soap:  Another hesitation I read about was how to break the soap down so that it dissolves in the wash.  A lot of commenters seemed to think that if they used a grater or food processor to chop up soap, they couldn't use it for food anymore because everything would taste like soap.  Do we worry that washing our plates with soap will make our food taste like soap?  I don't.  I've used a cheese grater and a food processor to chop up the soap and both have worked just fine afterwards. 
  • Grater or Food Processor:  I have used both and found that the food processor is just so much easier to use and takes far less time.  Grating worked, but it took forever.
  • HE Washer:  I used this detergent in my old apartment sized washer.  I would start the load on "warm" for a few seconds to dissolve the soap.  When I got my new HE washer, I was worried about using this detergent.  I read that it's fine to use in an HE  washer because it really doesn't make any suds at all.  I was worried, however, about the soap dissolving.  Then, I learned that my new washer has this nifty feature where I can tell it to wash in cold water, but it will heat the water up at first if it's too cold to dissolve a powdered detergent.  Very nifty.  
  • Are the clothes clean?  Yes!!  And, we discovered that my husband actually loves the clean-smell that the Fels-Naptha soap gives to the detergent.  It doesn't smell like flowers or a beach, but it does smell clean!!
  • Baby Clothes:  There are no dyes or fragrances in any of these ingredients so the detergent works great for baby clothes!



  1. I make my powdered laundry soap exactly the same way! It is MUCH easier than making the liquid--and much easier to store, too! I also use my food processor, and have never had trouble with residual taste or odor. Great money-saver!

  2. Very cool to see this review. I've heard so many recipes for homemade detergent and it gets confusing after a while. This is so simple. I have heard that over time the powder can hurt washers, whereas the liquid is better for them. Not sure the validity of that though. I've never used powder. I may have to try this though! :)

    1. I've read that the powder is bad for a septic system. There is some treatment you have to do if you use powder. We don't have a septic system, though, so I could have it backwards!