How to Make Powdered Laundry Detergent at Home

How to Make Powdered Laundry Detergent at Home

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With two kids and a husband who works in the flooring business, laundry is happening ALL the time in our house.  Over the years, I have become picky about what I use to clean our clothes.  After all, the clothes are being worn by the people I love! I had been buying a super eco-friendly detergent that wasn’t so friendly on our wallet.  While cruising Pinterest, I came across an awesome recipe for homemade powdered laundry detergent!  It was important to me that this recipe be compatible with high efficiency washers, and be more economical than what we were already using.  Me being me, I had to put my own spin on it. This article shares my recipe for homemade powdered laundry detergent, using a variety of materials you can find at the grocery store. 

ingredients for homemade powdered laundry detergent

Ingredients for Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

(the links here will take you to Amazon product listings with information about the ingredient; you can also find many of these ingredients at your local grocery store)

**Please note this is a powdered detergent.  Some septic systems will not tolerate powdered detergent. If you have a septic system that requires liquid detergent, check out our article on homemade liquid laundry detergent!**

Directions for Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

Step One

Grate the Fels-Naptha.  You can use your regular cheese grater, but I found it easier to use my food processor.  Cut the soap into smaller chunks and pulse until it’s in small beads.  Don’t completely disintegrate it!

Step Two

Get a big trash bag and dump the grated Fels-Naptha into it.  Next, dump the remaining ingredients.  Twirl the bag so it is shut.  Shake it around to mix all of the ingredients together.  If you have a giant bowl or a tub, that works, as well.  I found it easiest just to smush it around in the bag.

Step Three

Once everything is mixed, transfer the detergent to a container of choice.  If you have a spare tablespoon handy, put it in your detergent vessel.  The Oxi-Clean scoop worked well for measuring.  I marked on the container where the 1, 2, and 3 tablespoon mark is.  I also marked how much to use for each size of load directly on the container.

Using the Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

After you’ve loaded the laundry into the washer, fill your scoop to the correct line and toss it on top!  Use one tablespoon for small loads; two tablespoons for medium loads, and three tablespoons for large or extra dirty loads. Regardless of wash temperature, the detergent dissolves.  It has worked wonders on my husband’s stinky work clothes. 

How Much did we Save Making our own Powdered Laundry Detergent?

My total cost for everything, including the tub, was $38.49 (including the optional scent boosters and oxi-clean).  This recipe makes about 525 tablespoons.  I have found that, for a normal load of laundry for my family, I only use about a tablespoon.  For my husband’s work clothes or muddy chore clothes, I use two.  So I likely get about 400 loads of laundry from this tub.  The laundry detergent I was buying previously was $18 for a tub that claimed to have 128 loads in it.  Because of the hot weather this summer, my husbands work clothes were extra stinky.  Almost every time I used the old detergent, I would have to re-wash his clothes just to get them smelling somewhat fresh. 

Figuring in the re-washing, I would assume I would need 4 tubs of this detergent to equal what I made.  $18 x 4 = $72.  Not only am I saving a little over $40 (basically getting it for half-price), I also don’t have to re-wash.  This eliminates extra water use–especially for the towels and stinky clothes, which are done in warm water. If you choose not to include the optional ingredients, you’ll save much more – essentially doing your laundry for less than a quarter the cost of store-bough powdered detergents.

Want to make more of your cleaning supplies yourself? Check out these other DIY Cleaning Supply Articles on Homestead How-to!

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Libby McPhee
Blogger and Lead Community Builder
Libby works in the Special Education department at her local high school throughout the school year. In her free time, she works on honing her homestead skills, raising her family and animals alongside her husband. They live on a small homestead in the rural mountains of Vermont. Libby is a Founder and Lead Community Builder of Homestead How-To and blogs about her personal experiences on her homestead at Tula Mae Homestead.


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