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Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

Yes, yes, I know.  It's about time I got around to posting my recipe for homemade powdered laundry detergent.  Thank you to those of you who have been patiently waiting, despite the fact that you requested the recipe weeks ago.

I haven't been lounging around eating bonbons, I promise.  Things have just been a bit hectic; on top of all the food preservation that goes on this time of year, we've also recently experienced a loss in the family (my husband's sweet grandma).

And, as I think I may have mentioned in a previous post, my hubby and I are currently expecting--twins!  I haven't felt this pregnant since...well, I can't honestly remember ever feeling so pregnant!  So, anyway, I don't quite move around as fast as I used to, but I am steadily getting some posts put together, and hopefully getting to some recipes that readers want.

With that all explained, I will move onto today's post:  Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent.

I have made both liquid and powdered, and have to say I prefer the powdered.  It is easier to make and stores better (the liquid tends to clump).  I think it also stretches further, at least according to the little experiment I did a while ago comparing the two.  The powdered batch seems to last longer than the liquid.  I do, however, have a liquid recipe, and I will also be sharing that one at a later date.

Having decided to make a powdered detergent, the next task to be completed was collecting my supplies.  One of these supplies needed is bar soap, which will be finely grated.  The type of soap you choose can vary.  I personally like to use my homemade soap (to get started making your own soap, check out my posts Homemade Soap for Beginners, Part One and Part Two) for making detergent.  The soap you will see in this post, I made to be particularly lye-heavy, and I also added baking soda, washing soda, borax, and tea tree essential oil.  Other common bars used to make homemade detergent are Fels-Naptha and Zote.  You can use just about any bar however, such as plain Ivory or Dial--any plain white soap should do.

You will need to grate your soap, and the more finely you can grate it, the better.  Fine will dissolve right into the water, and wont ever leave a white residue on your clothes.  I chopped my bars up and then used my ancient food processor to grate it:

The remaining supplies (washing soda, baking soda, borax, and tea tree essential oil) can most likely be found at the grocery store in the laundry or cleaning section, but if not, they are easily ordered online.  The tea tree oil is not essential to making the detergent, so if you can't find it and don't want to go to the trouble of ordering online, just leave it out.

Onto the recipe!

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent


8 cups finely grated plain bar soap (approximately 4-5 bars)
2 cups baking soda
2 cups washing soda
2 cups borax
1 tablespoon tea tree essential oil (optional)

1.  In a large container, combine soap, sodas, and borax. 

2.  If desired (and I do recommend this), run the mixture through your food processor in batches, using the "S" blade, to make a fine powder.  Drizzle the essential oil in a little at at a time while doing this.

3.  Store the detergent in an airtight container.  Use approximately 2 Tablespoons per regular load of laundry.


Very simple, no?  Running the detergent through your food processor will allow it to dissolve more easily--mine disappears right into the water. You may find that you need more or less detergent per load than specified in the recipe.  Find what works best for you and go with it.

Our family uses this detergent in conjunction with plain white vinegar.  Two tablespoons of vinegar are poured into the fabric softener dispenser, and is released during the rinse cycle.  I also have other recipes in my post Homemade Fabric Softener.

Thanks for reading, and please let me know how your homemade detergent worked for you in the comments section below.


EDIT:  I also just wanted to add, you can reduce or increase the size of this recipe if you'd like.  A bar of soap will usually make around 2 cups grated soap, so you can halve, quarter, double, even triple the recipe to use the number of bars you'd prefer.

I also have found that a cup or two of salt mixed into the detergent is a nice addition.  Salt is actually a pretty good stain remover, and helps to keep colors bright.


  1. I want to make some laundry soap, but an not sure about the amount of soap here. Is "8 cups finely grated plain bar soap" equivalent to one bar, or would I need to get more? The soap bar I planned on using weighs 3.5 ounces.

    How much does this make? I need to make sure I have a suitable container to store it in.

    1. Hi Dragonlaurel! You will get approximately 2 cups grated soap from a single bar (maybe a hair under depending on the soap). If you want to make a full batch, you'd need 4-5 bars of soap. But, the recipe is easily halved or quartered, so you could make a smaller batch using your 1 bar of soap, 1/2 cup each baking soda, washing soda, and borax, and then only 3/4 teaspoon tea tree oil.

      My batch was enough to fill a one-gallon bucket, but if you made a smaller batch with just one bar, you'd probably only need a quart sized container.


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