How to make Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

Have you been looking for a natural alternative to the toxic detergents sold at the big box stores? Are you sick of reading labels with all of those long ingredients you can’t pronounce? Are you exhausted from worrying about what chemicals could be spreading all about your home, potentially harming you and your family? If so, then this homemade powder laundry detergent is exactly what will put your mind at ease.

Why Make Natural Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent?

Like I said before there are countless chemicals that are put in our laundry detergents. That’s not the only problem. Our consumerist culture has turned laundry into a 6.2 billion dollar industry. (source). Yea, you read that right.. There’s always so much hype about “stain removal this, stain removal that”. What if we got down to the bare bones of the issue. We just need clean clothes. That’s it!! We don’t NEED to smell like “violet breeze” or whatever. Yes, I may sound a little dramatic but the truth is, we’ve over complicated cleaning our clothes and made all of these luxuries into necessities. Here, I’m going to break down why simple laundry is clean laundry. Both clean and (pure clean) if you know what I mean 😉

Tall detergent container with wooden scoop holding homemade detergent

Natural Detergent Ingredients

Clean Ingredients For Laundry Detergent

Washing Soda-

Washing Soda, or Sodium Carbonate is a very great option for homemade laundry detergent. This form of salt works great at softening hard water and then lifting the dirt away by binding with mineral particles that come off from the clothing. It’s also non-toxic and is completely safe to use everyday when using minimal precautions to avoid eye contact. It is an eye irritant if it comes into direct contact with eyes, but that’s the same with regular salt that we consume, so no big worries here.

Baking Soda-

Baking soda, or Sodium Bicarbonate is another great choice. It has alkali properties that work great at breaking down dirt and oils into the water to be washed out. I love that its also non-toxic.

Castile Soap

Castile soap is a great option for adding suds to the wash. When bubble’s are formed in the washer (or anywhere for that matter) they trap dirt and grease inside them. Then when it comes time to rinse, the grime is washed away from the clothing. The Castile soap that I really like is the Kirk’s Castile soap since it has the simplest ingredients.

Sea Salt

This might seem like a weird one, but Sea salt works great at averting the dyes from coming off of the clothing during the wash cycle. This means it helps keep the colors bright! The salt also helps agitate the clothes because it’s initial grit rubs against the clothing during the spin cycle. We all know sea salt is non-toxic, so I’ll skip explaining that one.

Epsom Salt

Epsom salt was the weirdest ingredient for me to stumble upon the first time I made homemade powder laundry detergent. This ingredient actually hardens the water slightly to aid in balancing out the other water softeners. This helps to make the clothes just right while also helping to kill bacteria.

Essential Oils (optional)

If you are wanting to add something for sent purposes, essential oils is the only natural/non-toxic way to go. From my experience the smell really doesn’t stay on the clothes if used in the detergent, which is a bummer. But, if you use it on wool dryer balls then they do help clothes to smell nice.

Not So Clean Ingredients For Laundry Detergent

Borax

Borax has been said to be natural and safe, but when you look into all of its ingredients, you find it isn’t really all that great. Borax contains Sodium Borate, which has been found to have negative developmental and reproductive effects. Yikes.. (I used this all the time). Oops. 🙁 You live and you learn, right?

Fels-naptha

This really isn’t that great for a Castile soap replacement. Even though I still use this in my home to remove blood stains from pretty much everything, I don’t feel super comfortable using this in the soap that is use to clean the clothes that go on my body. Let alone my kids bodies. I would rather use the Castile soap that has minimal ingredients that are all non-toxic compared to the soap that has some questionable ones such as fragrance, Tetrasodium Etidronate, and TALC (source).

zote soap

Similar to Fels-naptha I would rather use the non-toxic soap over the soap that has some questionable ingredients.

Here is the source for all of the toxicity levels of the ingredients I use (here). I really love the amount of research that they put in to see if what we are using everyday is healthy or not.

Homemade detergent in wooden scoop next to dried purple flowers.

My Laundry Care Routine

  1. I like to use about 2 Tbsp of the laundry detergent for a medium sized load. If doing a large load I will put 3 Tbsp in the washer. Small Load I’ll use 1.
  2. Then I use a warm or hot water setting. Yes this does use more energy, but, if you don’t use a hot cycle then you might have to wash the clothes more than once to get the detergent to break down. This detergent also works super well for my family because we have hard water.
  3. Lastly before I start the wash cycle I put in a half cup of vinegar into my fabric softener dispenser. This helps soften the water just a tad more and really helps kill bacteria, especially in sweaty gym clothes.
  4. Once the clothes are washed, I put them in the dryer with my wool dryer balls and some eucalyptus essential oil to give them a pleasant sent. You could use any essential oil of your liking. I also like to use orange essential oil to mix things up once in awhile.
Metal bowl holding homemade detergent

How to make Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

  1. In a large bowl I measure out my Washing soda, Baking soda, Sea salt, Epsom salt and mix them in the bowl.
  2. Then I grate an entire bar of Castile soap using a cheese grater. This is a great task to ask the kids to do!!!
  3. Then I mix the grated soap into the mix.
  4. In addition you can add 20-40 drops of your favorite essential oil. This is optional.
  5. Lastly I put in a container with a 1 Tablespoon scoop to measure out desired detergent amount.

Overall, I hope you enjoy making this recipe and that you can feel good in your clean clothes!

Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

An easy natural laundry detergent suited for parents wanting a mainstream laundry detergent alternative (without the borax).
Prep Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Keyword: Detergent, Homemade, Laundry
Author: Emma Fieck
Cost: $5-$10

Equipment

  • 1 Large Bowl
  • 1 Wooden Spoon (or something to mix with)
  • 1 Cheese Grater

Materials

  • 2 cups Washing Soda
  • 2 cups Baking Soda
  • ½ cup Epsom Salt
  • 1/4 cup Sea Salt
  • 1 bar of Castile Soap
  • 20-40 drops Essential Oil (optional)

Instructions

  • First measure out all ingredients except for the Castile soap and essential oils and pour them into the large mixing bowl.
  • Next, mix the ingredients together so they are all incorporated together.
  • Once everything is mixed, grate you bar of soap with your cheese grater until the entire bar is in shavings.
  • Then add shavings to the bowl and mix ingredients all together.
  • Lastly add the essential oils of your choosing to the bowl and mix to incorporate.
  • Put the finished product in an air-tight container to prevent caking.

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