Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thrifty Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

All around the internet you can find recipes for homemade laundry detergent. I have tried both the  liquid and the powder laundry detergent  and for now I think that I prefer the powder version mainly because it is quick and easy to make and I don't have a big mess to clean up when I get thru! Ok, maybe I'm sloppier  messier  more neatness challenged than some of you (smile) but the powdered version is currently my preference.

I can easily find all of the ingredients that I need to my make my homemade laundry detergent recipe in the laundry aisle at my local Walmart and also I usually don't have a problem finding them at the grocery store.

All you will need to make your own thrifty laundry detergent are three very inexpensive ingredients: Borax Laundry Booster, Arm and Hammer Washing Soda and a bar of soap.  I have used various types of soap ranging from castille soap bars, soaps I have found at the Dollar Store and laundry soap bars in the laundry aisle of the grocery stores so you too can just experiment to see what you like.

So I was out of my laundry detergent. While in the laundry section of Walmart buying my supplies I decided this nerdy girly girl (don't hate me) needed some PINK soap and picked up Japon ZOTE Laundry Soap.

I have also  used a brand called Fels Naptha Laundry Soap Bar. Cost wise they were about the same price, currently at $.97 per bar.  But the Zote bar is a LARGE bar of soap. I also found Zote Laundry Flakes, which is a nice option  if you don't want to spend the time grating your own soap or if arthritis of the hands limits your ability to grate the soap easily! The box shows that two bars of soap is equal to the box of Zote Laundry Flakes wasn't too much more expensive than two bars of the soap. 

The Zote site lists their ingredients as follows:
The main ingredients are beef tallow and coconut oil,which are
neutralized with caustic soda for the saponification process. It contains
salt (sodium chloride), glycerin, perfume, optical brightener and dye,
in the case of pink ZOTE and blue ZOTE."

ZOTE soap contains an optical brightener which bleaches clothes
without fading their color. Optical brighteners are the
compounds providing clothes with brightness. Their function is to
absorb light with certain wave lengths in the washed garments
and thus reflecting a visible blue; its work is most
noticeable in white clothes." 

Here is the recipe I used:

Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder

2 Cups Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
2 Cups Borax Laundry Booster
2 Cups Grated Zote Laundry Soap or Zote Laundry Flakes  ( I added
about 3 cups since my soap didn't grate as finely - explained below)*

Use 1 to 3 tablespoons of laundry detergent per load depending on
size of laundry load and how soiled your laundry may be.
This laundry detergent will not suds up in your washer. But don't
think that no suds means ineffective cleaning. 

Grate the laundry soap.  I used a hand grater.  *I find that it is so much
easier to get a nice finely grated soap bar when I take the soap out of the
wrapper and allow the laundry soap to just sit several days prior to grating
the soap. The soap will harden a bit and will result in a finer grated soap.
Since I was out of laundry powder and since this was a new bar I didn't
have several days to let the soap sit for a few days, so you will see that
it is not as finely grated as it could have been if I had allowed it to
sit out a few days before grating.

The above picture shows my grated laundry soap used for this recipe:

And the picture above reflects a much finer grated soap due to me having
unwrapped a bar of soap and giving it a few days to sit out and harden
a bit before grating. I think the difference is significant enough to
remember to do that!  A finer grated soap will dissolve easier in your wash!

Mix the washing soda, laundry booster and washing soda together. I
keep mine stored in a glass storage container with a lid.

Again..... you don't need much of this laundry detergent to get clean
clothes!! So remember to use very little! Only 1 - 3 TABLESPOONS
per load depending on load size and amount of soiling.

The Zote soap has a nice delicate, clean scent that is not overpowering to me. 
The Zote website states the following:
"Another of the distinctive features of ZOTE is its fragrance:
essential citronella oil, a plant that originally came from Europe,
which posseses a pleasant smell similar to lime; thanks to this ingredient,
the clothes washed with ZOTE smell fresh and fragrant for several days."

So there you go!  Clean laundry, delicately scented, cost effective, 
very little product required to get clean, fresh laundry, quick and easy as
it doesn't take but about ten minutes or so to make.  It's all GOOD in
my book my friends!  Add a pretty label and directions for use and you also have a nice,
useful, and thrifty gift idea too!

Let me know if you decide to give it a try!

Do you use homemade laundry detergent?  What is your favorite homemade
laundry detergent recipe?

I cannot speak as to the safety of use for washer or septic systems. As with
anything do your very own research, read cautions and literature that may
have been given to you upon purchase of your products used and
or your equipment or consult professionals with any concerns you may have.  
You may also  go to the following websites for information regarding
ingredients listed in this recipe:

Zote Laundry Soap, Borax Laundry Booster,
Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

Linked in with the following: Frugal and Sustainable Thursday,
Nifty Thrifty Tuesday, Frugal Crafty Home Wow Us Wednesday 
Whatever You Want Wednesday Farmgirl Friday


  1. I'm definitely going to try this! Love the idea of having soap flakes without having to grate. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I was always wondering what that smell was on ZOTE soap. I am glad to hear it is citronella oil! Also, I use this similar version but in liquid now because my hard water area didn't dissolve the soap well and it clogged my front loader. Hope it helps! Your blog is darling :)

    1. Thank you so much Jess! Glad the liquid version is working well for you!!

  3. I've been meaning to do this for years. Thanks for the post. :)

  4. You are welcome AllyJo! Thanks for coming by!

  5. I've made a similar version of this but never considered letting the soap sit out to harden it more. Thanks for the tip!

    1. You're welcome Rene!! It does make a difference! Thank YOU for stopping by!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I've been using this for only a month, but it's the greatest! I used a bar of Fels Naptha soap, 2 cups Borax, & 2 cups of the Wasing Soda. Works like magic! And so inexpensive! I still have enough borax & washing soda to make at least 2 more batches (maybe more!).
    I used a microplane grater (that you would zest lemons with, for instance), and my soap was super fine in no time. Took me about 10 minutes to make a batch.
    I'm super impressed with how it cleans, smells, and no fading so far. It's safe in my front-loading HE machine too.
    Also, I've added vinegar to the rinse cycle, and Idon't think I really need dryer sheets anymore. Really I'm just using up the ones I have. Then we'll see. But several things that still cling with dryer sheets, now don't. I attribute that (and the super fresh scent) to the Vinegar! Yeeha!

    1. I agree Inkfanatic!! I love it too! I have a top loading machine but am glad to hear that it is working well in your HE machine too. I also use vinegar for my rinse cycle and it does seem to me that I have experience that my laundry has less static cling as you have found. I love the money that I am saving too!! Thank you so much for stopping in! I hope I "see" you again!

  8. I was inspired also to make my own laundry detergent but since washing soda is not easy to find here in my country specifically in my area I just did some tweaking and I also omitted the borax as I have read from few thrifty moms too on net that borax is something to avoid using.

    1. Glad that you were inspired MissClaine! I have read somewhere that you can make washing soda by baking baking soda in the oven. You might could google it to see. Did you use something in place of the borax? If so I would be interested in hearing about it. Thanks for any input.

  9. i have been using this recipe for a few years now. i got it somewhere here on the internet, just cant remember where. this is so easy to do and it lasts a long time for me. i have super sensitive skin and this has been great. no itchy rashes at all. i highly recommend this recipe. i prefer the dry also.

    1. Hi Maggi G! So glad that you are enjoying your powder laundry detergent. Yes, it is very easy. And thrifty. And it works great and does last for a long time! Today is May 2nd and I am still using this batch that was made! So that one small batch has lasted me nearly two months so far!! I'm very happy with this homemade laundry detergent powder. Thanks for coming by! Hope to see you again very soon! Take care!!

  10. Doesn't the vinegar leave a smell to the clothes?

    1. no...for some reason the vinegar smell goes away in just a few minutes. when I use vinegar in a spray bottle for cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, the vinegar smell goes away within about 10 minutes.

  11. I'm looking forward to making this and using it. We go through detergent every wk. Having some around for 2 + months would be a blessing!

  12. Great Donna! I hope it works well for your family's laundry. If you come back this way let me know!

  13. I microwave the soap for two minutes, cool, then put it in the food processor.
    I get tired of grating...
    Any reason this is a bad idea?

    1. hmmmm..... I don't know! Good question though. Let me know if you find an answer!

  14. I make my own laundry soap and over the years I have found Zote work better than Naptha soap.

  15. I use the Zote flakes. To ensure that it dissolves, I mix in a food processor first - this way the flakes blend in well with the other powders.