by Texas Homesteader ~
I make a simple but effective homemade laundry powder using just three simple ingredients.
Now remember we live and work on a ranch so we’ve got some hefty laundry needs. We need something that will get out some pretty tough grime on very heavy fabric – denim! This formula works great for us.
(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)
Decide For Yourself
Now before I get started I must remind you that I’m just sharing what we do here. I’m a Homesteader. I live in the country. I’m very interested in being gentle on the environment and doing/making things myself.
And I always love to save money.
So I’m just sharing what works for us. OK good – let’s get to it!
Benefits of Homemade Laundry Powder
I feel there are many benefits to making my own homemade laundry powder.
Homemade laundry powder is much cheaper.
No going to the store & schlepping back a heavy container of commercial stuff.
No figuring out how to recycle the containers for the commercial stuff you bought.
Only 3 Ingredients in my homemade laundry powder.
It’s quick & easy to make.
This laundry powder recipe is effective for cleaning.
So I’ve been making this laundry powder recipe for years now. There’s no turning back for me!
Homemade Laundry Powder Ingredients
To make my homemade laundry powder, first I pulled out three simple ingredients:
Fels Naptha Laundry Bar.
Then all I needed was my trusty food processor to powder the soap & blend all ingredients together.
Which Laundry Bar Is Best?
Fels Naptha is inexpensive and I feel it’s an important ingredient that helps with our tough laundry needs.
There are other brands of laundry bars such as Zote and others. But I’ve found they just don’t have the same strength to clean heavily soiled fabrics that my beloved Fels-Naptha does.
NOTE: Many people have problems finding Fels-Naptha in their local stores. When I have it available I offer it for sale in my Online Store.
If I’m out, I’ve also found it on *Amazon here.
Ok, on to the easy-peasy laundry powder-making procedure.
Making Homemade Laundry Powder
First I unwrap the Fels-Naptha bar and chop it up a bit. Although feels like a typical soap consistency it chops very easily.
I use large ice cream tub lids as an improvised cutting board. The raised edge keeps everything close so it’s much less messy than a typical cutting board, and it’s a great way to recycle.
Then I toss the soap chips into my food processor and give it all a whir until it’s powdery.
Don’t Breathe Soap Dust
This fine powder can escape the lid of my food processor while it’s doing its thing and make a wispy airborne cloud. And I certainly don’t want to breathe it.
So to keep it all better contained I place a small towel on top of the food processor during this step to help keep the soap dust down.
I also like to let the dust settle a bit before opening up the bowl.
Then I simply measure out two cups of Borax and two cups of Washing Soda and mix them in a larger container with the now-powdered soap.
Now you really don’t get much easier than that!
What Container To Hold Homemade Laundry Powder?
After the laundry powder is mixed I pour the mixture into containers that I keep in my laundry room.
A repurposed glass jar holds the bulk of it, and a small rectangular plastic dish holds a smaller amount for easy scooping and lightweight handling when I’m doing the laundry.
The tiny scoop is a repurposed one from a container of OxyClean, which I add from time to time to my load of whites.
There’s a lot of repurposing & recycling in this method and not lots of packaging waste. Gotta love it.
NOTE: Please make sure you label these containers. There’s no need in someone picking up an unlabeled container and wondering what’s in it. Or worse, guessing what’s in it and guessing wrong. A label is a quick and easy way to make sure no one mistakes this mixture for something else.
Making Bulk Quantities Of Homemade Laundry Powder
I also oftentimes make several batches of laundry powder at a time.
Why not? The food processor is out, my ingredients are out and I’ll have to clean my food processor when I’m done anyway. Might as well do it all at one time!
When I make larger batches of laundry powder I use a Repurposed Coffee Can to hold it all.
I’m always finding ways to repurpose those handy cans.
(If you’re wanting to do the same, here’s my list of 12 Easy Ways To Repurpose Coffee Cans!)
Homemade Laundry Powder Requires Much Less!
This recipe only uses 1-2 tablespoons for a typical load, but I use about 3 tablespoons for heavily soiled items like manure-covered jeans. But never more than that.
Don’t be tempted to use more homemade laundry powder.
That’s when soap build-up problems can happen. And soap build-up can be bad for your clothes & bad for your washing machine. Plus it adds no additional cleaning power.
Do Laundry Whites Get Dingy Over Time?
Well, I don’t know if it’s the lack of chemical additives in my homemade laundry detergent, the mineral content of our county water or what. But it’s true, our whites do become dingy over time.
Some people use Oxi-Clean to keep their whites bright, others use vinegar. I’ve had moderate success with those methods but I don’t feel it’s the answer to whiter whites for me.
Others use bleach to keep their whites vibrantly white. We have a septic system so I don’t like to use bleach.
I realize there are some who say it’s just fine to use bleach with septic systems, that bleach from the laundry is so diluted it has a minimal effect on the septic tanks.
But I prefer the healthy microbes in those tanks stay healthy. So I opt to not use bleach until the actual water treatment stage of our septic system.
How I Keep Our White Laundry Bright
When I see my whites are becoming dingy I’ve found something I can add to my loads of whites to make a difference.
It’s made by OxiClean, but (for me anyway) the results are far superior than plain OxiClean and my whites end up actually being WHITE!
I found it in the laundry aisle right where I typically shop, so it wasn’t hard to find or require ordering online.
But if you prefer to order online I’ve found *Oxi Clean White Revive Here. Give it a try, I’m sure you’ll like it.
What I’ve Heard Others Say About Homemade Laundry Powder
Now this homemade laundry powder recipe isn’t new. It’s been around for a long time. I mean, I’ve been using it myself here on the Homestead for over 10 years!
But when I run across various stories of others sharing that they use this recipe too, some commenters mention that this homemade version doesn’t work.
Some say it’s because there’s a chemical difference between soap & actual detergent for cleaning clothes, or warn that it could ruin your washing machine if you use this homemade version of laundry powder.
Homemade Laundry Powder Works GREAT For Us!
I’m puzzled when I read these comments. I’m assuming those people are not sticking to the 1-2 tablespoon measurement for their clothes? I can’t imagine why their experience wouldn’t be the exact same as ours.
Although we’ve used this laundry powder for over 10 years, RancherMan & I have never experienced any issues with our clothes not coming out clean, nor any damage to our HE front-loading washing machine.
But since I have no idea why their experience would be different than ours you’ll need to exercise caution I suppose. Use your own judgement as to whether homemade laundry detergent makes sense in your own home.
And for goodness sake don’t be tempted to use too much of this homemade version, assuming such a small amount of soap couldn’t possibly clean your clothes.
Using too much of any soap will make it difficult to completely rinse the soap away, causing soap buildup both in your clothes as well as your machine. This is where I suspect people are going awry when using this homemade laundry powder.
As for us – it’s worked perfectly for over 10 years. (and counting…) I don’t plan to change a thing.
Optional Laundry Scent Booster Recipe
For those times when I want a little more scent (like cloth napkins & such) I’ve even whipped up an easy Laundry-Scent Booster.
Only 2 Ingredients? Yes please! I really like to use lavender essential oils to scent it, but you can use whatever you like, or even mix & match.
Anyway, if you’re wanting to try making your own homemade laundry powder too, here’s the recipe I use. Feel free to try it yourself!
Homemade Laundry Detergent
It's easy (and inexpensive) to make your own laundry detergent in minutes. And you only use a tablespoon or two with each load. At 2 Tablespoons per load this recipe makes enough for about 37 loads! #TexasHomesteader
- 1 5 Ounce Bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap
- 2 Cups Washing Soda
- 2 Cups Borax
Powder the entire 5.5-ounce bar of Fels Naptha finely using a food processor (can use a cheese grater on finest grate)
In a container that has a tight-fitting lid, combine the powdered Fels Naptha, 2 cups of washing soda and 2 cups of Borax.
Shake to mix well.
Store in a sealed container that is properly labeled. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per load.
NOTE: Since the effectiveness of any detergent depends greatly on the hardness of your water, experiment by using the lesser amount, and then increase as necessary.
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