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Easy Laundry Powder

What you need: 

1 good size bar of soap (Kirk's Castile, Fels Naphtha, etc)
1-2 cups WASHING SODA (not baking soda)
1-2 cups borax (check the laundry aisle)

What you do: 

Grate the bar of soap. I use the smallest side of my 4-sided grater.
Put in plastic bag or other container with the washing soda and borax. Mix well. Note: I have very hard water so I use more soda.
Dissolve in a small container of warm or hot water before adding to a cold water wash. You can put it right on a warm or hot wash.
For a load of not-too-dirty laundry (clothes I've only worn for office work), I use 1/4 cup.
If I've been out working in the mud and dirt and dust, then sometimes I need a whole cup, and maybe a pre-soak. And I mix in more borax.
You can pre-treat stains with more soap right off the bar.

Preparation Time: 
5 minutes
Cooking Time: 
Recipe Category: 


No, no, and NO! Fels Naptha, Arm & Hammer and Borax all test on animals!!


  I have been using this same recipe for quite some time now, but mine calls for melting it all together in a 5 gallon bucket with EXTREMELY HOT water.  It becomes gel like.  Saves some time.  It goes as follows:

4 cups hot tap water
1 Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Organic Pure-Castile Soap (or fels-naptha if you are comfortable with it)
1 cup arm and hammer all natural super washing soda
½ cup 20 mule team borax natural laundry booster
Grate the bar of soap. Add to extremely hot water in sauce pan. Stir constantly over medium heat until soap dissolves and is melted
Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of VERY hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to the top with more hot water (leave about a 2 inch span from top). Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
The next day it will be jello like. Don’t panic gelled or clumpy in the morning. Stir and stir and stir until most of the clumps are gone. This is a very low sud soap. again don’t panic if there are not a lot of bubbles like you are used to seeing. It still works the same.
Number of servings:
Use 5/8 cup per load for top loading washing machines and ¼ cup for front loading or high efficiency.


You can't use just any soap, if you want to keep it vegetarian or vegan. You will need to check the ingredients. Plus if you're using a grey water system to water either a garden or other plants you can't use borax in the recipe because it will kill your plants. I've made a similar recipe using my homemade soap (the only cheap way to make sure it's vegan), and I replaced the borax with an equal amount of baking soda. The laundry will still come clean.


What's washing soda? Is it also found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store?

Following a tip on a gardening site, I found it at Winco.  It was with the laundry boosters rather than with the detergent.


Fels-Naptha is made with tallow acid, which I googled due to uncertainty, and found that it is derived from animal fat. 


This is supposed to be cheap? I can get a huge box of Purex laundry detergent for $1.50 USD. How much are these ingredients? Just curious.  :)

For those that have used it, how well does it work?

This recipe is very similar to my own, except I add Baking Soda for deodorizing purposes and I use grated Fels-Naptha laundry soap (around $1.29 a bar, USD) because it smells fantastic.

What makes it cheap is that the supplies will make multiple batches of detergent.  You don't use the entire box of Borax (which is around $2 USD), you use a cup of it.  If you shop around, you should be able to find all of the ingredients cheap.  I think I spend around $20 for a year's worth of supplies, and all of the supplies can be used for other things.  Borax and washing soda can both be used for other eco-friendly household cleaners (scouring powder, toilet cleaner, counter-top scrubber).  In the end it costs about $2 to make a batch of detergent, and mine lasts me around a month.  It smells fantastic, makes your whole house smell good when you make it, doesn't generate waste since you're not lugging home plastic containers of detergent filled with chemicals, doesn't irritate sensitive skin and it really is cost-effective.  In addition, the borax, washing powder and bar soaps I use are all packaged in cardboard boxes and paper - no plastic.  This is a huge benefit for me.

Also, for those who say it's hard to make, if you have a food processor it's easy peasy.  Grate the bar soap with the food processor's grater, then add the powders and use the blade attachment to process into a fine powder.  It takes less than 5 minutes and is a great way to give your food processor a nice cleaning.

It works great, I use less than the 1/2 cup recommended.  I use about a heaping tablespoon.  I really think adding baking soda helps.  In my previous recipes, I didn't use baking soda and I felt that it needed more deodorizing power.  My sister-in-law uses the same recipe but also adds Oxy-Clean.


I wasn't too happy with this.  It took a lot more work to grate the bar of soap than I had hoped.  Plus, it was almost drying on my clothes-if that's possible??  It left a weird oily stain on several of my dark clothes and almost seemed to pull the color out of the outer surface of some of the darks.  It's just as cheap and far easier for me to get a generic brand eco detergent powder that is concentrated.


as for costs.
A bar of castile soap is about 1$,  the borax is 1.5$/box (about 6 cups in a box I think...), and the washing soda is about 2$/box, same size as the borax.

Since I use the washing soda and borax to clean lots of things, it ends up being economical for me in the bigger housekeeping picture. 


Right-O, I was responding in general to anyone, but in reference to the cheap comment. Also being a broke college student, cheap is important to me.  ;D

I don't know anything about the types of flakes suggested, nor how earth-friendly they are supposed to be. I will have to look all that up I guess. In my experience though, anything healthier for you or the environment is going to cost you out the wazoo compared to normal stuff. If you can afford it, it's very much worth it!



Where did anyone say it would be cheap?  It's meant to be an earth-friendly alternative to commercial laundry detergents.  It's called "Easy Laundry Powder" not "Cheap Laundry Powder."

Issaspiders (the commenter before Althea) said it was cheap. I'm sure we can all agree that cheap AND earth friendly is ideal, esp for those of us on a budget. Sometimes we want to use all the best alternatives but when it comes to either a) paying rent or b) paying extra for every little commercial alternative available, rent tops. We do what we can. :P

(Broke college kid speaking.) :P

agreed!! i know that battle all too well: to help the enironment and my general health with a little bit more expensive alternative thinger that i really want pay the rent? more often than not, the rent wins and that sucks. i guess ya just deal.



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