Recipe: Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on February 22, 2011

What are the benefits to making your own laundry soap?

1.  It’s a great money saver-especially if you compare it to the “allergy free” or “scent free” versions.
2.  It’s easy! With 3 ingredients and a food processor you can whip up a batch in just a few minutes.
3.  You know exactly what is in it-no extra chemicals to be inhaled, cause allergic reactions or irritations.
4.  It’s Green, so your home air quality and your local groundwater will thank you.
5.  If you keep the ingredients on hand you won’t ever “run out” of laundry detergent and have to run to the store.

There are a few things to be aware of when using Homemade Laundry Soap:

1.  A little goes a long way.  Really.  You only need about 1-2 TBS a load.
2.  It will not foam up like the detergents you are used to.  That’s ok-it’s still working.
3.  The wash water may look gray.  Again-it’s ok.  That’s the dirt & ick coming out of your clothes.  You just don’t see it with storebought detergent because of the bubbles.
4.  Your laundry will not have a scent.  This does not mean that it isn’t clean.
5.  You may want to occasionally clean out your washing machine with a load of hot water & vinegar to help dissolve any stray soap build up-most brands you buy at the store are detergents, not soaps. . . soaps can leave some residue.

So here you go, the super easy recipe

Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap

3 ingredients, a food processor, a few minutes and you've got it!


  • 1 Cup Grated Soap
  • 1/2 Cup Washing Soda (NOT baking soda)
  • 1/2 Cup Borax


  • Combine all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
  • For each load of laundry use 1 TBS. If extremely dirty you can add a second TBS.
  • Quick Notes:
  • You may grate your soap either by hand or in a food processor.
  • I like to "chunk" my soap up with a knife before I place it in the food processor.
  • Baking soda and washing soda are two different chemical compounds-maker sure yu use washing soda.
  • Look for washing soda in the cleaning aisle of your store.
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Making Homemade Laundry Soap-2
Photo by Debra


The Ingredients

Photo by Sam Powers

Here are some other times we’ve talked about Homemade Laundry Soap:

Best of “Frugal Laundry Care”.
Reader’s Question: Homemade Laundry Detergent Residue?
Reader’s Question’s: Fading, where to find Washing Soda & more!
Reader’s Question: Cost Effectiveness of Homemade Laundry Detergent Reader’s Question:  Dingy Laundry?
Using Homemade Laundry Soap in an HE Washer.

And I even made a video showing you how!  Making Laundry Detergent Vlog.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

meliss February 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Do you have any trouble with it dissolving in cold water? I’d made liquid the last time because I read someone talking about it not dissolving enough, but that’s a pain to store.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 22, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Meliss-I only use cold water in my washer and have never had a problem with it dissolving. I totally agree with you on the storage (and mess) issues of the liquid version. The powder works just as well, is easier/less time intensive to make and takes up a fraction of the space. LOVE IT.


meliss February 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Thanks Jenn! I’m going to mix some up tonight. I’d been putting off making another batch of liquid because of the mess.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 23, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Honestly-I’d never, ever make it if my only option was liquid.


stephanie February 23, 2011 at 7:21 am

so very timely – i’m mixing up a batch this morning. I also love using it because it helps all members of my family that do laundry [cough -- dh -- cough] with detergent portion control:)


Lorrie February 23, 2011 at 9:13 am

I just mixed up a batch of this dry powder for the first time last week! I’ve always made the liquid detergent so this was MUCH easier. So far it is working just fine. (Had read about Zote soap but couldn’t find any in stores around here, so used Fels Naphta. It’s good too – I just wanted to try something different. Where do you buy the Zote?)


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 23, 2011 at 9:45 am

Actually, I use the Fels Naptha as well. I used that photo from flickr :) (it was marked as being available for use of course)

I have used Octagon in the past-I found it at a Dollar General that had an area that seemed to be targeted at the Hispanic demographic. You may try an ethnic grocery of some sort (Asian, Hispanic etc) many of those traditions are more likely to still use actual laundry soap.


Brigid February 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

This looks great! I also wash in cold only, but I have a front load HE washer…any problems with that washer type? Thanks.


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 24, 2011 at 11:45 am
Sharon March 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I use only Zote. I hate the smell of Fels. I live in Wisconsin, so Woodmans, Sendiks, and my local Mexican grocery store sells it. I have also seen at Big Lots.


levi March 15, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I used a bunch of little soaps from hotels that we’d collected. They were the right size to throw in the blender as well. So far, so good…


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm

That’s a great way to use up those little soaps!


LORI March 20, 2011 at 11:49 am

I use to lye-soap for years. I really liked the way it deeped cleaned my sons clothes. This version really works and it easier to make then lye. Thank you for this !!


Hilary@My So-Called Home July 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Hey I just found your site when I was looking for this recipe. I linked up to it on my blog. Thanks for the tips!


Ryan February 6, 2012 at 9:41 am

great recipe… got the ingredients from a friend.. shave the soap, add it to the measured powdered ingredients in a small saucepan, heat until all dissolved, dump into 5 gallon bucket, (with lid), add water to make the full 5 gallons. Save an old container to use as needed. if you want to have it scented, add some (not too much) scented bath oil..


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate February 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

I’ve never done the liquid version-it seems like a lot more work ;)


Beverly Bullion March 17, 2012 at 10:25 pm

What is washing soda??


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

Beverly-Washing Soda is a cleaning agent/chemical compound. It’s close to but different from Baking Soda. They sell it in the cleaning aisle.


Connie June 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Anyone ever try with Castile Soap? I use this (although mine also has the calendula flowers in it too) Think this would work good and also heard some add Oxi-clean type stuff to mix in? Or if you add soap nuts? Just getting ideas :) Let me know what you guys think


Jenn @ Frugal Upstate June 11, 2012 at 9:06 am

Connie-I’ve never used castile soap, but as long as it is an actual bar soap it should work (unless you are worried about the calendula staining things) I have heard some folks add the Oxi Clean type stuff-I haven’t bothered. If a load is really tough I just add that in separate occasionally. As for the soap nuts, the whole point is you use those by themselves as your laundry soap-so I don’t think you’d need to add them in to this mix.


Kay Lard November 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I fine it is a very good idea to were a mask while mixing. The fine particles make it hard to breath sometimes.


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