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Homemade Laundry Soap, a powder

I have tried a couple of homemade laundry powder "recipes" and now, this one is a keeper. It is easy, but more importantly it works well. The clothes come out clean, fresh smelling and did I mention clean? This laundry powder is not over perfumed, harmful or full of phosphates.

In the mid sixties, our large family (5 kids and 2 adults) still used a wringer washer. I use to help my mom with the laundry, I thought the wringer part was fun, and I got to "wring" out the the clothes. The washer was rolled over to the laundry sink and filled with hot water. Clothes were washed in sequence, first the whites, then the towels, and then the blue jeans and dark clothes. Yes, all from the same soapy water. 

Clothes and linens used on a regular basis, will get a bit dingy and that will happen with any laundry product used, homemade or purchased. The difference between commercial laundry powders and this homemade version is that the extra cleaning chemical used to prevent any build up, are in every load of laundry and going down every drain, each time you wash a load of clothes.

To prevent that dingy look, every six months (or so)  I will give the whites an extra little tumble with additional oxyclean, but otherwise this is a complete laundry powder. Just like when I was a kid, our clothes are clean, not dingy and if I had a clothes line to hang them on to dry, I would be proud of how clean the laundry looked, just like my mom was.

Let's get started, but only if you want to save some money and still get clean clothes. Thanks to Rocquie @ Sage Trifle, she pointed out that I did not let everyone know how easy it is to find these ingredients. All of these items are easily obtained from our local market, in this area we shop Winco. I am sure you have a similar store where you live.

UPDATE: I have now adapted this recipe for a big batch, which for some folks might be easier, I know it is for us. You can find it here.

Happy Clothes Laundry Powder
Largely adapted from: Love made the radish grow
and countless other internet searches!

1 bar Fels Naptha soap
2 c borax
2 c washing soda
1/2 c baking soda
1 c oxyclean or oxygen laundry additive

Note:  I usually make a double batch to save time, the ingredients in the following photos are for a double batch.

Cut soap in half, grate using grater attachment. Empty into a large mixing bowl, change to the chopping blade.

Pulse mixture until the volume is reduce by half, to chop up the grated soap.

Return soap to the mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients. Combine until completely mixed. Package into a sealed container, we use empty coffee cans. Because these are natural products they will clump while stored in their original boxes. Simply press through a sieve to remove any clumps.

Use a coffee measuring spoon, 1 slightly rounded scoop for a small load, 2 scoops for a large load. If you are washing really dirty clothes, add up to 1/2 extra scoop.

When my original processor bowl became scratched worn, I turned it into the soap processing bowl. I have  the recipe taped right on the side.  This way I do not have to be concerned about soap flavor getting into the new processor bowl, I use to cook with. This soap bowl just goes back on the storage shelf in the garage, ready to use again.

As a helpful reminder, here is a link for Cookbook Sunday. The linky tool is open through May 8th! Get out those cookbooks and have fun!

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments!

This post is shared with:
Market Yourself Monday @ Sumo's Sweet Stuff
Hearth n Soul @ the life and time of the 21 Century Housewife

Key words:  homemade laundry powder, clothes, clean


  1. I buy the Seventh Generation but I think that was a great tutorial for making the soap.

  2. This is very similar to the laundry soap I make. I use the Fels, the washing soda and the borax. I've haven't added the oxy-clean or baking soda before, but I can see how it might help. I also love how this soap smells!

    My food processor will allow me to use the grating blade and the chopping blade at the same time, so I only have to run the Fels through one time. This processor is on it's last legs, though; I hope my next one will also allow me to use both at the same time.

  3. That is so cool,, making your own soap.I think this is the same soap The Duggers make.The big family with the reality show.She said it cleans great too.My daughter would love this recipe for sure.Thankyou for sharing this,

  4. These are great instructions to keep on hand. Thanks for sharing them with us. I found the information you share with your readers to be really helpful. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. I use this recipe too without the baking soda. I also dry most of my clothes on a line in the summer. I don't use fabric softner in the washer, but after my clothes are dry, I usually throw them in the dryer with a Bounce sheet for about 5 minutes to soften them up. This recipe is very low sudsing so it works perfectly for my HE washer.

  6. Wow! Melynda! This is great, I have never seen homemade soap before, this is new to me! I have learnt something interesting today! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Very interesting. Where do you buy all those ingredients?

  8. This is very cool! I have never tried to make my own laundry detergent. I really should give this a go. I'm going to try to find the Fels.
    My Mom makes her own window cleaner that works amazingly well. I need to get her recipe for it. She usually just brings me a gallon when she visits..LOL.

  9. I've seen similar recipes before that involved grating the soap by hand. I wasn't that wild about the idea. You're so smart to use the food processor.

  10. Thanks for this, I'm going to make some! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  11. I have not tried this - I am on the lookout for a cheap, used food processor - I only have one - to try this.Thanks for linking this to the Hearth and Soul Hop!

  12. I wonder how well this formula would work with my homemade soap. I have seen similar recipes, but without the oxyclean and baking soda. I think I will try this. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Thanks for sharing them with us.
    I do remember how wringer washer,Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?or ruined a couple of shirts?

  14. Melynda, I'm going to share my Mom's window cleaner "recipe" this week (she just e-mailed it to me :) and I'm going to feature your homemade laundry detergent as well.

  15. Melynda, this is such a great idea - it's so much better to know what is actually in the products you are using to clean your clothes and your home, especially these days, and the only way to do that is to make them yourself. Thank you for a really interesting post and for sharing such a useful recipe with the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

  16. I just made this! Trying it now lets see how it works!!!! Thanks!

  17. Thanks for the tutorial!
    May I use SUN bleach (like from Dollar Store) instead Oxu clean?


  18. Sun Bleach should work if it is an enzyme cleaner, let me know, thanks for visiting!

  19. I am new to soap making. Will be making a second batch now that I found the recipe again. The first recipe is in the house somewhere. It cleans the clothes and towels nicely. Only a couple of times were stains left, had the item been pretreated it would have washed out. The detergent I have been using for years was starting to offend my nose. I want to try ivory and see how that works in place of the Fels Naptha. Thanks for the recipe.

  20. I made this last week and love it! Thank you!

  21. I have been using this recipe for several years, but we make a big 5-gallon bucket of it at one time. I don't have a food processor, so my kids take turns grating the Fels Naptha soap on our hand grater. It works great, I love this detergent! A 5-gallon bucket lasts us about 6 months, and we do about 7-8 loads of laundry a week. Costs approximately $20...

  22. My recipe is similar, too, but like Annie (above) I don't use oxyclean or baking soda. I started making it with Octagon soap, but we didn't care for the scent. Now I use Yardley soaps; my favorites are lemon verbena and vanilla. The baby soap is nice, too, but my guys don't always want to smell like baby powder. ;)


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