How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder

I have entertained the idea of making my own homemade laundry detergent powder many times. I have seen many tutorials that show how to make your own homemade laundry detergent that is powder and HE friendly.

It certainly makes sense from a budget standpoint- it costs less than $27.00 for me to buy the ingredients and this homemade laundry detergent recipe will get me 271 uses! That is $0.10 per load, mama!

I have told you many times that I hate my front load washer. It is only 4 years old and is a nightmare. It gets clogged. It throws errors. It leaks during every single load. I will never buy one again. I am waiting for it to die so I can go back to a top loader. At the rate we’re going it won’t be long.

Well, in the last few months it has been dropping the liquid detergent in clumps onto my clothes and staining them- badly. Ruining many shirts.

This was the perfect opportunity to switch to powder detergent and the tutorials look easy enough. One of my sister-in-laws made her own detergent a few months back and really likes it and she is super picky. (Hi, Alex!)

I am going to show you how easy it is to make your own detergent. And, you can make it a family event. You’ll defiantly want to pin this so that you always have the recipe at your fingertips!

Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder

Ingredients:

You Will Also Need: (for the first time only)

  • 1 (5 gallon) bucket for mixing and storing
  • lid for the 5 gallon bucket
  • air tight container for displaying your detergent in
  • 2 T scoop, like a coffee scooper
  • food processor (with the multipurpose blade and shredding blade)

Take the Borax, OxiClean and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda and combine them into your 5 gallon bucket.

76 oz box of Borax

55 oz box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

3 lbs container of OxiClean

All of these items are super fine, almost like a powder.

Put the lid on the bucket and shake it up to combine.

how to make homemade powder laundry detergent

Put the shredding blade on your food processor.

shredding blade for the food processor

Take the two bars of Zote and cut them in half length wise.

Put them through the feed tube of the food processor with the shredding attachment.

You could also use a handheld cheese grater if you want to.

zote soap shredded

Pour all of the shredded Zote into a bowl.

Change the blade to the multipurpose blade.

multipurpose blade for food processor

Put about 3-4 cups of the shredded Zote back into the processor.

Pour about 1/4th of the box of baking soda over the Zote.

Run the processor on high for about 1 minute or until it is super fine like the batch of  Borax, OxiClean and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda.

mix zote and baking soda together in the food processor

Dump it into the bucket of  Borax, OxiClean and Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda.

Repeat the Zote and Baking Soda process until all of it is processed.

add zote and baking soda mixture to the bucket

My kids enjoyed mixing the powders by hand as I added more Zote and Baking Soda mixture to the bucket.

(Yes, my four year old draws on himself.)

mix up the homemade detergent

Add the container of Downy Unstopables to the mixture.

Pop the lid on the 5 gallon bucket and shake, shake, shake until everything is mixed well.

add downey unstopables shimmer

Use a cup to scoop the detergent up into an airtight glass container that you can keep in your laundry room.

Store the remainder of the leftover detergent in the 5 gallon bucket.

what homemade laundry detergent looks like

Use a 2 T measuring scoop, like a coffee scooper, as your measuring device for your loads of laundry.

For each load add one scoop (2T) of detergent into the drum of your washer.

storage option for homemade powder laundry detergent

This will allow you to do 271 loads of clean laundry.

use 2 tbs of homemade powder detergent in one load of laundry

Here is what I am storing my detergent in that is readily accessible.

The rest of the batch is still in the 5 gallon container.

how-to-make-homemade-powder-laundry-detergent-on-a-budget

It cost less than $27.00 to buy all of the ingredients at Walmart.

This full recipe makes 271 loads-  that is $0.10 a load! You can’t beat that!

homemade laundry detergent 270 loads

Have you ever made your own laundry detergent?

I was inspired by this recipe.

Comments

    • says

      Katherine- this is really super easy. You cannot mess it up! I am a step by step person that needs pics so I took images of each step so it is easier to follow along visually. Give it a try!

    • Karla says

      You said to put this in the drum. If I have a front loader (which I love by the way) shouldn’t I put it in the dispenser?
      Thanks.

      • says

        The first few months I just put it straight into the drum. Then another reader told me it worked fine when she put it in the dispenser so I tried it and all is well. Either way is fine. Initially I was just scared the detergent would get clogged.

  1. Jill says

    Interesting idea and recipe for laundry detergent. I think I might just look into this one. Thank you for linking up this week to the Thoughtful Spot Weekly Blog Hop :-)

  2. Sharon Owen says

    Tried this homemade detergent and it was AWESOME!!!! Thanks for posting it. This was my first time making homemade detergent and it was super easy! Loved it!!

  3. Julie says

    You mentioned 2T for each load but the cup you have in your container is much bigger. Do u use 2T or that bigger measuring cup? :-)

    • says

      The cup in the large orange container is for scooping detergent into my glass container. The glass container sits on my washer for each access. The orange container stores the mass of the detergent. The stainless steel coffee scooper that is in the glass container is 2T and that is what I use to measure for each load. Does that make sense?

    • says

      For grating the soap, you can use a hand grater.

      The food processor is also used for finely granulating and combine the soap and all of the baking soda together.

      If you do not mind large shavings of the grated soap being in your detergent and you do not mind a less fine consistency of final product, I think it would be fine to just manually combine and stir the ingredients together with a large heavy duty spoon.

      Does that make sense?

  4. says

    Crystal, I have a front load washer also and I will never have another one! The mildew around the rubber seal has proven impossible, so far, to get off! Ugh! I have a question regarding your recipe for the homemade soap. Your instructions say to put the detergent into the drum of your washer. Was that for front load and top load washers? The small amount of water that a front load washer uses makes me a little cautious about adding the detergent directly into the drum. I have found, after some research, that the powdered detergent works better than the liquid in the front load machines, in helping to prevent the spotting on our clothing. It also seems to be helping to prevent any further growth of the mildew.

    • says

      Hi Janet-

      Thanks for taking the time to ask.

      My front load washer started dropping liquid detergent on my clothes and that was my final straw that pushed me to make homemade powder detergent. I figured a lot of it had to do with the dispenser. I figured if it could not properly dispense the liquid, the powder would get clogged. That is why I opted for just placing it inside the drum, plus others have told me they just place it right inside the drum as well, so I went with that. I am so happy to hear you can do it either way! I am going to try putting in the dispenser.

      And the mildew/mold smell is hideous! I smell it the most when we travel and I take clothes out of the suitcase. I am constantly kicking myself for buying this washer!

      • says

        Crystal, thank you for the reply! I can’t wait to try your recipe for the homemade detergent. So glad to know that I do have the option of adding the detergent to the drum.

        I’ve also found that if I allow our clothes to touch the mildewed rubber seal as I am taking them out of the washer, it will cause a crease shaped brown stain on them. I kept finding these mysterious brown stains on our clothes, especially the whites. So I’ve learned to pick the clothes up as I remove them from the washer instead of dragging them out. Also, I try to leave the door open when the washer is not in use to help it dry out.

        Wishing you the best!
        Janet

        • says

          Hi, i have a frount load washer and have had the same problem. This is what i do i admit top loaders are kind of a pain because they require more care . Once a month i clean it with CLR as the directions say. Then i do a bleaching run a half cup of bleach thru a wadh cycle. Then with straight bleach i wipe the insde door making sure i get in all the tight spaces then i wait 10 min, then wipe good with a wet cloth. Run a rince load through one last time wiyj nothing in it so the bleach is gone from the washer as to not have bleash stains on your cloths Leaving the door open is a good idea sounds like u might have hard water? The soap that your making also helps with hard water build up also use a vinegar rince inbetween. The clr and bleaching.

          • says

            Great pointers- thanks for sharing.

            I will say we plan to never purchase a front loader again once this one totally dies. It has been the most high maintenance appliance I’ve ever owned and it breaks down all the time.

  5. Bethany says

    Crystal, I too have a front load washer and the only really trouble I have is the mildew smell. I have not yet used this homemade detergent yet but the one that I use has helped so that our washer does not smell bad anymore at all!! I will be trying your recipe soon hopefully after some more use you too will notice the mildew smell being gone!… Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  6. Bonnie says

    Crystal, I want to say thanks for using photo and good details on the measuring of all the ingredients. I have done the wet version of this and was pleased w the results. I am going to do the dry this time because with the wet I feel I use too much because it’s so easy to over pour.I want to make sure I tell everyone with the wet version I did not have a lot of bubbles and that is the way it’s supposed to be. I want to add I also use 1/2 cup white vinegar to my rinse load because it is a great way to have you clothes soap free. Once the clothes are dry they come out soft and fresh smelling. I’ll never go back to store bought detergents ever.

  7. says

    Crystal, I wanted to let you know that I think I’ve found a solution for the mildew odor in the front load washer. I was drying off after a bath recently, and noticed that horrible smell in my towel. I knew I had just washed and had not let the towels sit for long before they went into the dryer.
    I remembered a commercial I had seen for Tide Washing Machine Cleaner (I’m not sure that the exact name, but close). I bought some and put it in the tub of the washer and ran a cycle, (without clothes of course;o) After the first use my towels smelled fresh again. I’m going to use it once a week for 3 weeks, then once a month thereafter. I hope this helps you and some of your dear readers.
    Janet recently posted..Lessons LearnedMy Profile

    • says

      Thank you so much Janet for sharing that. I will have to take a look at the Tide Machine Cleaner. Typically I just run the washer with only bleach on the cycle for cleaning the machine, but I’ve seen some of these cleaners before and wondered how well they work.

      • Keyshia says

        I use Affresh Washer Cleaner and it works WONDERS!

        My top loader was giving me that nasty mildew smell, even if I let the clothes sit for an hour after they were done! So I went to Wal-Mart and bought a pack of 3. My washer has a Cleaning cycle so I used that but I’m sure you can just run a normal load cycle on hot but you just put one directly in the drum and let it do it’s thing! It got rid of the smell and my washer preformed better! Also keep the door open in-between uses, It really does make a difference, I keep it completely open until my next use so the only time it’s shut is during washing. No more moldy towels/smell and one happy husband :)

  8. Mary says

    For those of you without a food processor.. I cut my soap bars in half. Microwave a few minutes and it practically disintegrates into little bits. Need to let it cool for a few minutes..it gets pretty warm!

  9. Stacy says

    Does this work good with well water? And do you have to use ZOTE can you use like Dove unscented? My husband had sensative skin

    • says

      Stacy- I have no idea if that would work, but you might look into the Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap. I can say one of my children has eczema and this does not affect his skin, although his skin condition has improved as he has gotten older. If he was still a baby I would omit adding the scented Downey Unstopables.

      Hope that helps.

  10. Keyshia says

    I have a question, if using the food processor, I could still use that for my food right? I’m assuming all I have to do is just clean it up? I don’t have 2, so If my husband was to purchase me one I need to be able to use it for more than just laundry soap! lol

    • says

      Absolutely. It is soap, just wash it. I clean it in the sink and then run in through the dishwasher. If there is more soap scum, I run it in the dishwasher a second time.

  11. Deborah says

    Can I use the homemade detergent in my HE top loading machine? The only thing I have found that I can use is All Small and Mighty. I have to be very careful to use only a tiny bit or I have suds everywhere.

      • Val says

        According to a friend who is a washer repair person, the components are extremely harmful to the HE machine dispensers, I would be extremely careful with the cost of a repair, I myself made the liquid homemade detergent and put it in water jugs which the material in the soap caused the jugs to become hard and crack, at that time I went back to All Free and Clear, I have way too much money in that machine to mess it up. Just a thought.

        • Miss Tori says

          That’s why you can just add the detergent right into the drum. No need to even use the dispensers anymore. I only use the dispenser for the occasional use of liquid softener for my sheets and blankets.

  12. Kaye says

    I was researching some recipes for detergent for my front loading machine and came across yours. I am interested in trying it out and think it’s fun that it is pink. I would be interested in checking out out the ingredients to the Unstoppables just to make sure I’m not adding chemicals that are not okay for my sensitive skinned child.

    As a note for the smell on the washing machine that you and others have discussed. You can avoid this mostly by letting the washer dry out with the door open. Since it is a front loader and needs to seal when closed, the water gets trapped in there with the door closed and you get a mildew smell. Leave the door open for a little while (an hour?) after your done with laundry and the smell will GREATLY be reduced.

    That being said, you do still get it from time to time and yes…towels will smell like this from time to time regardless of the washer you use. You can use hot water and white vinegar (both on the towels and just in an empty washer) to eliminate this smell. I’ve done it many times with mine and it works just fine. Bleach CLEANS the washer, but will not eliminate that smell – the vinegar will.

    Just a few tips on the machine there (and I’m sorry yours leaks and all – must have gotten a bad one).

    Now…off to try this detergent! =)

  13. marisol says

    I dont own a washing machine. You mention only 2 tbs per load. How about on the many size washing machines the laundromat has?

    • says

      If you are using a super large washer at the laundromat, I think 3T would suffice. This detergent is very concentrated and most of the laundromat washers are more like the HE’s washers that conserve water.

    • says

      You need 2 tablespoons, not teaspoons.
      That is a coffee scooper that I am using which measures exactly 2T. Found it at Walmart for $0.97.
      Otherwise, just use a tablespoon measuring spoon and fill it twice.

  14. Michele says

    Crystal: I love this idea of making the laundry detergent and am going to try to make it today. I was wondering if this works well in the cold water cycle for washing and rinsing? I use the cold water cycle for almost every load as I have an electric water heater and it gets pretty costly to run the warm water for every load. Do you find that it dissolves nicely or leaves the clumps of detergent behind? Wondering if this works or if I would have to make the homemade liquid detergent.

  15. Sara says

    I Love making homemade laundry detergent! My daughters have very sensitive skin and we have been using free and clear detergent. I found a recipe for homemade thought I would give it a shot. Their skin is clearer and not as dry since we started doing homemade!! Also a neat tip is to use the downy (or whatever brand) bottle to store the already made detergent. I use purex and the lid has 3 lines the 2nd line is 2 T. :)

    • says

      A previous commenter, named Mary, said this:

      For those of you without a food processor.. I cut my soap bars in half. Microwave a few minutes and it practically disintegrates into little bits. Need to let it cool for a few minutes..it gets pretty warm!

      Hope that helps.

  16. courtney says

    Just made this last night and I am loving it!! Since it has strong ingredients…does it fade clothes over time?

    • says

      I purchased all of my ingredients at Walmart. I linked to Amazon so you can see what the items look like in the packaging. I always like to visually know what I am looking for.

  17. Dian says

    Can you use a blender to mix the baking soda and soap instead of a food processor? If I am using pure crystals instead of downy unstoppables, what amount of the crystals do I need? Thanks!

  18. Sharon says

    I’m going to try this tonight! Do I still need a fabric softener or is that what the Pyrex crystals are for?

    Thanks!

  19. Cathy Clendenen says

    I used this recipe for homemade laundry detergent about a month ago and I love it! Works great on all types of laundry and does well in my front load washer. I highly recommend this one! Very simple to make when food processor is used….=)

  20. Camp Isaac Mama says

    This is the recipe I use as well but I do 2 bars zone and 2 felt naphtha (7 elementary school aged kids here, and they’re extra dirty!) . I’ve been making it this way for about a year (although I grate the soap by hand and get a sore arm for a couple days). Love it and will never go back to buying laundry soap regularly.

    • says

      You can grate by hand- lots of women do it. If you need to avoid fragrance I would not add the Unstopables or Purex Crystals.
      Hope that helps.

  21. Ashley says

    I found this recipe online and it seemed so easy, I thought, I can do this! I picked up the ingredients at Walmart, they were regularly stocked items (which is a nice break from some do-it-yourself recipes, where you have to hunt down most of the ingredients).

    One thing I thought might be helpful to other people making this — I don’t have a food processor, but I do have an electric coffee grinder. Granted, in comparison, the coffee grinder is TINY compared to the food processor. But… it works.

    Let’s back up a minute. I originally tried grating the soap. Well, I only have a one-size grater, instead of one of those that has multiple sides and multiple size holes. The one I have — the holes are so small, it just got clogged up with the Zote soap. So that wouldn’t have worked for me to just grate it. So I cut the soap into little cubes on the cutting board and put it into the coffee grinder a bit at a time, putting it into a container off to the side once it was adequately shredded. Once all the soap was cubed and then shredded, took a bit of that and added the baking soda and ground that up until I’d used it all up. And then follow directions til you’re done.

    Now, it is worth mentioning, if you go the coffee grinder route, this does take forever. My coffee grinder kept getting really hot (cause I mean, come on, how many coffee beans would you normally grind at once? it’s not meant for prolonged use), so I had to stop and come back later, and I’m still not done. But… I like the more uniform powder look, and I can get it with my cheap coffee grinder versus having to either buy a food processor or have larger chunks of soap in the powder. So it is possible to do it with a coffee grinder.. you’re just not likely going to be able to do it at one sitting unless you have a commercial coffee grinder that can withstand long use.

    I haven’t tried it yet, because my washer and dryer aren’t even being delivered for another 2 days. Wanted to get this ready ahead of time, so when the come, I can start right in on washing clothes. But I can’t wait to try it! Love how it smells! And with the ingredients in it, there’s no doubt it should work wonders.

  22. barb says

    I just made your recipe and cant wait to try it. I used the fels naptha but i couldn’t get it to blend like in your picture. Should I use smaller batches of the soap and baking soda??? I loved not having to measure out the borax and washing soda and it makes a nice big batch. I can’t use the Zote because of the smell My hubby has an extra sensitive nose.

  23. Kate says

    For those concerned about the chemicals in the Unstopables….I’ve seen several recipes that call for 20-30 drops of your favorite essential oil mixed well into the powder…poof, non-chemical! :)

  24. Angela says

    I love to have my clothes smell good!! I use the unstoppables or the crystals and softner. Everyone always tells us they can smell us a mile away. I use extra detergent ever time I wash plus softner and a scent booster! My husband complains about the cost so if this will smell extra good I will surely try. Please let me know! Thanks so much!

  25. Ashley says

    ooh looks good, but i will say that instead of a food processor i saw on another site instead of grating, you can cut the soap into 4 pieces, microwave for one minuet, and the just crumble with your hands, i dont know if it would work but others swear by it, it sus.. softenes so you can crumble it like cheese and then when you put into the other ingred, you just mix it in well and it seperates like the unstopables does.

  26. Holly says

    I love this recipe. Been using the same one for years. I just use the oxyclean container for keeping detergent near the washer. Along with the scoop.

  27. Lorraine Adams says

    I just wanted to mention that I have been making my own detergent for sometime. I have done some research and I wanted to mention that it is probably not the best idea to be mixing the detergent with your hands. Some of the ingredients can be irritating to the skin.

    Also, adding plain old hydrogen peroxide to your wash may be a better substitute for OxyClean. There are mixed reviews whether it is completely safe.

    Hope this helps.

  28. Carol says

    Just wondering what the baking soda is for in this recipe. It seems like an aweful lot. I have made a similar recipe without it, and it works fine. I have a water softener, and am wondering if all that baking soda would be overkill. Also, you might want to point out that if you are adding Oxyclean to this recipe you should never use it with bleach. I like to make a small batch without it and mark it “bleach safe” for doing my whites.

    I have an HE washer and have never had any issues with a mold smell. I have always left the door open on mine when not in use, and I even take out the drawer to allow it to completely dry. Running the clean cycle every month will help too.

    Thank you for taking the time to share this with us!

    • says

      Baking soda helps dissolve dirt and grease while softening your clothes. It is also great for removing odors. Baking soda also works to softens the water if hard water is an issue.

      Remember, you’re only adding one coffee scoop of the entire detergent to one load of laundry. So the amount of each cleaner is minimal and effective.

  29. kim lopez says

    Although I love it, I have noticed this detergent isn’t very good at removing strains. Any advice? A good pre treatment maybe?

  30. says

    Hey Crystal, it is an inexpensive and Eco-friendly detergent making process which I have to consider making for my washing solution. I heard that, vinegar is the solution which can be use as a softener of hard water. It is the simple and unique way to remove the stains from the clothes. Thanks for sharing the great method of detergent powder.

  31. says

    Hello! I just made a batch of this detergent and I’m excited to give it a try! I my only complaint was because I hand-grated so my arm got tired. I hate grating. ;) I made it, my husband asked if he had to do anything special with it, and I said nope! I left out the Unstoppables because my son has sensitive skin to fragrances so I’m hoping this is fine for him. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  32. Tracy MacDonald says

    I am going to make this with the Purex Crystals, but I don’t see where it says what size to use for this product…went to Walmart and the smallest size I saw was 28 oz. Since the recipe w/Unstopables is 13 oz, I’m wondering if this is too much. Help! :)

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