07 February 2011

Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder

Ever since I saw an Atlantan woman make her own laundry detergent on a local news show, I have wanted to give it a go.  She seemed to get her clothes just as clean and for way less money.  Plus, it's a much greener approach to getting your clothes clean.  I was ready to try it for myself.

Except, I didn't pay attention to the ingredients she used…and I didn't have DVR at the time…

So…my good blogging buddy, Katie, must have been reading my mind one day when she published the steps to making her own liquid laundry detergent!  She's a mean, green do-it-yourselfer who is great with kids with special needs (it's actually how we met--while we were mentoring a young woman with autism) and has a soft spot for the great outdoors.  After I read her entry on liquid detergent, I told her I wanted to do the same--except in powder form!  This entry will focus on the steps to make your own powdered detergent that will cost you only pennies per load.  It's biodegradable and will last you a while.  You can even add essential oils to it for a personalized fragrant touch.  Make sure to visit Katie's page, too, so you can compare the differences between the two processes.

Ingredients needed:
  • 1 bar of shredded Zote soap (a bar of Ivory or Fels Naptha will do--I found the Zote at Home Depot for $1.49)
  • 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (baking soda is NOT a substitute--found it at Ingles for $3.49)
  • 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax (also found at Ingles for $4.29)

Materials needed:
  • airtight jar or container
  • measuring cup
  • large bowl and mixing spoon
  • grater OR food processor


Here are the steps through pictures:

Step 1: Double-check to make sure you bought the right ingredients.  Baking soda will not serve as a sub for washing soda.

Step 2: Make sure your jar or container is large enough and has a tight lid.  You may be making a powdered detergent, but it can cake up if exposed to humidity.

Step 3: Set up your food processor with the rough chop blade.  Yes, you're about to put soap into your processor. No, it will not ruin it.

Step 4: Use a large serrated knife to slice your soap bar into slices that will easily fit into the neck of your processor.  Have an artistic moment on your cutting board.  ;)

Step 5: Put shredded Zote soap into your mixing bowl.  It sure looks like Big League Chew, doesn't it?

Step 6: Add that washing soda to the bowl. 

Step 7: Now add that cup of borax.  Don't mind any spillage.  You can always wet it to clean the counter afterward.

Step 8: Hire a cute little girl to stir all ingredients.  You may have to set the bowl on the floor.

Step 9: Portion your detergent into your containers.  I'm using Ball jars for mine.  Your little friend can also serve as the poster child for your creation.

When you go to actually use your detergent, follow these guidelines:

  • Small-sized or lightly-soiled loads = 1 tbsp powder
  • Medium-sized or somewhat-soiled loads = 2 tbsp powder
  • Large-sized or heavily-soiled loads = 3 tbsp powder
I've noticed that my laundry smells delightful when using the powder.  I'm a fan of pure soap smells, and that's what you'll get with this recipe.  The powder may need a little shaking if your soap flakes are on the large side (gravity works, things settle).  The total cost of the ingredients was just under $10, but you most certainly won't use all of it when making a single batch.  Each load is only costing a few pennies, and I'm sure to have plenty of the powdered ingredients to last me for most of the calendar year!  I will have to buy a new bar of soap each time, but it will still be easier on the wallet than Tide or a store-bought biodegradable variety.  If you happen to give this laundry experiment a whirl, drop me a line!








The following pics have nothing to do with the entry above.  I simply bought a new camera (Canon Rebel T2i) and wanted to share a couple of shots I took with it.

Tulips on our foyer cabinet.  I'm loving the color saturation this camera offers.

Check out the macro feature! Canon, you had me at "yellow"…and pink and green and white.


5 comments:

A. Hab. said...

Oh my gosh! I love that! I might have to give this a whirl. We're currently spending far too much on detergent as it is--we buy those humongo Tide detergent dispensers (the ones with the keg tap in them), and I would absolutely love to be more thrifty in this arena.

So, I have a question--I don't have any experience to speak of in the essential oils department, but I do love a little fragrance with my laundry detergent. Do you have any advice on the "correct" amount of essential oil to add to the mix? And do you know if it would make the powder clumpy? (I'm actually wondering if it wouldn't be better served to toss in with the Zote in the processor. What do you think?)

Okay, and one more question popped into my head. Do you use fabric softener as usual, as well?

I can't wait to try this out! :)

V-Dub said...

Hey A. Hab.! :)
I haven't tried mixing in essential oils myself (since it's an added cost and I already love the smell of the Zote), but one woman's blog that I came across recommended 1-2 drops per batch. She didn't mention anything about it caking up. To disperse the scent throughout the batch, she closed the lid to the storage container she kept the powder in and shook vigorously.

As for fabric softener, I actually don't use it. It's difficult to find one that's biodegradable and affordable. My friend Katie (whose blog I mention in this entry) makes her own softener. She talks about it in the entry I hyperlinked. I might just give her recipe a try since it's just as affordable and "green"!

Later, friend!

Katie said...

So awesome!! Thanks for the shout-out, friend! I do love the powder detergent idea :)

Lila said...

Hey Vikki,
Is this detergent o.k. to use in the new fangle energy efficient washing machines? If so I'm going to have to give it a try!

V-Dub said...

Lila, this detergent is just as safe as HE detergents because it doesn't make suds like regular detergents. You don't need suds to get clean laundry--just a good cleaning agent! Hope this helps. Good luck in trying it out! :)

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