Homemade Washing Liquid and Powder Detergent Recipes

This post was most recently updated on March 18th, 2020

Why am I sharing our washing detergent recipes? There are many arguments for swapping to homemade laundry detergents. These two recipes will show you how to make both washing powder and a washing liquid that both work wonderfully.

Please read: This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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Reasons for making your own washing powder or liquid

There are several reasons to swap to home made washing detergent.

It could be avoiding the sodium lauryl sulphates, phosphates and other nasty chemicals.

It could be related to a skin reaction/eczema or the sheer overwhelming stench of some powders.

Or like me – it is cheaper!

Part of our plastic-free adventure is having to find new products to replace our old ones. Most commercial laundry soaps are:

1.) Not soap but actually synthetic detergents and

2.) Have some form of plastic in either their packaging or their scoops.

Check out this DIY all natural dust-busting cleaner

Why do the ingredients in washing powder or washing liquid matter?

While washing machines rinse your clothes, that smell the is left when you pull them out proves that some residue remains to rub on your skin. When you eat something, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach help to break it down.

However, when you put these chemicals on your skin, they are absorbed straight into your bloodstream without filtering of any kind.

Once these chemicals find their way into your body, they tend to accumulate over time because you typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down.

With my girl’s cloth nappies we have always used my homemade laundry detergent recipe. With the boy, I did trial some Persil sensitive for washing his nappies when we moved to my parents. But he came out in a horrendous rash, so I went back to my homemade laundry detergent recipe.

I usually make the powder version, mostly because it is so simple. But the soap pieces don’t always dissolve right in cold water, so for cold washes, it is probably better to make the liquid detergent.

RELATED: zero waste bathroom

My Easy Laundry Detergent Recipe

To make either the liquid or the powdered versions you only need these simple ingredients:

Borax – is a naturally occurring, stable mineral made up of sodium, boron, oxygen, and water. NOT to be confused with the really-not-safe-to-handle boric acid.

Washing soda (AKA soda ash or sodium carbonate) is made from common salt and limestone or found as natural deposits.

Bar soap (sunlight, ivory, Dr. Bronners or better yet a home made coconut oil soap).

Essential oils for scent if required – I don’t bother but lavender or eucalyptus are two common faves.

Natural Washing Powder Recipe:

1) Grate the bar soap or chop up in a food processor until finely ground. Use the soap of your choice. I personally use homemade coconut oil soap, but in the past I have used Lux flakes or Sunlight soap.

2) In a large bowl, mix 4 parts washing soda (soda ash), 2 parts Borax and 1 part grated soap. I find my giant stainless steel bowl and a wire whisk work well.

3) Store in closed container. I keep mine in big mason jars.

Use 1/8 to 1/4 cup per load of laundry depending on the size of your machine and the grubbiness of your clothes – I have a 7.5kg machine and kids so I tend to use 1/4c per load.

** A ‘part’ is whatever volume you want it to be – you could use a spoon, a cup or a 20 gallon bucket – it doesn’t matter. A long as you use the same measuring thing for each ingredient.

So 2 parts borax 1 part soap could be 2 cups of borax and one cup of soap, or it could be two buckets of borax and 1 bucket of soap. The recipe is more about the ratios of ingredients rather than the actual amount.

To make Easy Washing Liquid Detergent:

1) Grate one bar of soap with cheese grater or food processor.

2) Put grated soap in pan with 2 litres of water and gradually heat, stirring constantly until soap is completely dissolved.

3) Put 17 litres of really hot tap water in a 20 litre bucket (available for free at some bakeries if you don’t want to buy one) and stir in 2 cups of borax and 2 cups of Washing Soda until completely dissolved.

4) Pour soap mixture from pan into the bucket. Stir well.

5) Cover to keep dogs, kids and bugs out and leave overnight.

6) Stir until smooth and pour into bottles or other containers.

7) Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load.

If you don’t have a 20L bucket either halve the recipe or use two standard 10L buckets and just split it between the two.

These recipes are a great way to save money on laundry. Try your local bulk bin shop for ingredients, they will often get you in a huge bag and even give you a discount if you are lucky! I bought 15L of double strength white vinegar for $45 instead of the $60 they would usually sell it for because I bought the whole bottle.

Otherwise, you can buy the supplies in bulk from somewhere like here. Buying online you do need to watch shipping prices, I like kiwi soap supplies but their shipping is $15 for most orders, so I just make sure I stock up on everything at once and spread the cost.

Do you have any questions?

Please Pin and share with your Friends and Family!

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Quick and easy - How to make you own laundry soap. laundry detergent recipe.

Quick and easy - How to make you own laundry soap. laundry detergent recipe.

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8 thoughts on “Homemade Washing Liquid and Powder Detergent Recipes”

  1. Love all your ideas! Thank you for sharing!!!
    hmmm ok – I was making the liquid laundry detergent – I used soda ash, not washing soda – I have a lovely thick gel/gloop now … is this usual??? I imagine it would dissolve quickly enough in the washing, but it ain’t going to pour out of a bottle.
    I know washing soda and soda ash are basically the same thing, but they present differently – does it make a difference which you use in your powder laundry wash – I think my washing soda crystals look quite large and may not dissolve in a cold wash…?

    • Soda ash is the dry washing soda – which is exactly what you should be using! Some soaps will set thicker than others, you can either just scoop some laundry gloop/liquid in to your wash (it will dissolve fine) or water the gloop down with more water

    • I have used it for years without issue. I am no scientist to compare fabric wear or anything though. Usually dishwashing soap has more of the super harsh ingredients, but I agree it is quite a similar recipe and could probably be used for both.


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