Sometimes, I’m surprised by what we can make at home. It speaks to my modernity, I know, to think things like mustard or vinegar just come as they do at the store. How to make these things was such a mystery to me. I distinctly remember the first time I saw a recipe for ketchup. Shocked, I turned to my companion, an older friend who loves to cook, and yelled about making your own ketchup. He just shook his head at me, as he should have, surprised that I was surprised.
Laundry detergent fit into that same way of thinking for me. It just comes as it comes, and you have to buy it, I thought. It was just a couple of years ago that I was bemoaning the absolute cost of it all, the lugging it up three flights of stairs to our apartment, and how the smells were also so overpowering. Annoyed about it, I did some research. As it turns out, people all over the place make all kinds of versions of detergent, both liquid and powder. After playing around with a few versions, this is my favorite recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder. This is my go-to recipe and the one I use in our home.
What Goes into Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder?
It’s important to know that this is detergent, not soap. I use three ingredients in my recipe: Fels Naptha bars, washing soda, and OxyClean. I know OxyClean is a manufactured product, and you may want to go 100% natural with your recipe. I use this product because it is a detergent, which does not include fat like soap does. The fats and oils in soaps can eventually clog up your washing machine and gunk up your clothes. Using OxyClean, which dissolves in water and doesn’t leave toxins in the environment, helps get things super clean without costing a million dollars.
Fels Naptha is a laundry bar soap that has been used for decades as a primary means of washing clothes, and then as a spot treatment. Washing soda, which is not baking soda, is a water softener. As it binds to the materials that make water “hard,” it allows the other ingredients to bind to the materials causing the stains and lift them up and off the fibers of your clothing.
Will Homemade Detergent Get My Clothes Clean?
Absolutely. I tested out a bunch of ways to make homemade laundry detergent powder, and this recipe was the winner. Then, I tested this recipe out for MONTHS before writing this post. My husband works with meat and seafood, and it cleans up his “fish pants” so well you’d never know he was covered in who knows water the day before!
It’s optional to add essential oils, but I always do. I love using lemon or orange to get a light, fresh scent. Sometimes I add a little peppermint as well to mix things up. If you have small ones or allergies, you may want to skip this step.
Tips for Making Homemade Laundry Detergent with Washing Soda
Making this homemade laundry detergent with washing soda is super easy! Here are a couple of tips to help you out:
- Make this in bulk. One box of washing soda and one bin of OxyClean will make multiple recipes of this laundry detergent. Usually, I will buy one of each, then buy 10 or so Fels Naptha bars. I will make up a huge batch to save myself time in between batches.
- Use a separate grater for DIY projects. Buy a separate one for projects like this instead of using the same grater you use for your food. It’s inexpensive, and you won’t have to worry about stray soap or beeswax getting into your food.
- Utilize the microwave. If you have a microwave, you might find it easier to soften the Fels Naptha bars in there for about 15 seconds or until it puffs up a bit, then crushing the “puffs” in a bag with a rolling pin. This was recommended by a reader, so drop a comment if you try this method and let me know how it goes!
Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder
- 1 cup OxyClean
- 1 cup washing soda
- 1 bar Fels Naptha laundry soap
- 10-20 drops lemon, orange, lavender, or peppermint essential oil Optional
- Grate your bar of Fels Naptha into a large bowl.
- Mix in the washing soda and the OxyClean.
- This is optional, but you can add 10-20 drops of lemon, orange, peppermint, or lavender essential oil. If you have small children, be cautious about adding too much of any oil and of adding peppermint at all.
- Stir thoroughly to combine, then store in an airtight container.
- For one full load of laundry, add about 1/4 cup of your homemade laundry detergent.