Tuesday, January 31, 2012

DIY Powder Laundry Detergent, and Fabric Softener

I've had a couple of different people lately ask me (Becca) how I make our own laundry detergent, so I thought that would be a good thing to share here today.  I've been making this off and on for about 3 years now.  I first tried the Duggar's Liquid Laundry Soap, and liked the end result fine, although it is fairly labor intensive initially, and a bit cumbersome to store in 5 gallon containers.  I tried this powder version next, and have been making it ever since.  I used it in my top-loading washing machine, and now use it in my HE front-loading machine as well.  I do still buy 'free & clear' detergent when it is under 0.10 a load on sale & with coupons, but always have the ingredients for homemade ready for back-up for when it isn't on a great sale.  I can find all of these ingredients locally on the laundry aisle.  For those of you that live in this area, the Harps store on Gutensohn in Springdale, and Walmart in Kelly Highway in Fort Smith are the two places I have found to carry the necessary items.  The bar of soap is about $1, and the other items are just a few dollars each, making it a very economical choice, especially since you just use a tablespoon or two per load!

Powder Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 bar Zote laundry soap (others use fels naptha, another brand of laundry soap)
2 cups Super Washing Soda (not, NOT baking soda)
2 cups Borax

Finely grate soap on the smallest setting on your cheese grater.  This should yield about 4 cups.
Mix with other ingredients (super washing soda and borax) and stir to combine.  Store in an airtight container.

Although the amount you need will depend upon your water type, washing machine type, and how soiled your clothes are, I used 2 Tablespoons per load (added before the clothes, as the water was running) on my top loading washing machine, and use 1 Tablespoon per load in my HE front loading machine, added with the clothes in the machine.

For fabric softener, I often use none.  For towels and cloth diapers, I add white vinegar into the softener bin of my washing machine.  You can google it and read the science behind how it works, but it basically strips any remaining soap and oil out of these things, making them more absorbant, less smelly, etc.  And no, your items will NOT come out smelling like vinegar :)

On items that are really prone to static, basically synthetics like my husband's work clothes, dress shirts & pants, I use fabric softener diluted about 1 part of softener to 4 parts of water.  This both saves money, and cuts way down on the fragrance that is touching your body, for those that are sensitive to those, while still being really effective.

I hope I've answered all of your questions, but please let me know in the comments below if you have any other questions or remarks; we do monitor and reply to all comments, and I'll do my best to answer your questions.  Enjoy!  Becca


  1. Becca - Thanks for posting. I am anxious to try this and it came just at the right time!! Do you also make your own household cleaning products?

  2. How much white vinegar do you use?

    1. I just use about 1/2 cup in the softener dispenser of my washing machine.

  3. Becca,
    Have you calculated the price on yours per load?

    1. I haven't, because I already had the supplies here and hadn't saved the receipt; I wished I had it though, next time I go to the store I'll price it and add it to this post & do an update.

  4. I have heard that when you use vinegar (an acid) as a fabric softener it should be used along with baking soda (a base) to ensure that the ph of fabric returns to neutral, something that is especially important with cloth diapers and rash prevention.

  5. Thanks for posting. Ive been using this for a couple of months now and i love it. The zote bar smells like roses and lemon. It has lasted 3x longer then any other laundry soap, and it does clean our clothes.