Today was going to be a shaving cream day, but after a good cup of coffee, a few minutes in the carline, and a quiet drive home, I had a lightbulb ingredient moment. This means I scratched my plans to share my homemade shaving cream recipe, just for today. I promise, it will be up next week, but I think this one ingredient could be an awesome addition. One more week!
In the meantime, let’s turn our attention to laundry. Because just like coffee and quiet drives, laundry solves all problems. Or wait, maybe laundry creates all problems? That was the case in our home before I finally created a laundry routine that worked for me. And to be honest, I’ve been slacking on my routine this week.
Before I go way too far off topic, let’s chat about laundry soap.
I shared my first ever laundry post on Live Simply back on February 11, 2014. Now that really dates this blog. That’s two whole years ago, which in human years means that first laundry post is now a toddler. But when it comes to blog years (which work the same way as dog years, I believe), that laundry post is a teenager. And if we take this a step further, that’s REALLY REALLY old for a blogpost.
In that two year span of time, hundreds and thousands of people have said “good-bye” to the Tide once and for all (just like I did), and found a new love called, Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap. Today, two years later, I’d like to expand your (laundry) soap-making vocabulary and skills to include a powder laundry soap. But not just any powder soap. Oh no! We’re going to keep this one incredibly simple. In fact, the entire process, from start to finish, only takes about five minutes. Seriously, five whole minutes!
To add to the tell-all nature of today’s post ;), I think it’s important to point out that I’ve never been a powder laundry soap kind of gal. I never had anything against powder laundry soap; it’s just that my mother only used liquid laundry soap, and so, as a result, I decided liquid soap was the route to go.
Because I had a deep love for a certain kind of not-so-natural liquid laundry detergent, I created my infamous liquid laundry soap a fews years into our real food journey, and instantly fell in love. I never once gave a passing thought to the idea of making a powder soap. Plus, there are only a bazillion powder laundry soap recipes on Pinterest.
That all changed last year.
I’m not exactly sure what was happening in our life at the time, but I do know that we were going through a busy season. At some point during that busy season, I ran out of my homemade liquid laundry soap. Now, this may surprise some people, but I decided in that moment of busyness to purchase a “more natural” store-bought soap.
Remember my “What to Buy vs. Make” chart? Number three on that chart asks, “What’s the time difference?” At that time, the time difference between making laundry soap and purchasing it from the store was large enough that store-bought won. Dear Mom, please don’t feel like you must make EVERYTHING! There are times when you’ll make homemade mayo, and other times when a cleaner store-bought option is best. There are times when you’ll make laundry soap, and other times when you just need to get to bed at 10pm and purchase soap at the store during your next shopping trip. It’s okay!
After purchasing laundry soap for a couple of months, I felt the “itch” to get back to making homemade laundry soap again. Our schedule also slowed down to a normal pace. During this time I also had a few requests from readers for a powder soap, so I decided to use the same ingredients from my liquid soap (castile soap, borax, and washing soda) to create a powder version. And now for the words that I never thought I would say: I loved the powder laundry soap! Big puffy heart love! (Just imagine a big heart emoji there <—)
And now, my friend, without any further ado, let’s talk about this powder laundry soap, and the simple ingredients and recipe that won my heart.
Castile Soap (Bars): Castile soap is a concentrated vegetable-based soap made of ingredients you can actually pronounce. This soap is gentle on the skin and effective in the fight against dirt, grease, and unwanted germs. Dr. Bronner’s is a very a popular brand of castile soap. For this recipe, we’re going to use the bar (dry) form of castile soap versus the liquid. The bars and liquid are sold in Target, health food stores, online stores (like Amazon), and even conventional grocery stores.
Washing Soda: Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate and sold under the Arm & Hammer brand, is highly alkaline which makes it a great cleaner! The high alkaline level allows washing soda to act as a solvent. Washing soda can also be used to fight against hard water, since the washing soda binds to the minerals, which in turn can boost laundry soap’s effectiveness. Washing soda can be found in the laundry section of most grocery stores, or made at home in the oven.
Borax: This white powder, sodium borate, is a natural mineral used in many cleaning recipes. Over the years, some people have expressed concerns that borax isn’t a safe homemade cleaner. I take just the opposite view, especially when you compare super effective borax to most of the main-stream cleaners on the market.
While I feel safe using Borax in my cleaning recipes, I take care to avoid inhaling this ingredient (as you’ll see in this recipe) and keep it away from little hands that may choose to taste-test some of the white powder. The product receives an F according to the EWG for respiration concerns (don’t purposely sniff inside a box of Borax!). I believe this article from Wellness Mama offers valid points to why we shouldn’t throw the Borax out with the box.
Homemade 5-Minute Powder Laundry Soap
- 2-5 oz lavender castile soap bars any variety, I used peppermint in the photos
- 3 cups washing soda
- 2 cups borax
- 30 drops lavender essential oil or other cleaning oil such as: tea tree, lemon, or orange, optional
- Cut the castile soap bars into small slices or chunks. This step is important to avoid ruining your food processor.
- Place the castile soap slices or chunks in a food processor bowl. Pulse the soap on high until the soap resembles large crumbs. Add the washing soda to the food processor. Place a towel over the top of the food processor lid, and pulse for 1 minute. After pulsing, the ingredients should be well combined. If you don’t have a food processor use a cheese grater, and then mix the ingredients in a bowl.
- Pour the washing soda and castile soap into a storage container, and stir in the borax. Add the essential oils, if using.
Borax Note: As noted above, I feel safe using borax in my laundry soap. If you’d prefer not to use this ingredient, try subbing out the borax with 2 cups of washing soda. I can’t guarantee the effectiveness of this recipe once the swap has been made, but it’s worth the shot if you have strong feelings against borax.
Thank you for the lovely recipe, I’ll try it instead of the one I’ve been using.
I have to ask, where did you get this gorgeous ceramic cup?
Hey Jesse, I believe it’s from Anthrpologie a few years ago.
Does this recipe work well in cold water?
Hey Me, Yes, you can use this in cold water. Although all powder laundry soaps perform at their best in a warm-hot temperature.
Is there a reason to pouring in the borax AFTER the other ingrediants are in the storage container? Can I add it into the processor/bowl & stir? Also, what size container should I use to store the soap mixture in?
Hey Lary, It’s to avoid having the borax powder circulating in the air. Borax isn’t something you want to inhale.
I am noticing that by washing with this bio receipt the stains don’t leave as easily while using a normal receipt!
Have you used a surfactant to remove stains easily?
I would try this:
You said this laundry detergent works best in warm and hot water. What do you use to wash cool/cold water fabrics?
I generally don’t wash anything in cold, just warm. You can use this in cold water, but I would dissolve in some warm water first.
Hello! I just got the ingredients for this! Is 1/8 cup for a regular sized load? If I’m doing a large load should I use more?
Yes you can do that.
Adding trisodium phosphate will power up this formula in a natural way. Very cheap at hardware stores. Google usage recommendations.
Thanks for the recommendation, Elvira. Did you try it with this recipe?
I have recently swapped over to seventh generation for my laundry but my husband has complained that he doesn’t feel his clothes are as clean as before. He does industrial electrical work so his clothes can get pretty dirty, do you have suggestions on which natural options have worked better for dirty clothes? Or if there is a pre soak I could use?
Hi, what size container is needed for this batch of laundry soap powder? Thank you, and thank you for sharing
Hey Sharon, I use a 1/2 gallon container
Love this idea and I mixed up some this Morning!!!!! One Question…Can this be used to wash up the Dinner Dishes? I thought it was posted elsewhere that it could be…Also I am gonna run the hot water from my Sink in some sort of Container and add my powders to it and stir really well so they will dissolve better!!!! Thanks for Sharing!!!! Blessings to You and Your’s!!!
Works well and very economical
Hi Kristin I live in the UK and was wondering how much do 3 cups of washing soda and 2 cups of borax weigh in grams or ounces? Thanks Nia
Thanks! I bought Air Tight containers and can just use a little of each. Figuring out how much of each might take a little math, but it will be less messy for me than mixing it together.
Can I keep all the ingredients separate and mix in the washing machine? I ask, because I would rather use the liquid soap, but not make a liquid detergent ahead of time.
Hey Deborah, You could try. That should work.
I cant get a fragrance when i use essential oil orange after the clothes are dry. Any suggestions. I use a reciepe for softner with water vinegar and baking soda and 20 drops of the orange essential oil. HE front loader. I use a scentless natural liquid detergent. Thank you☺
Hey Debbie, Most essential oil-based laundry soaps won’t add much perfume scent to clothing (if at all). You could try adding a few drops of essential oil to dry balls before drying the clothes with them. The smell won’t be as long-lasting or apparent as commercial scented formulas, but it will be slightly noticeable.
I’ve heard that washing soda is ok to use every now and then, but that excessive use can actually wear out your clothes faster. What has your experience been with this? Do you use this as an ever day laundry detergent?
Hey Chloe, I use either this or small-company brand that uses the same formulation and haven’t had issues. I do turn certain items inside out (dark colored items, like black jeans). Occasionally I’ll change things up with a liquid detergent.
I used to make liquid detergent and got away from it because life got in the way! I am excited to try this version because it seems so much easier. If I use my food processor can I use it for food afterwards? Is there a special way to clean it?
Hey Lynnette, I’m excited to hear what you think. Since all the ingredients are cleaning ingredients, you can rinse the food processor out with soap. The ingredients will actually help clean it, too. Just rinse it clean afterward :).
Would love to know if anyone has used pure soap flakes? I bought a bag of pure soap flakes at my health food store and I can’t seem to find a recipe that uses this stuff ! Help anyone !
Hey Cathy, Hmm, good question. I would give it a try in this recipe.
Hi! Thank you for your post! Do you know if this will work in HE washers? Thanks!
Hey Caroline, Yes, it does :). You’ll only need 1-2 tablespoons of soap.