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Homemade powdered laundry soap

The short version:

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint castile soap, shredded.

Mix ingredients, use 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) per load.

The longer version: (i.e., why I love it!)
I have been making laundry soap for a few years now, and originally I used this recipe.
Because all of the ingredients were low-sudsing, it has worked great in our HE washer.  And it’s CHEAP!  Recently we have been re-evaluating our laundry choices because of the Borax ingredient.  Do a search for “dangers of borax” and you can see what I am talking about.  I did a search for “homemade laundry soap without borax” and came up with a recipe that uses Dr. Bronner’s castile soap.  I grew up using his castile liquid soap for hand soap, and I love the way that it smells.  What is castile soap?  It is an old fashioned way of making soap with vegetable fats instead of animal fats.  It is real soap!  No synthetic ingredients.  Here are the ingredients for the bar soap we use, which I took off of Dr. Bronner’s page:
Organic Coconut Oil*, Organic Palm Oil*, Sodium Hydroxide**, Water, Mentha Arvensis*, Organic Olive Oil*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Peppermint Oil*, Salt, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
** None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin

I feel REALLY good about using coconut oil to wash our clothes!  Some people love how Fels-Naptha smells.  I really don’t.  Ivory worked just fine for us.  But this stuff smells like heaven!  During my use of this batch, our clothes have come out cleaner, with just a hint of peppermint in our regular loads.  But the best part is when I use it for my cloth diapers.  No, they don’t come out smelling like peppermint, BUT they actually don’t stink while they are washing.  Previously in our new apartment, where the washer is so close to the kitchen, I would wait until we went to bed to put the diapers in the wash, or at least right after a meal so that we could evacuate the premises during the stinky “necessary evil”.  Now I can wash diapers whenever I want, and I don’t have to apologize when company comes.  You can achieve similar results by adding essential oils to your laundry soap.  However, I love that the oils are built into the soap.  I really enjoyed grating this bar.  :o)  In addition to peppermint, they have almond, baby mild, orange, lavender, eucalyptus, rose, and tea tree.  Some are better than others for laundry, but they would all be fun to try! 

My take on Borax
I have also decided that I personally don’t mind using Borax for our family to wash with.  I talked to my mother about it, and she told me a story that she recently heard about a man who read who was told all of the dangerous things about the light-bulbs that he was using, in favor of a more natural light bulb.  He responded, “Thank you for this valuable information.  I will now stop grinding up my light-bulbs and putting them in my coffee.”  Borax is a detergent, and a natural one.  When my soap-making friends do their magic, they wear safety goggles and gloves.  The scary things that have been written about borax have convinced me not to make slime with it to play with my children, but my family has benefitted from using borax for generations, and none of us have had birth defects or fertility problems.  Use the product as directed and use common sense!   My initial response to the fact that borax is illegal in certain parts of Europe is that Comfrey is illegal to sell for consumption here in the states.  Europe is as vulnerable to shady legislation as the states.  Perhaps this is a soap-box moment from an un-educated scientific background, and so be it.  I don’t have time to become an expert.  Borax is cheap.  Borax is effective.  Borax works for my family.  Besides, the only people who have told me how dangerous borax is are people who were trying to sell me their laundry detergent.

This homemade powdered laundry soap is very green, especially when you think about all of the plastic containers that I’m not buying.  All of my ingredients are purchased in paper.  It also saves a lot of green.  And yes, it really does get your clothes clean.  I am just glad that I don’t have to boil the soap over water and let it soak overnight anymore.  Grate the soap, mix the ingredients, and you are done!  Enjoy!

 Please note:  I was not paid in any way to for my endorsement of Dr. Bronner’s products, or from borax and washing soda manufacturers.  This really is just a happy customer blogging about a cool product.

This post is linked up with
Raising Homemakers


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  1. Homemade soap is SOOO much cheaper than store bought stuff. Jeni, I bought the peppermint soap at Shangri La. I have seen it for a little less online. The peppermint soap is more than other bars. Fels Naptha is often used. Note that it calls for washing soda, and not baking soda. It is in the laundry section. So is borax. Not every store carries them, but Lees does. There really isn't any secret to using the powdered version. The liquid version I was making was fairly simple, but if your machine will take powder, this is easier, takes up less space, and is less messy. I'm glad I saved you a search, Ashly! This stuff is really awesome!

  2. I have a blog post about making this up by the quart if you don't want a huge 5 gallon bucket sitting in the wash room. You can read it here: http://thepreparedhomemaker.blogspot.com/2011/03/home-made-laundry-soap-small-batch.html

    I like your take on the Borax. Really, Ive seen some cautions about it but have chosen not to look into it as I have made myself paranoid to shop for groceries and the like because I know so much about the ingredients in them. So in this case I'm choosing to be blissfully ignorant!

  3. I have recently started making my own laundry powder and I too use Dr. Bonner's. I love the citrus orange. The recipe I use is 2 cup borax, 2cups washing soda, 2 cup baking soda and 2 bars of Dr. Bonner's citrus orange castile soap. I haven't had any trouble so far with my HE front loader. I use 1 TBSP for small loads and 2 TBSP for heavy loads. That's for your post, I really enjoy your blog. 🙂

  4. Thank you so, so much for sharing this. I found it by Googling homemade laundry soap – your recipe is great because it takes way less time than homemade liquid laundry soap. I've given it a "thumbs up" on StumbleUpon and have shared samples of it with my family and friends! Thanks again!

  5. Have you experimented with other scents of Dr. Bronners? I'm not a huge fan of the peppermint scent, so I think I may get the rose bar and use that instead. what do you think?

    As for cloth diapers – aren't you supposed to use scent free? so should I make a separate batch using the baby mild soap bar?

  6. Good questions, Carissa. I haven't experimented with other scents, but I'm sure they would work just as well. And yes, technically you should use unscented for diapers. Oops. I never have. I guess it depends on if your baby has an allergic reaction to the soap. I personally like the scented because it seems like the diapers are less stinky while in the wash, but then again, I haven't tried Dr. Bronner's unscented soap, and I have a hunch that his soap is just better that way. Good luck! I'd love to know how it works out for you.

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