Homemade Laundry Soap

glass jar with DIY laundry detergent

I’m so excited to share this homemade powder laundry soap with you!!

 

I had tried for years to make a great DIY powder laundry detergent and was unsuccessful.  Every homemade washing powder I tried either (1) was filled with harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and dyes or (2) didn’t really get clothes clean- the clothes may have looked clean, but when I soaked those “clean” clothes in a sink or tub, the water would turn a dirty brown from all the gunk that was still on those “clean” clothes.

 

So for years now, I’ve used my homemade liquid laundry detergent.  Unlike the powder versions, I figured out how to get the liquid detergent to work great.  It truly cleans clothes, eliminates stains, helps with static clean, smells fantastic, and is gentle on both clothes and skin.  Perfect!

 

But sometimes, like when my family travels, a liquid laundry detergent just isn’t practical, and I know many people prefer a powder laundry soap, so I kept trying to create a recipe that would actually work.  And after years of experimenting and failing many times, I finally figured it out.  And I’m so excited to share it with you.

 

 

Top reasons why you’ll want to make this homemade laundry soap:

  1. easy to make
  2. made with natural ingredients
  3. free from harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and dyes
  4. uses the cleaning power of essential oils
  5. smells great!
  6. softens clothes
  7. cuts down on static cling
  8. dazzling whites and colors are bright
  9. removes odors
  10. gets stains out
  11. actually gets clothes clean!
  12. no residue on clothes
  13. gentle on clothes & skin
  14. works in high efficiency (HE) front-loading washing machines as well as regular top-loading washers
  15. one batch makes enough for 63 loads (so if you do 2 loads of laundry a day, it makes enough for an entire month)

 

 

homemade powder laundry soap in glass jar

 

 

What’s in homemade laundry soap

This website contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission. The price is exactly the same for you as it would be without the affiliate link. 

 

The problem with all other homemade laundry soaps I’ve tried before is that they either (1) are filled with harsh chemicals, artificial fragrances, and dyes or (2) they don’t really get clothes clean- the clothes may look clean, but if you were to soak those “clean” clothes in a sink or tub, the water would turn a dirty brown from all the gunk that’s still on those “clean” clothes.

These soap flakes are the secret ingredient that makes this laundry soap different from every homemade washing soap I’ve made before.

It’s made from sodium tallowate just like other laundry soap bars.  But unlike Fels Naptha and Zote, Earthborn Elements soap flakes do not have any harsh ingredients, artificial fragrances, or dyes.  Sodium tallowate is made from naturally occurring ingredients and is gentle on clothes and skin.  It’s even safe for my and my daughter’s sensitive skin.

And unlike homemade powder laundry soaps that I’ve tried with Castile soap, this recipe with Earthborn Elements soap flakes actually gets clothes clean.  Castile soap is great for bathing, but it’s not made to clean clothes.  Castile soap binds to clothes and doesn’t rinse clean.  That means clothes that look clean, actually have soap, dirt and grime still on them.  I was amazed when I first learned of this years ago.  I heard about it happening to someone else, and I put my own “clean” clothes washed with a Castile soap homemade laundry soap in the sink and was quickly grossed out when formerly crystal clear sink water turned a disgusting murky brown from all the dirt, soap, and grime that had been on my “clean” clothes.  Gross!  Thankfully, these sodium tallowate soap flakes work extremely well for laundry and they actually get clothes clean.

 

Washing soda (aka sodium carbonate or sodium ash) softens and conditions water which helps improve cleaning.

It removes stubborn stains from laundry and increases the soap flakes cleaning power.

Washing soda helps soften the water, which in turn helps the laundry detergent be absorbed into the clothes’ fibers and lift soil from the clothes.

While washing soda is not the same as baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), if you can’t find washing soda in a store near you, you can easily make washing soda from baking soda.  Simply put a layer of baking soda about 1/2 inch thick on a jelly pan and bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 1 hour (stirring every 20 minutes or so) until its texture changes to be more coarse and the color changes to a light yellow.  Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

 

Borax brightens colors and gets whites dazzling.

Borax is natural and really helps brighten colors and whites, but if you prefer to not use borax, you can omit borax from this recipe.

 

Epsom salt, yep the same Epsom salt that you use in your bath salts, is a great add to your powder laundry detergent.

It cuts down on static cling and softens fabrics.

 

  • lemon essential oil

Citrus essential oils like lemon, orange, mandarin, bergamot, and grapefruit are great at cleaning dirt & grime, deodorizing, and adding a fresh, clean, uplifting scent to your laundry.

Don’t like lemon-scented laundry?  No worries, there are 10 alternative essential oil blends below that you can use to customize your laundry detergent.

 

 

How to make homemade laundry soap

 

step 1:  add 1.5 cups Earthborn Elements Soap Flakes to container

tip: Use a container that’s at least 1/2 gallon (2 quarts) or larger

tip: Use either a glass container or a plastic container made of either plastic #1 (PET) or plastic #2 (HDPE) because those kinds of plastics as considered safe to use with diluted essential oils like in this homemade laundry soap.

tip: I feel that Earthborn Elements Soap Flakes are the best laundry soap that I’ve tried, but you could use another laundry soap like Fels Naptha or Zote instead.  Just know that both of those laundry soaps contain dyes and artificial fragrances.  However, I don’t recommend substituting with Castile soap, because although that is another natural option that’s dye and fragrance free like the Earthborn Elements, Castile soap does not clean as well as the sodium tallowate soap (that’s what’s in Earthborn Elements).  I’ve tried many Castile-soap-based laundry detergents over the years and they just don’t get clothes very clean.  Worse yet, the clothes can look like they’re clean, but the if they get wet or you rinse them in the sink, lots of dirt and grime comes out of those clean-looking clothes.  That does not happen with a sodium tallowate soap like Earthborn Elements.  The sodium tallowate actually gets the laundry clean and the clothes rinse clean.

 

measuring cup pouring soap flakes into canister

 

 

step 2:  add 3 cups super washing soda

tip: Washing soda softens and conditions the water to help improve cleaning.  If you have hard water, add an additional cup of washing soda to help soften the water in the washing machine.  It’s difficult to get clothes fully clean if the water is too hard.

 

 

 

step 3:  add 3 cups borax

tip:  Borax is natural and helps brighten colors and whites, but if you prefer to not use borax, you can omit borax from this recipe.

tip:  If you omit borax, you may want to add 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide OR some lemon juice to the wash cycle when you do your laundry to help brighten whites.  Do NOT add lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide to this powder laundry detergent as doing so would make the powder clump and be difficult to use.  Instead, add the powder laundry detergent to the wash cycle along with the lemon juice OR hydrogen peroxide.

 

measuring cup pouring borax into canister to make homemade natural laundry detergent

 

 

step 4:  add 6 tablespoons Epsom salt

tip:  Epsom salt cuts down on static cling and softens fabrics.  As with the washing powder, if you have hard water, you may want to add a couple extra tablespoons of Epsom salt to this homemade laundry powder.

 

measuring cup pouring Epsom salt into DIY washing powder recipe

 

 

step 5:  add 50 drops lemon essential oil

tip:  Not a fan of lemon scented laundry?  You can use one of these other essential oils or essential oil blends instead.

  • 50 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops lime + 10 drops grapefruit + 10 drops sweet orange + 10 drops lavender + 5 drops basil
  • 15 drops sweet orange + 10 drops grapefruit + 10 drops lemon + 10 drops tangerine + 5 drops wintergreen
  • 30 drops lemon + 15 drops lavender
  • 20 drops lavender + 20 drops lime + 8 drops spearmint
  • 20 drops cypress +15 drops tangerine + 102 drops lime + 5 drops bergamot
  • 15 drops lemon + 20 drops lavender + 15 drops bergamot
  • 30 drops lemon + 7 drops basil + 10 drops spearmint
  • 25 drops eucalyptus + 25 drops spearmint
  • 17 drops sweet orange + 17 drops bergamot + 17 drops lemon

 

essential oil bottle adding lemon oil to homemade washing powder in jar

 

 

step 6:  mix well

tip:  Make sure you stir all the way down to the bottom of the container.  You want to be sure that everything is blended well so that when you wash your clothes you’ll get the right amount of soap, washing soda, borax, Epsom salt and essential oil in each load.

 

wooden spoon stirring natural homemade laundry soap so that all ingredients are mixed well

 

 

step 7 (optional):  put a free printable label on your homemade laundry soap

tipget your free printable label here

tip: I print the label on regular, plain printer paper.   Then I attach it to the jar using packing tape.  I find that this method does a great job of keeping the label adhered to the bottle and makes it waterproof so that it stays looking great for a long time.  Or, if you prefer, you can also print the label on full-sheet label paper instead.

tip: Before putting on the label, wipe the jar with a bit of rubbing alcohol to make sure that the container is completely clean and the label will stick very well.

 

finished homemade laundry soap in a glass canister with lid, a free printable label has been added to the front of the jar and an essential oil bottle and clothes pins are on either side of the canister

 

 

How to use

  • use 2 tablespoons for HE (high efficiency) front-loading washing machines or 1/4 cup for traditional top-loading machines
  • IMPORTANT –> use in hot water cycle so that the soap flakes dissolve completely.  tip: if you need to wash a load in cold or warm water, first dissolve this laundry soap in hot water to dissolve the soap flakes and then add that liquid to your machine.  That allows you to adjust this laundry powder to work well at all temperatures.
  • yields: 63 loads in HE machines, 31 loads in top-loading machines
  • tip:  These are amounts for average size loads.  If you have a small load, use a little less.  If you have a large load, use a little more.

 

 

wooden spoon scooping out powder laundry soap from large glass cansiter, clothes pins and fluffy white towels surround the laundry detergent canister

 

 

Where to get supplies?

This website contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission. The price is exactly the same for you as it would be without the affiliate link. 

1/2 gallon glass jar – Target and Walmart often have this in their kitchen and home décor sections, or you can find it online here.

Earthborn Elements Soap Flakes (find online here)

super washing soda – You can usually find this in laundry aisle at Target and Walmart as well as some grocery stores, or you can find online here.

boraxYou can usually find this in laundry aisle at Target and Walmart as well as some grocery stores, or you can find online here.

Epsom salt –  Usually found in both the pharmacy and bath sections of Target, Walmart, and drug stores, or you can find online here.

Free printable labelGet your free printable label here

ingredients for making your own natural laundry soap powder - soap flakes, super washing soda, borax, Epsom salt, essential oil, large glass canister, and free printable label

glass jar with DIY laundry detergent
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Homemade Laundry Soap

Natural powder laundry detergent made with essential oils
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

Notes

tip:  Not a fan of lemon scented laundry?  You can use one of these other essential oils or essential oil blends instead.
  • 50 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops lime + 10 drops grapefruit + 10 drops sweet orange + 10 drops lavender + 5 drops basil
  • 15 drops sweet orange + 10 drops grapefruit + 10 drops lemon + 10 drops tangerine + 5 drops wintergreen
  • 30 drops lemon + 15 drops lavender
  • 20 drops lavender + 20 drops lime + 8 drops spearmint
  • 20 drops cypress +15 drops tangerine + 102 drops lime + 5 drops bergamot
  • 15 drops lemon + 20 drops lavender + 15 drops bergamot
  • 30 drops lemon + 7 drops basil + 10 drops spearmint
  • 25 drops eucalyptus + 25 drops spearmint
  • 17 drops sweet orange + 17 drops bergamot + 17 drops lemon
 

How to use

  • use 2 tablespoons for HE (high efficiency) front-loading washing machines or 1/4 cup for traditional top-loading machines
  • IMPORTANT --> use in hot water cycle so that the soap flakes dissolve completely.  tip: if you need to wash a load in cold or warm water, first dissolve this laundry soap in hot water to dissolve the soap flakes and then add that liquid to your machine.  That allows you to adjust this laundry powder to work well at all temperatures.
  • yields: 63 loads in HE machines, 31 loads in top-loading machines
  • tip:  These are amounts for average size loads.  If you have a small load, use a little less.  If you have a large load, use a little more.

 

DIY natural laundry soap in large glass canister with free printable label, essential oil bottle, clothes pins, and fluffy white towels surround the canister

 

 

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Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This website is not a substitute for professional care.  Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Disclaimer: Please know that this website contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission. The price is exactly the same for you as it would be without the affiliate link.  

    Sarah Lewis

    A little thing about me: I 💙 essential oils. I also love using my background in research to help people learn more about essential oils and all the wonderful ways they can be used. I share DIY recipes for natural cleaners that really work, non-toxic beauty solutions, and holistic wellness. My essential oil recipes, info, and tips have been viewed more than 20 million times. I've been featured on MindBodyGreen, Health & Natural Living, All Natural Ideas, This Natural Home, Natural Living Ideas, and Passion for Savings.