DIY Powder Laundry Detergent

Update 3/30/2015

After using DIY Powder Laundry Detergent for several months, I’ve noticed our whites getting dingy and a grey color. I have stopped using this recipe and switched back to store-bought liquid detergent until I can find a homemade detergent recipe that cleans a bit better.

If you spend any time on Pinterest, you’ll see a ton of DIY laundry detergent recipes. Okay, I know you’re thinking…why should I make my own DIY powder laundry detergent when I can just buy it at the store? Well my friends, these recipes are supposed to save you some moola and who doesn’t like saving money? I know I do. Plus, you can sort of customize it too.

But there are so many recipes. Some recipes have only three ingredients and some with five – it’s hard to know which one to choose. Well, I looked at a bunch of these detergent recipes and they all contain the same basic ingredients; borax, Zote, and super washing baking soda. After looking at what seemed like a gazillion recipes, I finally settled on following the recipe posted on how does she? blog. This one contains five ingredients, although I think you can do it with only four. I’ll explain why later in the post.

Here are some DIY Powder Laundry Detergent Tips:

1) If you decide to make this recipe, just know that I had the hardest time finding Zote. I live in Southern California and my local Target, Winco, and Albertsons did not carry it. I found it at Kmart, Home Depot, and one of my local dollar stores.

DIY laundry detergent

Left – plain shredded Zote. Right – puffed up Zote.
This picture is deceptive, but trust me…it’s puffed up.
Can you imagine the whole block in your microwave? It was a disaster…LOL!

2) The recipe gives you the option to shred or microwave the Zote – DO NOT microwave. Why you ask? Because the Zote will puff up to a ginormous blob, spill off the plate and stink up your house with an overwhelming fragrance. Not to mention, for a short time the food that you warm in the microwave will have a perfume taste. My poor son’s burrito was the first victim of the funky smelling microwave.

3) If you are sensitive to dust or have breathing issues, I would highly recommend wearing a mask or mixing this in a well-ventilated area because of the dry detergent particles that get kicked into the air during the mixing.

5)You really don’t need the Purex crystals if you plan on drying your clothes in the dryer with dryer sheets. The Purex crystals only add a smell to your load, which a dryer sheet will do too. If you plan to line dry, go ahead and add the Purex crystals or whatever fragrance crystals you like.

6) Lots of recipes say to use only 2 tablespoons for a load, but I think that is for a small load. I don’t know about you, but I load my washer up. I tend to use 3-4 tablespoons and that seems to work best.

7) I’ve tried it on some stains and for the most part it takes them out. However, I would not give up your pretreatment stain removers for the really tough stains…like rust. On regular food stains, this works fine.

8) 1/31/2014 I tried grating Fels Naptha and found that it is easier to work with than Zote. It isn’t as moist as the Zote bar. After I grated it, I just left it my grater box and placed it in a dry sunny place for a day or two. Once dried, you can just crumble it into smaller pieces with your hands. *FYI-it looks a lot like shredded cheese, so don’t leave it in the kitchen…lol. My sons almost ate it…good thing it has a pretty soapy smell.

9) Make sure you store the detergent in a dry place or air tight container because excess moisture will cause the bottom layers to become hardened if you do not constantly stir up the mixture.

DIY Powder Laundry Detergent Recipe

1 box Borax
1 box Super Washing Baking Soda
1 bottle Purex crystals (optional)
2 blocks shredded Zote (can substitute Fels Naptha)
1 container Oxyclean

Have fun making your own detergent. Would love to know how everyone likes it.

Update 2/16/2014

We ran out of the detergent and had to make a new batch. It lasted 4 1/2 months for a family of 6. If you do less laundry or have a smaller family, I’m sure it will last much longer.

Good Info:

Difference between Zote and Fels Naptha.

How does Borax clean?

What is Super Washing Baking Soda? How does it clean?

What is sodium carbonate?

3) Make sure you have a large container to place your detergent in. I purchased this 1.5 gallon Montana Glass Jar from Target, but it wasn’t quite big enough. I should’ve bought the 2.5 gallon jar, but at the time I thought it looked too big. I ended up not being able to use all the Borax and Zote, but tried my best to proportion the ingredients when I placed them into the jar. You’ll also want the extra space to make it easier to mix the ingredients.

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  1. DIY laundry detergent is an excellent choice for all housewives because it is better than toxic chemical mixed detergent. Thanks for sharing these ingredients.

  2. I make my own laundry detergent too, although I am not consistent enough using it year round. I need to make another batch. I don’t use dryer sheets…I use those wool balls from Woolzie, so I do use the Purex crystals but you’re right I probably could skip those. Plus I line dry a good portion of our stuff anyway.

    1. If you don’t like scents, don’t use the Purex crystals. The crystals are just there to give your laundry a fresh scent. As for skin sensitivity, I have pretty sensitive skin and I haven’t had any issues. I have eczema and my husband has psoriasis and neither one of us has had any issues. However, everyone is different.Thanks for pinning.