Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent Powder

June 8, 2012

This homemade natural laundry detergent powder is really effective and much kinder to the water ways.

Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent Powder

This homemade natural laundry detergent powder is from Full Circle Home.

For many years I have used baking soda, vinegar, lavender oil, and tea tree oil to do my washing. But, when I came across this recipe I decided to give it a go, and I love it!

This mixture is so easy to make, and your clothes will look and feel fantastic. I also like to add in some drops of lavender, rosemary, or tea tree essential oil to my wash before I put the machine on for the extra disinfecting power, and also to make my clothes and linens smell fabulous. I like to be green, but I also love gorgeous-smelling laundry.

I actually read a really fascinating article a long time ago (if I could remember where I read it, I would link to it) where a green company did a laundry study comparing the cleaning power of the major commercial laundry detergents, natural green products, food grade products like baking soda, vinegar, and castille soap, and then just plain water.

Their study showed that there was very little difference between the stain removal power of any method. In fact, using alkaline water almost held up just as well as detergent! What was particularly interesting to me, was that study participants associated clean laundry with the smell of the detergent. This affected purchasing choices more than anything else.

I must admit, I buy into this, and am very often led by my nose! This is why I love using essential oils in my laundry. You only need a few drops, they are kind to our waterways, and they smell divine! Many essential oils have powerful anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties too.

Just a note about this recipe: when you switch from your commercial detergent to this laundry soap, the residue from your detergent can mix with the soap and cause yellowing. For your first green wash, simply use 1/3 cup of washing soda for a normal load. This will remove the detergent residue.

You need to muscle up to make this recipe. You will need to stir it for 5 to 10 minutes. I must admit, that for my second batch of this detergent I placed in my stand mixer after I had add the vinegar and formed a paste. I whipped it like egg whites and it was so much easier! About 5 to 10 minutes on a medium speed does the trick!

If you don’t have a stand mixer or electric beaters, muscle up and keep stirring! Then place the mixture into a large container and allow to stand for about 1/2 an hour. The mixture will expand and become even more powdered, resembling a heavy laundry detergent powder. Then store in a sealed container in your laundry.

Other DIY Natural Cleaning Recipes For You

Natural Homemade Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Natural DIY Surface Cleaner
Natural Baking Soda Cream Cleaner
Natural Glass and Window Cleaner
Natural Wood Furniture Polish
Natural Mold Cleaner

Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments!

Your feedback is really important to me, and it helps me decide which recipes to post next for you.


Homemade Natural Laundry Detergent Powder

This homemade natural laundry detergent powder is really effective and much kinder to the water ways. 

Prep Time 45 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 3 1/4 cups
Author Tess Masters



  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, pour in the castile soap. Stir in the washing soda, and then the baking soda, and then add the vinegar 1/4 cup at a time as the mixture will foam. Whip it at a medium speed like egg whites for 5 to 10 minutes until the mixture thickens, and turns into a powder.

  2. Transfer the mixture to a sealed container, and allow the mixture to stand for about 30 minutes. The mixture will expand and become even more powdered, resembling a heavy powdered detergent. Store in a sealed container. Then, use 1/2 cup per full load of laundry.

Recipe Notes

*Note: when you switch from your commercial detergent to this laundry soap, the residue from your detergent can mix with the soap and cause yellowing. For your first green wash, use 1/3 cup of washing soda for a normal load. This will remove the detergent residue.

Recipe from Full Circle Home.
Photo by Trent Lanz and styling by Alicia Buszczak


Comments 76

  1. This is a revelation, thanks for sharing Tess and Full Circle! There is nothing but great things to come from using this alternative detergent. I am totally sharing this and the other amazing green options you have offered with my friends. YAY!!!

    1. Thanks Stacey. Please share and let’s hope more people use more natural green cleaning products. Isn’t Full Circle amazing?

  2. Awesome, what a great idea! I love lavender too and definitely will give this a try… and if it helps my budget, even better. Thanks, Tess and Full Circle!

    1. Yes. LOVE Lavender.
      Yes, this costs pennies instead of dollars and really works. I have gotten so many fantastic tips from Full Circle.

  3. Blender Girl! You are aaammmazing! The best food recipies and now laundry detergent! I hate the commercial laundry soaps/detergents. Not only do I know they are ripping me off …they harm my clothes as well as hurt the environment. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will put this recipe to good use! And thank you each time I use my new detergent.

  4. Love this great healthy alternative for clean laundry, especially when it comes to our children. Our quest for clean laundry exposes our families to excessive chlorine bleach, artifical fragrances and numerous other harmful chemicals. This natural alternative contains no petroleum, phosphates, chlorine or synthetic toxic fragrances and dyes. Thanks for sharing!!!!!

    1. Yes. Where would we be without baking soda, washing soda, vinegar and lemon juice? We just do not need those harsh toxic chemicals. Particularly on things that touch our skin.
      BTW – I LOVE your glass baby bottles.
      What a fantastic design.
      LOVE what YOU are doing 🙂

  5. Wow ! I love the idea of no icky chemicals !!! (on my clothes and me)… thank you so much for posting…and I’ll definitely be adding lavender… you’re are genius !

  6. Shared this quick easy recipe with the kids and they were shocked you can make food for the washing machine too 🙂

    1. I love that! Yes, get them involved young so that they can form good green habits. I have found that kids absolutely love learning about helping the environment.

  7. Ok, this may be a silly question, but I need a little clarification! To avoid the yellowing, does that need to be done only the first time you use a green wash, or with every load that you are converting to a green wash? I’m assuming it means the residue from the clothes? Or does it mean the residue in the wash? Also, I have never looked for washing soda or castile soap…can you find both of those in the laundry aisle at the store?

    1. Hey Alissabeth,
      If you are using the same washing machine you only needs to add the washing soda 1-3 times total, not with every wash. It’s more about rinsing out the residue in the washing machine, not on the clothes. Hope that helps. Enjoy this recipe.
      It is amazing.

  8. Wow Tess and here I was thinking you were all about food only to discover you are all about everything…….is there no limit to what you can do? I can’t wait to try this thanks.

    1. Oh….you are so sweet.
      I actually can’t take credit for this recipe.
      It is ALL Full Circle.
      Lots more natural cleaning product recipes this month. Stay tuned 🙂

  9. You are so welcome.
    Yes, this is really inexpensive and really safe. Better yet, it works! Enjoy 🙂

  10. I had no idea that detergent was so easy to make. Also, Great idea for kids to learn how to make this. Thanks for posting.

    1. Pleasure Shawn.
      Yes, this is so easy to make and it really works. It is so wonderful getting kids involved in this process and teaching them to live a more conscious lifestyle.

  11. I’ve read that mixing castile soap with vinegar causes a goopy mess that doesn’t clean well. Reasoning behind that is, soap is a base, vinegar an acid, and by mixing the two you are basically canceling out both of their cleaning benefits. I make my own powdered laundry soap from 1/2 c borax, 1/2 c washing soda, and one bar of Dr. Bronners. I actually use my food processor to grate tand then pulverize the rest for a powder! Been using it for about 6 months now and it’s wonderful! I also use a little vinegar for the “fabric softener.” Works great!!!

    1. I have just gotten a similar “recipe” for laundry liquid detergent. It had said to use Fel’s Naptha. I am thrilled to find out you can use something even better since you use Dr. Bronner’s! Wonderful news. Next batch, I will do the same. I made my first batch for this week’s laundry. Can’t wait to find out how it does.

      I love this new recipe, too, for a powdered detergent. Anything to help us not use harsh chemicals and funny scents. I always buy the Cheer Free because it is scent free. I am SO sensitive to chemical odors that I can’t tolerate any of the fabric softeners, etc. Thank you for this kind of recipe!!

      1. Hey Pixie,
        You are so welcome. Did you see the note about adding in extra washing soda to the load for the first few washes to get rid of the commercial soapy residue. Otherwise it can cause yellow discolouring to your clothes which is undesirable. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

  12. This is the one area that I haven’t gone GREEN yet – now I can! Thanks, Tess! I’ve been using vinegar and lavender oil for fabric softener – works great! Now I can clean our dirty landscaping work clothes the all-natural way – way to go! XOXO

    1. YOU will LOVE this Kibby!
      Make sure you add in the extra washing soda with the first 3 loads to get rid of the soapy residue. Although, you haven’t been using commercial laundry detergents…..
      But, just to be safe. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

  13. Hello,

    I am interested if anyone has tried Samantha’s recipe to compare the two. Also, are these safe for HE washers?

    1. Hey Shanon,
      I haven’t tried Samantha’s recipe yet. I am on vacation and am planning to when I get home. But this is a low suds powder and should be fine in an HE washer. Use 1/4 the amount. I will be interested to know how you go.

    1. Hey Lynne.
      I haven’t tried Samantha’s wonderful blend yet. But this recipe is safe for HE washers. It is a low suds recipe, but use 1/4 the amount. I can’t wait to hear how you go.

  14. Wow! Yet another great recipe, Tess! It made my think of my grandmother, who used to carry around a pouch of baking soda in her purse. When we were out and someone got a stain on their shirt or pants, she’d whip out the soda, put some in her hand, and spit in the middle of it to make a paste. Sounds icky, but it worked!
    Thanks for the memory and for the great laundry detergent! You’re the best!

  15. What castile soap do you use to make this. Whaere did you find the sodium carbonate? Did you use the sodium bicarbonate from the baking isle at grocery or do you recommend another source?

    Its so pretty: fluffy & white!

    1. Hey Eselpee,
      I used Dr Bronner’s Unscented Baby-Mild Magic Soap. You can use any natural baking soda from the grocery store for a couple of dollars. I used Bob’s Red Mill Aluminium-Free Baking Soda. For the washing soda, you can find that most health food stores and some grocery stores. My health food store ordered it in for me because they were sold out. I hope this helps. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

  16. You can find the washing soda (as well as the borax from Samantha’s recipe) at Walmart in the washing detergent aisle. According to the recipe I have similar to Samantha’s, it is a low-suds recipe and can be used in the HE washers. My aunt says it works very well.

  17. I’d love to do this but where does one find unscented washing soda and castile soap? I’ve been using vinegar and baking soda for donkey’s years.

    1. Yes! Good old vinegar and baking soda works for SO many things doesn’t it. I always have an enormous container of both in my laundry everything. LOVE the expression “donkey’s years”. It reminds me of my mum!
      For the washing soda – most health food stores and some grocery stores have it in stock. My health food store ordered it in for me. It is not expensive. I have even found it at some hardware stores! For the castille soap, I used Dr Bronner’s Unscented Baby-Mild Magic Soap. I hope this helps.
      I can’t wait to hear what you think.

  18. I make my own laundry detergent, but powdered, so the vinegar gets added separately and instead of liquid castile, I use a combo of fels naptha and ivory bars and grate them using a micro planer.

    Works REALLY well.

    I LOVE these new natural living recipes!

    1. OH LOVE the sound of that recipe!!!
      I would love to try it along with your mouthwash recipe. LOVE natural living recipes too 🙂

    1. Hey Stephanie.
      This recipe yields about 6 loads if you use 1/2 cup per load. But if you are using an HE washer, you might get 10 because you are using less. Enjoy 🙂

  19. I am really curious if this would work well with cloth diapers? My son has eczema really bad from head to toe and I am looking to switch to something completely natural without all the fillers and toxins. Thank you 🙂

    1. Hey Shannon.
      My niece also had horrible head-to-toe eczema as a baby. She has severe multiple food allergies and sensitive skin. We have to be so careful.
      I have not tried this on cloth diapers. But I would soak them in borax, vinegar, and water, and then give this laundry powder a go! Please let me know how it goes.

  20. I was so excited to make this and a recipe I found for homemade automatic dishwashing detergent that … I accidently mixed them up! So, my new recipe is 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup Borax, 1/4 cup pure castile soap (lavender) and 1 cup vinegar. We’ll see what happens!!

  21. Really want to try the Green Laundry powder, but what in the world is Dr. Bonner’s soup? I can’t find the liquid of the soap your are talking about. However I can find it in the bar. Can I use this instead? If so, what do I do with it?

    1. It’s soap not soup 😉

      Most of Dr. Bronners soaps are fantastic, but at least one of their soaps does contain sodium lauryl sulfate, so make sure you read the ingredients. The unscented baby mild, which is the one she lists, is wonderful!

      Hope you don’t mind me chiming in with my two cents’ worth 🙂

      1. Thank you, I always appreciate someones two cents! :o) I checked the bar of Dr.B unscented baby soap I have, and there is no sodium lauryl sulfate to be found…Yay!
        Now if I can figure out how to make the soup out of it…

        1. You’re welcome 🙂

          I use a food processor (one I have dedicated to making things like this) to powder/grate my bar soap. You can use a microplaner or food grater. If you don’t mind using powdered detergent, you can forgo the vinegar.

          I use 1 bar of soap (grated), 1 cup of washing soda and 1 cup of borax to make my laundry detergent. It works really well!

        2. HA HA HA! Glad you found the soap. It is SO amazing and can be used for SO much. I travel with it. Enjoy 🙂 Let me know if you figure out how to make soup. LOL!

      2. LOL! I don’t mind you chiming in AT ALL. Chime away more and more and more. I agree with everything you said.

  22. Well, my version of this works very well. The clothes come out softer than with regular detergent. And it completely takes the smell out of my kitchen dishcloths, so I’m sold!

    1. Thankyou for sharing this Sasha. I have also read that and love the Dr Bronner’s site. Yes, this is true. But, I have had sensational results with this recipe and so have many others. So, there are exceptions.

  23. The end result mix was extremely hard and I had to break it up with a wooden spoon. Where did I go wrong? I thought the consistency was going to be loose, more powder like. Thanks for your assistance.

    1. I am sorry to hear that Lindsey. Mine is quite loose, but is not as loose as commercial powders. I find it does thicken and harden a little in the glass jar. Perhaps increase the liquids just a little? Thankyou for your valuable feedback.

  24. Help!!
    I made this – mixed and mixed and mixed and mixed – but it stayed split into liquid (wet, gooey) powder!!
    Where did I go wrong?

  25. We also have a homemade powdered detergent here but the finished product is intended for a machine. The scent is very calming (lavander).

  26. Hello, I just wanted to thank you for this life-changing recipe ! I now only use this as my laundry detergent and it does GREAT, even on smelly kimonos and, trust me, if it can get a dirty kimono clean and smelling fresh, it can clean ANYTHING ! I tried your recipe in its original form and it worked great. However, it didn’t smell like anything, my laundry had a neutral smell to it which is good but not quite there yet for me as I LOVE the smell of fresh laundry. So, on my second batch, I added two teaspoons of lemon extract (not essential oil, A mixture of water, 83% alcohol and lemon oil that I bought at the grocery store). This gave my detergent a wonderful smell and my laundry came out smelling good ! One more thing, I tried pouring the vinegar slowly into the mix as I was making it and that worked fine but left a few lumps that I had to break by hand. On my second attempt, I poured all the vinegar in one shot and, though the mix turned to liquid and I was hating myself for it, it turned to a perfectly homogeneous mixture as I kept stirring like a mad man and there were actually less lumps in the mix. This could have been the result of adding the lemon extract but I personally think it’s because of how it all turns to a soup and reverts back to a paste while being stirred. Any feedback/suggestions are welcome as I am a newbie 🙂

    1. Oh, I am so pleased you are enjoying this recipe, and thankyou so much for sharing your experience with mixing the vinegar, as well as adding the lemon oil. I will try your blend when I get from vacation. Awesome!

  27. I just made this laundry, I have developed a worsening of chemical allergies, and this has lead to the fact that I cannot find a safe laundry soap. So I bought all the ingredients and got out my food processor (to grate the Bonner’s castile soap) then got my stand mixer out and proceeded to mix everything together. I started to have problems with clumps that seemed hard as rocks, so with my food processor out, I decided to give it a try. I took 1/3 of the mixture and with the food processor set on dough, I found that for me, this worked the best. (I also double the recipe) I might add, my kitchen smells wonderful, since I used Bonners lavender bar soap! BTW, do you know (I just found out) that some think that the use of borax is not healthy to use, I’ll let you be the judge of that for yourself.http://www.ewg.org/search/site/borax

    1. Thanks Christina, I will make this recipe again and note the tweaks in all of the comments. Different things have worked for different people. It’s so interesting. I will check out the EWG post now. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Hi my name is Eli. I learned recently about powdered vinegar. Can I use that as a substitute for the liquid? I have all powdered even the soap. I look forward to some feedback

    1. Eli – my motto is “always give it a go!” That’s where you make discoveries. Having said that, I have not tried using powdered ingredients in this recipe. You do need the liquid to bring the other ingredients together. If you try it, please let me know how you go. Sorry I am not being more help on this.

  29. I will definitely try this recipe out! I love green cleaning solutions and I use a big variety of homemade cleaners! This laundry detergent will be a great addition! Thank you for sharing!

  30. Hi!
    Thanks for the post! ..Does the vinegar have to be of the white distilled variety, as I am having difficulty with where to buy an organic version of that (to avoid gmo’s).. ? I live in Canada, also, thought you should know. I find it can be more challenging to get access to these types of things!
    Would really appreciate your feedback, thanks! 🙂

  31. Thank you so much for sharing this recipie. I juste made it but I have a problem : it is not turning into powder; it is remaining at the consistency of a paste or egg whites. I followed the recipie step by step adding the ingredients in the proper order. After I added the vinegar, it made very hard lumps and I started to mix with my hand mixer for 5-10 minutes. It became with the consistency of beaten egg whites. It has been sitting for 1/2 hour and it hasen’t changed at all and it doesn’t give much. Did I do anything wrong? Thanks a lot.

    1. I’m so sorry you had this issue Anne-Marie. A few people have given me this feedback so I am going to make this again myself to try and troubleshoot for you. Did you level measure and stir for a long time? You do need to keep stirring for it to turn into powder.

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