Homemade washing powder

24 08 2009

I make my own laundry detergent. No, I don’t live in a log cabin, nor am I some kind of back to nature fanatic. It fits in with the elegant frugality idea; or, I got tired of paying large amounts of money for small amounts of soap with fillers and bleach and phosphates and endangered whale cubs and optical brighteners.

A bit of googling, and props to greenlivingaustralia and the always-useful thesimpledollar for the eventual answers. I’m all about the powder rather than the liquid, so I went with the simplest powder recipe out there:

1 part washing soda: 1 part bicarb soda: 1 part soap flakes

Apparently borax is good to add as well, for extra cleaning pizazz. The Architect will attest to several random supermarket attacks of “maybe they have borax!”, followed by a dash through the aisles of random shops. Sadly, nil, nada, zip. No pizazz for my clothes. Hardware shops and different supermarkets tried, to no avail. Anyway, it seems to work just fine without it, and borax isn’t the best thing to have in your greywater, as the internerd tells me it can kill plants.

Tips for new players:

Washing soda can turn up in the laundry aisle of your larger, suburban supermarket. Not so often in the overpriced, trendy supermarket closest to me. It’s not the same as washing crystals. In Oz, the main one is Lectric brand and it comes in a plastic bag.

Soap flakes can come in a box and be expensive. With 5 minutes and a cheese grater, you can make your own with the finest cheapest toilet soap out there. Warning: this can be really, really annoying.

I use the same amount of this powder as I did of normal powder in my front loading washing machine. I use (and have for some time) straight white vinegar as fabric softener. My clothes smell clean and not at all like salad dressing.



1 cup bicarbonate of soda

1 cup washing soda

1 bar toilet soap.


1. Grate the toilet soap.

2. Mix the three ingredients together.

3. Store in some sort of relatively airtight container.

4. Feel smug.