by Laura McIlwaine October 09, 2019

How to Make Your Own Natural Laundry Powder

Making your own natural laundry powder is easy, cost-effective and better for your health and the health of our environment.  In this post I'll share why you should consider making your own natural laundry powder, plus a simple recipe that works well in all water types and both front and top loader washing machines.

Why Make Your Own Natural Laundry Powder?

Modern laundry detergents are effective at removing stains and whitening our clothes but bear a hidden cost.

Commercial laundry products are based on petrochemicals and may contain phosphates, enzymes and bleaches that are detrimental to human health and the environment.

When chemical detergents enter our drains and waterways, they can damage fish, animal and plant life.

Chemical detergents have also been linked to health conditions such as eczema and asthma.

Making your own natural laundry cleaners has many benefits. Homemade powders and liquids are less harsh on fabric fibres, and also drastically reduce the quantity of chemicals entering our waterways. They are kinder on the skin and cause fewer allergic reactions.

How Soap and Detergents Work

Soaps, detergents and stain removers work at removing stains by dissolving and emulsifying the oil and grease that holds dirt in place. This then allows the trapped grease and soil to be carried away in the washing water.

The terms soap and detergent are often used interchangeably; however soaps and detergents differ in their stain-fighting capabilities and the conditions under which they work.

Soaps are generally made from natural fats and oils. They are wonderful for cleaning our hands, face and body, because the loosened dirt is rinsed away immediately; however soap used by itself is not as effective in the laundry.

Soaps can allow dirt lifted from clothing to redeposit on the clothes before the wash cycle is finished. In hard water (water containing high levels of minerals such as magnesium and calcium), soaps can react with minerals to form scum. This scum does not easily dissolve and it can be difficult to remove from fabrics. Due to these disadvantages, soaps have largely been replaced by detergents in the washing of clothes.

Detergents are synthetic mixtures of ingredients that not only clean clothing but also prevent the re-deposition of dirt and discourage scum formation. They can clean effectively in hard water where natural soaps can struggle. The disadvantage of some detergents is that they can persist in the environment and can irritate sensitive skin.

Natural Alternatives to Synthetic Laundry Detergents

The large variety of modern laundry detergents available may make you believe that soap is redundant.

But is it really?

The original argument against the effectiveness of soap (i.e. the formation of insoluble soap scum in hard water), is largely avoided when soap is blended with natural water softeners, such as sodium carbonate.

For this reason, one of the most effective natural laundry powders recipes I use and recommend is a simple mix of soap flakes and sodium carbonate (washing soda).

Natural Laundry Powder Recipe



If using the bar of soap, you will need to either grate manually (using a cheese grater) or cut into smaller pieces and grind in a food processor such as a Thermomix (about 10 seconds on speed 8).

Mix together 2 parts soapflakes to 1 part washing soda (sodium carbonate). Add a bit more washing soda to the mix if you live in a hard-water area.

Use 1 tablespoon in top loaders, ½ tablespoon in front loaders.

*If you don’t have the ability to grate your soap, you can take a short cut by using commercial soap flakes but just ensure that they don’t contain parfum (artificial fragrance). We use and recommend The Australian Natural Soap Company laundry soap bar or flakes available at Sustainahome.

Final Thoughts

Making your own natural laundry powder is easy, cost-effective and better for your health and the health of our environment.  By using natural soap as your key ingredient you’ll reduce waste, save money and improve your health.

If you’d like more tips on breaking up with toxic chemicals in your home, check out myHome Detox Boot Camp. It’s there where I guide you step by step through the process of replacing toxic chemicals in your home with effective, economical and natural alternatives.


What are your best eco laundry tips? Share in the comments below!

Laura McIlwaine
Laura McIlwaine

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