DIY Laundry Powder Recipe
Sustainable, non-toxic, affordable and easy!
Recipe from mommypotamus: https://mommypotamus.com/laundry-detergent/
(Adapted to include metric measurements at varying quantities)
Using 95gm bars of Friendly soap (finely grated):
1 bar with 242gm washing soda (1 ¼ cups, plus 3 Tablespoons)
2 bars with 486gm washing soda (2 ¾ cups, plus 1 ½ Tablespoons)
3 bars with728gm washing soda (4 ½ cups)
4 bars with 970gm washing soda (5 ½ cups, plus 3 Tablespoons)
5 bars with 1,212gm washing soda (7 cups, plus 2 Tablespoons)
6 bars with 1,454gm washing soda (8 ½ cups, minus 2 teaspoons)
Using 100gm bars of Niugini Organics soap (finely grated):
1 bar with 254gm washing soda (1 ½ cups)
2 bars with 506gm washing soda (3 cups, minus 1 ½ teaspoons)
3 bars with 758gm washing soda (4 ¼ cups, plus 3 Tablespoons)
4 bars with 1,012gm washing soda (6 cups, minus 1 Tablespoon)
5 bars with 1,264gm washing soda (7 ¼ cups, plus 3 Tablespoons)
6 bars with 1,516gm washing soda (9 cups, minus 1 ½ Tablespoons)
Please choose the quantity that you would like to make and then follow these instructions.
Grate soap bars on finest grade available on a regular metal food grater.
Mix grated soap and washing soda together.
If you have a food processer or reasonable jug blender add your grated soap mixed with washing soda in batches to process further to finer granules similar to regular washing powder.
Don’t ever attempt to food/process or blend soap by itself. You will end up with a solid mess and possibly break your kitchen appliance. Please be sure to first mix the soap and washing soda together.
According to Heather Dessinger from mommypotamus you can cut chunks of soap and add these directly to a suitably powerful food processor, to save the grating stage. Disclaimer: We at ClimateYouChange have not tried this. So, please try at your own discretion, as we could not assure you that this could not risk damaging your food processor.
We have not tried using the laundry powder without using in a jug blender after grating. On mommypotamus it is stated that the recipe can be used with just grated soap. We think that this would adequately work. We would just suggest shaking the ingredients in a tub before using.
Put your chosen quantity (2 Tablespoons or less) into a jug and add hot tap water. There is no need to use boiling kettle water. For quantity see note below*
Add as much hot water as you like. We find that first melting with a little hot tap water works well before letting the mixture start to melt. After a few minutes add more hot water. Don’t worry if you end up with a lot of liquid in your jug. This won’t affect efficacy
Add essential oil. For regular soiling we add 5 drops of lemon essential oil. For dirtier laundry, bedding and towels we add 10 drops of tea tree oil. However, if doing really frequent bedding and towel washes, then 5 drops of lemon oil should suffice! There should be no need for an extra rinse if using lemon oil. (We cannot advise those with particularly sensitive skin.)
Pour liquid laundry cleaner in detergent drawer compartment
We advise adding distilled (clear) white vinegar into the softener drawer compartment. This will remove residual homemade laundry detergent from your clothes and other textiles. This will help to keep your laundry soft, unlike softener which actually builds up in fabric and damages fibres over time. (Conventual fabric softener is a bit of a misnomer, as it will end up making textiles less soft**)
Essential oils won’t leave a lingering smell from washing. So, if you wish to scent your laundry then you can make a laundry spray using essential oils: https://mommypotamus.com/homemade-air-freshener-linen-spray/
**Fabric softeners build up in fabrics increasing rigidity over time.
Can keep for a very long time. Powders made using pure coconut oil bars can last for a few years. Those made from soap containing other oils may have a slightly shorter life span. Those containing soap scented with essential oils (such as the Friendly soap bars) will not last as long. Essential oils will go rancid more quickly and start to make the soap smell less pleasant than with plain soap. However, we would easily expect a powder made from scented soap to last a good year.
Store in a tub with a lid and avoid leaving in a particularly damp area to avoid clumping. Some moisture however will not be a problem. Ideally in a kitchen or laundry room cupboard, if you have the cupboard space (and can keep away from food).
Healthier for the planet
Less fossil fuel from transportation: It cuts down on the shipping weight of liquid laundry detergent. Water gets added before use.
Reduced petroleum derivatives: Less plastic is used for the packaging of the ingredients than for a molded liquid laundry detergent bottle.
Protecting rainforests: Avoiding palm oil (see soap brand suggestions below). Going palm oil free protects ancient forests from being cut down for palm plantations. *
Saving eco-systems: Non-toxic ingredients do not pollute waterways and ground water. They don’t cause environmental harm to the eco-system.
Advantages for you
Saving money. The recipe below is much cheaper than liquid laundry detergent and most powders (only massive boxes of supermarket brand cheap powder cost a similar price)
Improved indoor air quality
Non-toxic residues left in laundry
Less irritating to skin health
No nasty chemical smells
Simple to make, using just two ingredients
Takes up less storage than a liquid.
* Many detergents contain palm oil, often with ingredients which do not include the word ‘palm’.
Despite certification saying that palm oil is sustainably harvested, this has found to often be misleading, with palm oil being a contributor towards deforestation. Traidcraft and Dr Bronner’s products are rare exceptions to this. (Information from Greenpeace)
It is estimated that up to 300 football fields forest globally are cleared every hour: https://earth.org/how-palm-oil-contributes-to-environmental-destruction/
The recipe below uses just palm oil free soap and washing soda
We advise you to add essential oil at the washing stage
Below you will find different quantities of the mommypotamus recipe, to give you options. Try using just one soap (with the corresponding quantity of washing soda) to see if you like the recipe. To make ahead of time you may prefer to make a larger quantity. Six bars of soap will last a family of four for a few months.
The washing soda:
Whilst washing soda available in the UK is made by chemical processing, it is far healthier for planet and people than ingredients found in regular laundry powders and liquids. (60 billion tonnes of a naturally occurring mineral called trona can be found in Wyoming in USA. This can be converted easily into washing soda. It is however prohibitively expensive to ship to the UK.)
Washing soda (also known as soda ash and soda crystals) is ridiculously cheap. Dri-pak sell washing soda made in the UK, helping you to reduce shipping miles. At the time of writing this article, this is available from major supermarkets (Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and possibly others).
Wilko sell the cheapest washing soda that we can find so far. If anyone finds anything cheaper, please let us know.
We have suggested two palm oil-free soap options (though there may also be others):
Coconut oil soap will, according to Heather Dessinger, give you the most effective wash. Niugini Organics sell the best priced coconut oil bar that we have been able to find. It also has the advantage of being organic. We suggest buying the unscented version (The scent is listed as ‘natural’ but not made from extracts)
For a slightly more affordable option we suggest any soap bar from the range of Friendly Soap. They aren’t organic and have a blend of oils (including coconut). However, from personal experience they appear to work just fine and give an effective clean. Choose from a range of scents.
Please note: The above brands are chosen for their coconut oil content, absence of palm oil and lack of synthetic ingredients. They are the most affordable options that we can find. We do not endorse any products for personal financial or material gain. They simply reflect are research into best/most suitable products. We aim to give you the greenest, most affordable, practical and healthiest product options from our research to date. We wish to make being sustainable easy to save you time on research!
Disclaimer: Despite the far healthier ingredients used in the DIY laundry powder, please be aware that they need to be kept away from children, all would be toxic to ingest and damaging to eye-sight. The ingredients do not give off strong fumes. However, we still advise that no-one spends time directly inhaling powder or resultant liquid from mixing with water. Please get emergency medical advice if ingested or if powder/liquid comes into contact with eyes.
We also recommend the addition of a few drops of two essential oils when washing laundry:
Lemon oil is a natural degreaser and stain remover, with some degree of disinfectant ability according to a number of sources. (Do not however rely on lemon oil for any laundry badly in need of disinfecting)
Lemon oil can apparently be applied directly to a stain as a degreaser before washing. Please do your research though before trying this and use at your own discretion. We are reporting research here but have yet to try this ourselves. So, we cannot confirm efficacy and that direct application to laundry will not incur damage to fabric fibres
Buff & Butter have the best priced organic lemon essential oil that we have found. It has good reviews and has worked well for us.
Tea tree Oil
Tea tree oil has good disinfecting abilities. If any item is soiled by vomit, faeces etc., then we cannot confidently assert that tea tree oil would adequately kill off any nasty viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungal infectious agents (and definitely not mould). However, tea tree oil is a good addition to use when washing bedding or towels, especially if not washing these items as frequently as you should. Personally, guilty as charged!
Thursday Plantation are the best brand of tea tree oil that we have found. They have the greatest disinfecting ability and the least potential skin irritation, based on (although the latter is usually only an issue with direct skin application through massage using a carrier oil.)
We do however advise that you first check with small items that you or your family will not have a negative skin reaction to tea tree oil.
You may consider doing a second wash without tea tree oil or an extra rinse. This will however counter a degree of the sustainability of using a greener laundry powder. So, please decide whether you are happy using tea tree oil, if this works for you and whether you need an extra rinse/wash.
Important Safety Note: Essential oils should be kept out of reach of children. Non-food grade essential lemon oil should not be ingested, put undiluted on skin or come into contact with the eyes. Tea tree oil is highly toxic if ingested and should not be put anywhere near the eyes. It should also not be put undiluted onto the skin. Please get emergency medical advice if tea tree essential oil is ingested or any essential oil comes into contact with the eyes. If lemon essential oil is ingested please seek medical advice (emergency advice if involving children, animals or if anyone ingests a large quantity).