Friday, 27 September 2013

What's in your laundry powder?

Lately I've been on a mission to reduce cost in household products, reduce my carbon footprint and just generally try and live in a way that's better for the environment and me.
Laundry powder. The stuff at the supermarket is not only expensive but it's not the best for you or the environment - it can contain sulfates, phenols and fragrances (which are made of a mix of harmful chemicals), just to name a few. A lot of the commercial brands also contain things like "petroleum distillates" which are linked to cancer.
Luckily, making your own is super cheap and super easy. I looked at heaps of methods online and in books etc, this is the one that I found worked best for me. It has 2 ingredients. Don't be fooled by the recipes that have a lot more ingredients - it pays to look into it.

For example:

Washing Soda - removes stains and grease, used to soften your water so hard water agents don't interfere with detergents effectiveness, high cleaning power
Borax* - used to soften water - not as effectively as washing soda
Baking/Bi-Carb Soda* - softens water half as well as washing soda, doesn't clean fabric as well, is a odor neutralizer and fabric softener
So essentially, these 3 all work the same.
Soap - removes dirt and oil - you may wish to use soap flakes or laundry soap that you can purchase at your supermarket. I chose to use MooGoo soap as it is all natural. (be aware of using soap made for skin - manufacturers add extra oils so it is not super drying. I have had great luck with MooGoo, Dr.Bronners bar soap would also work well)
*when borax and washing soda are combined, they form a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. I always have hydrogen peroxide around my home as it has many uses, so I can save myself purchasing another ingredient and use what I have on hand

To make laundry powder, all you need is:

☀ 4 cups washing soda** see bottom of post
☀ 2 bars of 130g natural soap
☀ essential oils (optional)
☀ food processor (optional)

  • Cut your soap up into smaller chunks and process in a food processor OR grate your soap into a big bowl. Be prepared for an arm workout!
  • Process your washing soda and soap together. I have myself a trusty Magimix food processor which did the trick. Powder will fly all around the place when it's mixing - I'd also suggest using a towel on top of the food processor (I learnt the hard way the first time) and give it a minute to settle before you open.

And your done! I store it in my red laundry powder tub and have a tbsp there for measuring.

>> You only need 2 tablespoons per load of washing. When I'm doing sheets towel etc I use less (this is also A LOT less than commercial brands)
>> I keep essential oils in the laundry and add about 5 drops per load. Lemon is great for de-greasing, I love putting lavender with my bed sheets. Experiment!
>> If you don't have or don't wish to use your food processor, you will need to grate your soap well before mixing. I would suggest mixing in smaller portions to ensure it is combined well.
>> I found grating my soap and then mixing it with the washing soda in my food processor worked best for me.
>> Vinegar is the cheapest, best fabric softener you'll find. It's not harmful to you and the vinegar smell definitely doesn't linger. I add about 1/2 cup to a load of washing.
>> Hydrogen peroxide is a great and natural way to brighten whites. I add 1/4 to 1/2 cup per load.
>> If you're lucky enough to live near an Aldi - White vinegar is $1.09 for a 2Ltr bottle and baking soda is around about $1.50 for 500g.

**washing soda. You don't need to buy this stuff. You probably already have the ingredient you need to make it in your pantry - baking soda.
  • Preheat oven to 220*C
  • Pour 2-3 cups of baking soda onto a large tray.
  • Cook in over for around about 2 hours. (I found 2.5 hours worked best for me)
You can tell when it's cooked by rubbing it between your fingers. Comparing it to some baking soda will help also.
Baking soda - light and fluffy, powdery feel, slightly shiny
Washing soda - grainy, flat and dull

Are you concerned by what's in your supermakert washing powder - do you think you'll try making your own?


  1. I had my washing machine fixed last year and the handyman told me never to put what the label of the powder says to put in - always half because 1. you don't need it and 2. over time it ruins your washing machine faster, so I do that... but this is even better!

    1. Let me know how you go if you try it!!
      I love that I can make all my washing smell different with essential oils haha x