Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder Recipe Like Ivory Snow and Dreft Soap

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As we have shared many times before, the next stage in our savings as a family is learning to make simpler, healthier, and more natural choices while still fitting within a tight budget.  With that in mind, we have started making our own homemade laundry detergent powder.  We have two powdered recipes to share, but today we are going to show you the first one which is a classic, perfect for sensitive skin and extremely easy to make.  Make sure to reference our other recipe we use for the rest of the family, towels and bedding.

Not only are we trying to be more natural and healthier in all areas of life, but ease and simplicity with a busy homeschooling family of seven is also a very key element to many things we do.  We love this recipe as it seriously only takes less than 10 minutes to whip up a batch – even faster than running to the store for forgotten laundry soap – a perfect length for our busy family.  :)

This recipe is for powdered detergent that is equivalent to 80 light loads or 40 heavy loads of laundry.   This is the one we make for sensitive skin as we have a baby (like Dreft) and a son with Eczema (like an Ivory Snow type detergent).  We call this the “boy’s soap” for this reason. ;)

I like homemade powdered detergent over liquid at this point in our lives – it stores better and and is extremely fast and easy to make.  However, we are certainly willing to try a liquid if you have a recipe you recommend!

Our Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder Recipe

homemade laundry detergent powder ingredients

First, here is the ingredient round-up:

  • 1 bar of Ivory Soap
  • 2 cups of Super Washing Soda
  • 2 cups of Borax

microwaved ivory soap

Step #1:

  • Microwave your Ivory Soap for 60-90 seconds – YES, microwave :) I hate grating – whether it is cheese or soap, I don’t like grating stuff.  Plus it takes a long time to grate.  The other benefit is that not only is it fast and easy – it is also a super fun experiment and project – your kids will love it!!
  • Although it looks soft and edible, it is actually an unexpected consistency – dry and brittle – and it will process very well in a blender or food processor without taxing your equipment (I also want my food processor to last a long time!).
  • Plus if any spills over off the plate, it is a way to get your microwave a bit cleaner – and the after smell makes your home smell like a clean linen smell.  Very pleasant!

put ivory soap into food processor

Step #2:

  • Put the 2 cups of Washing Soda and the soap (broken up) in your blender or food processor and mix until blended well
  • Then add the 2 cups of Borax and blend again until well blended

Your final product will be a nice fluffy white powder detergent that smells great and works well! We store it in a #10 can in our laundry room!  This is a 40 – 80 loads worth of detergent!

Here’s how to use it:

  • Light Load – 1 Tablespoon
  • Heavy Load – 2 Tablespoons

Here’s the cost breakdown:

  • 3 Bars of Ivory Soap sold for $1.00 = .33 per batch (we actually have a stash of the three packs we got for FREE with a sale and coupon means even cheaper ;))
  • 76 oz. of Borax with average cost per box of $4 = $0.84 per 2-cups for each laundry batch
  • 55 oz. of Super Washing Soda with average cost per box of $3 = $0.87 per 2-cups for each laundry batch

This makes the final price an average of $2.04 per batch or .03 -.06 per load (even cheaper if you get the above ingredients cheaper with sales or coupons)!

Here’s how Dreft and Ivory Snow stack up in price to this homemade equivalent.

Ivory Snow Powdered Detergent 24 oz.equal to 15 loads sells for $5 per box on average = $0.33 per load

Dreft 53 oz. Powdered Detergent equal to 40 loads sells for $12 per box on average = $0.30 per load

Our homemade laundry detergent is 90% cheaper than the store-bought detergent! Even with sales and coupons, you would need to purchase the name brands  for 90% off to equal the same value.

The next recipe we will share is for the scented detergent for the rest of the family and our towels/bedding loads!

Disclaimer:  Before using our homemade laundry detergent powder recipe, please be sure to test it on a small piece of clothing first.

See more of our Daily Doses of Thrifty to save even more money in your household budget!

Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder Recipe Like Ivory Snow and Dreft Soap
5.0 from 1 reviews
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Recipe type: Household
Author:
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 80
Save "loads" of money by making your very own detergent that is very easy (I can make mine in less than 10 minutes) and have it be very effective in gently cleaning your clothing! This is also perfect for babies and those with sensitive skin (like for our son with Eczema!)
Ingredients
  • 1 bar of Ivory Soap
  • 2 cups of Super Washing Soda
  • 2 cups of Borax
Instructions
Step #1:
  1. Microwave your Ivory Soap for 60-90 seconds - YES, microwave :) I hate grating - whether it is cheese or soap, I don't like grating stuff. Plus it takes a long time to grate. The other benefit is that not only is it fast and easy - it is also a super fun experiment and project - your kids will love it!!
  2. Although it looks soft and edible, it is actually an unexpected consistency - dry and brittle - and it will process very well in a blender or food processor without taxing your equipment (I also want my food processor to last a long time!).
  3. Plus if any spills over off the plate, it is a way to get your microwave a bit cleaner - and the after smell makes your home smell like a clean linen smell. Very pleasant!
Step #2:
  1. Put the 2 cups of Washing Soda and the soap (broken up) in your blender or food processor and mix until blended well
  2. Then add the 2 cups of Borax and blend again until well blended
Your final product will be a nice fluffy white powder detergent that smells great and works well! We store it in a #10 can in our laundry room! This is a 40 - 80 loads worth of detergent!
Notes
Disclaimer: Before using our homemade laundry detergent powder recipe, please be sure to test it on a small piece of clothing first.

 

We also HIGHLY recommend that you put this in your home binder along with many more things we will be sharing! See all of the information on this in our previous post HERE about Put Together Your Home Binder with Free Downloads.

Finally, use this new thrifty and healthy cleaning product as part of our Spring Cleaning Challenge.

If you want even more ideas too, be sure to visit these links!

Comments

    • says

      Hi Carrie – We honestly just don’t know as we’ve never had experience with HE washers. We don’t yet understand how HE washers function differently than standard washers and thus don’t know.

      We do know that Brands like Tide sell a specific HE version and other brands given different directions for the same product. Do you know what the requirements are for detergent used in HE machines? Thanks so much! ~Cassie

      • Lady Jane says

        with the HE washers, you need low sudsing. and…..this is :)
        i’ve used it for several years now, and we’ve had no problems.
        my favorite soap to use….is Zote. i like the smell.

        i love sharing this recipe with families….for years, i NEVER knew i could make my own…..i have saved soooo much money….plus, i don’t have all the chemicals added to it – yea!!!!! they’re killing us with ALL the chemicals they add to everything……..

      • debbie says

        I use different detergents in my he washer, I just don’t use as much as it calls for in the regular detergent. I would use the 1 tbsp. amount in my he washer, since the loads of laundry are usually bigger too.

  1. RedDirtGRL says

    I’ve used pretty much every kind of laundry soap (both powder and liquid) in my front loading Maytag (HE) washer for about 10 years now and if there’s no specific directions I just use about half the recommended amount. But considering it’s only one to two tablespoons, that would probably be ok.

    I’m going to save your recipe and when I run out of laundry detergent I will try it.

    Thanks

  2. allison says

    The difference between HE washer detergent and standard washer detergent is that the HE detergent doesn’t produce as many bubbles as the standard detergent. So it prevents “sudds”. That’s it.

  3. Evangeline says

    Does this microwave trick work on any soap? Did you cut the bar up into smaller pieces? I usually use Fels Naptha in my DIY detergent. Also, why do you blend the powder, is it just to mix the powder?

    • says

      Hi Evangeline – It only works on soft bar soaps (please note, I haven’t tried many other soaps, but am making a partial assumption from the ones I have tried ;)), others just kinda melt weird. When I microwave the Ivory, I do not cut it up at all, just stick the whole bar on a plate and then microwave! I do pop Fels Naptha in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds to soften it and then cube it with a knife before putting it in my food processor so it doesn’t have to work so hard due to the softer Fels Naptha. Fels Naptha will not “meringue” like Ivory in the microwave. I like blending in the processor/blender so it is a fine soft powder with ingredients evenly mixed, but you may not have to. I haven’t tried hand mixing since I have had the ability to process/blend with an appliance since making my own – but I don’t see why that wouldn’t work.

      Hope that helps!!

      • Evangeline says

        Thanks so much. I do mine in the food processor too so I will def. try the microwave to at least soften the Fels.

  4. virginia says

    We make our own liquid detergent that works really well. I grate a felsnaptha bar that cost $1 and heat it over low heat in a pan with just enough water to cover. It takes a few hours to melt it completely and you wa nt to do is very slowly. Once melted add 2 gallons of hot water to a separate container and then add melted soap to that. Also then add in 1/2 cup of baking soda mix and cool. I use maybe 1/4cup for a large load of clothes.

    • says

      Hi Sarah, It is pretty safe as well as a small amount goes a long way and since it is more pure than laundry soap, I would assume it would be fine for septics!

  5. Jane Richardson says

    I have used Dreft detergent for years because I am allergic to everything. I also love the smell of Dreft. I was wondering if you could take some of the Dreft detergent and mix with the Borax and Washing Soda instead of a bar of soap. And if you could, how much of the Dreft would you need to use. Dreft is so expensive, it would be nice to have the same scent and make it go further.

    • says

      You can also try to double the recipe by including equal parts of Dreft. I don’t know if it would work, but you can always try it and then let me know how it goes!

  6. Rebecca says

    This detergent is so easy to make, and it works great! I tried it out on a blanket, and some dirty bibs from my 9 month old- they came out just as clean as if I had used store bought. Very excited about this! Thank you!

  7. jen says

    Can I add scent to this recipe? I don’t have sensitive skin, but not understanding if scent could be added why you wouldn’t use this recipe instead of the other – wasn’t this one cheaper to make? I may have misread..

    • says

      Hi Jen, I don’t see why not! We use the other detergent most and more often because Fels Naptha is the classic heavy duty laundry soap booster/degreaser and so I guess it makes me feel better for the more heavy duty laundry that I am using a more heavy duty soap :) I would use it for our boys too if it wasn’t for sensitive skin :) But this does the job too and I like the consistency and smell of this one from the Ivory soap (even without the extra scent!). If you try it, let me know how it works, but I would imagine it would work just as well (mixing the essential oils into the detergent).

    • Lady Jane says

      you can add scent……it must be added when it’s cooled since it’s an essential oil. i make mine hot…….so, it needs to be cooled down first, then add essential oil to it…..i know someone who added orange essential oil. my son added rosemary – thot it was more manly…..so experiment…..

  8. Hollie says

    You are so smart!!! After I had shaved the whole ivory bar I found your site and nuked it. It came out wonderfully!!!!! I gave it to a pregnant friend so I left out the borax but it still cleaned great!!!! I made myself a batch and microwaving the ivory soap saved so much time!!!
    I also made a huge batch of liquid laundry soap and it worked great too. I tested both out with the dogs’ nasty bedding and they absolutely love it!!!! They love the smell of Ivory soap for some odd reason and the liquid doesn’t have any smell but my house smells so much better!!!
    I am sharing my soap and this post with friends this week!

    • says

      I love that it makes my house smell fresh and clean too :) I haven’t tried it on pet’s beds as we don’t have any, but WOW awesome to hear! I know it is effective and safe so that just adds another positive point! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Belinda says

    I love this, too, but I’m wondering how the conclusion was reached that only 1 tbsp is needed for a load. Just hard to wrap my mind around, I think. Can anyone tell how that amount was decided? Very tempting to put more, but I don’t want to waste money, either.

    • says

      Hi Belinda – I assume that you are asking in reference to the commercial soaps needing a scoop? Well, this works just as well with the small amount needed as it is a different formula that must be more concentrated. It is not the same ingredients as it’s commercial counterpart, so it makes the usage different anyway. Also, I have been told by many appliance salesman, plumbers and more that we use way to much soap as it is already and that we really don’t need to use what the commercial detergents state as a little will go a long way. So I don’t have the exact answer, except that it does work. I haven’t really researched it as I have been content with the results. This is my own recipe, but I did research others to see if they used different amounts and I believe that most all of them used about the same amount (even in the liquid form too!). I know that doesn’t totally answer the question, but maybe that helps some!

  10. Mary P says

    So I have a question….. Do you use your food processor for anything else other than the soap making? The reason I ask is I just got one at a second hand shop, but if using it for the detergent will make it so I cant use it for food, I may have to wait til I see another used one to buy. I have been making and using a liquid version for a couple years now but would like to try your powder too. And as far as the HE washers, I was told these types of soaps are great in them as they dont contain phosphates and like someone mentioned earlier, just doesnt make suds. I dont have a HE washer but a friend does and she uses it in heres. The small amounts needed are for basically the same reason, and because it is essentially 3 cleaning agents in one…. sort of like Tide on steroids! Sheesh, listen to me, answering questions like they were directed to me, sorry Cassie. But I do want to know about the food processor….
    Mary P.

    • says

      Hi Mary, We only have one food processor and Sherry does make a good point, it is typically washed with soap.

      Also, I do rinse with a bit of lemon juice or vinegar afterwards as that helps any residue rinse away. Also, it it can “scratch” the sides of your food processor a little, but not much more than using some foods in it would be either. Hope that helps!

  11. Sherry L says

    I may have a couple answers here… using the smaller amount of this over store-bought is due to the “inert” ingredients in the name brands, fillers if you will. And for using your food processor, you would wash it with a soap product for food use, yes? The only thing I could see happening would be “etching” of the container from the borax and washing soda, again rinsing would take care of any residue but if you could pick up an extra container at a yard sale or thrift shop it could save your food bowl from light damage. Hope this helps!

  12. Jennifer says

    Thank you….I have been looking for this type of soap because I’m a newborn photographer and need to clean my props in a more economical way! This does it (:

  13. says

    Thanks so much for your easy and awesome recipe! I made this yesterday (just as you described) and “tried” it on my son’s clothes. OMG. If it can get his icky 9 year old boy clothes clean….. WOW. It even eliminated a puppy accident from my rug. I love this stuff and am sold. We have really sensitive skin and haven’t found anything that didn’t make us itch. This is the trick.

    • says

      I am so very glad to hear it! We know all about sensitive skin and that delicate balance between wanting things “clean” but not causing reactions!

  14. says

    Hi quick question. There were 2 different sizes for the ivory soap at my stores, bath size and personal size. Which one do you use? Thanks!

  15. kent says

    This dose not make mathematical sense! If the box of washing soda calls for you to use 1/3 cup WITH your regular detergent, as a booster, as dose the borax! Then 1 or 2 tbls is not enough to anything!
    Actually it’s not even 1 Tbls, because part of it is soap!
    Now a 1/4 or 1/3 cup of this mixture… now your getting somewhere!

    • says

      Hi Kent – This question was sorta kinda asked above too. I don’t have a super clear answer as to why it works as well (and often better than commercial detergents with the booster) as it does – it just does! But I know that the makeup of the detergent is a lot different than the commercial counterparts. Both Mary and Sherry above also have some answers that make sense.

      From Mary: And as far as the HE washers, I was told these types of soaps are great in them as they dont contain phosphates and like someone mentioned earlier, just doesnt make suds. I dont have a HE washer but a friend does and she uses it in heres. The small amounts needed are for basically the same reason, and because it is essentially 3 cleaning agents in one…. sort of like Tide on steroids!

      From Sherry: using the smaller amount of this over store-bought is due to the “inert” ingredients in the name brands, fillers if you will.

      When you are making homemade ingredients, often times you are skipping the unnecessary items to get to the heart of what makes those products work and so the usage amounts will often be very different than the commercial product you are attempting to duplicate. I hope that both of those answers help, but I would also recommend trying it and testing it for yourself to see if that will help answer some of the questions too!

  16. Missy says

    I made the other soap with the Fels Naptha bar, but when I just whipped up a batch of this one with the Ivory soap, it was much easier simply because microwaving was easier than grating! I have tried boat, using only a tablespoon, and my clothes actually feel cleaner as though it even washed out old soap residue.

    My question is this…I have a bottle of pure vanilla and was wondering if I mixed a few drops of that in, would it act as a scent much like essential oils? I don’t want to ruin an entire batch if someone knows of a reason why this is not a good idea.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    • says

      That is a good question Missy. I am just not sure about that. If you are looking for an essential oil replacement, I would almost lean more towards a perfume/cologne or other type of scent replacement as it is safe to spray it on clothing when not in the washer. BUT, I haven’t thought about or considered this alternative at all until now, so I would love to hear others’ thoughts as well!

  17. Sheila says

    I am looking for an economical way to wash cloth diapers. I think that the commercial detergents marketed for cloth diapers are way over priced but I also don’t want to ruin my cloth diapers or leave an residue behind by using the wrong kind of detergent. Do you know if this recipe works with cloth diapers?

    • says

      I think this would be the best option as it is the same type of sensitive and gentle, but effective detergent for baby clothes, so it should be just the same for cloth diapers. It also rinses quite nicely – you can also do a second rinse on the load if you are wanting to be sure. If anything, it is worth a shot as it is not a very expensive experiment! It works well for our baby’s items as well as for our son with eczema. Hope that helps!

  18. choppee says

    I just found this homemade laundry detergent on DIY NATURAL site and it calls for 1 bar of Ivory soap, 1 cup of A&H Super washing soap,and 1 cup of 20 mule team Borax… WHY DOES YOURS CALL FOR 2 CUPS EACH AND 1 BAR IVORY???? just wonder who is correct before I made wrong batch of it.. THANKS!!

    • says

      Hi Choppee – Just like any recipe whether food or not, they will all have different types of recipes or variations and they can all be just as good just a matter of preference. This is our recipe and one that works well for us and we really like it – I haven’t tried others! We do also use vinegar as a fabric softener and odor remover for the tough loads. Hope that helps!

    • Ginny says

      Choppee,

      Like Cassie said there are TONS of recipes out there and it depends on your washer, your water etc. We have found we have to use a 3:1 ratio because of our hard water, this recipe would be a 4:1 (powder to bar of soap). I would have loved to use the first recipe I found – but we ended up having to play around a bit. I ended up with Dr. Brommers (and luckily the lavender bar isn’t to hard on my 6 weeks old skin, we have been using that recipe for months – and I didn’t want to make a new batch if I didn’t need to) but have tried Fels Naptha too. This will be our first try with ivory. Can’t wait to go nuke it! Thanks Cassie

  19. Ellen says

    Here’s another helpful tip. I live in CT and purchased a 50 lb bag of Light Soda Ash (same as Sodium Carbonate/A&H Super Washing Soda) for $32 from Agway, a farming supply store. There are some online sites selling Light Soda Ash in bulk, but the shipping costs are astronomical. It’s worth your while to call local farming/agricultural supply stores to see if they have these bulk bags. My detergent works great!

  20. says

    I have used this for over a year now and never knew to nuke it lol. Im a single mom of three kiddos and im having problems getting food oils and grease out of the older kids school uniform shirts any ideas?. I have many friends that use it also. My girls are very sensative to detergents i use this with my clothe diapers for my four month old, once a month i add 7 drops of tee tree oil to the rinse cycle for bacteria and oder control.

  21. Pat says

    I use my Salad Shooter to grate the soap. Just put the bar in the top and don’t push down too hard so you don’t damage the Salad Shooter. It works so fast and saves my knuckles from getting grated.

  22. Stefanie Moran says

    I just wanted to let you know that I made your homemade laundry detergent and I love it. I use it in my HE washing machine and it works great! I even mentioned you on my blog. (I’m new at blogging). http://www.minivanmom08@blogspot.com. Thanks for all the tips and recipes. I modified your SOS mix to make it gluten free. I have a niece with Celiacs disease (she cannot tolerate any gluten). We can now make our favorite casseroles again! All of the store brand cream of soups have gluten in them. I love your website. Thank you for letting us into your life and sharing all this info with us!

  23. Kari says

    Thanks so much for all of the wonderful recipes! I was just wondering if this one was available in a printable version like the others? I haven’t been able to find it, but just thought I’d check. Thanks again!

    • says

      Stella – you can still microwave this way too and it will still be light and fluffy! You may not have to microwave as long though… try 30 seconds!

  24. Barbara says

    Just made some of this today. I used Dove instead because I have like 4 bars laying around. I think I cooked it too long because a lot stuck to the plate and jammed up my blender. I mixed everything together in a plastic bag and pounded it with a meat mallet and it’s fine. I think until I run out of the Dove I will grate the soap. I saw my daughter make it with the Ivory though, and it worked great for her!

  25. mary ellen conlin says

    Sorry to seem dumb but what are HE washing machines and I have never heard
    of washing soda????? I’m 86 years old!!!!! This is really freaking me out! So I
    hope I get some replies. I’d like to try this way of making homemade soap. My
    husband passed away in august and so now I just have my income and will have
    to be more frugal. Thanks for any help you might give. Mary E.

    • says

      Hi Mary Ellen,

      HE Machines are the new High Efficiency machines. Many people do not have an HE machine. But whether your machine is the normal “old” machines or a new HE machine, this detergent works great in both!

      Washing Soda is a powder similar to baking soda. The only brand I know about is Arm and Hammer in a yellow box sold on the laundry aisle at places like Walmart and possibly your local grocery store. Hopefully that helps!

  26. julie meeker says

    I have noticed that when I have used Borax as a washing aid as opposed to super washing soda it put holes in my clothes . Has anyone else noticed this kind of thing ?

    • Karen says

      Hi Julie, I had quite a few holes show up in my clothes when I used Borax along with detergent. The holes were in 100% cotton t-shirts and undies. Ruined a bunch of them. :(

  27. barbara says

    I have been making this recipe for laundry detergent for a few years now. I always get my husband to grate the bars of ivory – it hurts my wrist. What a great idea to microwave the soap. Can’t wait to try it. I also add a couple of lavender scented purex crystals to the mix

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