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Homemade Washing Powder

We’ve been using Ecover washing powder for several years now, and I have no complaints about it-it seems to wash pretty well, and we buy it in bulk in paper sacks, so it wins on the zero waste side too. However, when I started making soap, all my experimenting with different recipes and oils, has meant that we have something of a stockpile amassing. So I started to look for other uses for the small mountain of soap that is taking over our kitchen. I found this recipe in Sarah Harper’s The Natural and Handmade Soap Book, which is, by the way, a FABULOUS book for anyone interested in all things soap.

I started using this washing powder a few months ago, and wasn’t really that sure it would work, but as with most of the homemade cleaning recipes I’ve tried, it actually does!
I have two boys, who seem to have an affinity for mud, and tomato sauce, especially on white school shirts. I have to confess to never bothering my whites and coloured-everything gets chucked in together, but the white school shirts are still white, and it seems to deal well with the challenges of mud and tomato sauce.

This batch makes 800g of powder, and it lasts us 4-6 weeks (we do an average of 1-2 washes a day). You can always halve it if you wash less, but it seems to keep pretty well.

Washing powder-P


  • 400g soap (if you’re interested in making your own soap, check out this post here for the lowdown)
  • 200g borax substitute (you can use actual borax, although it is quite hard to get hold of in the UK. The use of borax is a little controversial-I have used it before, and on balance I think it is probably preferable to the hugenumber of unknown chemicals contained in commercial washing powder.)
  • 200g washing soda (soda crystals)
  • 30-40 drops of essential oil of your choice: I tend to use whatever is closest to hand. Lavender and lemon both work well for a ‘fresh’ washing smell. Or you can of course leave it unscented.


  • Grate the bars of soap using the big holes on an upright cheese grater. This is not as much hard work as it sounds.Washing Powder-small
  • Dump the grated soap into a bowl, and add the borax substitute and the washing soda. Give it all a good mix.
  • At this point, I like to bung the whole lot in my food processor and give it a good blitz to break the soap up and make it more of a powdery type mix. If you don’t have a mixer, it’s not a biggy.
  • Stir in your essential oils, and stir well again.
  • Decant into a suitable storage container-I use a large kilner jar. Any glass jar would do, or even tupperware, but it does need to be something airtight, otherwise the soda crystals can clump.

To use:

  • I use about a tablespoon per wash, and add it to the powder part of the drawer in my machine.
  • I use a good squeeze of vinegar in place of fabric conditioner, which helps to soften the clothes, and I assume also helps to limit any build up of soap scum in the machine.

I love this recipe, and it takes no time at all to whip up a batch. And best of all, it actually works!
I’ve just made a batch using 100% coconut oil soap which is supposed to be the best thing for cleaning. I can’t honestly say I’ve noticed a huge difference, but I’ll share the coconut oil soap recipe soon in case anyone else wants to have a go.




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