How To Make Your Own Washing Powder: Cheap, Easy & Effective

This is a recipe for homemade washing powder or laundry detergent.

We started mixing this up ourselves a few years ago. It’s incredibly easy to make (takes just 5 minutes to mix enough for several weeks!), costs about a fifth of the laundry soap we used to buy at the supermarket (Neutral 0%) and we know exactly what’s in it. There are no perfumes or unidentifiable ingredients.

Washing Powder

Homemade washing powder. The larger clumps are washing soda. It tends to naturally clump together but good mixing helps prevent this and any smaller lumps can be easily squashed with the back of a spoon.

driehoekTo make it, you need only 3 ingredients:

  • Marseille soap flakes (we buy ours online in 5kg bags)
  • Washing soda (not the same as baking soda, available in all larger supermarkets; Tricel and Driehoek are common Dutch brands)
  • Borax powder (a common brand in the Netherlands is Tendo’s borax powder, available at pharmacists and online)

Now simply take a measuring cup and measure out equal amounts of each into a large container with a cover. Mix them evenly and put the lid on the container. That’s it! When mixed, it looks like this.


Freshly mixed washing powder, ready to go.

If you want, at this point you can also add a few drops of essential oil to give the laundry soap a nice scent (about 20 drops for every 3 cups of mixed powder). Citrus essential oils will help boost the cleaning power of the soap.

boraxTo do laundry, simply take 1-2 tablespoons of the powder and put it in the normal soap compartment of your washer.

Many people ask about the function and safety of borax and this article gives a good overview of its pros and cons.

In washing powder, borax is added to improve the detergent’s cleaning power. It’s an ingredient that’s been traditionally used for laundry since at least Victorian times but it is not so suitable for washing delicate materials such as silk or wool.  It could also irritate sensitive skin and, of course, shouldn’t be eaten. Keep it out of the reach of small children, as you would any other cleaning product.

If you don’t want to go down the borax route, there are plenty of borax-free recipes for laundry soap. You could try using the recipe above but just omitting the borax. There are also variations such as this one which use baking soda and citric acid (also available online and known as citroenzuur in Dutch) instead of borax. Since we’ve always used borax, we can only vouch for the effectiveness of our own recipe but let us know your verdict if you try a borax-free powder.

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