Friday, August 20, 2010

How to make laundry powder, by Heather Dunlop

I've recently been diagnosed with Psoriasis, an itchy skin condition that the dermatologist said often comes as a result of stress on the body, physically or emotionally. At first I couldn't think of a reason why I would have been under stress at the time I first noticed my spots of dry skin, but now when I think back on it, they came up just after I had started a new job, my house had been broken into for the second time in six months, I had put the house on the market and got married.

Perhaps I was more stressed than I thought.

Because of my skin condition I've been trying various laundry powders that say they are for sensitive skin and are organically made. None of them seem to help. I've also tried using white distilled vinegar on an extra rinse instead of fabric softener to help dissolve the residual laundry soap from the clothes. This also doesn't seem to have helped.

So now I've taken the extra step of making my own laundry powder, with as few chemicals in it as possible.

  • 2c borax
  • 2c washing soda
  • 4c soap flakes (2 grated cakes of soap)

Combined, this almost fills a two litre icecream container.

Whiz the three ingredients up in a food processor to make a fine powder.

For each wash use two tablespoons, which is the same as the 40ml scoop from my last packet of laundry powder. I think it will last a long time. All up the cost was about $5.

I found some lemon soap at the local Bin Inn when I was buying the borax and washing soda, so used one cake of lemon soap as well as one cake of goats' milk and yoghurt soap I already had in the cupboard. Goatsmilk and yoghurt are meant to be good for skin conditions and rashes. I may start using a warm wash and still use the vinegar at the end of the wash to help dissolve all the soap flakes. 

The internet site I found this laundry powder recipe also suggested every now and then running a hot vinegar wash with no clothes in it to clean the washing machine of all soap residue.

How well does it work?
Here's a before shot of my husband's jacket, covered in clay from caving:

And here's an after shot, beautifully cleaned by my homemade laundry powder:

And as for my Psoriasis? It hasn't been as bad. A few tiny spots here and there, but nothing like the itchy rashes I've had in the past.

Looking for a liquid option?
If you want to try a hand at making your own liquid laundry detergent, check out Frugal Kiwi's Clean Green DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent recipe. Melanie of Frugal Kiwi estimates that in the two years she's used this recipe, she's spent less than $15.  


  1. Heather, I just made up a batch to try. I haven't used it yet as I'm still making my way through some bought laundry powder, but I'm looking forward to trying it.

  2. Great idea!!! I will have to try this!

    Thanks =)

  3. Hi Emma, another great DIY I make are baby wipes. Haven't managed to read all of your DIY tips yet so you may already know about them. Anyway...
    1 tbsp calendula oil
    1 tbsp natural baby moisturiser
    1 cup boiling water

    Whisk the above together then pour over "Viva" paper towels that have been cut in half.

    Pull the cardboard core out of the paper towels and you're done!

  4. Ha, that's brilliant! I'll have a look out for calendula oil. Thanks!


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