DIY Laundry Powder Less Plastic

By Rebecca Rockefeller

I don’t always wash my clothes, but when I do, I like to use my own DIY Laundry Powder Less Plastic.

Given the recent research identifying synthetic lint particles as a component of marine micro-plastic debris, I’m being even more careful to wash our clothing with synthetic content only if it’s truly dirty, beyond what spot-cleaning can manage.

Even our cotton and wool clothing is going longer between washes, the happy result of the union between my lazy approach to housework and my desire to lower our water footprint. In this, at least, I’m not alone. Even Levi Strauss is urging people to wash their jeans less often – Apparently, some time in the freezer will freshen them up nicely. I haven’t tried that yet, but I do have room in my Freecycled chest freezer…

Still, there are times when a trip through the washing machine is in order. Life with young children, chickens, and dogs provides one with plenty of soiled clothing opportunities; there is no shortage of things wet, sticky, and stinky to step in or be smeared with.

Here is my plastic-free approach to laundry powder. This is concentrated; a full load in my top-loading washing machine needs 1 Tablespoon (maybe a scant 2 Tablespoons if things are horribly soiled). A single batch of this lasts me a couple of months, at least. I add white vinegar as a fabric softener and to reduce build-up of soap in the fabric and my washer. Several months into this experiment, our clothing, linens, and other washables are all turning out clean and fresh and ready for more, more, more wear. All of these ingredients are readily available in recyclable plastic-free packaging, and for less than the same amount of commercially made laundry detergent generally costs.

DIY Laundry Powder Less Plastic

What you’ll need:

What to do:

Grate your bar of soap into your large mixing bowl. I use the fine shred section of my grater to do this, since I want the soap to be as small as possible for the next step.

To the grated soap, add:

  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda

laundry powder before mixing

Stir or mix with your hands until everything is very well blended and mostly smooth, with the curls of grated soap broken down. I find that mixing this with my hands is just as good as using a food processor to blend it all together; a spoon just doesn’t work as well. I wear an old pair of rubber gloves to do this, for safety and my skin’s sake.

laundry powder after mixing

Spoon the finished mix into your large jar and keep the lid screwed on well between uses.

finished laundry powder in a jar

CAUTION: This is poisonous! Keep out of reach of children and anyone else who might want to taste some! Label the jar so that everyone who comes near your laundry area knows this is not at all edible.

Looking for more DIY ideas for your laundry room or home? Please visit our Trash Backwards app, where we have DIY inspirations for greening up your home in no time:

Click Through For DIY Ideas For Your Laundry Room and Home

Click Through For DIY Ideas For Your Laundry Room and Home

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Categories: DIY, Plastic-Free Living, Reduce Your Use, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff


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8 Comments on “DIY Laundry Powder Less Plastic”

  1. January 25, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    Interesting about freezing jeans! I never knew that, might try it but our freezer is on the small side.

    • January 25, 2013 at 10:13 am #

      Isn’t it interesting? I’m looking forward to trying it with mine, but they always seem to end up with true muck on them that really does need to be removed by washing.

  2. lindalw666
    January 25, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Hello, dear Trashbackwards;

    Do you suppose this recipe would work in a High-efficiency washer? Thank you so much!

    Linda Weeks

    • January 25, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

      Hi Linda – Great question! I just did a quick bit of research on what makes for a HE laundry detergent, and it appears that the difference is that HE detergents must be low-sudsing and able to clean and rinse out in less water than conventional washers. I’ve found this DIY blend to be both low on suds and high on rinse-ability, at least in my hard water and the small amounts that I use; a small amount will get things clean without leaving build-up. If it’s safe to use a small amount in a HE washer as an experiment, I’d say it’s definitely worth a try…But I’m not speaking from experience or as a HE washer expert! Hope that helps, at least a little bit.

      • February 22, 2013 at 8:35 am #

        I use this same recipe in my HE washer; 1-2 tbsp per load and it has worked fine for me!


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