Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent with Zote

Make your own homemade powdered laundry detergent made from Zote Soap, Washing Soda, and Borax. Way cheaper than commercial detergent!

During law school I learned to make my own laundry detergent.  I always made the “liquid” kind.  I use the word “liquid” loosely because it was somewhere between a solid and a liquid.  If you’ve used the liquid version of Fels-Naptha, Borax, and Washing Soda, you know the gelatinous chunks of which I speak.

I originally opted for the liquid version because it made more detergent than the powder for the amount of the ingredients used.  We stored it in a 3- or 5-gallon bucket in our mudroom, then ladled it into an empty commercial laundry detergent bottle.  We just made sure to shake it up before using it.  It worked fine.

Several months ago I ran out of our liquid detergent and I bought some commercial detergent to tide us over (no pun intended) until I could make some more.  That bottle finally ran out.  I had laundry waiting and I had all the ingredients on hand.  It was time.

After the laundry discussion in the comments of the debt discussion on making sacrifices, I decided to try a powder this time, which seemed much less daunting.  I didn’t have a full bar of Fels-Naptha, but I did have some Zote.  After a little research I decided on a recipe.

Make your own homemade powdered laundry detergent made from Zote Soap, Washing Soda, and Borax. Way cheaper than commercial detergent!


  • 1 Bar of Zote, finely shredded (14.1 oz)
  • 3 cups Borax (I use 20 Mule Team)
  • 3 cups Washing Soda (I use Arm & Hammer, but it’s not baking soda.  Note the yellow box)

Thanks to Celeste’s comment (on the post I mentioned above), I decided to make the laundry soap in my food processor.  If I would have thought of that, I would have made it months ago.  Grating soap (and inevitably knuckles) is not my favorite chore.

Homemade Laundry Detergent With Zote

A bar of Zote soap is pretty massive, so I cut it in half and did two batches.  I cut each half into three rectangles so that it would fit nicely into the chute of my food processor.

Homemade Laundry Detergent Powder Between the grating disc and the spinning S-blade, the soap was processed into nice granules.

Homemade Laundry Soap with Zote

I added in 1 1/2 cups of Borax and 1 1/2 cups of Washing Soda and processed again so that it mixed together nicely.  I put that into a container and repeated these steps with the other half of the Zote bar.

It made about 9 cups of detergent.  I use a tablespoon or two, depending on how dirty the clothes are and how big the load is.  Zote has a slightly citrusy smell, which I like better than the smell of Fels-Naptha.  So far it is working well and we are very happy with it.  


For those who haven’t purchased these ingredients before, they are not that hard to come by.  I can pick up all three at Walmart, which is wonderful since I only have to go to one place and Walmart happens to have the best price around on all of the ingredients.  I have links below to these products on Amazon, so you can see them, but they would be much cheaper at Walmart or the grocery store.  They are all found somewhere in or near the laundry section.  Prices below are approximate (but close), since I already had them all on hand and didn’t run out to the store.

The 55 oz washing soda has about 6 cups and the 76 oz borax has about 9.5 cups.  So the washing soda will last for 2 batches of my recipe and the borax will last for 3 batches.  The cost of one batch (that makes about 9 cups of detergent) would be:

Zote $1 + Washing Soda $1.50 + Borax $1.17 = $3.67

9 cups of detergent x 16 Tablespoons per cup = 144 Tablespoons of detergent

Since it doesn’t have any filler, you only need a tablespoon or  two for a load.  Nine cups of detergent will last you a while!  If you use 1 Tbsp per load it will cost 2.5 cents per load.  If you use 2 Tbsp per load it will cost 5 cents per load.  You will likely have some of each, so your average will be somewhere between 2.5 and 5 cents per load.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

 How about you?

  • Is making your own laundry detergent worth it to you personally?  
  • Have you made your own laundry detergent?  What’s your favorite recipe?

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 You Might Also Enjoy:

Save Money on Laundry- 8 Great Tips

Homamade Dishwasher Detergent FB

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  1. CeCee says

    I make my own powdered laundry detergent. I decided to do it on a whim. I looked up a recipe and it said the ingredients cost about $30 for 6-12 months worth of detergent, depending on how often you used it. A friend split the cost and detergent with me. We figured worse case scenario we were out $15 bucks. I fell in love with the detergent. She didn’t care for it. She is a little bit of a brand snob so that could be why.

    My recipe is: One box of 20 mule team Borax, One Box of washing Soda, One box of Baking Soda, One tub of Oxy-Clean, 2 Bars of Zote Soap, and two bottles of Crystal smell good stuff (???? its a laundry scent booster, I don’t know the name but I know what the bottle looks like). The total cost of those ingredients last time I bought them (November) was $32.xx. You could make it without the oxyclean or smell good stuff, but I like it because sometimes we have funky gym/work clothes. I food process all of it together and mix it in a big pot. It then fills FIVE protein powder containers. The scoop from the powder is what I use to measure.

    My preferred brand of detergent before I started making my own was WISK. I would buy it anytime it went on sale for $10 and I was lucky if it lasted me 3 weeks. Current batches of the detergent that I make normally last me 7-8 months, and we make a LOT of dirty clothes.

    Also. If I dissolve the detergent in really hot water it makes an AWESOME carpet cleaner.

      • CeCee says

        I forgot to mention that one of my furbabies has skin allergies. He had allergic reactions to Tide, Sun, Etc. Wisk was the only one that wouldn’t cause him to break out in a rash, until I made my own!!

        It is also low sudsing so it works fine in HE washers, just throw it on the clothes not in the dispenser.

        • Nicole says

          Did you use the white or pink zote? I did a recipe with the white a while back and am wondering if it’s been the cause of my pups foot chewing.

        • Maria says

          Nicole, whose foot is he chewing? Yours or his own? I’m not being sarcastic, really wanted to know. Zote soap is made with tallow. Dogs’ noses being so sensitive, I wondered if he smells the tallow in your socks (if your feet are the ones he chews). :) P.S. Our boxer – dog loves to grab our feet when we’re playing!

    • Jamie Carroll says

      I also saw a video on you tube about how to powder the Zote bar it entails microwaving it for about 4 minutes (’til it puffs up into a pink cloud) letting it cool and harden then crumbling it and rubbing it through a sieve.

        • Gloria says

          I do this microwave trick with my Fels Naptha bars. I usually cut it into three or four chunks and nuke it for about a minute and a half. My only word of advice, be patient for it to cool! Ouch! After it has cooled down I can just crumble it apart. If you are fond of the nice small granules, give it a zip in the food processor (it only takes a moment!). I have loved switching to making my own soap, besides the savings (and with two little boys and school expenses for my husband and I that is a must) my youngest and I have sensitive skin that is not bothered at all by our recipe!

    • Liv Ratha says

      Could you tell me,if I would like to buy Borax, Super washing sosa, Zote ,Baking soda…how can i order? I would like to order coming at Cambodia(Khmer) .Thank you.

      • Becca says

        Liv, when I was in Phom Penh a few years ago I noticed the large grocery store downtown (Giant?) carried a lot of Western products; have you checked there? If you’re an ex-pat and you have other friends in the ex-pat community they may know the local brand equivalents. (I’m an ex-pat myself; it takes a while to get used to what things are called in a different country!) You should be able to order off Amazon but shipping would kill the deal. Prices at the large grocery store were not cheap; but it’d still work out cheaper than ordering off Amazon.

    • Charleen Wilkinson says

      I just finished my 2nd batch of homemade laundry soap. My first batch lasted 9 mo. I discovered Zote now comes as a flake. I used 2 boxed NO mixing or grating!! I use it without the fragrance because of skin sensitivity and it gets my clothes very clean. No disappointment.

    • Mary says

      I made the powder detergent the first time and wanted to try the liquid. Did NOT like how the liquid seemed to thicken while it sat in the container. Ended up adding water to it several times to thin it enough to pour. So tomorrow I am making this recipe again. I love the pink Zote and the crystals too. I use the Unstopables. Not sure what brand it it tho. Whole house smells wonderful when I do laundry…LOL


    • says

      Hi Kristia! We haven’t noticed any problems with our whites. My husband wears white dress shirts M-F for work and Sundays for church. It may depend on if you have hard or soft water. I’m no chemist, but I have read that different soaps interact differently with hard or soft water. If you know what kind of water you have, it might be worth it to do a little research in that direction. Some people add oxyclean to their detergent too, which might help.

    • Kristen says

      Look for a product called bluing. It comes in a liquid and all you have to do is add it to a cup of water. Use it in place of bleach and it will make your white dazzling. If you ever looked into powdered detergent you will notice that it has blue specks, it’s the same thing. All detergents have it added to them. If you hang your clothes out on a line they will be even brighter. I use it and love it.

      Here’s a link to it on amazon, but you may be able to find it in a store.

      Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing

  2. says

    I get my ingredients at Walmart, too! Except I use Dr. Bonners bar soap and pick my scent, which makes my version just a bit more expensive but still cheaper than Arm & Hammer unscented for sensitive skin on sale with a coupon and better for the environment and our bodies.

    We also use Soap Nuts Have you tried these yet? My husband prefers my soap recipe now, tho! Love the soap nuts but they don’t have like a smell….I love scented clothes. Originally, I had made the powder for sheets and feminine wear….but now it’s a staple.

  3. says

    How is it working for you? Does it seem to really clean your clothes? Do they smell nice? Can’t wait to hear your experience with this as yea that is cheap! I am glad you said where to get the ingredients as I have never heard of most of them and would have wondered where to get them.
    It is so nice to meet you, we are part of the same SITS tribe. :)

    • says

      It works great! I have no complaints. The Zote gives a lemony scent to the detergent, but the clothes themselves are pretty much fragrance-free, which is what we want. You can add essential oils if you want a scent.

    • Laurie says

      Some people add Downy Unstoppables or other fragrance booster. It adds more expense. I don’t use it because of sensitivities, but you can personalize the recipe to suit yourself. I LIKE the scent of Fels Naptha, so that’s the soap I use. I also add a drop of essential oil to the fabric softener/vinegar/water mix that I dip the wool dryer balls into. I’m not looking for a strong fragrance.

  4. says

    Wow! the thought of creating my own detergent never entered my mind. I have little ones and as you well know with kids, you do loads of laundry. My question is similar to Emmy’s does it really get your clothes clean? Is there something special you do for specific stains e.g., grass stains?

    • says

      We go through lots of laundry, so making our own detergent really saves money! and it works great! For specific stains, I would just google to look for tips! I haven’t dealt with any grass stain lately!

    • Krysta says

      It’s great! You can use a separate bar or what’s left of Fels Naptha and rub it on the stain, it’s a great stain remover. If you just like the idea if frugal, and it’s not strictly about natural ingredients, then Check out your local dollar tree. They sell a cleaner by LA Totally Awesome that’s yellow. It’s amazing for everything & I mean it gets out all diets of stains. I don’t even dilute it like it says… While your there grab some OxyClean. The dollar store tubs hold a little more than two cups & come with a scoop that it’s perfect for regular size loads.

  5. Kelly K says

    I made my own laundry detergent in November! LOVE IT! I used a box of Borax, a box of Super Washing Soda, a 4 lb box of Baking Soda, 3 bars of Fels Naptha(because I already bought them when I wanted to make the Duggars recipe but never did), a box of Biz, and for extra cleaning power a box of Clorox 2 Powder bleach. For a nice fragrance, I added a canister of Downy Unstoppables.

    I already had the Borax and Super Washing soda on hand. For the other items, I paid around $30. I bought a 5 lb orange bucket from Home Depot to store the detergent and a smaller glass cracker jar from Walmart. I use 2 TBSP per load. I wash in cold water. Don’t wear a lot of whites but haven’t had any issues with the soap not dissolving in cold water. I do have city water though. I love it. Grating the soap WAS a pain though and I did scrape my knuckles a few times! loll

    • says

      It sounds like you should be set for a while Kelly! That’s a lot of detergent! Making things in bulk saves so much time. I can’t imagine grating three bars of soap in a row though! You’re a champ :)

      Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  6. april says

    For $25 I make a five gallon bucket of soap. I have a family of nine. Yes, nine. It lasts me eleven months.

  7. Jessie Hudson says

    For stains I use one fels naptha bar. I spray the stain with water and rub the bar on it. It works great for me, and it even works on oils stains (you know the pesky ones that you are never sure how they got there). I have been using fels naptha, but Am going to try Zote tomorrow, if it works like the fels naptha I will be so stoked because it is cheaper per bar!

    • says

      I’ll have to try FelsNaptha on oil stains! Thanks for the tip. Everywhere around here FelsNaptha and Zote are each around a dollar (though maybe the weight is different).

      • Angela says

        I found a great product for grease stains and pretty much any other stain too. My husband is a mechanic and uses a product called gojo (it can be found in automotive stores or possibly auto sections of stores I haven’t looked there).
        Being a mechanic he has all kinds of grease, oil and other stains on his uniforms. Most stains come out in the wash but if he has a bad stain or if one of the kids has one I put a little gojo on the stain and it takes it right out and a little goes a long way I litterally stick my finger in it and rub it on stain. I haven’t found anything yet that it doesnt take out.

  8. Audry says

    I found that if I leave my zote soap out for awhile that it is a snap to grate. Guess it dries out a bit.

  9. Nana says

    I’ve been using a similar recipe to make laundry soap for 9 months and I don’t see myself ever going back to using the commercial stuff. I also hate grating the soap and found a tip online to make it easier. Place it in a pie plate and microwave it at high for 1 to 2 minutes (it will make a huge misshapen glob); then let it cool for 45 to 60 minutes. Next, put it in a freezer bag, seal it well, and beat and roll with a rolling pin. Then mix it with your other ingredients and you’re done. The only drawback is it makes your microwave and house smell like the soap for a day or two.

    • says

      Your comment made me smile Nana :) I just have this image of someone beating a ziplock bag full of microwaved soap with a rolling pin and it’s funny! But if it works, then by all means go for it!! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Kathleen says

    I have made this recipe with Felz soap though. I won’t go back to store bought again. I am the mother of 4 and all are involved in sports. We mistakenly placed our 4 years old sweatshirt in a load with no pretreatment due to red popsicle all over it. To my surprise, there was not one sign of a previous stain. We have left out the scent booster and rely on our fabric softener sheets. I also use my blender to grate my soap fine and saves so much time. I only make 1 quart size canister at a time which consists of 1 bar of soap, 1 cup of washing powder, and 1 cup of borax.

    • says

      What a wonderful surprise to have that stain come out so easily! We don’t use any scent boosters or anything since my MIL is sensitive to fragrances. Thanks for stopping by Kathleen!

  11. Deborah F says

    I tried making the powder laundry soap with the white ZOTE following Wellness Mama’s directions and found the soap so gooey soft it gunked up my blender (note: don’t have a food processor) even when blended with some of the soda to “dry” it. My question is do you have issues with the ZOTE not dissolving in cool or cold water. I had read that this messes with children’s cotton cloth diapers. One of the commenters on Wellness Mama’s posting offered and recommended a no soap version for washing cloth diapers (1 part baking soda, 1 park Oxyclean, 1 part washing soda, 1 part borax). My thought is that if the soap is clogging cotton diapers, wouldn’t it also be clogging other clothes? I am concerned that using an oily castile-type soap, such as ZOTE, in my washer because of its tendency to gunk.

    • says

      Hi Deborah,

      I haven’t had any problems with the Zote clumping. The bar is a little moist-feeling when you slice it up (and it’s a darker pink on the inside. I set it outside for a bit (after it was cut) so that it could dry out a bit before I put it in the food processor. You can see in the pictures how it grinds up pretty fine. I haven’t had a problem with it dissolving in the washing machine. It rinses out well too.

      Have you tried grating it? I’ve seen that some people do that. It’s more work and it doesn’t get as fine as a food processor, but it sounds like it would work better than your blender.

  12. MsP says

    Hello! I make my own detergent, too! I’ve been using the Fels bars and haven’t had an issue. BUT we recently moved and local stores only have Zote. So, I picked some up and decided to try it out. Only since the bars are bigger, I didn’t know if the measurements for the other ingredients would change. Thank you internet and YOU!

    So, I am now going to try this recipe and see how it works. I probably will still add my “oxyclean” (recently found out there are cheaper brands of it, I know I am shocked I didn’t know this already), some baking soda (sm box), and my own diy scent crystals (1 cup or so of epsom salt plus essential oil scent of your choice (I like clean synergy blend from Eden’s Garden).

    P.S. Incase you need a fantastic stain treatment, I highly recommend 1 part Dawn dish detergent to 2 parts hydrogen peroxide mixed into a squirt bottle/condiment bottle (cleaned, of course, if you’re up cycling it)

    • says

      Sometimes I throw some oxyclean in with my whites. That’s neat that you make your own scent crystals. We usually steer clear of any scented things since some of us have fragrance issues, but if it’s essential oils (not chemicals), then it might be okay.

      Thanks for sharing your stain treatment recipe! I’ll have to give that a try! With three little ones, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to try it out! :)

  13. Stace says

    I love homemade laundry detergent. I done a ton of research on internet looking at comments & recipes. I never wanted to even try to make liquid detergent. I have read about using a food processor to grate the laundry bar, but wasn’t willing to use my good processor for that task. I have an old stand up hand grater I use as decor that is my soap grater. The first time I grated a bar of soap it took me a good bit of time and the next day my arm was sore from working muscles I forgot I had. For my next batch, I left my next bar of laundry soap out to dry for a few weeks before grating. It didn’t take but about 10 minutes to grate the entire bar by hand.. & I got to exercise my muscles again. I’ve always used Fels Naptha. I’ve had read that it is an excellent stain remover. My cousin grates some, dissolves it in hot water and puts into a spray bottle for a stain spray. Sorry, don’t have an exact recipe. I come across a bar of Zote, so now ready to try it as well. I’ll never use commercial laundry detergent again. This is cheaper and I know exactly what the ingredients are in my detergent.

    • says

      I was a little nervous about using the food processor too (since it’s one of our favorite frugal appliances), but it hasn’t done it any harm. Though getting a little exercise with the grater isn’t bad either (just watch out for your knuckles)! I love the savings and avoiding so many chemicals too!

  14. Merrie says

    I first made my own laundry detergent a few years ago using a box of Washing Soda, a box of Borax and three bars of Fels. I hand grated it while watching tv and was very surprised at how fast and easy that was. I loved how it smelled and was very impressed with what a wonderful job it did. Clothes come out so clean and soft and you don’t need fabric softener.
    This last go around I tried the Zote, because it was also recommended by the blogger whom I got the recipe from and I was curious and wanted to compare. I hate the way it smells. It makes me sneeze violently, so next time I will go back to using Fels.
    A guy at work recommended the cutting it into chunks and microwave it method, which I did try this last time. I let it dry, as my coworker suggested, for about 24 hours before putting it in my Ninja to pulverize it into a nice powder. I used two bars of Zote, and a box each of the Soda and Borax.
    I made it in October. Like nana said, my house smelled like soap for a few days. If you have allergies like I do, smell the bars before you buy them. I found the odor overwhelming and sickening. I will definitely be using Fels from now on, I LOVE that stuff!
    After sharing a canning jar of it with my boss, its been 6 months of me, my teenage daughter and my the college age daughter when she comes home to do a few loads and we still have more than half of it left.
    It does as good of a job as the Fels does, and I have gotten used to the smell. The scent does not transfer to the clothes.
    We have found that if you put the clothes in first before the soap it doesn’t always dissolve. So start the water and put in the soap, it will dissolve quickly- then add the clothes. Patience~ it only takes about 30 seconds.
    We add a scoop of Oxy clean for the whites and a cup of white vinegar in the final rinse for my delicates because of allergies.
    The only reason that we would ever buy premade laundry detergent again is if I had a coupon to get it for close to free.

    • says

      That’s funny because I like the smell of Zote better than Fels Naptha! To each his own. :) We definitely agree about homemade laundry detergent though! That’s awesome that you shared some with your boss!

  15. Krysta says

    I’ve been making my own detergent for awhile now & I’m absolutely in LOVE! I’m so glad I decided to whip up a batch! I’m currently working to replace all my store bought items with homemade versions. So far I have detergent, fabric softener for the wash & one for the dryer. As well as, hand scrubs, body/face wash, foaming soap, shampoo/conditioner, etc… I’ve never had a hobby I was super passionate about until I started making my own products. Personally, I feel that my clothes are cleaner with the homemade detergent & they aren’t fading as fast, especially while using vinegar w EOs as my washer softener. I made a fresh batch & divided it up for gifts this past Xmas to my mom, aunt, older brother & cousin & they LOVE IT, too! My aunt has even offered to pay me for my services & the product. I currently use one that has borax, washing soda, baking soda, Fels Naptha & I usually throw in some dollar tree oxy clean, but not always. Also, you can use Epsom salts alone or w EOs as a fabric softener/smell good part of your detergent. Mix in or add in separately right into the bin as you would the detergent. If you use your food processor, if recommend adding a little of one of the powders in with the soap. This helps for a smother grinding process. If hand grating, don’t be turned off by it! It only takes a minute or two & if you have someone to help you, then that’s even better. This is a great project for kids to help with! I’m going to try Zote now that I realized walmart carries both Fels Naptha & Zote (white & pink). Sorry for the rambling, but one more thing… For those of you with babies or kids with skin sensitivities, this is the way to go. I dont know which soap would be better for your family, but my older sister uses a recipe with Fels Naptha for her house & my niece uses cloth diapers. Homemade detergent is highy recommended for those parents options for cloth diapers as opposed to store bought. This is because of all the harsh dyes & chemicals found in ones like Tide, Gain, Arm & Hammer, etc… The EOs are ok to use too, do some research, read comments (<super helpful) & give it a try. You'll be happy you did!

    • says

      It is fun to make your own products! Recently I started using dishwasher detergent that I made and I LOVE it. I’ll be sharing my recipe soon.

      That’s a great idea for homemade gifts! Thanks for sharing your experience and ideas!

  16. Chris says

    I’ve been making home made laundry detergent for so long now until I’ve forgotten how long it’s been, but it’s been many years. I’ve done the liquid/gel and now I just make the powdered laundry soap. For me they all clean better than any store bought detergent.

    I’ve got a couple of tips for some of you that are just getting started doing this. Instead of grating the soap, I sit on my couch in front of my TV and use a vegetable peeler and just peel away until the soap is peeled. I do this straight out of the package not letting it dry out. It peels up very nicely and then you can just let it sit a day or two and it will dry out really fast. I then take some of the soap along with the Borax or Washing Soda and mix them together in my food processor. This way the soap does not stick to the blades. I don’t put my soap in the microwave, but I did try it one time and the smell coming out of the microwave almost made me pass out. So I won’t do that again.

    As for a pretreat, not sure if any of you know, but the minute Hydrogen Peroxide is exposed to light it becomes activated and starts working off. This is why it is packaged in a brown bottle. I bought a spay bottle of HP at Wal-Mart and just refill it each time it runs out, that way my HP is always fresh. Once it has activated and worked off it is basically water, so I would not recommend mixing it with any other ingredients. As for Dawn dish soap, my mother has used that for years on stains especially any thing oil based. So what I would say do is spray with the HP and then put a little squirt of Dawn on your stains right before putting it in the washer.

    I read somewhere that Oxy-Clean is basically powdered Hydrogen Peroxide and that makes sense to me in that I know you can’t make the liquid laundry soap and mix the Oxy in with it as they say when it starts working it will explode in the container you have it in. I haven’t tried this and don’t think I’m going to, as I make enough messes without doing this knowing ahead of time it will make a mess.

    My recipe for laundry soap is a little different than the ones listed here, but I do use the same ingredients just make a really big batch each time I make it cause my grown daughter loves it too, so I share mine with her. I’ve tried a lot of various recipes over the years, just to see if one works better than the other and to be honest they all cleaned my clothes and that’s all any of us want.

    Oh almost forgot, for the ones of you concerned about your whites, I do still use bleach on my whites as I want my whites white. I live in Florida and I’m not sure how hard my water is, but I did notice without the bleach my whites were getting a grayish look. My Wal-Mart is now carrying a tablet form of bleach which comes in various scents. Each tablet is equal to one cup of bleach and there are 32 in the bottle which basically equals 2 gallons of bleach. Best part they are only 2 dollars a bottle which is basically cheaper than two gallons of bleach and they take up a lot less room. Another thing I found out over my years of reading about homemade cleaners is that liquid bleach starts loosing some of it’s strength within a couple of months after being bottled, which to me is another good reason to go to using the tablet form.

    Didn’t mean to write a book, but I hope my knowledge from years of doing this will help others.

    • says

      You made me smile Chris. :) Thanks for your “book.” You shared lots of great ideas from your experience! I’ve never seen bleach tablets. I’ll have to check them out.

  17. says

    This is so cool. I “accidentally” stumbled across your blog post on Pinterest. I have made a very similar recipe that I had blogged about quite some time ago…I LOVE ZOTE soap….it cleans, it smells good and it’s pink :) :) :) Hmm…I also love that you’re working your way out of debt. That’s what I”m doing, too…I actually just have student loans from school to pay off and then I’ll be completely debt free. Do you also have a page on Facebook, too?

    Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :) :) :)

    • says

      Welcome Heather! :) I really like the smell of Zote too! How “fun” that you’re working on your debt! We just have student loan debt too… it’s just a lot since my husband went to law school and got an MBA at the same time while I was home with our three little ones. We’re making good progress though.

      I do have a facebook page. It’s here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Six-Figures-Under/1424744584415088

      I’m in California too, but a long way from the shore!

  18. Anastasiya says

    One great thing I noticed about homemade detergent is that the washer never stinks. When I used store bought detergent, my washer would get this moldy- rotten egg smell. So, I used to buy special cleaning tablets for my washer. I learned that store bought detergents have many fillers in them, which cause washers to stink. Now, I don’t even have to do any washer cleaning at all. Homemade detergent definitely saves a ton of money.

  19. says

    I generally do (for one batch) one bar of Fels Naptha, one cup of borax, and one cup of washing soda. I use it for all our laundry; including cloth diapers. Hard water is starting to build up crap on the pocket diapers and they need a good stripping. I’m curious if maybe I could add one bar of white Zote to 2 or 3 batches of the Fels Naptha stuff to help boost the wash. The more I read, the more it seems both the borax AND washing soda will soften the water. Which makes me think maybe it’s a little overkill with the Fels Naptha. Or am I just WAY over thinking this? Lol

    • says

      Hi Amanda! That would definitely be something to experiment with! I’m no chemist, so I’m not sure how exactly the different soaps and ingredients will work together, but it’s worth a try. You could do smaller batches until you find exactly what you like!

    • Lisa says

      I have made this recipe with Zote, with Fels Naptha and with Ivory. All work well.
      Scent-wise, my favorite is Fels Naptha. I bought a bar at Walmart a while ago but didn’t get around to making it. When I went back for more, they were out of Fels, so I got Zote. I made some of each. I also found a container in my closet of the Ivory, which I thought was gone. I mixed all together, and it is working just fine. I also do not use any fabric softener, just white vinegar in a Downy ball.

  20. says

    Thanks for information,I think I will. try what you said on your blog, like my own things, I usually buy washing powder at store and haven’t created washing powder, thank you again

  21. Jami says

    We can get ZOTE in a white bar. I like the idea of that more than the pink. So far I have been pleased with the homemade washing detergent.

  22. Lisa says

    I have made this recipe with Zote, with Fels Naptha and with Ivory. All work well.
    Scent-wise, my favorite is Fels Naptha. I bought a bar at Walmart a while ago but didn’t get around to making it. When I went back for more, they were out of Fels, so I got Zote. I made some of each. I also found a container in my closet of the Ivory, which I thought was gone. I mixed all together, and it is working just fine. I also do not use any fabric softener, just white vinegar in a Downy ball.

  23. Erica says

    Hi Stephanie!
    I am going to try your laundry soap. I laughed when I found your website. I too made six figures in debt ( but from med school not law school). I am getting out also. I am doing a rural medicine program to pay off my loans . Wonder if maybe they have that for lawyers too? Also doing a bare budget. Good luck with the debt reduction!

  24. Sandy says

    I’m not in debt, own my own home outright, have my own business in a technical field, and always make my own cleaning products (among other things). I’m also a child of Depression era parents, so that may be why pinching pennies is a no-brainer activity for me. I have some simple money rules: never give anybody your last dollar, don’t pay until you see the whites of their eyes, and NO MONEY LEAVES THIS HOUSE! Not without a very good reason.

    I use the “mom’s super boss washing sauce” recipe using Fels-Naptha, with glycerin added to keep it from being gooey. But, I like the idea of a powdered recipe and plan to try this. As far as my whites go, I’ve always used diluted bleach for all my whites, to keep them bright and for sanitary reasons. We keep only white towels, white sheets, white underwear,white handkerchiefs, and white kitchen linens so that they can be lightly bleached each week. Some folks think it takes a half-cup or a whole cup of bleach in a load. You only need to use a few tablespoons of bleach diluted into a cup of water.

    I routinely use Zote soap for dishwashing, bathing, dog-washing, and laundry pre-treating. There was a time when I “made” liquid dish soap using Zote, Super Washing Soada, Tea Tree Oil, and Glycerin. But, it’s simpler to just run hot water over a Zote bar and soak the dishes in a pan, then run my dish rag or sponge over the bar as I do the dishes. I do make hand soap by soaking Zote soap leftover slivers in hot water, adding a few drops of Tea Tree Oil and Glycerin, and diluting it down into a foaming dispenser. That makes so much less mess in the bathroom.

    My cleaning products basics are: Ammonia, Rubbing Alcohol, Denatured Alcohol, Peroxide, Vinegar, Acetone, Cheap Salt, Bleach, Baking Soda, Super Washing Soda, Borax, Fels-Naptha, Zote Soap, Citric Acid, Lemons ,Oranges, Orange Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint Oil, Vanilla Extract, Cinnamon Sticks. I have other essential oils, but my basic list includes “must haves”. Not only do I keep things clean, I often simmer citrus peels in an old fondue pot, or cinnamon, or vanilla…smells goods are important, too!

    There’s only two of us home now, and if I spend $50 a year on cleaning products, total, that’s too much. Most of it is just buying in bulk and buying ahead. That’s about $4 a month for everything. Add another $75 for the supplies I buy to make deodorant, lip balms, lotions, toothpaste, makeup, and shaving cream for DH. So, we spend about $10 a month for cleaning supplies and personal care. The only paper product we use is toilet paper–it’s $2.57 a month from Aldi’s for the most high-quality paper, like Scott’s.

    • says

      Thanks for all the great tips Sandy! I’d love to hear about your homemade toiletries like toothpaste and deodorant. Right now I use this deodorant, but looking at the ingredients (and peeking at some tutorials), I know I could make it myself. I also have to buy special toothpaste for my husband who hates mint, but it’s expensive!

  25. Gretchen says

    I just made my own laundry soap today following your recipe. I did have to grate the soap first as I don’t have a good processor, but then used the blender and everything came together nicely. I have a load of laundry running with it now and I am feeling optimistic. Thanks for your recipe.

  26. Stacia says

    I have used a powder version of DIY laundry soap for well over a year now, with a family of 7 kids it lasts us for 3-4 months depending on the sports that the kids are involved in (read what season are we in) & which version I use. We EASILY save $500 a year. My first basic version is 1 box of Borax, 1 box of Baking Soda Washing Suds, 1 box of Regular Baking Soda (about 4 lbs?), 1 container of oxy clean (or I buy the largest container & split it between 2 batches of the soap), and 3 Fels Naptha bars. Since staring with this recipe I have gone down to 2 bars of Fels Naptha & added a bar of Zoat, I like the pink, my DIL made her first batch I took her shopping for, with the new baby, our grand baby she opted for the white Zote that was already shredded. We have also added Epsom salts for fabric softening at times, it stents but does not take out static cling. I first used a salad shooter to shred the soap bars, if you shred, then put back in & shred again it does quite well. I later got a food processor & that has worked great, I figure it’s soap so the dishwashing cycle will remove all traces of the soap.

    I can’t wait to use your dishwasher tab recipe when I get paid this week!

  27. Holly says

    I just made this today and tried it! I’m happy so far and I used the pink zote and it smells really good. I’m so glad I found your recipe because it was so quick and easy :-) Thank you for sharing.

  28. Janette says

    I make mine own also. I use borax, washing soda, oxyclean, the crystals that smell good and ivory soap. I use ivory because hubby doesn’t like the smell of fels or zote. Works great. I use baking soda and dawn dish soap to get the grease stains. It is amazing how well it works, even on the dried in stains. Use peroxide on whites with the baking soda and dawn.

  29. Donna Randall says

    We’ve been making our powdered laundry detergent for a little over 3 years now. When we started making it, we were a family of 5 and the first batch lasted us almost 6 months. The recipe we use is 1 box Super Washing Soda, 1 box Baking soda, 3 bars fels naptha or Zote, 1 box borax, 1 large container of Oxyclean or the store brand of it, and 1 large bottle of the Purex crystals. It costs us right around $22-25 to make and now that we’re down to a family of 4 it’s lasting around 8 months before we have to make a new batch. Awhile back, we bought a small bottle of free & clear laundry detergent because we were taking comforters to the laundry mat to wach…we didnt like the feel of them when they were done–lesson learned that we LOVE our homemade detergent and will take it with us next time.

    Our next recipe we’re trying this weekend is dishwasher detergent. :-) I also want to try some of the household cleaners using castile soaps.

  30. Joyce & Triston says

    My son and I followed your instructions as a project! We had a good time and he learned how to measure, count, mix and use a food processor. With supervision of course. :) He is 14 years old and loves to learn. I thank you for your website.

    We are trying to lessen our living expenses so that I can be with the family all the time. Anyone say early retirement? That is the motivation. Family is so much more important than a job that takes you away from your loved ones.

    Plus, who wants to give money to the big corporations who overcharge for their product? I am interested in any way to save money on cleaning products used in the household.

    Again, thanks again!

    Joyce & Triston

  31. says

    I too have been making my own homemade powdered laundry detergent. However, I found a box of Zote flakes at Walmart that smells wonderful. No more grating the bar for me! The only problem is no matter how much oxyclean I use, sometimes my clothes look dingy and stains don’t come out. I really don’t want to go back to straight up bleach because it just wears the clothes down. I would appreciate any feedback. Thank you so much. :)

    • Maria says

      I bet you have pretty hard water. You might look for a product called “Iron-out” in the laundry-aid section. Also, I pour a cup of vinegar in the wash as well. Really brightens colors.

  32. Maria says

    Thank you for the picture- and text-tutorial! My old B&D just won’t go through that Zote. The shredder-blade worked, but the chopping blade just balked. So, I got my trusty blender out, and after a few cycles, I has a nice powder. As an added bonus, the glass – jar on the blender is sparkling after a quick wash! :)

    • Maria says

      One more quick thing! If you can find it with the bath soaps, Kirk’s Coco-Castile is very nice. I’ve only been able to find the unscented version online, but the original is not terribly strong. Just as with Zote’s, there’s very little fragrance detectable once clothes are clean and dry. And Kirk’s is a no-animal-product option.

  33. Michelle says

    Stephanie, your philosophies are right on point! Love that your are attacking the debt so forcefully!

    I have a son with some sensory issues and I’ve found that making our own powdered laundry detergent has alleviated the itchiness and strong smells that used to bother him with store bought detergents. We have some wonderful soap makers at our farmer’s market so I usually have my son choose a soap to use with the other standard ingredients. I use my old food processor and we have made some great concoctions. We made small batches with Rosemary Mint bar soap and with Lemon Verbena. The fragrances are light, not at all overpowering. Works beautifully in my HE machine.

  34. Liv Ratha says

    sorry,If I would like to buy ,Baking soda, Super washing soda, Borak, Zote..how can I order? I live in Cambodia(Khmer)? thank you.

  35. Natalie says

    I was wondering, will this recipe dissolve in cold water with an he? This is my first time making my own laundry soap and I’m excited but nervous. I know these he’s are a whole different world where laundry is concerned! I always use to much soap :/

  36. says

    I made the recipe today. This is my second time and the first I’ve used the Zotes soap. Loved it. I did microwave the Zotes until it was light and fluffy. Next time I would do this in 3 batches as I think it would melt more evenly. Then, I put it in my food processor (when fully cooled) and ground it until fine. Loved your idea of doing the entire mixture in batches. Much easier to do as I was able to process it as well in the food processor and get a more even mixture. My husband is going to Wal-Mart tomorrow and I will add some OxyClean to it. It is expensive, but for this batch I’m only going to add 1/3 of the small $8 tub. It’s just the two of us, so these small batches will last us quite a while.

    Oh I did try making my own scent crystals. (4 cups of epsom salts plus 40 drops of essential oil). To be honest, I’m not sure I’d waste my precious oils again this way. In the end, by the time you add it to the laundry soap ( I used 1 cup for this size recipe), it just did not smell strong enough. I’m still looking for a more effective way to add lovely scent to the laundry detergent, but not willing to pay the exhorbitant price for Downey’s scent crystals. I’d appreciate any ideas in this area.


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