I have often thought that it would be interesting to make my own laundry washing powder and now that I am actively looking for items to make, it seemed like the perfect time.

For my recipe, I was pretty lax and just went with the first one that popped up on my Google search. It was 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, a grated bar of organic soap and 20 drops of lemon or lime essential oil (you can view the recipe here). I found the borax and washing soda at an IGA and Simon picked up the essential oils at our local health food store. Rather than buying organic soap, I used soap I had already from a display I did in TAFE when I was studying Visual Merchandising (I had around 10 bars).

It was simply a matter of measuring out the items, grating the soap and giving it a mix. I made a double batch, popped the finished product in a plastic container we had lying around, dubbed it Washing POW! and whipped up a label (cause I’m nerdy like that).

I had a few questions around why you would DIY this household product and after going through the process I am now on my way to having some answers. Below are the questions I was contemplating and I’ve gone into a few of the details of my findings.

Is it more environmentally friendly?

Yes and no.

Yes, as you are using ingredients which have less chemicals and nasties in them. However, there are some great healthier options available, including the brand we have been using up to date, Simply Clean. What I really like about this brand was reading the ingredients list and seeing that they have listed what every ingredient does and why it is in included.

No, because the two key items you need to use (the borax and washing soda) both come in plastic vessels (one reusable, the other not), although it may be possible to find them at a bulk food store or in alternative packaging. Comparing store bought, you can buy environmentally friendly laundry powder in a cardboard box, made by Aware and it is endorsed by Planet Ark, but the Simply Clean washing powder comes in a reusable plastic bucket. The Aware brand also rates well with Shop Ethical!, a rating system we often refer to assist us in making informed purchasing. Simply Clean is currently not included in the ratings.

Do the clothes clean as well? 

I haven’t tried my Washing POW! However, my bestie gave me some of a batch she made up and neither Simon or I have noticed the difference in the end results. We were using the home made and Simply Clean interchangeably which helped with the comparisons. Other people may notice more of a difference, but for us it was much of a muchness.

What are the cost comparisons?

My ingredients cost as below (for a double batch), the prices are based on what was used, i.e. I only used half the washing soda so halved the cost. As I used soap I already had, I researched the cost of the soap I used to give a more accurate cost comparison.

  • 1.92 – Essential Oils
  • 4.60 – Borax
  • 2.30 – Washing Soda
  • 1.60 – Soap

I made 1.3kg of powder in total, so it came to the cost of $8.01 per kilo of Washing POW! This compares to $10.90 for Simply Clean and $5.59 for Aware.

So will I continue to make my own laundry powder? Probably not. Considering you can buy an environmentally friendly product for $2.42 a kilo cheaper in cardboard, it just doesn’t seem worth it. However, I’ve still got about half a dozen bars of soap I need to figure out what to do with…