How to Use Homemade Laundry Detergent-Tutorial

by Ivory Soap


I get asked this all the time, so here’s a photo tutorial of me actually doing laundry.  Exciting, I know.

As you see above, I keep my ground up washing soda and soap in an old baby formula can with a tablespoon measure I stole from the kids’ cooking set.

1.  Start to load clothes and then remember that you’re supposed to put in the detergent first.

2.  Move clothes aside and add three tablespoons.

3.  Loosely add light-ish laundry, so readers don’t know I mix lights and darks on a regular basis.

4.  Accidentally pour big slosh of vinegar in the wash before getting the proper half-cup into the rinse compartment because holding a camera and a gallon jug at the same time is HARD.

5.  Set washer to HEAVY COTTON, because that’s where I always set it, regardless of the contents.  (The heck is Easy Care, anyway?)

6.  Notice that dials for the washer are NASTY DUSTY and that would be embarrassing to put online for the world to see, grab a child’s clean sock from the stacks of clean laundry hidden just off camera.  Wipe down dials and toss in the washer.

7.  Set freshly dusted dials to Super Load, Warm/Cold and pull button to start.  (I used warm to wash because with a toddler in the house, heaven knows what’s on our clothes and it makes me *feel better* to give the detergent a helping hand. (Temperature, Agitation, Chemistry, Time…remember?)

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie September 13, 2012 at 5:54 am

I literally laughed out loud–the hazards of trying to photograph a tutorial are very real! I dropped a very large knife, just missing my foot, while trying to juggle the camera and tomatoes. It’s a good thing you were adding vinegar and not bleach! (I also loved the dusty dial/sock incident–exactly what I would do as well!) Cheers!

Sunshine September 13, 2012 at 10:17 am

Me too. 🙂 I love the writing style – so real-mom-at-work. haha.

Anne @ anne b. good September 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

I love this post. It makes doing laundry (with any kind of laundry soap) so much more attainable.

Theresa M. September 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

Such a good laugh! Love that you have laundry stacked “off camera” as I also have a bad case of the “piles”! I am hoping that 2 pillowcases that are missing (discovered after sorting sheets into correct sizes and storing together) are “vacationing” at the bottom somewhere!

Helene H. September 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Ironic that you should post this today as I finally got my first batch of homemade laundry detergent ready and in the washer for my first load. I’m an environmental engineer who has just retired and am determined to use less noxious cleaning and personal care products. I was delighted to find your site with such thorough chemical documentation of the function of each ingredient (yes, like many others, I now have more baking soda and borax than I know what to do with.) I will leave my method derived from piecing many blog posts together: I used a vegetable peeler to scrape the Ivory soap bars into thin strips. Then I put them in a bowl and microwaved them at 20 sec intervals until they foamed up and hardened a bit. Then I put them in my food processor and they ground up into a fine powder. It was all pretty low effort, and the only issue I had was trying not to breath the fine dust. Thanks for some very enjoyable reading.

Patti September 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm

So funny! This is me, to a T!

Debbie Hosaflook September 29, 2012 at 5:04 am

Hey there. Thanks so much for this great powder recipe. I have been using the liquid/gel version but think I would prefer powder. Here’s my question. I have a front loader HE machine which I have only ever used liquid detergent in. Do you know if I were to use powder, would I put it directly into the washer or into the dispenser where I put the liquid detergent? I know this is probably a really STUPID question, and I am 47 years old and have 4 sons, so I have done a TON of laundry in my lifetime. And I suppose, if I were to find the owners manual to my machine, it would tell me. But I would rather make myself look like a fool on here and ask you, hahahaha. Thanks so much and have an amazing weekend.

Ivory Soap September 29, 2012 at 6:43 am

there are powder detergents for HE, so next time you’re in the grocery, I’d just turn one around and read the back.

Deb October 7, 2012 at 5:35 am

Can this formula be used in the front load washers? I’ve always used liquid detergent and kinda afraid to use powder in my new front load.

Cynthia March 29, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Has anyone had experience using this recipe in hard water? I have read that castile soap (Dr Bronners) in hard water becomes gelatinous and leaves a film or residue on clothes, sinks etc. I am planning to make this recipe but I am concerned about the possible residue issue. I checked out Fels naptha, Ivory and Zote laundry soaps and they did not score very well at the site. I would appreciate any feedback, please.
Thank you,

Fran May 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm

I have used the gel soap in the past with God results. At that time I had a normal to loading machine. Now I have a HE front loader and I have had no problems using powder in it. Mine had a little divider between the wash and prewash sections for soap, which needs to be turned upside down, leaving as little gap, in order to use powder detergent. If it seems all of your powder isn’t going into n the washer, but leaving some called up soap in the dispenser, see if you can turn the divider over, which leaves s little gap for the powder to slip under. I felt silly for not figuring out out sooner. I’ve had no problems with powder since I figured out out. Fran

Nancy September 4, 2013 at 4:18 am

I have an HE washer and have used a similar detergent recipe for years. Ir’s fine.

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