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For a long time now I’ve been wanting to swap out store-bought laundry detergents and make my own all-natural washing powder, as part of a gradual shift toward making my home totally chemical-free. I just kept putting it off because I thought it would be difficult, both to find a good recipe and then to make it.

Turns out I was wrong on both counts.

A few weeks back I fiiiiiinally bit the bullet and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I’ve tested this particular powder with all types of fabrics and colours and everything has emerged in perfect condition and squeaky clean.

What’s more, the powder is unbelievably easy to make and the ingredients are so cheap.

A quick word on the Borax debate

Now, a lot of natural laundry products use Borax and, though it’s wholly natural, there is some debate over just how healthy and safe it is to use. I still haven’t made up my own mind about this so I opted for a powder sans Borax for now.

Instead, I followed this genius recipe by TJ of Measuring Flower. I’d recommend clicking on over to learn more about why each ingredient is needed, plus a few tips on all-natural stain removers and fabric softeners.

The main ingredient of TJ’s recipe is Castile soap so step number one for me was to find out what the heck that actually is! Turns out it’s just a soap made from olive oil or vegetable oil and lye, which is pretty widely available in stores and online.

How a sweet Spanish grannie helped make my powder

Interestingly, Castile soap actually originates from here in Spain, in the southern olive growing region of Castile.

After a little asking around, I discovered that a friend’s abuela (grandmother) actually grew up in that very region — and she was happy to teach me her traditional soap making technique. So much coolness! Head here for my guide to making traditional homemade Castile soap.

But naturally, you can buy the soap pre-made, too.

This homemade laundry detergent recipe makes a lot of powder and you only need to use one tablespoon per load of washing, so it lasts absolutely ages. (I wish I’d thought to keep count of the loads for you guys.)

My version turned out quite coarse because I don’t have a food processor at the moment so I chopped up my Castile soap by hand, which did take a bit of work. But hey, it’s good exercise! The powder works just fine even when coarse like this.

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What goes in:

400g Castile soap (tip: make your own Castile soap the traditional Spanish way)
1/4 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of washing soda (tip: make your own from baking soda – all you need is an oven)
1/4 cup of sea salt

How you do it:

If you have a food processor: finely shred the Castile soap then add the washing soda, baking soda and sea salt and pulse everything together until you have a fine powder.

If you’re making it by hand: finely grate or chop the Castile soap then mix together with the washing soda, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

Keep your laundry powder in an airtight reusable container. Add one tablespoon to each regular load of washing.

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