DIY Powdered Soap Nuts Laundry Detergent Recipe

by Amanda Hearn · 74 comments

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Powdered Soap Nuts Detergent RecipeThis recipe is great for clothes and cloth diapers and does not contain borax! I am personally a-okay with borax in my detergent but many readers have asked for another solution and this is it. In addition, it uses Eco Nuts Soap Nuts, not manufactured soaps, making it even more natural, earth & skin friendly. I hope you enjoy it!

You can find my original Laundry Detergent Recipe & Cloth Diaper Detergent Recipe here. If you would like a liquid soap nuts recipe you can find it here.

Large Batch Recipe

Reminder: Soap Nuts are not actually nuts, they are a dried berry shell that looks a bit like a nut. They are completely safe for those with nut allergies. Learn more in my post, Cleaning With Fruit: Let’s Talk Soap Berries.

You will also need:

A blender or food processor with a good seal (grinding the berries can be dusty!), a hand towel (to help contain the dust) and a trash bag or large bucket with lid.

Make it!

  1. You will need to first grind up all of your berries. Do so by adding half of the berries with half of the baking soda. Pulse until finely and evenly ground. Repeat with the second half of the berries and baking soda. Holding a hand towel on the top of the blender will help keep the dust to a minimum. Wait for the dust to settle before opening the lid.
  2. Pour all of the ingredients into a trash bag or bucket with lid and shake/toss/massage until well blended.
  3. Pour into a bucket for storage & scoop out a jar full to keep by your washing machine!

This detergent will dissolve best in warm water. To help, you can swirl a tablespoon or two in a cup (I like to use a jar) of warm water before tossing it into your washing machine.

Small Batch Recipe

How to Use:

Use 2 tablespoons per standard load and just 1 tablespoon per HE load, you can add more depending on soil level. As with any detergent, be sure to pretreat any tough spots. Be sure to check out my DIY Pretreater Recipe for that.

Remember that this detergent will dissolve best in warm water. Swirl your tablespoon or two in cup (I like to use a jar) of hot water before tossing it into your washing machine or simply use warm water (though cold will save electricity!)

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Amanda Hearn

Amanda Hearn

Founder of The Eco-Friendly Family, design geek, serial tanktopist, content creator, mother, coffee addict, & lover of fun. I am also a partner at Green Child Magazine & Put A Cup In It!
Amanda Hearn
Melissa Heath May 16, 2013 at 10:07 am

Love it! Can you add EO’s to it for scent?

Amanda May 16, 2013 at 10:37 am

Absolutely! EOs are a great way to add a little fragrance.

Anonymous July 20, 2014 at 10:26 am

How much would you add? Any certain scents that are better than others? I was planning on using this for clothes and diapers… Thanks!

Ann May 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

Hi- I’m new to your site and may e you’ve already answered this somewhere else, but, is the Eco nuts laundry detergent safe for cloth diapers? Thanks!

Amanda May 16, 2013 at 10:38 am

Eco Nuts are completely cloth diaper safe. It’s a natural soap that does not leave residue.

Janell May 16, 2013 at 10:19 am

How much would I use for cloth diapers? I have made the liquid soap nuts detergent, but it goes bad before I can use it all

Amanda May 16, 2013 at 10:39 am

I would try using 2-3 tablespoons for a standard washing machine or 1-2 for an HE machine – depending on how soiled the diapers are and how hard or soft your water is. For soft water or a baby not on solid foods, I would try the smaller amount and see how that works for you.

Savage Seeds May 16, 2013 at 10:36 am

Pinning this! Thanks so much!

Carly May 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Any idea approximately how many tblspoons (or loads) it makes?
I love that you found a septic safe recipe!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

Amanda May 16, 2013 at 1:48 pm

The large batch recipe should yield over 500 tablespoons based on my estimates.

Laura May 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Where can you buy the soap nuts? (preferably ground up already)

Amanda May 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm
Chelsea May 19, 2013 at 7:37 am

Great idea!

Heidi May 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Either this detergent or the liquid version will be my first project this summer. I am excited to try soap nuts in any capacity! Thank you!

maribee kuhr May 21, 2013 at 9:45 am

has anyone calculated how much this soap comes out per scoop? large batch vs. smaller ?

Shivani Sikri June 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm

This is one of the best hygiene methods for young kids. Please suggest if we could add lemon grass to it to add new fragrance to this formula.
Also please suggest whether it can be used along with routine bady wash powders.

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Kate July 28, 2013 at 2:00 am

Hi! I have been reading that some of the ingredients in OxyClean, particularly the ethoxylated alcohol, are not the best for the environment. The manufacturer of OxyClean also considers its ingredients proprietary and keeps a tight lid on it. Can you sub Borax for the OxyClean in this with the same results? Thanks!

Meghan October 3, 2013 at 8:08 am

I wouldn’t. Borax can break down the PUL and prematurely age elastic.

Amanda Hearn October 3, 2013 at 9:17 am

OxyClean Free (& Baby) has a great rating on the EWG database. (Their standard version does not rate so well.) It’s entirely up to you, but I feel comfortable using the Free version in this.

Borax doesn’t do the same thing, so I’m not sure that substitution would be ideal for this. I do have a detergent recipe that includes it, but it also has an oxygen cleaner in it.

Elizabeth H May 30, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Hi! I was just looking at the eco nuts and saw that the same company has an oxygen booster powder. Could that be used instead of the Oxy free??

Kate July 28, 2013 at 2:11 am

Or would something like Ecover’s Powdered nonchlorine bleach work?

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Peppermint August 30, 2013 at 9:36 am

Thanks for sharing the recipe.. Looking forward to trying it.

Janice September 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Hey Amanda! I’ve been sharing this recipe quite a bit lately and wanted to let you know that one of our group members calculated the cost to be 8/9 cents a load for the large batch! 🙂

Amanda Hearn October 3, 2013 at 9:09 am

Thank you so much!

CYNDAL November 6, 2013 at 9:19 am

Hi! I was thinking about buying the already ground soup nuts from the link mentioned about. Do you know how much I should use for this recipe?

CYNDAL November 6, 2013 at 9:26 am

Never mind! Sorry I see that it is 4 cups! Very excited to try this 😉

laurell November 14, 2013 at 8:49 am

Hi there! Thanks so much for posting these recipes! We’re expecting our first baby in a few weeks and have been looking for a detergent that is safe for CD. One quick question…do you have any idea how many cups come in the pre-ground soap nuts sold on the site you suggested? It says it is a 2.2 lb bag.

Also, in your opinion which recipe works best for CD? This one or the one with borax? Thanks again!

Stacy January 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Thanks! The CD recipe I use now basically has no disinfectant component, and I’ve been wanting to add that. Are soap nuts disinfecting?

Also, rather than mix it all up, I will just put the ingredients in my laundry room and take the appropriate proportioned scoop of each. Less mess and prep IMO.

Caroline January 13, 2014 at 3:13 pm

I was curious as to your thoughts on the effectiveness of this recipe. I love the idea of it and want to make it, but I’ve been trying my hand at different detergent recipes and haven’t been thoroughly impressed by any of them so far. I CD so I need to be careful with my ingredients and my husband wears white shirts for work that need to be bright and like new white. I really want to find a diy one I like because it’s not only cheap but I’ll know exactly what’s in it. Any thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated! Also, you mention using 2 tablespoons per “standard” load. Would you consider that a medium or large load? Thanks!

Amanda Hearn April 10, 2014 at 9:05 am

I would consider it a fairly large load, but not packed. I always do a full load. For cloth diapers – depending on what baby is eating (breast/bottle or foods) – you may want to use a bit more detergent to help everything get fully cleaned.

Kristen March 11, 2014 at 10:11 pm

Is there a reason it is necessary to grind the baking soda with the soap nuts or could I just grind the soap nuts and then mix them in with the rest of the powder?

Amanda Hearn April 10, 2014 at 9:03 am

The reason is that the berries can become gummy/hard with the heat from the cutting. Putting in the baking soda helps keep it drier.

Leia April 10, 2014 at 2:51 am

Hey Amanda,

Does the powdered form last longer than the liquid detergent?

Amanda Hearn April 10, 2014 at 9:02 am

I don’t think so, unless you made a rather large batch. I made a batch of the liquid and it still worked well months after being made. I imagine that it would last indefinitely if you froze it. (Some people like to freeze it in ice cubes for easy portioning/measuring.)

Emiley April 12, 2014 at 5:03 am

It is very nice post to get the laundry detergent recipe and its very easy to made at home.

Katie L April 21, 2014 at 2:41 pm

this was fascinating. I’ve heard of saving used soap nuts (once they’ve done their 5-7 loads worth and are worn out) and boiling them down to make a more concentrated liquid detergent – that’s what my sister-in-law does. But this is another great idea. We’ve just started using soap nuts this year but I haven’t gotten brave enough to try them with my cloth diapers yet, I’m just afraid they won’t get clean enough!

Christie April 23, 2014 at 1:04 am

Its very easy to make it the laundry detergent recipe at home thanks for sharing the very easy recipe.

Renee April 29, 2014 at 1:28 am

Do you think this detergent would still work well if the oxiclean were left out? I only add a little BioKleen oxygen bleach to some loads as needed because if overused can cause clothes to fade. What are your thoughts, Amanda?

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Mr Walter June 20, 2014 at 5:54 am

To make the detergent at home by using the soap and the nuts, but the effectiveness is not as much compare to the detergent.

Kate June 24, 2014 at 7:06 am

To making a detergent at home its very cheap other than detergent powder..and we can use it so long times and its result also good compare to detergent powder so i also recommended the home made detergent powder.

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Russ October 27, 2014 at 12:05 am

If I have no particular objection to borax, is there any benefit to adding it in some portion to this recipe? Conversely, would adding soapnuts to the borax-using cloth-diaper detergent recipe be useful, or just a waste of money?

Anonymous November 1, 2014 at 8:31 pm

Love this for cloth diapers. Its worked so well! Soap nuts alone didn’t clean quite well enough but this is awesome! Thank you!

vicky March 24, 2015 at 5:05 pm

Is it possible to just use the oxiclean and soap nuts or would that not be as effective?

Carey June 3, 2016 at 11:48 am

I would put a caution to the cloth diaper safe. I used the with mine, but even with the soapnuts ground very fine the fibers get imbeded in the micro fiber inserts. Its very hard to remove. So for the diapers I use the base mix and then the soapnuts in the bag provided by manufacturer. The recipe works fabulous for the cloth diapers otherwise. Never any residue or smell left in the microfiber like in others I have tried.

Jo July 12, 2016 at 12:00 am

Just want to follow up the comments

Coupon Girl November 4, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Your detergent recipe is the best I’ve found so far. Found it last week, prepared detergent on
Tuesday and am now looking at super clean diapers! Thanks a lot!!

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