DIY Your Own Zero Waste Laundry Detergent in only 7 Minutes

This is our second favorite homemade laundry detergent. What? Only the second favorite?, you might wonder, Why does she even bother posting the recipe then?

Well, our favorite laundry detergent is using horse chestnuts (aka conkers in the UK), which we simply collect off sidewalks or in parks every fall. It is an all-natural, ridiculously local, and completely free way to wash your clothes. In fact, now is the best time to go out to collect some horse chestnuts! Head over to my FAQ on this to learn more!

However, depending on where you live, horse chestnuts might not be an option, because, well, they do not grow in your area! Or you are reading this article off-season and, honestly, you shouldn’t have to wait for fall to arrive to be able to wash your clothes in a healthier, non-invasive, and non-toxic way!

In our case, we moved from Germany to Vancouver in spring, and yes, we had the audacity to leave our all-natural laundry detergent behind. So ever since then we have been using this homemade laundry detergent, and I can say that we like it and it is just as effective, if not even slightly more effective.

The reason why we still prefer using horse chestnuts is because it is as local and as zero waste as it can get! You can probably collect the nuts on your walk, so the carbon footprint is zero! There is no upstream waste, and putting nuts that would otherwise rot on the streets to good use just makes my little zero waste heart skip a beat! ❤️😝

Homemade Powder Detergent

Time required

7 minutes including grating the soap, 3 minutes if you have previously grated soap on hand


5.6 oz/ 160 g palm oil-free castile bar soap*
1 cup/ 240 g baking soda
1 cup/ 240 g washing soda
Optional: Essential oils for a nice fragrance (I prefer my clothes unscented though)

  1. Grate the castile bar soap into soap flakes. Skip this step if you have previously grated soap. (I like to grate a bar of soap while watching some TV show to wind down, so I usually have some soap flakes at hand.)
  2. Mix to combine all ingredients. Blend in blender or food processor if you prefer it completely pulverized. I personally do not mind though.
  3. Use 1–2 tbsps per load.

* Unfortunately, most bar soaps contain palm oil (read more about the social and environmental impact of palm oil), and even organic palm oil is very controversial. And yes, all of Dr. Bronner’s soaps contain (organic) palm oil. Palm oil-free choices are Kirk’s Coco bar soap (not organic, sold in a recyclable paper wrapper), and 100% olive oil soap that you can often find in Middle Eastern, Greek, and Turkish stores.

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