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Reader Tip: No-Grate Powdered Laundry Soap

Rachel emailed in the following tip:

Your recent guest post about how to make liquid laundry soap without grating the soap got me thinking. I make my own laundry soap but I prefer to make the dry version. I use Ivory soap bars — and I really despise the grating part.

Anyway, I recently did the “microwave a bar of ivory soap” experiment with my daughter. After you microwave it, it is very crumbly. I microwaved a bar today, put it in a zip-top bag and crumbled it easily with my fingers. The pieces were small, but not as fine as I like them.  I then used my rolling pin on the bag as if I were rolling dough. That turned it into a fine powder!

The whole process (including the microwave part) took less than ten minutes. My fingers are not sore from grating nor did I lose any skin! Score!! :-)

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  1. Julie says

    This is great – I also make the powdered laundry soap with Ivory and can’t stand the grating part! How long did you microwave it??
    Thanks for the tip!

    • says

      I also do this (a friend introduced me a few months back…what a time saver!). I do it in 30 sec. increments until its shape is all distorted and crumbly.

  2. says

    I saw Rachel’s response about the Ivory soap. Do you have a way to reach her so she can post her recipe for the dry laundry detergent?

    Lee Ann

    • Krystal says

      Lee Ann,

      I don’t know if Rachel’s is the same as mine, but I’ve been using laundry soap made with Ivory for about a year now, and this the recipe I use:

      1 bar Ivory soap
      1 cup borax
      1 cup washing soda

      I only use about 1.5 tbsp for a large load, and it works great. :)


        • Krystal says

          I usually finely grate the soap and them mix it together with the borax and washing soda, although I have used the microwave trick and mixed them all together after I crumbled the soap, yes. It works well both ways.

  3. Cassandra Long says

    Thats a great idea – and allows for multi tasking while the microwave is drying the soap out you can unload the dishwasher!

    • Tracy S. says

      My MIL tried it, too. Took her a few days to get the soap flavor out of her microwave. I believe it was a vinegar to the rescue type moment. Lol

    • anne says

      you answered where my mind was going. thanks for the head’s up, and for saving our 20 yr old microwave too.

    • Jill says

      Thanks for sharing! I have the Fels soap but haven’t made the detergent yet. I was actually thinking about using the microwave for this…but I will rethink that!

  4. Emily says

    Great idea! I cut mine in little chunks and freeze them and then stick them in the blender and they grind up to a fine powder! I will have to try the microwave trick too!

  5. Amanda A says

    I put the chopping blade in my food processor and the grating blade on top (yep, at the same time) and cut the soap bar in half long-ways, and push it through. It makes a fine powder and is ready for the powdered recipe (in which case, I just add the other stuff and blend away) or ready to melt in the pot for liquid.

  6. sarah says

    I chunk up the soap and toss it in the blender with the powdered ingredients. A couple quick pulses and we have powdered detergent. Mix with water for liquid detergent. Nice and easy :)

  7. says

    I make my own laundry soap, the liquid variety. I also don’t like to grate the soap, so I stick it in the Ninja (food processor/blender thing). It works great at getting the soap in small enough chunks that it dissolves quickly in the boiling water!

    • Diane says

      Is it easy to get it cleaned out of your Ninja? I have a vitamix but I wouldn’t want to get soap stuck on the blades and make my food taste soapy.

      • says

        I don’t have a problem with it. I dump it out and then use a spoon to get anything that is stuck a bit. Then, the residue just washes out in the dishwasher.

  8. Amy says

    I did this with Zote soap and it worked though I like the idea of putting it in a bag to crumble. My husband’s only complaint was that when we used the microwave after that, it smelled like soap! LOL

  9. Candice says

    I microwave it also, but I put it in the food processor to make it very fine and it dissolves better

  10. Lisa says

    you used to be able to buy ivory snow. it was just powdered ivory soap. I don’t know if you can still buy it or not.

  11. Lisa says

    Could you post your recipe for powered laundry soap? I currently use a powered version that uses fels-naptha (sp?) and I am finding it is hard on our colored clothes. Does anyone have a solution to color wash out?

  12. Michelle M says

    I have a small food processor that I used to grate the fels-Naptha bars. I cut the bars into smaller pieces and grind them up. Super easy and no grating!! Woohoo! I have never tried the Ivory soap in mine… may try that on the next batch.

  13. Tiffany Davidson says

    This is so funny! I have been doing the same thing regardless of which version I make. So much easier!!! Good thinking :)

  14. says

    I had read about this tip. I did the ivory soap project last year and thought it was pretty cool, but I was wondering if anyone thought microwaving the soap made the house smell funny or gave you a headache. It gave me one! I know microwaving food can be unhealthy, but I do reheat food that way, but do you think it’s safe to microwave it? I don’t know?? Just wondering if anyone else got headaches from this?

    • Meg says

      It definitely made ours smelly as well, but it went away fairly quickly. I just wiped it out with water. We probably did have the windows open, though…
      I didn’t notice any headaches.

      I would probably microwave it on something you dedicate just for this purpose and nothing else-like maybe don’t put it right on the surface where you’ll have food, and use some kind of plate you don’t have to reuse for food either.

      The, “Experiment,” itself made me laugh because while it was totally cool it kept my boys entertained for all of 5 minutes. I had read posts where kids were so entertained by it!
      I made the youngest go take a bath with it so it didn’t go to waste! Now I have another idea-lol.

    • Sarah says

      I use a simple recipe:

      1 cup borax
      1 cup washing soda
      1 bar Ivory soap
      1/3 scoop OxiClean

      Use 1 Tbsp for HE, 2 Tbsp for regular.

      I decided to dedicate my food processor to laundry soap making and it works great! The finer grate, the better – I add the dry ingredients in to absorb some of the moisture so the Ivory grates versus sticking to the sides/clumping.

      Be careful with Ivory coated utensils in the dishwasher – it coats everything – so I hand wash all my tools.

  15. Emily says

    3 tablespoons borax
    3 tablespoons washing powder
    2 tablespoons liquid dawn
    4 cups of boiling water
    Put it all in a pitcher and fill it to the top with cool water. Easiest method ever. I’ve been using it for a couple of years.

  16. says

    Do you replace the Fels Naptha with equal parts Ivory? I was going to make my own detergent and bought the Fels, only to find out that the smell sent all of our allergies into overload. I love the smell of Ivory though!

  17. Amie says

    Oh, this is such a great idea! I started out making homemade liquid laundry detergent in a big tote. I switched to a powedered recipe and love it because it takes less time and less space. The only thing I have never liked about it is the grating. I look forward to trying it this way.

  18. Jessica Nelson Norem says

    I just put my Ivory in my food processor and pulse until fine….then put all the pieces into the dishwasher…fast and simple!

  19. Christine says

    From the website: http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-laundry-detergent-soap/

    Soap recipe

    Each batch yields approximately 32 ounces (between 32-64 loads based on how many Tbsp used per load).

    1 bar (or 4.5 ounces) of shaved bar soap (Dr. Bronner’s, Ivory, ZOTE, Fels-Naptha)
    1 cup of borax
    1 cup of washing soda

    Thoroughly stir together for 5 minutes and enjoy the results! That’s it folks…seems too good to be true, but it is true indeed!

    Use 1 Tbsp per load (or 2 Tbsp for heavily soiled loads).

  20. Mom to Two says

    Question… Just regular old fashioned Ivory bath soap?!?! I make powdered laundry detergent w/ either Zote or Fels-Naptha (sp?). We use Ivory bar soap because of sensitive skin so it would be “grate” if I could use it in my laundry detergent as well!

    For those asking for recipes, this is the one I prefer:
    1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax- Found in the detergent aisle
    1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda- Found in the detergent aisle
    1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean- Found in the detergent aisle
    2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap- Found in the detergent aisle (You can also use Fels Naptha)
    1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda- Found in the detergent OR cooking aisle (You could also get two – 2 lb boxes, we couldn’t find the larger 4lb box when we went)
    2 Bottles of Purex Crystals Fabric Enhancer – Found in the detergent aisle)

    1. Grate zote soap with cheese grater or food processor.
    2. Mix all ingredients together in a large CLEAN bucket.
    3. Use 2 -4 Tablespoons per laundry load.
    Store in an airtight container!

    • Meg says

      Do you find it gets stains out?

      I have extra filthy kids, and I’m pretty attached to ERA, but I would Love a cheaper method.

      • Michele says

        I use the Fels-Nepthala version of detergent (with Oxy-clean mixed in) and it works great! I sprinkled some on a ketchup stain, added a little water to get it to “stick,” and let it sit for a bit. Came right out.

  21. says

    If you don’t have a microwave or a food processor, but have able bodied children who you can trust with a regular grater, it is a fairly simple job for them to do. My oldest has been helping with this job since he was four and now at 5 can grate all the soap himself. I stay nearby working on a different project alongside him and he is a very careful child (I’m not sure my second son will be ready to do this job as as young), but my oldest son likes doing an important job and I can work on something else. Of course keep your safety and your own children’s abilities in mind.

  22. Teri says

    I have a front loading washer that requires he detergent. I have been using Dr. Bronner’s liquid for it’s natural/mild ingredients using less than 1/4 c. per load and vinegar in the rinse cycle. I find it ok but would like a homemade recipe with more cleaning power but just as earth/allergy/baby friendly. Have you with similar washers tried this recipe? Liquid vs powder homemade soap in your f/l he washer? TIA and sorry if you’ve covered this elsewhere Crystal :)

    • Michele says

      I know several people who use the powdered (and I guess liquid would work as well), and had no problem. It’s the suds that cause the issue.

  23. suzanne says

    This looks awesome! how much detergent does one bar make? Do you happen to have the ‘recipe’ somewhere on here?
    TIA! :)

  24. Luna in Iowa says

    I just use the grater blade in my food processor. But your low-tech option works just as well for Ivory (which I can’t use, allergic to it). It doesn’t work with Fels Naptha Laundry Bars.

  25. says

    does anyone who uses the homemade soap deal with any skin allergies in the family? If so, does this type of detergent seem to cause reactions more than regular/commercial soaps? We have a 2 year old that occasionally gets ezcema outbreaks if we use anything but Purex plus we now have a newborn so I’m reluctant to try anything else on their clothes. I’d hate to go through so much work to make my own then to fight skin outbreaks for weeks afterwords.
    ….that is, unless anyone else that makes their own can testify for how it works in their skin-sensitive family…????

    • Gweny says

      I destest the smell of the Fels Naptha.. I now use Zote so much better but might even try the Ivory soap too.

  26. Jen says

    I make my own liquid laundry detergent and I have read that you cannot use Fels Naptha if you have a septic system which we do. I’m wondering if Ivory soap would also be a problem?

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