How to Make Your Own Laundry Pods

Watching the evolution of washing implements expand from an old-school wash board to a powered ringer, and finally to a modern washing machine has been a joy for every person who suffers constant assault from the laundry monster. As the machines have evolved, the available products have expanded to a dizzying list of options. Instead of an old soap bar, we’ve grown accustomed to powdered detergents, then liquid detergents, and now detergent pods. How quickly these conveniences become necessities. But with convenience comes cost, so when it comes to laundry pods, why not make your own so you can keep the convenience of an easy laundry aid without the expense? Here’s how.

Step 1 - Gather Ingredients

Although all laundry detergents contain the same basic ingredients, you may have a preference for one component over another. All recipes call for a bar soap, most commonly Castile or Fels-Naptha. You will also need Borax, washing soda, and either Oxyclean, baking soda, or Epsom salt. If you prefer, you can add essential oils in your favorite scent, too.

Vials filled with herbs, fruits and seeds.

Step 2 - Grate Bar Soap

The quickest way to grate the Fels-Naptha or Castile soap is to chop it up and toss it into the blender, where it will break down into a rough-grained powder. Alternately, you can simply grate the bar using a cheese grater. This method requires a bit of time, but the soap grates easily (plus, you can consider it an arm workout). The soap washes easily off graters or blenders in the dishwasher, so you don't have to worry about lingering flavors or scents.

Step 3 - Mix Dry Ingredients

Add washing soda and Borax to the soap in a large bowl. Include Oxyclean (or baking soda and/or epsom salt if you choose those ingredients). Stir the mixture well. Basically it works out to one to three parts washing soda and one to three parts Borax for each one part soap. You can find some specific recipes below, but know that there is room for variation depending on your needs and preferences.

Step 4 - Add Liquid

The hydrogen peroxide or vinegar will moisten the mixture, helping to hold it all together. This is the key difference between DIY powdered laundry detergent and DIY pods. It's this added moisture that allows them to stick together and form cubes. Add small amounts of the liquid at a time, stirring constantly so you can watch the consistency change with each addition. You want the mixture to hold together, but not be wet.

Step 5 - Form Pods

Scoop about one generous tablespoon into each opening in an ice tray or other similar small tray. Press the mixture firmly into place. You'll want to really press them in for the best results. You can do this with your fingers, or use any flat device. Allow the pods to dry overnight or longer.

A woman makes hand-crafted soap.

Step 6 - Remove and Use

Once dry, pop the pods out of the tray. You can smooth the edges if you prefer. Find a jar or bowl to store your DIY pods (keep them out of the reach of young children), and label them with directions for other family members. Use one ice-cube sized pod for each load of laundry.

Step 7 - Fabric Softener

You can use your laundry pod in conjunction with the fabric softener of your choice, but while you're flexing your homesteading muscles, you might as well make your own liquid fabric softener, too. It only takes a few basic ingredients, which you might already have in the house, and leaves out many of the chemicals from the commercial versions. Simply combine two cups water, two cups white vinegar, and 1/8-cup glycerin. Pour 1/4-cup of the mixture into the liquid fabric softener section of your washing machine for each load.

And now on to the recipes:

Recipe #1

1 bar of soap

3 cups washing soda

3 cups Borax

1 cup Oxyclean

Mist with just enough vinegar to create clumping.

Recipe #2

1 1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup Fels-Naptha

2 tablespoons Epsom salts

3 tablespoons hydrogen peroxide

1/4 cup vinegar

15-20 drops essential oil

Recipe #3

1 bar Castile soap

1 cup washing soda

1/4 cup baking soda

1/4 cup Epsom salt

1/2 cup white vinegar

10 drops essential oil