Green Living

Homemade Detergent Powder (Indian)

I have started replacing all the toxic washing detergents for green alternatives. While I was on the lookout, I researched many on the internet. Some included borax powder, washing soda and other things which are not easily available here in India. At least not unless you want to buy through eBay or want a small quantity of it.

I have also tried used natural detergent powders using Krya, but it was a little on the expensive side. But, if you are new to this green living thing and cynical about how well non-commercial detergents wash, you should try Krya. Plus they have recyclable packaging and certified vegan, plus no animal testing. So go show them some love!

Coming back, I am going to show you how to make simple detergent powder using products that are easily available here in India.

Lego 🙂

Homemade Detergent Powder

Indians have been using natural soapnut, also called reetha as a cleansing tool for a long time. It has natural cleansing and foaming properties with none of the harmful side-effects that regular washing powder has. In fact, over time using washing powders is toxic for your skin and the environment. Read more here about household product toxicity

I have been using this following recipe for months now and it cleans quite well.

You will need

250gms Pure Soapnut powder (Reetha powder)

100gms Baking Soda

Essential Oils (optional)


You can buy natural soap nuts (they kind of look like walnuts) and grind them at a mill or a coffee grinder. But soapnuts while grinding are very irritating for the nose and you are in for a huge sneeze! And make sure you wash out the coffee grinder well, you don’t need those in your coffee, they can cause indigestion. (and if grinding please wear a mask)

I would not recommend grinding these in our regular Indian mixer-grinders, they don’t powder well and are hard nuts.

The reetha that you get for hair wash is highly processed, so that is not recommended. Pure soapnut powder will still have some of those elements which when dusted around you will cause irritation in your nose 🙂

I bought two of these from Flipkart. You will find it here.  I stay in Bangalore so I am not sure where you can find mills to grind soapnuts, but if you have mills around your place, buy soap nuts and grind them 🙂

Soapnut Powder For Homemade Detergent

This is how the soapnut looks. I store this in an airtight container as if these fine particles fly, you might be sneezing a lot.

Homemade Detergent Powder (Indian)
Soapnut Powder 

I wash clothes once a week (for a household of two people). So I use 6-7 heaped tablespoons of reetha powder and the same or a few spoons less of baking soda.

Important tip: Soapnuts need to be soaked, it makes their potency better. So I would recommend soaking them in hot water for at least an hour before using it for washing clothes.

1. Soak the required amount of soapnut powder in hot water for an hour

2. Use a sieve to filter out the impurities. (There may be sediments if you are buying a different brand or making your own soapnut powder from mill)

3. Soak clothes, pour the soapnut on the clothes.

4. Add the baking soda.

5. I would recommend soaking clothes in this mixture for half an hour to an hour to have good results.

Then wash away as usual 🙂

Important Tips:

Soaking soapnut powder with HOT water is a must! And giving time for them to soak into your clothes is also important. If you have tough stains- mix baking soda, lemon and soapnut powder in a small bowl and use it directly on the stain. Leave it for 5 min and then wash away.

I hand wash all my clothes including bedsheets. However, if you are using a washing machine use the same method. Just pour the soapnut mixture directly and add baking soda. And start the machine after an hour.

The BEST thing about this mixture is, it hardly takes away color from your clothes, preserves the fabric and smells clean.

Essential Oils: They can be used at the last stage, i.e. while rinsing clothes and drying them out. I use lavender, rose or lemon. However, the fragrance is not too strong. So this is completely optional

Did you try this? Do you have any feedback? Let me know.

You can write in the comments or email me at


2 thoughts on “Homemade Detergent Powder (Indian)

  1. hi,
    thanks for sharing a simple and very important alternative for clothes washing.
    You do not mention anything about seeds. Do you grind the seeds of the soap nut as well? Cause i assumed the seeds are not important.

    1. Hi Ashish,

      If you can get organic soapnuts (the seeds) then you will have to go to a mill and get it ground. Home mixers and grinders cannot grind such a hard nut. Hence, I have suggested buying soapnut/reetha powder that are not very processed.

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