Some people may not know what off-the-grid or off-grid means, so here it is --- The term off-the-grid or off-grid refers to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities.

Off-grid living is no longer a one room log cabin in the woods. It's energy independency. You don't have to rely on utility companies, you create your own power. Today, there are more than 180,000 off-grid homes in the US.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap...

37 degrees - 10:04 am - cloudy...

Making your own laundry soap is extremely easy!  No longer do you need to rely on store bought detergents.  With a few ingredients on hand you will be able to make batch after batch of laundry soap – and the cost savings by doing this is incredible!

Your basic ingredients:  bar soap, washing soda, baking soda and borax.

The Soap:  The most typical type of soap to use is Ivory, Kirk's Castile, Zote, or Fels Naptha.  Although you can use any kind of bar soap either store bought or homemade.  It can be found in the toiletries section of the grocery store.

Washing Soda:  This is NOT to be confused with baking soda - they are not the same thing!  Washing soda is sodium carbonate or soda ash.  It is a white powder.  Its purpose is to help remove dirt and odors.  The brand to look for is Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.  It can be found in the laundry section of the grocery store.

Baking Soda:  Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  It is a fine white powder.  Its purpose is as a replacement for softener and also to remove odors from clothes.  Sodium bicarbonate is also effective in removing heavy stains.  The brand to look for is Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.  It can be found in the baking section of a grocery store.

Borax:  Borax is a naturally occurring mineral – Sodium Borate.  It is a white powder.  Its purpose is a laundry whitener and deodorizer.  The brand to look for is 20 Mule Team.  It can be found in the laundry section of the grocery store.

Here are two recipes for homemade laundry soap – one is liquid (3-ingredients) and one is dry (4-ingredients)


~Liquid Laundry Detergent~
1 bar of soap
1 box of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax
3 gallons + 4 cups tap water
Five-gallon bucket with lid
Big spoon
Measuring cup
Cheese grater or potato peeler

Step One – Put four cups of water into a pan on your stove and turn the heat up on high until it’s almost boiling.  While you are waiting, whip out a cheese grater or potato peeler and start shredding the bar of soap.  After you have shredded the whole bar of soap, stir the shavings into the hot water.  Continue to stir soap/water mixture until the soap is dissolved and you have some highly soapy water.

Step Two – Put three gallons of hot water into the five gallon bucket.  Then mix in the hot soapy water from step one.  Mix in one cup of the washing soda and stir until blended.  Mix in half a cup of borax and stir until blended.  Once everything is dissolved, put the lid on the bucket and let sit overnight (min. 24 hours) – and you’re done!
One cup of liquid laundry detergent to one full load of clothes.

{The finished liquid soap will not be a solid gel.  It will be more of a watery gel that has been accurately described as an “egg noodle soup” look.}

{SAVINGS BREAKDOWN - Out of three gallons of liquid detergent you will get about 48 loads of laundry.  If you do this six times, you'll have used six bars of soap ($0.70 each), one box of washing soda ($3.49), and about half a box of borax ($4.35 / 2 = $2.17), and have washed about 288 loads of laundry.  The breakdrown is - $9.86 in supplies divided by 288 loads of laundry = about $0.03 per load of laundry.  (FYI - Store bought laundry detergent (on sale) is about $14 for 52 loads = $0.27 per load - this equates to a savings of $67.90 for every 288 loads of laundry!)}


~Dry Laundry Detergent~
3 bars of soap
4 lbs. of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
4 lbs. of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
4 lbs. of 20 Mule Team Borax
Five-gallon bucket with lid
Big spoon
Measuring cup
Cheese grater or potato peeler

Step One – Grate or Shred the three bars of soap.

Step Two – Mix all four ingredients in the bucket and stir and stir and stir until fully blended – and you’re done!

Two heaping tablespoons-full of dry laundry detergent to one full load of clothes.

{This is VERY IMPORTANT – if you have a front-loading machine you need to take out the little tray that is meant for liquid only.  If you put the powder in that tray it will clog.  With the tray removed you can just add your scoop of dry detergent with no problems.}

{SAVINGS BREAKDOWN - One batch of the dry laundry detergent will do about 150 loads of laundry.  So for one batch of laundry detergent you will have used three bars of soap ($0.70 each), one box of washing soda ($3.49), one box of baking soda ($2.39) and one box of borax ($4.35).  The breakdown is - $12.33 in supplies divided by 150 loads of laundry = about $0.08 per load of laundry.  (FYI - Store bought laundry detergent (on sale) is about $14 for 52 loads = $0.27 per load - this equates to a savings of $28.17 for every 150 loads of laundry!)}


{Side Note:  The soap is a low sudsing soap.  So if you don’t see suds, that is okay.  Suds are not what does the cleaning, it is the ingredients in the soap.  ---  High Efficiency (HE) front-load washers require “special soap” for one reason alone – low suds.  Because they use less water, they require soap that is less sudsy (this homemade laundry soap is very low suds).  The “special” HE detergent is just another advertising mechanism to push consumers to buy “special soap” for unnecessarily high prices.}  

{Side Note:  This is the best laundry soap to use with septic tanks because it contains zero sodium and zero fillers (like montmorillonite clay) that cause commercial powder detergents to clog lines.  It is also completely non-toxic so it will not harm necessary septic bacteria like toxic detergents and antibacterial soaps.}

{Side Note:  One more thing!  Use white vinegar in place of fabric softener.  It helps keep whites bright and colors bold.  It helps remove any soap reside and it works as an anti-bacterial too.  Use about ¼ cup...just enough to fill the softener reservoir.  It will NOT make your clothes smell like vinegar!}


I found this darlin’ Wash Day instruction on the internet and thought it gave a great perspective on what the homemaker in the early 1900’s had to go through to do a load of laundry!  Now I understand the meaning of “Wash Day”.  It took the whole day!

ADVICE TO A 1912 BRIDE  ---  Years ago a Kentucky grandmother gave a bride the following recipe for washing clothes (misspelled words and all):

1. Bild fire in back yard to heet kettle of rainwater.
2. Set tubs so smoke won’t blow in eyes if wind is pert.
3. Shave one hole cake lie soap in boilin water.
4. Sort things, make three piles.  1 pile white.  1 pile cullord.  1 pile work britches and rags.
5. To make starch stur flour in cold water to smooth then thin down with boilin water.
6. Rub dirty spots on board, scrub hard, then boil.  Rub cullord but don’t boil – just rench and starch.
7. Take white things out of kettle with broom stick handle then rench, blew and starch.
8. Spred tee towels on grass.
9. Hang old rags on fence.
10. Pour rench water in flower bed.
11. Scrub porch with hot soapy water.
12. Turn tubs upside down.
13. Go put on cleen dress, smooth hair with side combs, brew cup of tee – set and rest a spell and count your blessins.

Yes!  That Kentucky Granny had it right!  At the end of your day “sit and rest a spell and count your blessin’s”!

Times sure have changed!  Still it’s fun and even delightful to find ways to live the simple “Vintage Life”!  Making homemade laundry detergent is one way to give a nod to the charming past while being thankful for our modern conveniences.


  1. On one of the websites that I found to make liquid clothing soap, they talked about using a stick blender to make it more gel like, and not so globby... here is the link. They also have a great recipe for dishwasher detergent!

    Dish washer detergent and Gel soap clothing detergent:

    Next time I come down to Vancouver, I will bring you my homemade lard soap that I made for laundry detergent! It's currently curing...

    Sarah Bolser

    1. That is great! I have also heard of people using their food processor to shred the bar soap. Bar soap is the next item I am wanting to try and make.

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