DIY laundry soap – video

DIY Laundry SoapToday I made another batch of laundry soap. I had ran out about a month ago, I was using the leftover powdered store bought soap, wow is there a difference! When I use the commercial soap, I often need to run a second rinse cycle, especially if I look at the rinse water, it’s nearly as soapy as the wash cycle, I know that is just being dried into my clothes, that can’t be good for my skin. When I use my homemade laundry soap, I use so much less, and it gets my clothes just as clean if not cleaner, and I don’t see that residue of suds in the rinse water. When I made this batch, it went so much faster! My dad has come for his annual visit, he brought out my food processor, YEAH! I was able to grind down 3 bars of soap in the same amount of time it used to take me to do half a bar, and usually by the time I had gotten a full bar ground down by hand, I was ready to stop for the day. Yeah, I’m a wimp, I admit it.

I wizzed three bars of Kirk’s Castile Soap through the shredding disc, that took it down pretty fine, but I wanted it powdered so I replaced the shredding disc with the chopping blade and pulverized it down to a fine powder (don’t breathe that dust, it’s bad for you). I measured out how much the powdered soap ended up being, (I just eyeballed it, I didn’t get exact measurements), and put in equal amounts of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (NOT baking soda) and 20 Mule Team Borax, if you use your gray water on plants, then skip the borax. You simply use 1 part of each by volume, mix well, put in a suiteable container. You only need to use 3 tablespoons of the mix per load. If your clothes are dirty enough that you feel the need to add more, resist the urge, use the recommended amount, and run your clothes through a second wash with another 3 tablespoons of the mix.

You can use most any bar soap, I prefer using a castile soap, you can even use bath soap, just make sure it is plain, don’t try it with moisturizing soaps or the kinds with added grainy bits (for exfoliating), it will not work as well, I have even used Ivory bar soap, it worked just fine. You can even find bar soaps that are made just for laundry, Zote Soap, just make sure you use the white one, not the pink one, the pink one is too soft to grate up. Look for Zote soap and Kirk’s Castile soaps on the laundry isle of the store.

Some people like to take this a step further and make this into a liquid, I personally don’t do this and have never found a reason to, the soap mixture dissolves just fine in the wash for me, I have had no trouble with this. Also in the powdered form, it takes up much less room. I have also seen many different recipes that called for differing amounts of the ingredients, I have found that equal parts (by volume) works fine, it’s easy to remember too.

One thing you will notice after you have been using homemade laundry soap for a while is your whites may start looking dingy, commercial laundry soap contains brighteners, these chemically make your whites look white without bleach. The fix is easy, all you have to do is what your grandmother and generations before her used, it’s called bluing, Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing was the one everyone used. It was a blue liquid that when added to whites, made them bright white. It can still be found in stores, if you can’t find it, go to the shampoo isle, look for blue shampoo, this is made for white or blond hair, it does the same thing for hair that bluing does for laundry. A squirt of the blue shampoo will bring your dingy whites back to sparkly white. Just be sure you add it before you add your clothes, make sure it is well dissolved before adding your clothes.

I found some great videos of people making their own laundry soap, give it a try, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

This one uses a slightly different recipe, but I’m sure it works great too.

This one is just funny. :)

Let me know if you make your own laundry soap and tell me what you think of it.

1 part bar soap – grated
1 part washing soda (not baking soda)
1 part borax

Mix well, use 3 tablespoons per load

6 Responses

  1. I make the powdered version and have for about 8 years or so.

    1 bar of soap, Fels Naptha or Zote soap has always worked best for me

    1 box of Arm & Hammer washing soda

    1 Box of Borax

    grate soap and combine all ingredients in a sealed container.

    Use 2 TBSP (not a typo) per load

    Can be used in a front loading machine as well as a top loading.

    This does not suds up but does a thorough cleaning. Suds are just for the appearance in commercial soaps anyway.

    If the laundry is really dirty, I will add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the wash.

  2. Gary, the way I understand it, those front loaders use a “special” laundry soap that is low sudsing, since this homemade laundry powder IS low sudsing, it is a perfect match. Just use 1-2 tablespoons of the homemade stuff and you should be just fine.


    Thanks for writing!

    Oh, quick disclaimer here, though I can’t imagine anything could happen as a result of using my recipe for laundry powder, it should be completely safe, neither I or anyone at http://www.off-grid.net is responsible for any damages (perceived or real) caused by using my recipe in your equipment.

  3. We just bought a front loader and the manufacturer, Whirlpool, says to only use HD detergent in the machine. Can I safely use this concoction in my machine?


  4. Judy, I suspect that washing soda or borax by themselves would make great cleaners, I am also familiar with Oxyclean, I haven’t used it since I’ve been off-grid though, no reason other than I just haven’t purchased any since I’ve been here. I did use it before though, with my homemade laundry soap and it worked great.
    G, I don’t remember you asking about the soap before, I don’t know exactly what to say about that, you say that the ingredients individually don’t cause you trouble, but perhaps in the combination, your skin protests. I completely understand having itchy skin and not knowing what the cause was, I never did figure it out when it happened to me, I eventually changed all of my soaps, laundry soap, anything that I put on my skin directly or indirectly. Anyhoo, maybe you could try making a small batch of soap, try using a different bar soap, I found Kirk’s castile soap in the grocery store and I like it. Also try making 2 different batches, one using bar soap and borax, and the other using bar soap and washing soda, try each one for a period of time and see if any of those bother you, if one bothers you then you will know what to remove, if neither one bothers you, mix them together and give it a try.

    I wish you luck, hopefully you’ll find that it was something else, maybe stress or something else going on at that time.


  5. Wretha, I’m having a memory lapse and can’t remember if I asked you about this before… I made this soap using Ivory. I like Ivory and have used it off and on for years and it’s one of the few soaps (including bodywashes) I can use. After I started using my homemade laundry soap batch, I had a terrible itchy allergic reaction on my legs and arms, but not my trunk(?). Now, I’m not quick to blame the soap. It could have been from something else, but I don’t know what. I want to try the soap again but don’t want to go through that itching/scratching agony (for 6 weeks!). The Washing Soda and Borax individually haven’t caused any problems for me. Please, give me your expert opinion – do you think these ingredients could cause this kind of allergic reaction? I don’t think so, and want to try again, but I’m skeered!

  6. I use washing soda only, and it seems to work well, though I wash by hand. I make sure the crystals are totally dissolved before putting the clothes in, and then I just let them soak for a few hours, or even over night. If something is very dirty, I soak longer, or use percarbonate – according to the box it is composed of soda and hydrogen peroxide. It comes in tiny beed, and is supposed to be the safest bleech next to the sun. In the UK it is sold in pure form by Ecover, who also make biodegradable detergents. Oxiclean is the same thing, and used to be pure, but is now “improved” with a revolting perfume. I have also discovered the washing power of a high pressure jet on the garden hose for shifting mud! Not recommended where water is at a premium.

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