Wash Day
Appalachia Through My Eyes - Father's Day

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Homemade laundry soap

A few years ago, Miss Cindy and I discovered recipes for making laundry detergent. Neither of us mentioned it to the other-but when when we realized we'd both been studying the recipes Miss Cindy decided she'd make a batch for us all to try and she's been making it ever since.

Easy to make frugal laundry powder

There are recipes for liquid detergent as well as powder (just do a google search and you'll find tons). Miss Cindy chose the powder variety because it just seemed easier to fool with-and to transport since she was making it to share with us.  

Soap based recipe for detergent

I believe the original recipe called for a bar of Fels-Naptha soap but it didn't take Miss Cindy long to realize you could use any bar soap you wanted. (and you can save all those soap slivers that no one seems to want to use in the shower for the detergent)

The recipe amounts are simple to increase-so if you want to make a huge batch at a time like Miss Cindy does its easy peasy. 

Laundry Detergent

  • 1 cup borax (20 mule team)
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup super washing soda
  • 1 bar soap (Fels-Naptha or other)

Recipe for laundry detergent

Once you get the soap chopped it's as simple as mixing all the ingredients together. Miss Cindy chops her soap up into pieces first;

Simple recipe for laundry detergent

then she throws the soap pieces into a food processor and pulses them till they are like crumbs. All thats left is to mix the other ingredients and you're done!

It takes 2 tablespoons of homemade laundry detergent for a full load-and you can adjust the amount for smaller loads. 

The detergent cleans well, stores well, and costs much less than store bought detergent. 


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Great reading. My Mother in law passed away 4 years ago at the age of 103 and 11 mo. She made soaps for 49 years that she was my mom in law..I am now a new soaper and loving it..Batch #4 c oming up this week..

I've been using this recipe for about a year. It works great, but I always add a 1/4 cup of vinegar in the rinse.

I make my own using that same recipe, except I also add oxyclean to mine.
I've shared it with several people.
The last batch I made lasted 6 months. And that's with sharing it with others.

We made similar but were underwhelmed. It was less costly but we never tried any other recipes because the first go was just so....meh. Maybe I need to try again

I remember our Mom tying up soap slivers in rags that she threw in the laundry when I was very very little. I also remember someone, I think it was both of our Grandmothers (or maybe all the women did this in those days) that had a big Mason jar near their kitchen sink that they saved soap slivers in, once they had a certain amount, they added hot water and turned it this way and that gently (not vigorously or all you'll get is suds) until all the slivers kinda dissolved into a slime. It took a long time for them to save up enough slivers to do that though, but still - it would be a savings. And I remember Fels Naptha, I still love the smell of that soap because it reminds me of our maternal Grandmother who used it for EVERYTHING including scrubbing grimy kids. (ouch)
Nice memories.

God bless.


Thanks again Tipper. I will check that out at our local WalMart. Then I am going to try your and Miss Cindy's "recipe".

Bob and Inez-Miss Cindy said she bought the super washing soda at either the grocery store or walmart-both have it. She said it was usually on the shelf close to Borax.


Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Tamela-Miss Cindy said she bought the super washing soda at either the grocery store or walmart-both have it. She said it was usually on the shelf close to Borax.


Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

Sheryl-Miss Cindy said she bought the super washing soda at either the grocery store or walmart-both have it. She said it was usually on the shelf close to Borax.


Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

I'm trying too. Where did you find the super washing soda?

When I talked back to my mom when I was a child, she would wash my mouth out with Fels Naptha Soap - it sure did a good job with that too!!!

Because we use unscented clothes washing because of allergies, I'm making mine with an unscented soap that I make. People could use whatever fragance of soap they wanted. I started making soap about 15 years ago because of all my skin allergies to the petroleum products in store-bought soaps. Now I have a small business going making and selling soaps and lotions. It was either that or build a new house out of soap as I was addicted to making soaps. Now I know why I took all that chemistry! Heehee (I'll be nice and not bore everyone by getting on my soap-making soapbox. LOL We're going to the farm store to get some stuff we need like canning lids and possibly more tomato plants and then It's time to plant the multitude of squash plants my friend gave me. Have a totally lovely day!!!

I don't do a lot of washing clothes,
but I can see it getting expensive
for a large family. I can remember
mama making soap and cleaning
products when I was little. As some
other commentors mentioned, I think
ashes played a big part.
For me, I'm just Thankful for
Washing Powders...Ken

Sounds interesting and worth a try.
But, I too, don't know what "washing soda" is - nor where to find it. I'd also like to know how to make lye from ashes. I'm sure there are scads of recipes online but info from someone I "sort of know" would certainly be appreciated.

I was just putting in a small load of wash! I happened to look on the inside of the soap, bleach and fabric dispenser, a little white tag posted says: Use only HE detergent!
Well, all this time I am thinking it said HO...The graphics are terrible...and my eyesight is also not too good, the E looks like a fancy O... I went on to read that HE means High Efficency detergent...Not to me, I think it is more of a "Up Jumps the Devil" sound...He, He, He, special soap more dope..(Money) for the company!
Thanks Tipper,
I guess the jokes on me...again as usual! HO HO or HE HE, it all means $$$$$$$$!

I use a cheese grater for my bar soap.

Thanks Tipper- Also I am not familiar with super washing soda. Would you give us a heads up on that product-any other name and where to buy it. As always, still enjoy your site so much.Inez Jones

I've been making laundry soap for a few years now, using the same basic recipe that Miss Cindy uses, except that mine is about three gallons of liquid soap when it's done.

Easy trick: cut the soap into flakes with a cheese grater instead of a knife.

Using the food processor is a good idea. Much better than hand grating the soap!

When Mommy used to work as a maid at Nantahala Village she would bring home little soap bars from the guest rooms and cabins when she cleaned them. She had to replaced the soap even if it was still wrapped. She thought it was a waste so she brought it home (unless it had hairs stuck in it, those promptly made the trash.) The wrapped ones we bathed with. The unwrapped ones she chopped up to wash clothes. Mommy's food processor was an Old Hickory with a wooden handle and a single super sharp 8 inch blade. A grater might have made it easier on her but its way too late to tell her now.

My washer uses HO detergent. Now then, I don't exactly know what HO means! It's not powder, it's not regular liquid detergent either! It is a liquid maybe a tiny bit thicker, that has HO on the front of the big plastic bottle! I think HO, means ho ho ho we're getting another dollar out of you! I do use green detergent all natural, HO of course!
My Mother when going back to her NC home would always bring back a few bars of homemade Lye soap. The best thing in the world for those nasty red chigger bites!
I used to love watching them make Lye soap out in the back yard.
Not out of necessity but for "chiggars" etc. and some things Granny said other soap just wouldn't clean well enough for her...
My Mom said she wondered how she had any skin left after using it as a child for years. Plus having to wear clothes washed with it!
Does anyone remember bluing and homemade startch! I've burnt many a pan of it as a kid, until I learned to stay right with it as it was thickening!
Love the post Tipper,

I think you are on to a new business. I have never tried to do this, but after reading the recipe, it might just be something I could do. Very interesting to say the least!

When I was growing up my mom, aunts, and grandmas
Made all of their soap for heir washing clothes and any
Other thing that needed cleaning around our house.
And they also made all the ingredients for making the
soap. That included the fat from the hogs we slaughtered
For our meat supply. The lye came from the ashes from the
Fire place where we heated the house in the winter time.
Making do was simple back in the good old days.
Charles Fletcher

My daughter has been making her detergent for years, mainly because it works better on the kid's sensitive skin and she's also the queen of green. I have never heard of super washing soda. Will have to check that out.

We made our laundry detergent out of lye, sifted ashes saved from the fireplace, fat drippings, and maybe some other things! And ;it all had to be boiled together in an iron pot with a fire built under it--outside! "Soap-making" was really a process, and I must admit I did not personally make it, but remember my aunts making "batches" when the home-made bars ran low! How strong and abrasive was that homemade soap!

I keep meaning to try this. Now I think I will give it a try. Thanks.

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