Washing Clothes Off the Grid

Laundry detergent is a prep item that I have not begun to stock up on.  I was planning on using some form of soap and baking soda mixture to wash clothing, but the below recipes look more appealing.  I came across  this recipe that was found on a preparedness forum that is mentioned below for those that are interested in knowing how to make laundry detergent to clean clothes.  Did you know that mixing your own laundry is cost effective, and you get more for your money.

The below recipes were found of the forums of  www.survivalistboards.com.

Laundry Detergent

I have used the below recipe for a little over two years now with good results.  It is cheap and easy to mix up and gets the dirt out.


  • 1 bar of soap – whatever kind your prefer
  • 1 box of washing soda – in the laundry detergent aisle of stores.  It comes in an Arm and Hammer box and will contain enough for 6 batches.
  • 1 box of Borax – optional, but really kicks the cleaning up a notch.
  • 5 gallon bucket with lid – or a container that can hold up to 15 liters.
  • 3 gallons of tap water

Put about 4 cups of water into a pan on your stove and turn the heat up on high until it’s almost boiling.

While water is heating up, begin shaving strips off of bar soap into the water until most of the bar of soap is shaved off into the water.  Make sure the soap shavings have dissolved into the water.

Put three gallons of hot water, or 11 liters or so into the 5 gallon bucket.  Then mix in the hot soapy water from step one, stir is for a while, then add 1 cup of the washing soda.  Keep stirring it for another minute or two.  Add a half cup of borax if you are still using borax.  Stir for another couple of minutes, then allow it to sit overnight.

Once the mixture has settled overnight, it will look a pale shade of gelatinous mixture.  One measuring cup full of this mixture will be roughly what one would need to do a load of laundry.

3 gallons of this mixture will give you 48 loads of laundry detergent.  The author of this recipe broke the cost of this recipe down and came out to 3 cents/per gallon.  Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

Fabric Softener

  • 3 cups of vinegar
  • 2 cups hair conditioner
  • 6 cups water

Mix it all together and add to washing machine at the proper cycle.

Note – some people only use 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar as their chosen fabric softener, but the above mentioned is another version.


The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published March 7th, 2010
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  • I’ve been wanting to make some of this for a long time.  I have about a half dozen empty detergent bottles saved, and the only thing that has held me back is grating the bar of soap!  The recipes I have seen call for actually grating it vs. “shaving strips”, which sounds easier.  In a SHTF scenario, laundry could become a MAJOR pain in the neck.

  • No kidding — especially if you have a large family.  But what I like about the above video is that a child is doing it.  If a child can do it – we all can. 

  • Renee

    I have been using this recipe for 1 1/2 year now.  I use Felt’s Napta soap and I grate it and only use a full lid (from old laundry detergent bottle) for measurement instead of one full cup.  It works great and is sooo much cheaper than what is bought at the store.  Also, for hunters, it doesn’t leave a smell.

  • Thanks Renee for the suggestion.  I can’t believe what a small amount of soap is needed.  I am going to look around for some Felt’s Napta soap and try your method out.

    Thanks again,


  • Barbara

    I had a hard time finding Fells Napta soap so I purchaset Zote Laundry Bar Soap.  It works and smells great.  Also, don’t make the mistake that I did of pouring your new laundry soap into your old savel laundry bottles!  It is impossible to get it out because it is so congeled!  I use Rubbermaid pictures with lids instead so you can see how much is left in the container and I use a top from one of the old laundry bottles to measure it out.  So very easy to make.

  • sandi boyd

    I have used this receipe for over 5 years.  website for different “receipes” http://www.soapsgonebuy.com  I use the dry method easier to store and uses 1-3 tablespoons..
    i 1/2 cup borax, 1 1/2 cup arm and hammer washing SODA (yellow box) and 3 bars fels naptha….Kroger if in the south has all three usually…..very cheap and cleans and smells great…  fels naptha soap is old yellow soap “granny” used.  it alone rubbed on stains takes almost anything out.

  • bars of fels naptha have to be grated (use old metal grater)  good for the arms.lol  u can also buy from soapsgonebuy already grated

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