I grew up in the 1960s and '70s on a very self-sufficient farm. We made nearly everything we ate or used, including laundry soap.
As I've said before, Mother did laundry in a wringer washing machine on the front porch in all kinds of weather.
For detergent, she used homemade lye soap grated fine mixed with 20 Mule Team Borax. White clothes were soaked in a wash tub of water with a cup of Clorox, then rinsed and washed with plain borax.
Our laundry was spotless and bright. In the 1970s, as the economy became better, Mom and Dad began to buy more from the store and we began using Ajax laundry detergent.
Over the years, I have used a variety of store bought detergents, but I never quite forgot that homemade powder. As I became older, and detergents became stronger and more perfumed, I developed allergies and began looking for a better alternative.
My daughter gave me a recipe for laundry powder that brought back all of my cherished memories and I gave it a try. Now it is the only detergent I use.
Homemade laundry powder
The ingredients are simple. Arm and Hammer washing soda, 20 Mule Team Borax (I was surprised and pleased to find it is still a staple), Zote (my personal preference) or Fels Naptha bar laundry soap and Oxi Clean.
- 2 cups washing soda
- 2 cups borax
- 1 5.5oz bar laundry soap finely grated
- 1 cup Oxi Clean
- I mix it with my hands to insure it is thoroughly even.
- I usually double the recipe and store it in an airtight container. This will last me 6-8 months.
- Some people add water and let it set for a couple of days to make more of a liquid, but I like the powder. It lasts longer and reminds me of home and the old ways. And aren't the old ways the best after all?
Photos property of Leah McAllister.