Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been making my own laundry detergent off and on for the past seven or eight years. I began making my detergent because I needed to downsize our budget.You will hear about some of the other reasons in a later post. :)

Originally, I used Fels Naptha but I am unable to tolerate the smell anymore. I began searching out an alternative and found that some folks use Ivory. Other soaps mentioned were Kirk's Coco Castile and Zote. I have found Kirk's at a couple of grocery stores (Kroger in the bath soap aisle and Publix in the laundry section aisle.) Homemade detergents can sometime make clothes dingy. (Mine did when I used Fels Naptha and I quit using homemade detergent for that reason.) I read recently about Mrs. Stewart's Bluing and immediately bought a bottle. You only need a few drops per load so it lasts forever. Zote has brighteners added to it, but I haven't been able to find it locally yet. I was told to try Big Lot's and looked yesterday to no avail. I'll keep looking though to keep my options open. :)
Dawn's Homemade Detergent Recipe
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup baking soda (not pictured)
1 grated bar laundry soap (Currently using Kirk's Coco Castile (It smells like Ivory so I am able to tolerate it.)
a few drops of essential oil (if desired - lavender is heavenly!) 

When I start my laundry, I turn the warm water on first, add 1 T of detergent per load (2 T for extra large loads) and then allow the washer to fill an inch or two. I then turn it the water to cold. The little bit of warm helps dissolve the detergent. If it is a hot water load I skip this step and just start it with hot from the beginning. If needed I add 1 cup plain white vinegar to the bleach dispenser and then add my clothes.Vinegar can be used to soften clothes or to cut the stink. :) It is great for toileting accidents too!

I need to warn you about  something. Your clothes will be clean but they will not smell like what you are used to. This lack of scent does not mean that they aren't clean. In fact, it means quite the opposite! I have always hated laundry detergent smells and love that my clothes are clean and smell fresh, not perfumey!!

To dry clothes in the dryer, I use small scraps of toweling dipped in fabric softener (Seventh Generation brand) and dry normally. I hang as many things as I possible can to avoid running my dryer.

This is my normal laundry routine. I have a completely different one for stinky/smelly/work clothes. That is another post (coming soon!)

Do you have a frugal laundry tip? How does your laundry routine differ?


  1. I've made the homemade laundry detergeant several times too and prefer the liquid over the powder. I've also noticed some of our clothing were beginning to look a bit dingy so I quit using it and went back to purchasing my laundry detergeant on sale with coupons. I save money that way but not like I did when I made it myself. I think I'd like to try again substituting the Fels Naptha with one of the other soaps. My husband is a construction worker and gets particularly dirty during the summer (think sweat and grime) and I did find that if I rubbed the stains directly with a bar of Fels Naptha prior to laundering it would pretty much remove the stain.

  2. I like this, thanks for the great idea and I also have heard that Fels Naptha works well on stains, we also use it for poison oak in the summer.

  3. Tonya, my husband is in dirty work too (landscaping.)

    I have heard that rubbing the bar into the stains gets them out as well. Zote's instructs that on their website as well. I have not tried it with Kirk's but I will try it this week.

  4. I also make my own detergent. I was buying lard soap online, but I just bought my own lard so will be using that (plus lemon juice for the whites) instead. Stopping by from grocery shrink.


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