Monday, June 21, 2010

Use it, use it, use it

Monday, June 14, 2010
Use it, Use it, Use it!

I have been noticing a homemade laundry detergent recipe pop up all over the Internet - again. It uses as main ingredients Borax, Super Washing Soda, and Fels Naptha soap.

I acquired this same recipe prior to the Y2K fervor, and when we moved to an empty shop on 30 acres with no power and no money, I thought it would be a good time to put it into use. It turned out great! It gelled nicely, smelled good and made a lot of detergent! I was so excited.

I used this homemade detergent exclusively for about 6 months. At first, I thought it was great, probably because it was so inexpensive to make. However, after about 2 months, I began to notice that our clothes didn't smell very good. It wasn't all that noticeable until we got sweaty and hot, and then they really stank! Pretty soon, I noticed that our clothes look DIRTY. After about 6 months I gave up in despair and went back to a standard store brand. The difference was HUGE and IMMEDIATE! Clean clothes again!!!!! Yeah!

Now, there are a couple of factors that could have hampered the homemade detergent's effectiveness. First, when I began using the homemade detergent I was doing laundry by hand on our wood cookstove. Essentially, I was just scrubbing the clothes with my hands. Not very effective. Secondly, after using the detergent for about a month, Sir Knight hooked up my washing machine, but I only had cold water. Washing in the washing machine did not seem to make any difference in the cleanliness of my clothes.

My caution is this. Don't stock up on ingredients for laundry detergent (or anything else for that matter) that you haven't first tested and found to be reliable or produce the desired results. Don't just acquire things....use what you have! You are going to be in a serious pickle if you have a huge stock of something that doesn't work just when you need it most.

I am not in any way advocating that you don't make your own laundry detergent. By all means - try it! See if you like it. It very well could be the best thing since sliced bread. Just know what you have, know how it works and be sure that you can rely on what you have when you need it!

Don't take my word for it. Use it, use it, use it!


  1. Agreed. I tried twice, the first batch was worked great but was difficult to make. The second batch didn't work at all.

  2. oh thank you for posting this! I used it for about a year or more, in dry form (because I never got the gel the right consistency for our front loader) and everything began to stink! Things that didn't stink before putting them in, did after being washed. And not everything in a load, just a piece here or there. I didn't know how to trouble shoot it, so I bagged it. And felt a little bit like a failure. But there you have it, someone else had the same problem. THanks!

  3. Wow, I've had the exact opposite results. I've been using the "dry" recipe for my laundry for about 3 years now. My clothing is cleaner and I never have an odor problem any more.

    I use Fels Naptha, Borax and Washing soda. I grind the Fels to a powder with the fine section of the grater and add the borax and soda.

    Sometimes I will add a bit of baking soda. I rinse with white vinegar in the slot where the Downey would go, so it spins out in the rinse cycle. About 1/2 cup, I'd say.

    Now I will say I live in the North Ga mountains. We have very soft water, so that may be it. Also, because we have such cold water, I wash in warm water. (though "warm" is no where near "warm"! It just takes the chill off the water.) So again, that may affect how it cleans. I'm wondering if you just had a "bad" recipe, if you weren't using enough of it or if it has to do with water hardness/temperature.

    I use about 3 TBS of the powdered mix in an extra large capacity washer.

    And I used to have problems with underarm odor wanting to stay in my garments. Regular antiperspirant made my underarms swell. Regular deodorant I sweat through. Tom's didn't work at all. Finally I tried spraying my underarms with straight 90% Isopropyl alcohol. It does the trick and it too has been working for 2 years. Again, I live in the hot, humid south. I was a custodian and I garden and if I start to have the least little "odor", I just spritz my pits again. In the last 18 months, I have only had to do that about 3 times. It seems that once I got off of commercial products, my body adjusted. (Oh, I tried baking soda. I literally burned my underarms with it.) Anyway, no more odor problems in my laundry or on me.

    And last but not least, I don't shampoo my longer than waist length, thick, curly hair. I use baking soda in water to "wash" it and apple cider vinegar in water to rinse it (after rinsing the baking soda out of it.) Works a treat, cheap and cleans my oily hair very well. Also, I don't use detangler. I use a wide-toothed comb and can just comb out any tangles. the ACV closes the cuticle on the hair and tangles ease out quite simply.

    Love your blog.

  4. The homemade stuff didn't work in my washer at all. The clothes came out grungy. I finally mixed the powder with Arm & Hammer detergent and use a small scoop in a six-gallon bucket for the things I soak overnight and do by hand (rinse well and spin out in the HE). Works fine, and the T's come out soft. For the HE, I gave up and got Tide/no perfume/no colors and it works so much better. Tried Charlie's powder in the bag, and it was a bomb, too.

  5. I have a huge bucket of the gel stuff sitting in my laundry room. I tried prying myself away from the expensive stuff but everything was dirty. So I just clip coupons now

  6. I have been using the homemade liquid laundry soap fro about 3 years now. I really love it. But I did notice the problems you're talking about also. The clothes weren't coming quite as clean, and my towels were getting a slightly oily smell (I don't use paper towels or napkins in my home) and weren't soaking up water very well.

    I now wash all my towels in hot water. And I keep store bought detergent on hand and use that about once every two months.

    This isn't a perfect solution, but HAS fixed my complaints.

    It would be hard for me to give up the comfort of easily storing a couple years of laundry soap for under $20.

    Darlene: I am interested in the dry mix. Do you use the same recipe minus water? How much do you use per load??