How to Put the Clean Fresh Scent in Homemade Detergent

DEAR MARY: My friend, (anyone who has helped me so much I consider a friend ), I was wondering, as a result of my wife asking, is there a way to fragrance the homemade laundry detergent? I have made a couple of batches now, and the wife doesn’t want to use it because it does not sweeten the scent of clothing. Thanks much for all you do for us “cheapskates” (I prefer “frugal” myself). Sincerely, Steve.


DEAR STEVE: You can add a few drops of essential oil to the detergent to leave a wonderful subtle scent on your clean laundry. Lemon is a good option, so is lavender. You can get essential oils at crafts stores, health food stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts or online. Expect oils to be a little pricey. A little goes a long way so even a tiny bottle will last a long time.

Another option (cheaper) is Downy Unstopables Fresh In-Wash Scent Booster. You can find this product that comes in a variety of scents in the laundry aisle of your supermarket or online. I use this from time to time, especially for guest room linens. But go easy with it. The container suggests you use a lot more than I find necessary to leave a nice scent. Just toss a few of the tiny pellets into the washer (not the dryer) with the clothes. Works great!

As for calling myself a cheapskate, it’s an endearing term my husband chose for me back when I was making a U-turn on the road to financial devastation. The change in me was so dramatic, he teasingly—and with a great deal of relief and joy, I might add—called me his little cheapskate. It still makes me smile. Becoming a “cheapskate” changed my life and saved my family. I am more grateful than words can tell.

DEAR MARY: Can you please recommend a credit card for a young person to get started with establishing a credit history? My 19-year old son keeps getting denied because of a lack of a credit history. I hate to see him have to get one that has a yearly fee. Thanks, Jill. 

DEAR JILL: Banks have really tightened up on the requirements for credit cards with no annual fee. At the minimum, a person needs a fairly decent credit score. That makes it difficult for someone like your son who has no credit history to speak of. Still, he does have options.

If this young man is enrolled in college and getting pretty good grades, he’ll get positive consideration for his status. Take a look at the current listing of credit cards for students at A number of these cards have no annual fee and comes with excellent reviews.

Another option that will allow him to benefit from your good credit is to add him as an “authorized user” to one of your credit card accounts. This is totally legal and a way for someone like yourself to help a responsible young person build a good credit score. As an authorized user, your son will be able to use your account freely, without your permission to do so. Each month, as the activity on that account, is reported to the credit bureaus and added to your credit file, it will also go to his file to build his credit history.

Surprisingly, perhaps, as an authorized user your son will have no legal obligation to make payments or repay the debt, he may run up on that account. He gets all the benefits and none of the requirements of repayment.

The way it should work is that you have great credit, you are not close your credit limit and are never late with payments. So far so good. However, if you have lousy credit, continuously keep that account close to being maxed out and are late with payments—that terrible credit activity is going to be reported to his account, too, as your authorized user.

Are you getting the picture here? Something tells me that you and he would be great candidates for this method of allowing him to piggyback off your good credit.

It is ridiculously easy to add an authorized user to a credit card account. Simply call the Customer Service number on the back of the card, make your request known along with his name and Social Security number. That’s it.

Hope that helps!

Updated 9-30-19

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