Laundry softeners are designed to reduce the amount of static in synthetic fibers and make clothes and linens come out feeling soft and smelling great. So why would anyone opt to go to the time and trouble of making homemade fabric softener when the commercial stuff works well? Consider these three reasons:
While I’m blessed to have a very healthy family, all of us are sensitive, if not allergic, to fabric softeners, which is common. Commercial fabric softeners are composed of various chemicals, some of which can be major irritants on the skin and body.
If you or your kids develop a skin irritation like a red rash or bumps, itching, pain, tenderness or a localized skin rash, prepare for the dermatologist’s first question: Do you use fabric softener? According to this Mayo Clinic study, the offending ingredients in fabric softeners include quaternium, cobalt chloride, and formaldehyde, which can cause skin irritation, and rash or hives (small swollen welts) to form on the skin.
The fragrance or “fumes” from fabric softeners can irritate some people, leading to tiredness, difficulty breathing, anxiety, dizziness, headaches, faintness and memory problems.
If my inbox is any indicator of what’s going on in the world, and I believe it is, smelly towels are a growing problem for consumers—and for sure my dear EC readers. And it’s a rather new problem, the result of modern things like front-loading high-efficiency washing machines, detergents, fabric softeners, and damp conditions.
If you’ve noticed gross smelly towels in your houses, albeit appearing to be washed, dried and ready to go, perhaps you’ve also noticed that your towels have begun to repel rather than absorb water.
That moldy, mildewy, gross smell? It’s the result of the build-up of detergents and fabric softeners that have not been rinsed out properly, together with damp, moist conditions. What you have there is a breeding ground for bacteria. No wonder you’ve got a big gross smelly laundry problem.
If your towels have stopped doing what they’re supposed to do well—absorb water—that problem stems from the same source: Detergent and fabric softener build-up. Seriously! With detergent and laundry, more is decidedly not better.
Favorite bed pillows get a lot of use every night. We keep clean pillowcases on them and don’t think much about the pillow inside until it’s time to change the bed linens. Lately, have you looked?
Yikes! The pristine white pillows have turned blotchy with disgusting yellowish-to-brownish stains. What on earth…? The most common response is to stuff an ugly, stained pillow into a clean pillowcase and hope never to look at that mess again!
What are those stains?
The culprit is sweat, the chemical composition of which varies from one person to the next, depending on what that person has been eating and drinking, or medications he or she is taking. Now add drool, body oils, makeup, hair products transferred to the pillow from lying down with wet hair—all of these things over time discolor pillows. But why not the pillowcase? Because we launder them frequently so stains are banished quickly before they have a chance to become a problem.
But the pillow itself? When did you last launder yours? Hmmm …
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/bed-2453298_1280.jpg6661000Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-10-11 00:33:482019-11-23 08:33:22How to Get Yellow-Stained Bed Pillows White Again
It looks and feels for all the world like laundry detergent. White. Coarse. Powdery. Its real name is sodium carbonate, but this stuff also goes by soda ash, Na2CO3, and good old Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda.
A mineral mined from the vegetation in dry lake bottoms in the Middle East, kelp from Scotland and seaweed from Spain, this all-natural miracle-in-a-box is used to make glass, bricks, paper, rayon, and toothpaste. It cleans silver and softens water.
Washing soda and I go way back. For years, I have added washing soda to the washer for cleaner, whiter, brighter laundry. It’s one of the key ingredients in our homemade laundry detergent.
More recently, I am discovering that washing soda is much more than a laundry detergent booster. With a powerful pH of 11, washing soda acts as a solvent all around the house, garage. Sodium carbonate removes dirt, grime, greasy build-up and a range of stains. Best of all, depending on the source, sodium carbonate is cheap.
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/washing-soda.jpg469565Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-10-09 00:27:072020-01-04 10:25:5310 Ways Washing Soda Will Make Your Life Easier
I’m not proud to admit it, but there was a time that I would’ve rather shoved toothpicks under my fingernails than be bothered with making my own homemade laundry detergent. Are you kidding me? Why on earth would I do that? I’m happy to live in modern times, not the stone age for goodness’ sake!
Oh my, how arrogant and ignorant I was. And deeply, horribly in debt to prove it. Long story short, I learned how to cut expenses—to scrimp where it doesn’t matter in order have what matters most. And yes, I most willingly learned to make my own homemade laundry detergent for cheap—less than a nickel a load, giving up spending $ .35 or even $.50 a load for the ready-made options. And I got paid off a massive amount of credit card debt, now happily debt-free with more joy than I can possibly express.
Look, I’m not saying that making laundry detergent is going to get you out of debt. That one move on its own will, at best, make a small dent in your weekly grocery tab. But add that to hundreds of other changes (hang around me with and I’ll teach you), and your life will change in dramatic ways. Just think about it.
In the meantime let me show you how quick and easy it is to do this:
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/PicMonkey-Image-1.png424848Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-09-27 00:30:232019-10-10 08:50:47How to Make the Best Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
To make one quart powdered laundry detergent, you need these items:
32-ounce or larger container with lid
1 (5-oz.) bar Fels Naptha laundry bar
2 cups (14 oz. ) borax
1 3/4 cups (14 oz.) washing soda
Three ingredients required for homemade laundry detergent powder.
This product is available in the laundry aisle of many supermarkets and department stores like Walmart and Target, and the soap I use in powdered detergent. However, you may prefer to substitute with 5 oz. of a similar product such as ZOTE, Dr. Bronner’s Castile bar or Ivory.
You can find Twenty-Mule Team borax, or any brand of borax, in the laundry aisle of your supermarket or a department store like Walmart or Target.
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) is the brand of washing soda available in many supermarkets and stores like Walmart and Target and online.
An alternative to branded washing soda is soda ash (also just plain sodium carbonate). Soda ash is the generic form and exactly the same thing as Super Washing Soda (not to be confused with baking soda) and is used in swimming pools to fix the ph. It’s readily available in pool supply stores or even larger department stores that carry pool chlorine and so forth, or online.
Grate the entire bar Fels Naptha or other laundry bar soap using the fine side of a cheese grater.
The pile is the result of grating one full soap bar. The wrapped bar in the back is a prop, and good to have on hand for the next batch.
Pour grated soap, borax, and washing soda into a large mixing bowl.
It’s not cheese!
Stir to mix well then transfer mixture to quart-size or larger container. Apply the lid and label (which, clearly, I failed to do before snapping this photo!)
This is how it looks mixed up and ready to go. Just one tablespoon is likely all you’ll need per wash load.
To use:Add 1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent to the wash load. You may need to adjust depending on your conditions and washer size. You will not need much to produce excellent results.
Pro-tip: This recipe for powdered laundry detergent multiples well. Shake or stir it a bit before each use to keep everything evenly distributed.
Frequently asked Questions
This recipes has, over the years, prompted many questions from my readers. What follows are those asked most frequently:
Which is better, the liquid or powdered version, and why?
That’s a tough question because there are so many variables. I prefer the liquid version because my HE washer uses so little water, I find the powdered version doesn’t dissolve well. That’s why I recommend powder users to throw the powder into the washer itself (not the dispenser) first, before the clothes. Now it will get hit with water first, giving it more time to dissolve and get to work. The liquid version does involve a few more steps which is why some readers do prefer it.
Can I use homemade laundry detergent in HE washer?
Yes. Both this powdered and the liquid version are non-sudsing, even though they contain soap. What makes the HE-compatible is that the soap becomes highly diluted. Remember that this homemade detergent—either version—is not going to produce bubbles or suds. If you need that to be satisfied, you won’t like these recipes! The proof for how well they work is in the dirty water you’ll see. It’s amazing that so little homemade detergent can produce such great results.
Won’t borax, washing soda or Fels-Naptha void my washer’s warranty?
Please consult your owner manual. While many manufacturers recommend a specific brand of detergent because they have marketing partnerships with major brands, I have yet to see where any warranty was put at risk in writing for using borax, washing soda, Fels-Naptha or another laundry bar soap in the machine.
I’ve used all of those products including white vinegar (1 cup in the final rinse) by the gallon in my machines and have never had a repair issue, let alone warranty problem. However, please make this determination for yourself. I cannot guarantee your outcome.
Are these recipes fragrance-free?
Technically, no. Dawn does have some amount of fragrance as does Fels-Naptha. But again, compared to fragranced commercial brands of laundry detergent, it’s minuscule. Remember the dilution with these recipes. You can substitute ZOTE laundry bar soap for the Fels-Naptha, which is all-natural and fragrance-free.
How much should I use per load?
Start with 1 tablespoon. And do not judge the outcome by the number of bubbles and suds you can observe during the wash cycle. Know now that you will see none.
Do I still need to pretreat stains, or will these recipes take care of that?
Absolutely, you need to pretreat stains. Without question. You have many very effective options: Dawn, Lestoil, Soilove, Fels-Naptha (dampen a corner of a Fels-Naptha bar and rub it into the stain). Treating stains ahead of time is another reason you can use so very little detergent in the wash load.
Why has this homemade detergent turned my white things gray and towels stiff and stinky?
Remember what I said about learning things the hard way? This is it. I know from experience that using too much detergent will make white things dingy, and towels and other items stiff, scratchy, and stinky too. The problem is the detergent you’ve added to the wash cycle was too much to get rinsed out fully.
Detergents build up in fabrics and become breeding grounds for bacteria. Those bacteria and all that build-up of detergent create that grayish color and the stink, too.
Why should I bother to make my own laundry detergent?
Two reasons: You’ll save a ton of money and you’ll know what’s in it. These days, many laundry detergents and softening products are laden with harsh chemicals and overpowering fragrance. And compared to the basic ingredients that go into them, they’re expensive!
Over the past 20 years, the price of ingredients for homemade detergent has pretty much held steady. I can still make my own for less than a nickel a washload. Compare that to these currently published prices for popular commercial options:
Tide Pods $.34/load
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day $.20/load
Kirkland Ultra Clean liquid $.20/load
Kirkland Laundry Powder $.16/load
Can I use these recipes to wash clothes in cold water?
Yes. However, I prefer the liquid option with cold water as there is much less product that needs to get dissolved for the detergent to work well.
First published: 5-13-13; Most Recent Update: 9-30-19
Powdered Laundry Detergent
Making laundry detergent is easy, cheap, and effective in standard and HE washers. Save money and avoid harsh chemicals with this ORIGINAL recipe and procedure for making powdered homemade laundry detergent. It is so good and costs less than 5 cents per load.
Grate the entire bar Fels Naptha (or other laundry bar soap (Note 1) using the fine side of a cheese grater.
Pour grated soap, borax, and washing soda into a large mixing bowl.
Stir to mix well then transfer mixture to quart-size or larger container (Note 4). Apply the lid and label clearly.
To Use:Add 1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent to the wash load. You may need to adjust depending on your conditions and washer size. You will not need much to produce excellent results.
Note 1: Or ZOTE, Dr. Bronner's Castile Bar, or Ivory.Note 2: Twenty-Mule Team Borax is one brand, which is available in the laundry products aisle of most supermarkets and stores like Walmart and Target. Note 3: Super Washing Soda is a brand name by Arm & Hammer. The product is sodium carbonate (not the same as baking soda). Soda ash is its generic name and much cheaper! Buy soda ash in swimming pool supply stores, or online for a fraction of the cost. Note 4: Alternatively, you can pour the mixture into your blender or food processor to create a fine powder that will dissolve more readily in a cold water wash cycle. It's a messy process because you'll create a lot of dust needs to settle before proceeding. Be careful not to breathe that fine powder that will be produced.Pro-tip:This recipe for powdered laundry detergent multiples well. Shake or stir it a bit before each use to keep everything evenly distributed.Pro-tip:This recipe for powdered laundry detergent multiples well. Shake or stir it a bit before each use to keep everything evenly distributed.
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/125367040_s.jpg848565Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-09-27 00:27:162019-10-10 08:50:47How to Make the Best Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent
Laundry challenges, it seems, come in every size, shape, and intensity. Rather than thinking there is no solution for that stain, shrunken item or another laundry disaster, consider the ways you can recover and renew situations gone bad.
Photo credit: Northpole.com
Honey, I shrunk your sweater
Don’t be too quick to toss out that favorite sweater that just got shrunk in the hot wash or went through the dryer accidentally set to hot. Chances are good you can unshrink it if you move quickly:
In a large container, make a solution one-gallon lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons baby shampoo. Soak the shrunken garment in the solution for about 10 minutes until totally saturated. Now the important part: Don’t rinse! Simply blot out all the excess water with a dry towel and very gently lay it flat on a fresh towel. Reshape slowly and carefully as you stretch it back to its original size. Dry away from direct sunlight or heat.
This technique will work provided the fibers have not become permanently damaged, or “felted.”
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/shunken-sweater.jpg462800Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-09-19 06:01:242019-10-07 14:07:04Laundry Problems, Mistakes, and Mysteries—and How to Solve Them
In the laundry room, most of us are prone to overkill. We want beautifully clean, brilliantly white, soft, and fluffy laundry results. And we don’t measure. We pour stuff out of jugs, straight into the washer, often adding a second big glug just to make sure.
We use liquid fabric softener by the gallon and dryer sheets by the hundreds because there’s no such thing as too soft when it comes to towels and sheets. And when things come out looking gray, and feeling stiff and crunchy, what do we do? More detergent, more softener—even more dryer sheets!
The problem is product build-up that never gets rinsed out. Every time you do the laundry, more and more product gets left behind. This build-up of detergent and softeners can make appliances stink, colors look dingy, whites turn gray and linens feel stiff and scratchy. Towels, especially, can turn sour and stinky no matter how much you re-wash and re-soften. The detergent and softeners that aren’t properly rinsed away begin to harbor odor-causing bacteria. The washing machine gets stinky, too. But that’s not the worst.
The medical website, WebMD.com reports that the perfumes and additives in laundry products may cause skin problems—from itchiness to full-blown dermatitis. Fabric softeners are very allergenic and can cause eczema, which can appear as dry, flaky, chronically itchy skin.
Dryer sheets contain volatile organic compounds like acetaldehyde and butane, which can cause respiratory irritation. Fabric softener chemicals known as quaternary ammonium compounds have been linked to asthma. Acetone, also used in dryer sheets, can cause nervous system effects like headaches or dizziness. Read more
https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/100616image.jpg403565Mary Hunthttps://www.everydaycheapskate.com/wp-content/uploads/EC-Logo-by-Mary-Hunt-Tagline-Trimmed-833x159.pngMary Hunt2019-08-12 00:01:412019-10-09 08:41:03Fabric Softeners are the Problem Not the Solution
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