Feb 22, 2016

Laundry Room Talk: Homemade Laundry Detergent Essentials & Tips

Hello it's Monday!
Here at Hibiscus House the first thing that comes to mind is today is "Laundry Day". That might not be the whole truth because the first thing that comes to mind is a great cup of coffee and then laundry!  Join me today as we tackle the subject of making our own laundry detergent.

It's funny but when thinking of a home my first thought has been, "Where can I put my clothes line?". I know not many people think of that now-a-days, but it has been instilled in me from childhood. Watching my mama wash and hang out our laundry was a fun time.  Fun for me at least but she worked really hard with seven of us at home.

I was a little slow getting into the making of my own laundry detergent but have experimented for over three years trying to find just the right combination for the water and the laundry we have around here. Keep in mind that is what you will have to do as well.  A little experimentation can add up to a cleaner wash.

Printable List
Last week we discussed some of the types of soaps that can be used in the making of laundry detergents.

Today we talk about some other essentials used in making your own detergent.

Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

Do not Confuse this with Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.  They are different forms and don't do the same thing.  A natural detergent booster and freshener that can be used around the home. You can read a little about it here Arm & Hammer

One box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda 55 oz. = Approximately 6 cups

20 Mule Team BORAX

Borax, a detergent booster raises the level of PH level of water closer to neutral.  In other words it softens the water.
It is also a natural alternative to ColorSafe Bleach.

Sodium Borate was discovered in Death Valley in 1881.  Click here see the complete "History" as well as more information about this product!

One box 20 Mule Team Borax 65 oz. = Approximately 9 cups


Although not essential in some hard water will be helped with it's addition to your detergents.
It is pretty essential to mine.  

Arm & Hammer Baking Soda

This is the product we all have in our homes and is what I was telling you about earlier not to be confused with Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.  It has many uses around the home and you can read more about it Here.  Other uses Here.
It does make your water even softer and I do add it to my mixtures!  You know I buy in bulk so buy the largest most reasonably priced and store for all kinds of household uses.

Oxi-Clean Stain Remover

This product is activated and works best with warm or hot water.  Oxygen is released and tackles the stains (not the fabric it says).  I find in some dark loads washed in cold water it doesn't dissolve so they tell the truth it works best in warm or hot.  Also I've found that when used exclusively in dark loads it fades.  My own personal findings.  That is the reason I make some of my detergents without and some with for different types of laundry.  You will have to have more containers to hold them but worth it in the long run.
This makes me remember my all time favorite store bought laundry detergent, Oxydol.  Does anyone out there remember that detergent? 
Read more about Oxi-Clean Here

Fragrance Crystals

Fragrance Crystals of some sort may be added to your detergent.  Recently I found one at Sam's Wholesale that had a softener included and it makes the detergent smell wonderful.  The added softener was definitely a plus.  I can't seem to find the correct picture of the particular item I used, but will post when I find it.  I hesitated adding these things because it makes for more chemicals in your wash and takes away from the natural aspect of your detergent. 

Essential Oils

Essential Oils are a more natural way to add scent to your laundry detergent.  I don't recommend grapefruit because of heart patients and individuals with medications that don't mix well with it.  You can experiment with these therapeutic or food grade essential oils to be safe.  

Homemade Laundry Scent Booster

I have a Homemade Laundry Scent Booster that you can make and add to your wash. It works quite well and is the most viewed post on DollyisCooking.com. Simple to make with epsom salts and essential oils or flavorings.  I find that Watkins Flavorings work best because they are double strength and not expensive at all.  Directions Here should you desire to make that.

I have to tell you there are enough combinations and variations on the internet to fill a house full of files, some good, and some not so good.  Some of the first ones that I tried and thought were doing good actually were not good at all.  I found that my husbands whites especially his undershirts were just plain dingy around the neck.  Some garments had a gray tint to them and no amount of extra detergent helped to clean them.

Most homemade detergents call for using 2 tablespoons which basically is 1/8 cup of detergent.  I find that I have to use 1/4 cup that is what works best of my dirtiest of loads.

I found that with the Oxi-Clean added and used in extremely dark articles some had a tendency to fade.  The ingredients are tough stain fighters as it is so I make up some with Oxi-Clean and some without always.  The added works quite well with whites.  Then when I notice the whites getting dingy I do occasionally add a little chlorine bleach.  I find I only have to do that rarely because the combinations clean excellently.

I eventually came up with some mixtures that work for me, it took some adjusting of ingredients and time to review how each worked.  I have a top loading machine.  You may have to use less for your HE machines.

I make a Gentle/Baby in a liquid and in powder form.  The powder works great on gentle and baby, the liquid is fairly new and I am using it on hand wash items only.  The rest of my detergents are in powder because for me at least the homemade liquid detergents just don't get my laundry clean.  I think that will be a project to work on for later.  I'll find one and when I do will share with you.

It's really pretty simple really making these cleaners.  Think of it as using a recipe to cook something, you aren't scared of doing that so don't let this frighten you.


  1. Wear a Mask When Grating Soaps and Mixing with other Ingredients!
  2. Use a grater for the soaps that works quickly.  I use my KitchenAid Grater Attachment.  Grate a lot of soap while grating and store unused in sealed plastic bags for easy detergent making next time.  You know like an assembly line.  Work smarter not harder.
  3. Use a food processor to finely grind the soap with washing soda and borax. The finer you grind the better your homemade detergent will dissolve in wash, even in cold water.  One of the most complaints I read about were mine won't dissolve in cold water.  Remember grate/chop finely and you'll have no problem.
  4. Store finished detergent in container with a lid.  Store leftover ingredients in airtight containers or at least tape the openings of the boxes shut to prevent hardening and clumping of them.
  5. Be patient try out your mixture and adjust as needed in time you too will learn what works for you.
  6. Keep ingredients on hand for making at any time.  I buy in bulk always so I don't encounter these problems much.  If you run out of products like this it will be a delight to have the things on hand to make your own. These ingredients can be used to make any number of cleaning products for your home.
A big plus is the homemade detergents cost so little to make you Will see a difference in your pocketbook!  I can promise you that!  I was shocked recently while walking down the detergent aisle at the prices!  My mouth flew open in amazement!

Soon publishing some of my DIY Making Laundry Detergents!

Until next time,


  1. I used to make my own laundry detergent but it doesn't work so well on hard, limestone water. It's back to Tide for me.

    1. I don't know about hard limestone water but would be glad to send you a sample of my heavy duty detergent if you'd like to try it. Just let me know.

  2. I will have to try this! I am starting to have a list!

    1. Alright Ginger Dawn! I'll be posting my most favorite concoctions for laundry soon, but the internet is full of what I call laundry detergent recipes! Let me know how they work out for you. It is a big money saver and you can know what you add without all of the chemicals! Have a great week!

  3. I too can't believe how much they charge for laundry soaps. I do have the washing soda, borax and bar soaps although I have not made my own yet. So far I watch for super sales and don't choose name brands but there will be a time when I start to make my own.

    1. You are so lucky to have the ingredients and if I know you you have some great buys stashed. You make me want to coupon again too..One day you may make your own and you'll enjoy those savings too.