Laundry Alternatives

Let’s talk Laundry

Our clothes get dirty and laundry is simply a chore that must be done.  But why pay the high cost of laundry detergents and fabric softeners when you can very easily make your own for a fraction of the cost.  There are numerous recipes on line that will suit whatever you prefer.  There are liquids, gels and powders.  I prefer the liquid or gels as the soap is already dissolved, but again it is just a matter of preference.  All the recipes work in cold water, so you will also save energy by not heating water.  There are a few tips I picked up in my research that naturally aid in the creation of cleanier, fresher laundry.

Tip #1: Eliminate Fabric Softeners

Commercial Fabric Softeners leave a residue and build up on your clothes and fabrics.  To remove this and leave fabrics soft and clean use the following:

Use 1/2 to 1 cup of Distilled White Vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of liquid fabric softener.  Vinegar naturally eliminates the soap residue from your clothes, acts as a natural static eliminator and leaves no scent.  Clothes are naturally soft and will actually last longer with no residue from detergents or fabric softeners on them.  I use an old Downy fabric softener ball and fill it with white vinegar.  That way I don’t have to catch the washer on the rinse cycle.  If you have a fabric softener receptacle on your washer you can put it directly in when you load your detergent and clothes.  You can also add a few drops of essential oil (whatever fragrance you prefer) to the vinegar in the ball or in the receptacle to add some scent.

White vinegar is also a great hair rinse.  It removes buildup and shampoo residue.  Use a tablespoon in a cup of water and rinse away all the gunk!

Tip #2:  Eliminate Bleach

Bleach is highly caustic and very bad for clothes.  It deteriorates the fibers and causes premature wear to fabrics.  If you are trying to get rid of gray or yellow tinge in your whites, try using a bluing agent, like Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing. Check out the website for information on bluing agents.  They also have a really cool crystal garden made from salt, a great project for kids.

Adding Hydrogen Peroxide will aid in getting out stains especially blood.  Add 1/2 to 1 cup directly to the wash cycle (you can add to the bleach dispenser or add once the water tub has filled), don’t pour directly on clothes (unless they are white) or you may experience fading or color loss).

Tip #3:  Soften your water to aid in cleaning power

If you have hard water or your clothes are looking dingy, add 1/2 to 1 cup of Baking Soda to your washer when you add your detergent.  This will soften the water which will aid in the effectiveness of the detergent.

I like the smell of citrus, especially Orange, Tangerine, Lemon & Lime.  Buy good quality essential oils for the best fragrance and the longest lasting.  There are numerous uses for them, you can use them in diffusers with reeds for decoration and air freshening, in homemade cleaning products, in your laundry, in water on the stove to add fragrance to the air, in potpourri, etc.  Good quality oils will stand up to heat in the dryer and in homemade candles.

Tip #4 Heat in winter with your dryer and in Summer use the hot air from your attic to save energy, too!

In the winter this is a great way to add heat and moisture to your home.  Unhook the hose from your dryer vent going outside.  Wrap a nylon stocking around the end of the hose and secure to the hose.  Turn on the dryer and save heating costs!  Note:  make sure there is nothing blocking the hose so the air can flow freely out and don’t do this without the nylon stocking as you’ll get lint dust all over the place!

In summer, hook your air discharge hose back up to the outside dryer vent.  Make an adapter (my husband is working on the plans for this now and I will post as soon as I get them) for the air intake on your dryer and run a hose to the attic.  It will pull the hot air from the attic into your dryer and save energy as the heating element will not work as hard in your dryer!

Of course, you could always really save money by eliminating the dryer and hanging your clothes out to dry.  You can hang them outside, in your tub or get a clothes horse and hang them in a spare room.  You’ll save tons of money as dryers are huge energy consumers.  You may have to go back to the good old fashioned iron for wrinkle removal, but the savings may be worth it!  (I make my husband iron, as I tend to iron in more wrinkles than I get out!)

Tip #5 Keep your closets fresh smelling

Add some essential oil to some potpourri pearls, or potpourri.  Put them in an old nylon stocking and hang in your closet.  Your closet will smell wonderful and your clothes will remain fresher.  You can do the same in dresser drawers to keep clothes from getting that old musty smell.  You can easily reuse the potpourri by simply adding more essential oil every few weeks or whenever the scent vanishes from the stocking.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

OMG!  THIS IS BETTER THAN ANY COMMERCIAL DETERGENT I’VE EVER USED!  CLOTHES GET CLEAN AND SMELL FRESH AND WONDERFUL!

Total Cost to Buy items to make detergent:  $7.96

  • 1 Box of Borax = $2.98 (Walmart)
  • 2 Boxes Baking Soda = $1.00 (Dollar Store)
  • 10 Pack Ivory Soap = $3.98

Cost for One Batch (2 gallons)  $1.75

  • 2 cups of Borax = $0.60
  • 1  1/4 Boxes Baking Soda = $0.75
  • 1 Bar Ivory Soap = $0.40

If you use 1/2 cup per load, you will get 64 loads from 1 batch.  That means it will cost approximately 2.7 cents per load!!!!!  Compare that to my previous detergent which was $13.97 for 1.25 gallons.  It was 2x’s concentrated so I only used 1/4 cup, still giving me 64 loads, however, it comes out to 21.8 cents per  load.  I will save about 19 cents per load…and $12.22 total.

I got this from and Instructables.com post and changed it up a bit…the original is at http://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Gel-Laundry-Detergent/

My Recipe ended up as follows:

Ingredients you will need:

  • 2 Gallons plus 1 quart Water
  • 2 cups Baking Soda (original called for Super Washing Soda which I couldn’t find
  • 1 Bar Ivory Soap (original called for Fels Napthar which I couldn’t find)
  • 2 cups Borax (it will usually say 20 mule team on the box)

The original recipe called for Washing Soda (sodium carbonate) which I could not find.  I had Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) which can be made into sodium carbonate changing the chemical composition as follows:

  • Preheat Oven to 450 degress
  • Spread two cups baking soda on cookie sheet
  • When oven is preheated, Bake for 30 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Baking Soda is now sodium carbonate.

Take the bar of Ivory Soap and grate using the smallest grater holes.  You will have approximately 2 cups of shredded soap.  Put the soap into a large pot (I use a 12 quart stock pot).  Add 4 cups cold water (1 quart).  Bring to a boil and stir frequently.  Keep an eye on it as it could suds up and bubble over.  Meanwhile, pour 2 cups of Borax into your bucket/pail.  Add the Sodium Carbonate you baked to the Borax and mix thoroughly.    When the soap and water comes to a boil and all the soap is melted, carefully pour into the pail and mix until all lumps are gone and mixture is smooth.  It will be thick.  Add 1 gallon of room temperature water and mix thoroughly again.  Add 1 gallon of water and mix throughly again.   You will have approximately 2 gallons of detergent.  I used a funnel and put into an old All 1.25 gallon container I had that has a spout on it.  I put the leftover in a large Folgers Platstic Coffee Can.  You can put it any any airtight container(s) you have.  Use 1/2 cup for a full load of laundry.

Additional Tips that I used and they worked like a charm!

  • If clothes are extremely dirty or if washing whites add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide to the wash cycle.
  • If you have a downy ball, fill it with distilled white vinegar.  You can also add a few drops of essential oil of your choice at this time.  I added a great scent I found at walmart that is a combination of Orange, Pineapple and Mango.
  • If you do not have a downy ball, I highly suggest getting one.  Vinegar is a great fabric softener and it does not smell like vinegar when clothes are done.   If you don’t have a ball or a fabric softener dispenser, add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to your rinse cycle and add your essential oil at this time also.
  • Once wash is completed, place clothes in dryer (no softener sheet needed).  Your clothes will be wonderfully soft and will smell amazingly fresh!   (My husband even commented on how nice the sheets smelled when he went to bed!)

One Response to “Laundry Alternatives”

  1. MY QUEST TO GO GREEN « Off the Grid & Countryfried Says:

    […] made homemade laundry detergent (click to go to the page with the […]


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