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Laundry Detergent that works for Pennies


Laundry Detergent that works for Pennies

             . . . or Nickles, at least


You’re probably thinking . . . I can wash my clothes. Well, I’m here to tell you with a little extra care, your clothes will last much longer and fit much better.

Here are a few mistakes we all have made. Rather than bore you with paragraph after paragraph, there are just bullets. But, I’m guessing you’re smart enough to get the point.

  • Use the correct amount of detergent. Add extra only for heavily soiled loads & rinse twice
  • Use the correct water temperature. Cold works well for most items, hot only for sturdy whites
  • Read all the words on those dials & use them. Delicate and regular washes really are different.
  • Don’t over-do fabric softener. An appliance repairman once told me they are primarily made of lard. And Wikipedia confirms early formulas contained ‘tallow,’ but now they are some kind of salt compound . . .  whatever, too much and things get sticky. Go lightly.
  • Drip dry anything you want to last. Dryers are great for us, but deadly for fabric. I drip-dry lingerie, jeans, delicates, and all knits. Towels, sheets, sox & my guy’s boxers are about all that go in the dryer– and then on low heat. I’d rather dry longer than hotter.
  • Detergent: use as gentle as possible. I’ve been making my own detergent for nearly a year now– with good results.

Don’t you think, if something’s going to work, it should work right from the get go– whether it’s face cream, someone who cleans the yard, or detergent?

Case in point: face cream. I bought some that promised you’d see results in 18 days. $58 for a 2 ounce jar with a little blue daisy on the side. They compared their cream to another brand that cost $1000 for 1.7 ounces. Yes, dear one, one thousand Benjamins and that extrapolates out to $94.11 a pound. I have a calculator. I know.

They said if I put their cream on my skin a minimum of eight hours a day for 18 days, my wrinkles would be gone. Of course, I believed them. It was on the internet.

I used it religiously morning and night. That’s 24 hours a day on my skin. Quite frankly, my wrinkles should have been gone in six days. Four months later? The wrinkles are still there. Can’t really tell a difference at all. They’re not worse, for sure. But, they got my $58.

If I hire someone to work for me. I want to know about them. We don’t have to be kissing cousins, but I’d like to say, ‘This is someone I know.’ So, while here, we’ll chat. And I get that life happens. But, on the other hand, if start time is 9 am. That doesn’t mean 9:20. Or 10. Not being a pill here about the issue, just pointing out my opinion.

With detergent, I’ll give it a bit of time. Not because I’m more accommodating, but I get it that there can be different kinds of dirt and stains on different fabrics, so I’ll give soap a few washes to determine whether or not it will work.

Except for my guy. He didn’t have but one chance. If he hadn’t been good to my kids and I hadn’t watched him be good to his kids, then he didn’t have a chance with me. Sadly, now, my kids and dogs all like him better. Which may or may not be a bad thing. Depending what they’re wanting.

But with clothes, there can be all different kinds of issues. Mild dirt. Deep, greasy dirt. Hard working clothes. Delicate fabrics. They all need individual attention.

Truthfully, the more expensive, delicate items, I’ll take to the dry cleaners or wash by hand. But, for everyday cleaning– it’s still expensive to buy towels, sheets, jeans and all the other items in my laundry basket, so a little attention can make something last much longer.

I want a detergent that does its job as promised (and they all lie), is gentle, and reasonably priced. I’ve bought some of those high-end, ‘green’ detergents and wasn’t impressed. Other brands were too strong or didn’t work. Then, I ran across this recipe. It seems to be on every website that posts a detergent recipe. There’s very little difference in them.

As I said, I’ve been using this almost a year now. I’d give it a A-. (If it were perfect and got out every single stain, then it’d get an A. Or even an A+ if there was a genie in the bottle to do it for me.)


1 box Borax

1 box Arm & Hammer Washing Soda   * WASHING soda, not baking soda

1 box Oxyclean

2 bars Fels-Naptha Soap

Shred Fels-Naptha soap, mix all in large pot, store in air tight container. Use 2 tablespoons per average laundry load.

End of story.


Laundry soap 3


This is what it looks like in my pot. I use a large stainless pot I normally use for boiling lobsters. This makes enough for us for about six months. Probably more, but I keep giving it away in zip baggies. The white powder underneath is everything but the Fels-Naptha. The yellow is the Fels-Naptha bars shredded in my food processor. It comes out looking kind of like gravel.

 Laundry soap 2


Mix everything very well and store in an air tight container. I put mine in an old pretzel jar. I use a long-handled, 2-tablespoon coffee scoop to add it to my machine. It works in both front or top load washers. There’s very little sudsing, so don’t think it’s not working. 


Laundry soap 1


One last note:

The Fels-Naptha runs about $1 at Walmart and $1.19 at Publix.

The Borax, Soda, and OxyClean run about $4-6 each.

That jar you see above cost less than $20 to make.

You’ll see some recipes that call for Downey Unstoppables or Purex Crystals. I tried these. They smell delightful in the jar. I thought I detected a nice fragrance on a blanket I washed. Maybe my smelling sense is stunted. But, at an additional $1.00 per load, that’s expensive fabric perfume. I don’t add these to mine, but feel free to add whatever fragrance you like.

And if you find a machine and detergent that will sort, wash, dry and fold, let me know.


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