Your questions answered: Laundry detergents

Even though it's still cold here in our part of Ohio, I'm getting anxious to start using my outdoor clothesline again! :) Here are a couple of questions I received about laundry detergent:

Do you still make your detergent? I'm trying to be careful with money. I've been buying Purex, Xtra or Sun, but then I feel compelled to also use Arm and Hammer super washing soda. I don't know if I should just bite the bullet and buy expensive detergent. Could you tell me your opinion? I also wash in cold water. That's one reason I think I need an extra additive.

Yes, I do still make my own detergent, though I haven't made any since Ruth was born. I'm presently using some Arm and Hammer detergent that was given to us, and I also have some packets of Tide free samples to use.

In the past, I've used all of the brands you mentioned and liked them just fine! As far as needing an additive -- well, I think that depends on just how dirty your clothing is. Our laundry really does come clean without additives, though I occasionally use a little bleach on our whites (maybe once every 3 months or so).

I think sometimes we tend to want to add more soap, more boosters, more stuff to our washers because it makes us feel better, and not because it's necessary. I especially found this to be the case with me and my cloth diapers, which only need an amazingly tiny amount of detergent. :)

And, from personal experience, the Washing Soda can be rather harsh on fabrics. You're probably not sprinkling it directly on your laundry, but still be careful. :) I use is sparingly -- like I do with bleach. :)

Lori also emailed me asking:

I read your idea on just using borax and washing soda for your laundry soap. I have a question for you on how you made it since this is the first time I am venturing into the homemade soap field. Did you use boiling water to dissolve the powder or just regular water hot water? How have the long term results of this have been?
I did heat my water on the stove, since our hot tap water isn't extremely hot. Some people don't even dissolve their borax, grated bar soap, and washing soda before using -- they just sprinkle it in the washer. I haven't tried that myself, since I often use cold water for laundry.

I haven't done anything scientific, and I also haven't used exclusively homemade detergent for a long period of time, so I hesitate to comment on long-term results. I honestly think I like store-bought detergent better than my homemade, even if just for the scent. ;) I make my own detergent to save money. :)


I have made home made laundry detergent, and while I saved money, and I felt really good about it, after about a month, my clothing was very dingy.

I also had a problem with not being able to get rid of the smell in armpits.

I use Aldi's Tandil. It is the same thing as Tide, and then I use ½ of the smallest amount called for. 1 jug lasts me about 2-3 months, and I do 12 loads of laundry a week.

I also use 1 c. of vinegar for my rinse. I scent this with essential oils.

We don't own a dryer either, so I too, am longing for warmer weather here in Ohio.

I have made home made laundry detergent before, and while it saved me money and I felt really good about doing it, after about a month, all my clothing began to look dingy. Especially the whites.

I also had trouble with not being able to get out armpit smell.

I use Aldi's Tandil. It is the same thing as Tide. I also use about ½ the smallest amount called for, so 1 jug lasts me about 2-3 months doing 12 loads a week.

We don't own a dryer either, so I use 1 c. of vinegar scented with essential oils for rinse.

Is this detergent High Efficiency? It doesn't say on he bottle that it is. The box that contains jugs of tandil does say he but not on the actual bottle. Does anyone know if it is he detergent.

I have made homemade laundry soap and have never been happy with it, everything looked dingy after a couple of washings. I went back to my Tide (the only one that I can use without skin problems either for me or dh) even with his filthy work clothes Tide gets them clean! I do use Oxiclean too because it works so well.

I use homemade laundry powder, and cold water exclusively, and I've never once found undisolved powder crystals.

I've made it with Borax, Washing Soda, and grated Irish Spring; and with Borax, Washing Soda, and Sun powdered detergent.

I use ~2 TB per load, and my clothes come out very clean. I'm pretty picky about my laundry, and towels & whites get an extra rinse cycle just to make sure all the germs & chemicals are gone.

I've been doing this almost a year, and have noticed no extra wear on our clothes.

I love Charlie's Soap (available online). My daughter started using it first since it was good for diapers and one of her children is highly sensitive to any fragrance in soap.

One nice thing about Charlie's, once you've used it for awhile (and all detergent gets out of your clothes), you rarely need fabric softener. That saves money. I now only keep it for when I wash sweaters or items that I know have a lot of static cling.

There are only three of us at home now so I find one package can last me six months.

After reading that you omitted the bar soap due to rinsing issues, I looked at your tutorial closely and opted to just mix the borax and washing soda and leave it as a powder. I use between 1-2 tablespoons of the powder and then a bit of Tide and have been mostly happy with the results. My husband farms and works with cattle, though, so his work clothes get more of both!

I have not yet found the magic combination to get my diapers as clean as I'd like, though. I use pocket diapers and microfiber inserts - which I *love* for diapering purposes. I try to be sparing with the borax/WS because I think they are harsh but help get things clean, and I try to use enough Tide that they come out clean but not too much that it doesn't rinse well. I give my covers a sniff when they come out of the wash, and it seems that probably every third time I wash diapers, I end up running them through another cycle.

But, living in the middle of nowhere, I have found that extra cycles are worth not having to either make a trip to the nearest town to buy overpriced disposables or making a longer trip to the nearest small city to buy disposables.

We did before, but found we did not like the results from it.
I though have a front loading washer that uses very little soap and I bought a large jug that usually will do 150 loads I think and since I have a front loader it will do twice that amount. It was a healthy for you one from Costco, not Kirkland, some other brand, I bought it in July and I am so happy with it! It was $11 and is a little more than half gone.

I've been making our detergent for 4 years now. Borax, washing soda, and grated fels naptha or Ivory. I don't boil it ... I just keep it dry. And I wash all our stuff in cold water only. I do still need a bit of bleach in the whites every now and again ... but I don't mind that cuz you get that even with storebought detergent. The only time I've EVER had a problem with undissolved detergent was when my husband did our laundry and he used too much of the detergent.

I haven't noticed any extra wear on our clothes ... everything comes out very clean (and that's even when our girl, who's 4 now, would have blowouts all up the back when she was a baby!) ... and most times I've found we don't even need to use fabric softener sheets (actually, during winter when washing lots of sweatshirts and sweaters is the only time we need 'em). I like it MUCH better than storebought and love how it saves us a lot of money (there's only 3 of us right now ... baby #2 due in Sept. though ... and we only have to do laundry once a week, though we do use a washer at the laundrymat that holds 3 loads in one)


Will it sufficiently remove grease stains form food. Some of my kids are messy eaters and too old for a bib hence the grease stains! That has always been my issue with cheap store bought as well. I always needed to use spray and wash in combination. now I switched to tide and the results a great BUT the cost is also "great" unfourtounately and you can imagine how much laundry dtergent I go through for a family of 10!!!!

We've been making laundry soap for quite a while. I make the dry version (1 bar of fels naptha + 1/2 cup washing soda + 1/2 cup borax). We make a batch a couple times a year for around $15-20 and that lasts us for 6 months (family of 8). I find it is easier in the summer, though, so this summer I plan to do a full year's worth of soap at once. My key to success is to buy the bars of soap well in advance (a month or more) and unwrap them so they are very dried out. I then cut them into cubes and let them dry a little longer--this is why I prefer summer, the soap gets really dried out. Then I grind them into a fine powder using my food processor. If they are not fully dry, the soap still says in small chunks, but if the soap is very dry, it blends well with the other ingredients and dissolves quite nicely in the washer.

I made a huge batch of homemade laundry soap. The results were just fine. I used it all and had no problems. Have been too lazy to make a new batch even though I have everything on hand. I've found Arm & Hammer on sale cheap enough that I haven't minded just buying it. With the cost of everything going up so much I will probably get motivated to make more to help with the summer entertainment bills [i.e. trip to water park, camping etc]

If you are a CVSer (see Crystal over at!), Tide is on sale for $4.99 every 6-8 weeks. According to my price book, this is BY FAR the cheapest around here! It is a 32 load bottle. Regular and HE brands.

And if you buy it on ECBs, it's free!



I've always known Tide to be rather harsh on clothes, especially on colors.

Has anyone else found this to be true?

I have found Tide to be harsh on skin. I don't like the toxic smell either.

Well for me it hasn't been harsh on clothes only on the stains!! But the price is rather harsh!

I made the powdered version, using Fels Naptha, Borax, and washing soda and was not too fond of it. The detergent dissolved just fine but did not find it too effective on cleaning. Some of the clothes came out of the dryer with stains and I had to prespot them and place them back in the hamper... not too frugal to have to wash them again. Also, some odors still lingered on some of my pet blankets, socks, rags, etc.
I decided to but some Costco Kirland detergent which came to $.07 a load and so far I have been happy with it. I will try to keep everyone updated. Thank you Tammy for your wonderful website.

Does anyone have any experience using hydrogen peroxide or another homemade, safe whitener to whiten their whites? I've never used bleach, but it sort of freaks me out (staining other clothes). Thanks!

Yes, Hydrogen peroxide works well for many things not just laundry. It is great at dissinfecting counters, scrapes etc. If you get blood on clothes put some on and rub and it will dissapear. I work in health care and use on our scrubs.. It is great at getting whites white. use as you would bleach 1 cup. If you have really dingy whites put it in soak cycle for 30 min and then wash. Also, no smell either just fresh whiter whites. DO NOT put in with your colored clothes could pull the color out of clothes...most purex 2 ie color safe bleach is hydrogen peroxide based..For our family this works and a much safer alternative..

I thought about making my own, but I read how borax isn't really that natural?

Anyhow, I used Charlie's Soap for a while, but it didn't clean our clothes that well. Then started to give horrible blisters to my daughter in cloth. So that's gone. After everything, Tide Free worked the best. Since she's potty trained, I just go some Aldi's Tandil. Seems like it works great, but has a really strong smell. I'll try using a lot less of it like one of the first posters said!

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

User login

Subscribe for free recipes, menu plans, and kitchen tips!