Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Homemade Laundry Detergent Boosters

I love OxiClean. I use it every time I wash clothes. I have been buying it on sale and stocking up so I always have it.  Well, lately it hasn't been on sale and I am noticing the price keeps going up. (Is it just me or is the price of everything going up faster and faster?) Well, I finally put my foot down and said "No more!" I will no longer purchase OxiClean. I am going to have to use something else or make my own. 

That started my search for a homemade version. I have read about a few and decided to try the ones that sounded like they would work. I really wanted to use regular household items so I don't have to purchase any new ingredients and store a year's worth of something else. I have all these ingredients listed below in my food storage program now. 

Let me also add that I don't use commercial laundry detergent. I make my own. You can too! Here is the recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent
1 bar Fels Napa soap, grated (I use my own homemade soap. You can see that recipe as part of the series Make Your Own Soap. Here is the link to Part I: Make Your Own Soap, Part I   . The recipe for the laundry soap is listed in Part IV.
2 cups Washing Soda
2 cups Borax

I melt the soap in a few cups of boiling water and then add the washing soda and borax so it will dissolve. Place it all in an old liquid detergent laundry bottle and add warm water.  Use the biggest bottle/tub you can find. I use one of the super big bottles that sits on its side and has the spout.  If you don't have one of these, divide the concentrated recipe up among a couple of bottles, then add water. This makes a nice gel that dissolves well when you add the clothes.

Back to the stain removers, here's my research, results and comments:

Homemade OxiClean Recipe #1 (Overall Detergent Booster):
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup washing soda

I read that this recipe works best if the clothes are left to soak for a few hours. I decided to try it both ways: soaking and non-soaking. I used 2 loads of white clothes so I could compare to see if the soaking did any good. I only soaked for 30 minutes. The non-soaked clothes came out good, similar to when I add a scoop of OxiClean. The soaked clothes came out very bright! All I can say is WOW! I am impressed. I really didn't expect 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide in a full tub of water to do it, but it did! I also did a cost comparison on an ounce for ounce basis and the liquid hydrogen peroxide with washing soda is much, much cheaper than OxiClean. 

I also want to mention that I have, and use on occasion, Mrs. Stewart's Liquid Bluing. This stuff has been around since 1883. It works great if you have a stain on whites that is set and won't come out. (Hanging the item in the sun to dry will also help to remove a set stain.) I don't use the bluing that often. My bottle is a few years old and I haven't even used half of it yet. I did not use it in the test washes.

Homemade OxiClean Recipe #2 (Pre-Treat Specific Stains):
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup vinegar

I use OxiClean gel to pre-treat oily stains on our clothes. I get lots of them on the t-shirts I wear around the house.  (Teaspoons of fish oil are part of Molly's daily diet for her allergies and I usually end up squirting some on my shirts.) To make sure I was doing what I considered a 'fair' test, I treated one shirt with OxiClean gel, one shirt with Resolve spray and three shirts with the lemon/vinegar combo. Then I washed them together in the same load. These were fresh stains, I actually squirted the oil on the shirts so I could test this. I let the stain sit about 5 minutes. It took about 5 minutes to pull a new bottle of vinegar out of the storage closet, then I made the lemon/vinegar mix. So I guess all the stains sat about 10 minutes total before treating. I did not try this with 'old oil' stains because I didn't have any dirty t-shirts that were stained waiting to go into the wash. All the shirts came out clean.  All of them! I rubbed the lemon/vinegar mix in a bit. I didn't use any other laundry booster, nor did I use a scoop of OxiClean powder. Just my homemade detergent and the pre-treated clothes. This is another surprise for me. I honestly didn't expect the oily stains to come out.  I will no longer purchase OxiClean gel nor Resolve Pre-Treat! You can't find a cheaper stain fighter than lemon juice and vinegar! 

I am very pleased with my results. And thrilled that I found a cheaper way to get my clothes clean!

Here are some other laundry ideas I found while researching.  I haven't tried these yet:
  • Sponging stains with peroxide will remove many simple stains. Peroxide will not injure wool or silk and is not dangerous to use. It may affect the color of the material so test on the fabric first.
  • To remove coffee stains, mix the yolk of an egg with a little warm water. Rub on the stain with a sponge. For stains that have been set in, add a few drops of rubbing alcohol to the egg and water.
  • To remove candle wax, apply ice to the wax so it freezes (you can also put the item outside in a dry area in the winter). Chip off all the frozen wax you can. Lay brown paper over the wax and press with a medium hot iron. Move the paper as it absorbs the wax. Take care not to redeposit the wax in another area of the fabric. Continue as long as any wax shows up on the brown paper.
  • Perspiration stains are removed with a mix of vinegar and baking soda. Apply the vinegar, then sprinkle the baking soda on. While it is fizzing, scrub in gently with a brush.
  • Grass stains will dissolve with an application of rubbing alcohol.
  • For extra-dirty work clothes, add a cup of ammonia to the wash (do NOT add ammonia to any wash water that has bleach in it).
  • Vinegar and water will remove salt stains from shoes and boots.
What an easy way to go frugal!

April 2013 Update: I have discovered that the spot remover of lemon juice and vinegar is not as effective on old 'set in' grease stains as it is on fresh stains. I have been doing some more experimenting. I have found the lemon juice and vinegar stain remover is more effective when the item is washed in very hot water, when you use fresh lemon juice, and when allowed to soak into to the clothes overnight. Still, I am somewhat frustrated with it's performance. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. The search for a frugal stain remover continues...


  1. Growing up we had a bar of Fels always on the washsink and would just wet it and rub onto stains directly before throwing item in the wash. I know it did work on infant clothes with stains when mine were younger. I am going to have to try it again.

  2. Grandma used to use Fels, brown sugar and a touch of water to put on mosquito bites and bee stings to reduce the swelling. Honestly, I have never used it for cleaning. Always for medical.

    1. I have never heard of using it for medical purposes! Thank you for your comment - I learned something new!

  3. Thanks for the Oxy recipe. Glad to see the ingredients are things I already have on hand. As for laundry detergent...I haven't bought any commercial detergents in over 3 years. I've been making my own with a recipe that uses the same ingredients of your recipe. I'll never go back to that expensive stuff!

    1. I am with you chabias! I won't buy commercial detergents either! In addition to the expense, they make my clothes stiff. My clothes come out much softer when I make my own.

      I also really love soaking my whites in hydrogen peroxide! They look great every time they come out of the wash!

  4. For the laundry detergent once you combine everything how much warm water are you adding to the bottle? Thank you

    1. Jessica,

      Fill the entire bottle up with water. For your first time, try a 175 fl oz (1.36 gal) 5.17 L bottle. The concentrate can take more water than that, but this is a good size bottle for your first attempt!

      If you don't have a bottle that size, purchase some commercial detergent in that size bottle. (It will be the last commercial detergent you ever purchase!) Then, when the bottle is empty, rinse it out and use it for your homemade version.

      Good luck! I bet you will love it!

  5. Replies
    1. You're welcome! Ask questions anytime, I will be happy to help!

  6. I use Zote, washing sodas, and Borax...but I don't cook anything.
    Just mix, stir, shred the Zote, get the point.
    Easy, no mess.

    1. Sure do! If making your own soap is not your thing, using Zote is a good alternative!

      Thanks for the comment!

  7. Is the homemade oxy booster safe for colors?

    1. Irma,

      Well, that all depends! Hydrogen Peroxide really isn't safe for some colors, others can handle it well if you mix it in the wash water before you add the clothes.

  8. Hi there. What could I use instead of Borax? We do not have Borax in Europe... Thanks!

  9. This is nice. Thanks for sharing with us. Good to know
    Cleaning Products in Chennai

    1. Seetha,

      You are welcome! Sorry for my late response!


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