Homemade Laundry Detergent

OK, I broke down and tried it. I did. I admit it. I tried the homemade laundry detergent. My one word description is: impressive.

Some months back my friend Mel Suderman, wife, mother, homemaker, and librarian, was talking on FB about making homemade laundry detergent and how much money it was saving her. With 5 people and a dog in the family, I know Mel is and experienced laundress. And whats more, she has a husband and son who like to play hard. Like working on cars and driving motorcycles kind of hard. So not only does she do a lot of laundry, she is really dealing with some serious dirt.

She gave me the recipe for the liquid form of the detergent she was brewing up. The ingredients were simple and easily attainable items in the cleaning isle at most stores. Wal-Mart would certainly have everything I needed.

Unscented bar soap, Borax, and Washing Soda.

The recipe Mel gave me was for like 4 gallons of this stuff and I wasn’t sure I really wanted to jump into a batch that size and then discover I didn’t care for the way it performed.

So I started reading on the internet about similar recipes and discovered a few for dry detergents in much smaller batches. All of them contained at least the three ingredients Mel had given me in her recipe.

A few weeks ago, while looking for ways to trim my budget, I came across these detergent recipes. I decided to give it a shot and see what happened. After trying a couple different variations on the recipe, this is what I came up with. (I make it in much larger batches but broke it down in a smaller batch for you to try)

1/3 bar of soap (Ivory, Fels Napfha, or Zote)
1/2 cup Borax (20 Mule Team brand recommended)
1/2 cup washing soda (Arm & Hammer brand recommended)
Do not confuse washing soda with baking soda. They are not the same thing.

Using a cheese grater to grate 1/3 of the bar of soap into a bowl.
Add Borax and washing soda, and stir until bar soap is well broken up and blended completely with dry ingredients.
This is what it is going to look like when it’s all broken up and blended well.
You could actually pulse this in your food processor and break it up much finer. Don’t over process though or it will melt the soap and cause clumping.

The photo shows what it takes to wash 1 load of clothes, 2 tablespoons.

That’s right, 2 tablespoons of this stuff really packs a punch. Extra large or heavily soiled clothes; I use 3 tablespoons.

To compare usage amounts (commercial detergent vs homemade) here’s what a measure of homemade detergent looks like in your commercial laundry scoop.)

Store detergent in a cool dry place in a container with lid. This recipe will fit into a small cottage cheese container or butter bowl.

Variations for this recipe:

  • Add 1/2 cup Clorox all fabric bleach to maintain vibrant colors in your clothing and added stain removal.
  • Add essential oils to scent your detergent.

Although the detergent has a clean fresh smell in the container, your clothes will come out of the wash with the absence of smell. No odor at all. I was amazed.

Here’s the fun part, which totally blows my mind.
Cost of doing a single load of laundry with my store-bought detergent: 63 cents per load.
Cost of doing a single load of laundry with my new homemade detergent: 6 cents per load

Seriously, I am saving 57 cents per load, and with all the laundry I do, that is a substantial savings.

I don’s have a great deal of clothing to wash; just what I wear each day,  and a couple of outfits a week for my grandson, (oh and the occasional visit from one of my sons wanting to do his own laundry. )

But I have several animals which means I go through several blankets, furniture covers, and doggie beds each week. That’s about 6 loads per week right there, and that’s in good weather.

Top that off with my not being a big fan of cramming our landfills full of disposable paper towels, and the mountain of cloth towels and rags I use each week would scare a normal person.

It may not seem like a huge savings, but I will take it where I can get it.

Some discoveries I made while trying out these recipes:

  • Aside from being seriously economical, this detergent is safer to both the environment and you, than any commercial detergent! This mix contains no dyes, perfumes, or other components to irritate skin or pollute the environment.
  • During the month I have used this detergent my dog has not had any mysterious break outs. (She’s allergic to everything including commercial laundry detergent apparently.)
  • I have had no dry itchy skin.
  • My clothes all look and smell clean. I worried about the dog bedding not coming clean and smelling fresh but I was pleasantly surprised. There was absolutely no smell in the bedding what so ever.
  • I gave some of the detergent to a friend of mine who cannot use any detergents with any kind of perfume in them. it causes her respiratory distress. After trying out this detergent she says she will never buy laundry detergent in the store again. She has had no allergy issues with the homemade detergent.
  • A couple of hunters also let me know that the detergent was perfect for their hunting clothes as they want zero scent on them when they go out into the woods.
  • I have not noticed any visible difference in the color of my clothing. Nothing appears to be faded or dull. Whites are still coming out white, colors still bright.
  • I still use fabric softener sheets because I want the softness and a slight scent to my laundry. The scent is much softer from the fabric sheets when using the homemade detergent.
  • If you want to soften your clothes and are not concerned with any scent, use a 1/2 cup white vinegar in your rinse cycle to soften fabric. Your clothes WILL NOT smell like vinegar when they come out of the dryer. They will have no smell at all.
  • When I wash my cleaning rags, I don’t use any fabric softener sheets. This allows me to use cloth rags to clean glass without streaking.
  • Because this detergent requires such a small measure per load, it’s space saving and is convenient for campers, truck drivers, or anyone who travels.
  • This recipe does not create suds and therefore is fine to use in top front loading machines. It is however recommended that you cut the measure in half for front loaders.
  • This recipe would be a perfect money saver for animal rescues and shelters that wash a lot of animal bedding.

Since the dry version of this detergent was such a success, I decided to make a couple of gallons of the liquid version. I stirred it all up tonight and will start using it within the next couple of days. After I have tested it out, I’ll let you know how it goes and give you the recipe for that as well.

Coming up, I’ll share recipes for the following as I have had a chance to try them out thoroughly.

  • Stain remover for the laundry
  • Fabreeze type air and fabric freshener
  • Household bleach cleaner
  • Window and glass cleaner
  • Dishwasher detergent


Day 2 of the original batch of liquid detergent- This batch did not gel or clump up.

I was perplexed because almost every recipe I have read about says the mixture will thicken, gel, clump, separate when gelling, etc. My batch had no clumps, no gel, but was just milky and slightly thicker than water.

That’s actually good btw because it means that I can use it in a spray bottle like a pretreatment (Shout or Spray -N- Wash for example) without messing about with it clumping in the sprayer.

Whatever the issue was with the lack of thickening, I used some of the watery detergent today, washing two stinky, dirty dog beds, and they came out of the wash perfectly clean and smelling….well they had zero smell, so just clean.

It bugged me so much about the gelling thing that I made another batch of liquid detergent tonight. This time I processed it just slightly different.

  1. In the original batch I melted the soap in a little water on the stove  till dissolved.
  2. Then I removed from heat and added the Borax and washing soda into the HOT water with the melted soap.
  3. When everything was dissolved in the pan, I added the soapy mixture into the bucket with the rest of the water.

I also stirred the first batch every couple of hours for about half the 24 hour period it was “curing”. (Never noticing any thickening I might add).

Batch 2:

  1. This time I first dissolved the Borax and the washing soda in the bucket of room temperature water.
  2. Then I added the hot melted soap and water mixture from the stove into the bucket of borax and washing soda mix and stirred.

I even went a step further and once it was mixed I poured this batch into two different containers.

One I have covered and plan to leave alone for 24 hours. The other I’ll stir occasionally to see if I can keep clumps from forming (if it does gel).

Mystery solved.

Adding the Borax and washing soda to the scalding hot melted soap mix in the first batch must be the reason for the mixtures refusal to thicken.

So far that’s the only difference in the batches, and this batch was gelling within minutes of stirring it up. Thickening was actually apparent before I had it all stirred up well.


Photographers Beware! Donald James

I periodically get leads for photography jobs from places like marketingtool.com. It’s an online service I have a listing with, where people look for photographers. If someone goes there looking for a photographer in my area and makes a request through the website, I along with any other photographers listed in the area, get notification of the customers need via email.

I have received many leads through marketingtool.com but a recent request made me take pause.

On 09-22-11 (5:34 pm) I got a lead in my email for Donald James looking for a wedding photographer in the St. Louis County area.

On 09-23-11 (7:05 pm) I got another lead for the same Donald James but looking for a wedding photographer in the Jefferson County Missouri area this time.

09-24-11 (8:21 am.) I get yet another lead from the same guy but now he’s looking for a photographer in St. Charles County Missouri.

The guy is sending out requests to photographer listed in three very large Missouri Counties, and apparently not get a response.

So I thought, ok, I’ll bite. Lets just see what happens. So I emailed him. This is the contents of our email exchange that began in 09-24-11 and the last email being on 09-29-11

Me: I got your request looking for a wedding photographer. Can you tell me where the wedding will be held?

Donald James replied shortly there after.

Thanks for the mail,Here is a little about the wedding.The wedding is taking place in Denver, Colorado. It is an 7 hours event starting from 9am till 4 pm. It is an indoor event which consist of 100 guest at most, I will like you to cover the reception as well which will start from 2 Pm till 4 pm on that day. I will like the picture to be on a CD, and I don’t have a wedding planner, I plan it by myself. Please reply me by e-mail cos I am physically impaired (Hearing).
You may think about the flight and hotel accommodation, there is provision for that , my flight agent will make arrangement for that. I think with all the details have given to you now,Calculate your fee alone, you should be able to calculate and let me know how much it will cost. Please get back to me as soon as possible. I just contacted you via marketing tools and want to know if you can handle it.

At this point I am thinking something is more than just a little off but hey, I could use a long weekend in Denver. It’s a beautiful place and what the heck right?

So I reply:

I need to know the address of the wedding and reception in order to book my accommodations. This will better enable me to send you a more precise quote including travel and expenses.
You can see my wedding package here.http://www.gilasplace.com/wedding

I am curious as to why you are looking to hire a Missouri photographer for a Colorado wedding. Surely there must be a photographer closer that would be more economical than flying one in?

09-28-11 (6:52 pm) This was Mr. James reply to me:

Event Center, Denver Colorado 4400 East Kentucky Avenue, Denver  and the reception will take place at the same place.
I will prefer to make the arrangement for the flight with my booking agent from here. Please let me know how much I need to pay for it and how much I need to pay as the initial deposit to get the date reserved.
Please let me have the name and the address to send  the check for the deposit to. The date is almost near so I want everything to work out fast.
Please get back to me soonest

At this point I know something was really amiss and decide to check out the address he had given me. It is indeed an event center.  The Infinitely Event Center to be exact. Looks like a very nice place, and should be for a booking price of almost five grand a night.I wouldn’t mind shooting a wedding in such an elegant place.

So I called Infinity to verify Mr. James’ date. It was after office hours when I called, but I left a message, told them my situation, and asked if they did indeed have a Donald James wedding booked there for the 25th of November.

I did not send any further correspondence to Mr. James pending a verification from Infinity.

09-29-11 I didn’t hear anything from Donald James or Infinity.

09-30-11 This morning at 7:38 am I get this:

Mr. James had again begun his search for a wedding photographer, and again searching in St. Louis County.

I am totally baffled as to why a person would want to fly in a photographer to Denver from Missouri. Then there is the fact that he doesn’t want me to contact him by telephone. And additionally, he wants “his travel agent” to make my travel arrangements.


I got a message from Sara, the event coordinator for Infinity in Denver. She apologized for not calling the day before about my inquiry. I was informed that there was no wedding or reception on November 25th for a Donald James. As a matter of fact there was no Donald James in the schedule for anything at Infinity for the rest of 2011.

It was just a bunch of BS as I had expected so I emailed Mr. James, politely declined his request and wished him well on his search for photographers. I then emailed merchanttool.com and told them what was going on with Donald James.

Shortly after my first message from Infinity, I got yet another message from Sara. Listening to her voice on the other end of the call I could tell she was a little confused and more than a little creeped out. Seems there was another photographer that called there today making the same inquiry as I had and yes, about the same person, Donald James. She stated she felt it was an obvious scam and sounded a little dangerous.

I tried to call her back but she was in a meeting but I was told she would be contacting me first thing Monday morning. The girl taking calls said that a total of 4 photographers had called the center over the past 4 days making the same inquiry as mine.All of them from Missouri, and all of them woman.

I haven’t heard any more from Donald James, nor have I heard anything back from the folks at Marketing Tool.

I hope they can trace Donald James’ IP address and find out who he is and what he’s up to before someone gets seriously scammed or hurt.

I have never heard back from Mr. James since I sent him my email to decline his offer. And he is apparently continuing his search.

Just an awesome couple of days

The happenings of this week are not anything that would make the average person jump off their chair about, but I am pleased at the way things have worked out in recent days.

Monday I published an article on Examiner about a puppy taken in by Caruthersville Humane Society. He was found wandering the streets with his head swollen and infected from chemical burns. A news reporter from Channel 8 (ABC) in Arkansas, read my article and promptly called the shelter and requested an interview. (which CHS eagerly agreed to.) It made me feel good that 1. I could help a shelter get the word out about their situation in the financial ruin we call an economy, and the good work their shelter is doing. And 2. That other people in the news industry actually read my articles! Bonus all the way around.

While I was out and about today I bumped into a shelter volunteer from Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary and she had this adorable blue-eyed little girl in tow. At first I wondered if she was scared as she was acting a little shy and most young dogs in public are outgoing. Turns out she had just been picked up from the vet where she had undergone a spay earlier in the day. She wasn’t being shy, she just needed to sleep off that nasty ole’ anethsetic.

I didn’t catch her name, but this lovely will be available for adoption through the Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary (Jackson, MO) in the coming weeks. If you are interested just call them and ask about the little blue eyed baby and I bet they will know who you are talking about. I’ll get details on her soon and pass them along.

I finally got to see the new location for Busch Pet Products in Cape Girardeau. I hadn’t been in the store since it had moved locations although I have followed their progress for months on Facebook.

The new store is fantastic with tons more square footage than before and Stacy has a few interesting events coming up that’s sure to be crowd pleasers.Stay tuned for all the details on Busch Pet Products in an upcoming article on Examiner.com

And on my way home from the days adventures I enjoyed the natural canvas of the back roads of Southeast Missouri. It’s an awesome way to unwind. I am always amazed at how breathtaking the skies can be around here.

Even with a cruddy old highway in the view you can’t help but be taken back by the beauty of the skies.