10 DIY Laundry Detergents Fabric Softener and Scent Enhancers

  • 01 of 11

    10 DIY Laundry Products to Save Money and Shopping Trips

    DIY-Laundry-Detergent.jpg
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    With the average American family doing 400 loads of laundry every year, the cost of laundry products can really add up: different detergents for certain types of fabrics, fabric softener, stain removers and even scent enhancers. For those who iron clothes, toss in the cost of starch and sizing.

    By making laundry products yourself, you'll save money and avoid last minute trips to the store when you run out of detergent. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what ingredients...MORE are being used to wash your family's laundry.

     

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  • 02 of 11

    DIY Powdered Laundry Detergent

    Rustic-Honey-Homemade-Detergent-BIG-Done.jpg
    Rustic Honey.com

    Making powdered laundry detergent is very simple and depending on your previous detergent, around 30 cents per load. Homemade laundry detergent is safe to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers because the formula is low-sudsing.

    What You Need:

    Here's How:

    1. Using a regular cheese grater, grate a 5.5 ounce bar of pure soap to make...MORE about one cup of flakes.
    2. In a large, resealable container, combine 1 cup soap flakes, 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate) and 1/2 cup borax. Washing soda is caustic to the skin and you should wear rubber gloves.
    3. Mix ingredients well. Keep dry. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load of laundry in a standard top load washer. Use only 2 tablespoons in a high efficiency top- or front-load washer.

    Tips:

    1. If you can't find Washing Soda, you can make your own washing soda from baking soda.
    2. The detergent recipe can be easily doubled. Store in an airtight container. Transfer smaller amounts to a decorative canister to keep handy near the washer.
    3. To boost the cleaning power of your homemade detergent, increase the amount of borax used in the formula.
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  • 03 of 11

    DIY Liquid Laundry Detergent

    DIY-Laundry-Detergent.jpg
    Jamie Grill/Tetra Images/Getty Images

    If you have extremely cold water, liquid laundry detergent is a better choice because powders can sometimes be difficult to dissolve. This formula is particularly good for anyone with sensitive skin because it contains no dyes or fragrances that can irritate skin.

    What You Need:

    • Bar of Pure Soap or 1 cup Soap Flakes  
    • Baking Soda
    • Washing Soda - sodium carbonate
    • Borax 
    • Cheese Grater
    • Measuring Cup
    • Saucepan
    • Resealable 3 gallon container

    Here's How:

    1. Using a regular cheese grater, grate the bar of pure soap or...MORE use one cup soap flakes.
    2. Add the grated soap to a large saucepan with 4 cups of water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
    3. In a large, resealable container, combine melted soap flakes, 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate), 1/2 cup borax and two gallons of hot water. Washing soda is caustic to the skin and you should wear rubber gloves.
    4. Stir detergent mixture until everything is dissolved. Cover and allow to sit overnight to thicken. If using directly from the large container, use 2 tablespoons of your homemade liquid detergent per load. This is appropriate for both HE washers and standard top load washers.
    5. For easier use, fill a smaller container with one half liquid soap mixture and one half water. Shake well before each use. Use 1/4 cup per load which equals two tablespoons of detergent and 2 tablespoons of water.

    Tip:

    1. A glass beverage dispenser, like those used for iced tea or lemonade, makes a decorative container for your liquid detergent. It is easy to dispense and refill.
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  • 04 of 11

    DIY Single Dose Laundry Detergent Pods

    Measuring Spoons
    Andy Crawford/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    If you are teaching a child or teen how to do laundry, single dose detergent is an easy way to get started. The single dose laundry detergent format, whether a tablet, pod or pack, is a simple and efficient way to prevent overuse of detergent. This saves money, protects clothes from excessive wear and can even keep high-efficiency  washers from breaking down due to excess suds.

    One of the downsides of single dose laundry detergents from the big name manufacturers is the cost. But you can make...MORE your own.

    What You Need:

    • 15-20 drops essential oil for fragrance (optional)
    • Mixing bowl - glass or plastic
    • Hand grater
    • Sheet pan or cookie sheet
    • Waxed paper or parchment paper
    • Measuring spoons

    Here's How:

    1. Using the hand grater, grate the soap bar until you have 1/2 cup of grated soap. You can also purchase soap flakes if you don't want to use the grater.
    2. Pour the soap flakes into the mixing bowl. Add the washing soda and Epsom salts next. Stir these ingredients together until well blended.
    3. Add the hydrogen peroxide and vinegar and the essential oil. The essential oil is not essential to cleaning. It is there to add a fragrance, if you'd like. Use as much or as little as you desire. After you have added the wet ingredients, your mixture should look like wet sand needed to build a sand castle.
    4. Use a measuring spoon or small scoop to shape the mixture into individual pods. Each pod should be a heaping 1 tablespoon. Pack the measuring spoon well and then place the pod on a waxed or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spritz the pods with a bit of plain water to set the shape (the water melts the ingredients slightly). Allow to dry overnight. This recipe will make around two dozen single dose pods.
    5. Once the individual pods are completely dry, (this could take longer than overnight if you live in a humid environment) store the pods in an air-tight container.

    Tips:

    1. Each homemade detergent pod will wash an average size laundry load. They can be used in both standard and high-efficiency washers. If you have a large load, just add two pods. Place the pods in the drum of the washer before adding water and loading in clothes. This will give them the maximum exposure time to water so they will dissolve correctly and thoroughly.
    2. As with commercially manufactured single dose products, be sure to keep these away from children. It is essential to label them properly so they are not mistaken as food.
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  • 05 of 11

    DIY Gentle Wool Wash

    Soap Flakes
    Russell Sadar/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    Since wool fabric is made from the natural fleece of an animal - sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas; as with our own hair, for wool to look its best it should not be treated with high heat or harsh detergents. Mistreatment will cause wool loose its natural oils and luster, change shape by shrinking and develop wear and tear too quickly.

    There are commercial detergents like Woolite formulated for delicate garments and wool sweaters; but you can also make your own by following a simple recipe....MORE You'll save money and reduce waste by reusing a plastic container you have on hand. Always remember to label your products!

    What You Need:

    • 4 cups pure soap flakes 
    • 4 cups boiling water
    • 1 cup denatured alcohol
    • 1 tablespoon essential oil like lavender or eucalyptus (optional)
    • Large glass or plastic mixing bowl
    • Whisk or blender
    • Large resealable storage container

    Here's How:

    1. Place the soap flakes and boiling water in a large mixing bowl and mix well with the stick blender or whisk. Or, you can do this in an electric blender.
    2. Add the denatured alcohol and essential oil (if using), mixing very well.
    3. Pour the mixture into the large preserving jar. Leave the jar overnight and it will set to a firm jelly.

    Tips:

    1. To use, rub a small amount into stains or dissolve one tablespoon of wool wash in lukewarm water. Swish or soak the garment in warm water following all the steps for hand washing and then rinse well.
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  • 06 of 11

    DIY Laundry Bleach Pen

    Bleach Pen
    Daniel Burch/E+/Getty Images

    Chlorine bleach is not the best choice for removing stains on colored clothes but it does work well on white cottons. But what if you have a striped shirt? How do you keep the bleach on just the white area?

    You can purchase a commercially made bleach pen or make your own.

    What You Need:

    • 3/4 cup water
    • 3 tablespoons corn starch (thickener)
    • 4 to 7 tablespoons chlorine bleach
    • Small saucepan
    • Small plastic squirt bottle with pointed tip
    • Small label

    Here's How:

    1. In a small saucepan, mix water and corn starch...MORE together until starch is dissolved.
    2. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously until mixture becomes translucent and pudding-like. Let cool completely.
    3. Add bleach by the tablespoon until you have the consistency and strength you desire. Gel will thin a little bit after sitting.
    4. Place in a clean, empty squirt bottle and clearly label.

    Tips:

    1. Make in small batches. The product will loose potency after three months.
    2. Bleach solution can be used to create designs on colored fabrics.
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  • 07 of 11

    DIY Laundry Fragrance Enhancer

    Epsom Salts Fragrance
    Ruth Jenkinson/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    Advertisers have convinced most of us that unless our laundry smells "clean", then it isn't. But what is the smell of clean? Meadow fresh or spring rain or aloha ocean?

    If you want to control the fragrance of your laundry but don't like the expense or the added chemicals of commercial brands; you can make your own laundry fragrance enhancer at home.

    What You Need:

    • Epsom salts (Magnesium sulfate)
    • Essential Oil(s) in the scent(s) you choose
    • Resealable plastic storage container

    Here's How:

    1. To one cup of...MORE Epsom salts add 10 drops of essential oil. You can add more drops of oil if you like a stronger scent or less for just a hint of fragrance.
    2. Stir the oil into the salts well and store in an air-tight container.

    Tips:

    1. When you're ready to do a load of laundry, add one-fourth cup of the scented salts to the washer along with your laundry detergent. Add the salts directly into the washer drum - do not use an automatic dispenser. The scented salts are safe to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers.
    2. As with any cleaning or laundry product, be sure to label your scented salts and store them out of reach of children.
    3. This laundry fragrance enhancer makes a great gift. Present it in a pretty container with a coordinated measuring scoop. Be sure to include the directions - and maybe the recipe.
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  • 08 of 11

    DIY Laundry Fabric Softener

    Vinegar on top of a washing machine
    Photo by MML

    Homemade fabric softener is easy to make, inexpensive and the perfect complement to homemade laundry detergent. It is also a perfect choice for those with chemical sensitivity to perfumes and dyes and is safe to use on all fabrics including children's sleepwear.

    What You Need:

    Here's How:

    1. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda into a one gallon or larger jug.
    2. Add...MORE 1 cup water to jug, stir or agitate to dissolve baking soda. Add remaining 3 cups of water.
    3. Slowly add the 3 cups of white distilled vinegar. Do not pour quickly or the baking soda and vinegar may react and fizz out of the bottle!
    4. If you would like, add favorite essential oil for fragrance.

    Tips:

    1. Safe for use in both standard and front load washers. Add the mixture directly to the washer's fabric softener dispenser. You can also add it manually to final rinse cycle - use about 1/2 cup per load.
    2. Adding essential oil for fragrance is optional. The baking soda and vinegar do the actual fabric softening by helping to remove any detergent residue. Even if you don't add the oil, you won't smell like a pickle!
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  • 09 of 11

    DIY Laundry Starch and Sizing

    Ironing Spray Bottle
    Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

    An freshly ironed shirt or blouse presents a crisp, polished look. Using starch or sizing will help accomplish that look. Starch gives fabric extra body and leaves a smooth finish. Laundry sizing is simply a lighter version of starch that aids in making ironing easier.

    It is quite simple to make your own in just minutes so it is always on hand - especially if you don't iron very often!

    What You Need:

    • Water
    • Corn starch
    • Spray bottle

    Here's How:

    1. Place two cups of cold water in the spray bottle. Add one...MORE tablespoon of corn starch and shake well until cornstarch is dissolved.
    2. If you like a heavier starch for shirt collars and cuffs, just add one teaspoon additional corn starch to the water until you get the stiffness you desire.

    Tips:

    1. To use your homemade starch, give the bottle a shake before each use. Store in the refrigerator between ironing sessions.
    2. Always use the steam feature of your iron when using homemade starch.
    3. Let the starch absorb into fabric for at least 30 seconds before ironing.
    4. Clean the bottom of your iron after each use.
    5. White marks on clothes when ironing means you are probably ironing too soon after applying the spray starch. It's also possible that you may need to add a little more water to your homemade mixture.
    6. If you have a washer full of table linens or shirts that you plan to iron, add some crispness to the entire batch by adding corn starch to the rinse cycle. Simply dissolve 2 tablespoons of corn starch in 1 cup of cold water. Add to the rinse cycle or if you have automatic dispensers, pour the diluted corn starch into the fabric softener dispenser. Dry clothes as usual but iron them while they are still damp. Remember to use this method only when all of the laundry in the washer load will be ironed.

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  • 10 of 11

    DIY Fabric Refresher

    Spray bottle
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    Our lifestyles no longer give us time to hang clothes outside to air and absorb the freshness of a spring breeze. So, we use commercial formulas like Febreze Fabric Refresher to simulate the same results.

    If you like the convenience but not the price of these sprays, you can make them at home.

    What You Need:

    • 1 cup baking soda
    • Hot water
    • 10-12 drops of your favorite essential oil
    • 24 ounce plastic spray bottle

    Here's How:

    1. Pour baking soda into spray bottle.
    2. Add hot water to fill bottle.
    3. Add drops of...MORE essential oil - as much or as little as you'd like.
    4. Shake bottle well to dissolve baking soda.

    5. Tips:

      1. Shake bottle well before each use. If the spray nozzle is clogged, simply rinse under hot water. Hold the spray bottle at least 8-12 inches away from the garment or fabric. Spray lightly in sweeping motions. Do not over wet fabric or spray too close as it may leave residue on the fabric.
      2. Allow the fabric or garment to dry thoroughly before using. It should hang in a breezy spot, away from direct sunlight. Putting on a damp garment can result in excessive wrinkling. Storing a damp garment can lead to mold or mildew.
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  • 11 of 11

    DIY Dryer Balls

    Wool Dryer Balls Large Photo
    Mary Marlowe Leverette

    Dryer balls are added to to wet laundry as it is loaded into an automatic dryer to fluff clothes and speed drying time. Many folks find that no fabric softener is needed to keep clothes static free.

    You can buy commercially made wool felted balls or PVC dryer balls or you can make them yourself by using left over wool yarn and some hot water. Just follow these easy directions.