Update to HE Homemade Laundry Detergent

By , November 16, 2009 11:21 am

It’s been a month since I first posted my HE Laundry Recipe (click here if you missed the original post) and I’m convinced I’ll never go back to store-bought detergent!  My clothes smell better and are so much softer than they ever were before.  I had some questions from the last post and figured it was about time I answered them.  Hope these are the details you were looking for!

1.  Is Borax safe?  Borax is a cleaner that has positives and negatives just like any other cleaner.  It is a boosting agent for your laundry and not only conditions the water but also deodorizes the clothes.  Borax should not be inhaled or ingested!  I was thinking about using it on our carpets, but after investigating I decided it just wasn’t a good idea for my asthmatic hubby.  Same goes for shaking up the contents of your homemade detergent around your kiddos.  I don’t like them to be around when I’m messing with bleach and use the same procautions with borax.

2.  Can vinegar be used as a fabric softener?  I have to preempt this question with the fact that my clothes rarely need to be softened with the new homemade detergent.  Seriously, the detergent makes my clothes so soft!  I’ve heard from one person that regular vinegar use ruined their HE washer, however the majority of the information I found with vinegar and HE washers was positive.  Because I don’t feel every load needs the softening, I’m only using vinegar on my rag/towel/washcloth loads as they tend to smell mildewy after a while and the vinegar removes any bacterial residue (Thanks for the tip, Paula!). Also, the dryer completely takes away the vinegar scent. Can’t even tell that I’ve used it.

3.  How often do you use dryer sheets?  I rarely use dryer sheets unless I’m washing clothes made from synthetic materials.  Natural materials come out so soft with the detergent there isn’t a need for dryer sheets.  The seldom times I do use them, I reuse and reuse and reuse, usually until they are flimsy and unscented.  No reason to use them once as they perform well multiple times.

4.  What is Mrs. Stewart’s liquid bluing?  Mrs. Stewart’s liquid bluing “potion” is so much better for white/light colored loads than bleach.  I have no idea how it does it, but the clothes come out brighter and whiter.  Only word of precaution, a little bit goes a long way.  The label instructions indicate only a few drops are needed per load and ONLY A FEW DROPS ARE NEEDED.  Don’t do what I did squirting the bottle for five or ten seconds and end up with white sheets with blue streaks.  Oops!

5.  Why Fels-Naptha bars?  I love these bars so much I bought a pack of 24 from Amazon.  They smell wonderful and work so well on stains, especially as a pretreatment.  Wet down the stain, rub the bar over it and, BAM, your stain is gone.  I used this method to completely erase beet juice from little Zeke’s white onesie (Yes, my one-year-old LOVES beets).  I use washable diapers (Bumgenius are the bomb) and have seen a total turn-around in their smell and cleanliness after using the Fels-Naptha laundry detergent recipe. Man, I could gush about these things forever.  Anyone find any other fun uses for them?

Please comment if you have any other questions.  I’d love to research them for you.  I have to also mention how much money this stuff is saving us.  I’ve been using the recipe since the middle of September and have only made three batches.  Three batches for about $6 is pretty good considering my daily diaper washing and three guys and a dog at home.  Hopefully, you are saving money too!  I look forward to your comments.

Brands I used

Brands I used

© 2009, FROM MILITARY TO MOM. All rights reserved.

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22 Responses to “Update to HE Homemade Laundry Detergent”

  1. Amy says:

    Hey! Love the follow-up. One question for cloth diapers and the Fels Naptha, is it safe to rub as a pretreatment on the diapers? I use G Diapers with G Cloth, which have removable cloth inserts. I was wondering if I could rub that right on them before washing. What do you think?

  2. Alyssa says:

    Hey Ames, the Fels-Naptha bars do have a tiny bit of perfume in them so I don’t think they are exactly what the diaper manufacturer prescribes, but I haven’t had any problems since I switched over. I use the bars on them and they still repel the little presents Zeke leaves for me :-) I was willing to take the risk because my “dye free, perfume free” stuff wasn’t cleaning the diapers completely and left the outer diaper casing pretty smelly.

  3. Brynna says:

    Cool! :) I’ve been using the same (or similar…I play around with it sometimes) recipe for a couple years now and love it. In fact I made several batches as part of Christmas gifts this year. I don’t use it on my diapers though (our water is a pain in the rear and I’ve had lots of issues in the last 4 years of cloth diapering every time I’ve tried to switch things around!). I found it interesting though that vinegar works great out here with our hard, alkaline water, but it made things SO much worse in Boise where the water was acidic! With cloth diapers, I don’t think I’ll ever go without testing the water if we move again…it’s too much of a pain to try to figure things out!

  4. Alyssa says:

    B- Didn’t think about the water acidity. Thanks for the info. I know my parents have awful water on the farm so I’ll warn my mom.

  5. Davina says:

    Okay – so I’m going to give this new recipe a shot – I’m always nervous with Borax and the asthma issues but I think we will be fine. Have you ever had to do a double rinse? Also, did you have to order everything online? Not sure where to look here locally – no one seems to have it but Ace Hardward ‘might’ in Boise. :) Thanks again Alyssa! Always love your posts! :)

  6. Alyssa says:

    Yeah! My hubby and son have asthma and we haven’t had any problems. The only thing I double rinse are my washable diapers so I think you’ll be fine. I’m just very careful during the mixing process as it can get kind of dusty. I get all of my ingredients from King Soopers, but got the bars from Amazon too. Just make sure you buy the big batch or else it’s a rip-off. Let me know how it goes!

  7. Holly says:

    Don’t know if anyone else needs this info, but Winco in the Boise/Meridian area carries all the basic laundry soap stuff you need- FelsNaptha bars, washing soda, borax and bluing. Just wondering about using the liquid bluing- I’ve never done it before and wondered how to use it in an HE front loader- any tips? Thanks!

  8. Alyssa says:

    Thanks for the info, Holly! Key to bluing is LESS equals more. One drop goes a really long way. I find adding a little bit of water in with the bluing drops helps the machine distribute it in my whites. Found this out the hard way… nice blue streaks down my white sheets when I put five or six drops in without water.

  9. Stola says:

    I am tired of buying detergent for he washers.I have heard of homemade recipes for he washers. I am going to get the ingredients tomorrow! Is this okay to use on delicate clothes that I usually use woolite for, or is there a different recipe?
    Thank you

  10. Alyssa says:

    I use it on everything. Just make sure not to overload your washer and remember a little goes a long way. I’ll never go back!

  11. Jenn says:

    I am very interested in trying to make my own laundry detergent, and was delighted when I was sent this site. I want to make it myself because I’m trying to go ‘all natural’ with our cleaning. SO, I wondered if you happen to know how toxic the Fels-Naptha bars are. I started looking up the ingredients, but it’s tedious and I have 5 kids….I know Borax is all natural, but can be toxic, so I’m really debating if this particular recipe fits the bill for me. Sure does on the cost end!! If you have any insight, I would LOVE to read it.

  12. Jessica says:

    Hi, Alyssa! I stumbled onto your blog through pinterest and am excited to try making some homemade detergent soon. I have my ingredients but am making myself wait since I just bought 4 bottles of detergent on sale recently! I do have a question for you. I have an HE top-loading washer, do you put your detergent in the drum with the clothes or in the detergent pocket on the side of the washer? Thanks for your time!

  13. Alyssa says:

    @Jenn- not sure of the toxicity of Fels Naptha although I do know they have perfumes. When I looked everything up a while ago, I found that, yes, Borax should not be inhaled, but in my opinion was much safer than the store bought stuff I used to use. You can always make it in a gel form too if you are worried about the Borax in the air. Hope that helps! Still loving my homemade stuff.

  14. Alyssa says:

    Hi Jessica- I put the detergent in the pocket of my washer and have it set for powder. A little bit goes a looong way in HE washers.

  15. Cecilia says:

    How do you make the gel form?

  16. Emily says:

    I recently starting using this recipe too using the grated fels naptha. I use a small spoon to measure. I have started getting yellow stains from the soap on some of my whites. Wondering if anyone else has had this problem?

  17. Alyssa says:

    Thanks, Marlise! My kiddos “help” make our detergent too.

    Emily, sorry you are having issues with the bars. Could be that the flakes are too big or that the load is too big to wash out the soap. One trick is to put the bars in the freezer before you grate them. Ensures they don’t heat up and form larger granules when grated.

  18. Jim says:

    I inadvertently drew on my hand with a black permanent marker. My wife had made some of your homemade laundry detergent so I took a piece of the ground Fels Naptha and worked it into the black stain with a medium soft brush. In seconds, the mark disappeared! I was amazed.

  19. Alyssa says:

    Good stuff. I’ve made a psuedo pre-stain treatment with it that I’ll have to post soon. Gets stains out even after I’ve soaked with Oxiclean.

  20. Kelly says:

    Fels Naptha is the “go to” soap for washing oily poison ivy, sumach, or poison oak off skin. It also removes the oil from your clothes by using Fels in the wash. A “must” to have on hand for poison ivy and it’s kin!

  21. Alyssa says:

    Didn’t realize you could use it for poison ivy! Thanks for the tip, Kelly.

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