DIY Laundry Detergent Update

by Kimberlee Stokes Affiliate Link Disclosure B

DIY Laundry Detergent Update: You may have read my post here about trying the DIY laundry detergent I had seen all over Pinterest.


About 2 weeks into my experiment I decided to add the Purex Fabric Softener Crystals because I didn’t like the smell of the clothes. It helped some.

I can now say that after using the homemade detergent for 2 months, it is a definite bust. The last couple of weeks our clothes have begun to have a weird sour kind of smell. I thought that maybe it was because I hang them to dry and they were staying damp too long, so I did a few loads and dried them in the dryer–same smell.

I checked my washing machine and even called our water department to have them test our water. The only conclusion that I can come to is that the detergent is the cause. Interestingly enough, my sister who lives in another state and who was using the same recipe that I used, recently had the same problem, so we have both decided to return to purchasing store bought detergent.

I will be buying the cheapest powder brand, which in my area is Sun (around $2.48 for 42 ounces). The box says 40 loads, but I am going to use two tablespoons of detergent for a few loads and see if the clothes are clean. My mother taught me to test the water to see if it feels soapy. If it does, there is enough detergent. [By the way, powder detergent is almost always cheaper than liquid.]


Have you used this homemade detergent recipe? What were your results? Leave a comment. :)


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  • http://skipperclan.com Tammy Skipper (@Tammy_Skipper)

    I used homemade liquid and liked it a lot, but I’m totally sold on the simplicity of SoapNuts now. http://skipperclan.com/2012/03/22/soapnuts-laundry-detergent-update/

  • Beth

    I still use my homemade laundry detergent. But mine is not a powder. I make it a liquid (or gel). I do not use the zote soap you have in the picture so I don’t know if that makes a difference or not. I have used the Fels-Naptha but I am currently branching out into pretty smelling soaps just to see if I like it more.
    The biggest change I made to my homemade soap was adding a scoop of Oxyclean to the recipe. This definitely gave it a more sudsy appearance.
    However, the loads do not smell wonderful like Tide did. I DO USE DOWNEY to help w the static, softness and of course the wonderful smell we all crave.
    I am trying out a new homemade fabric softner but the vinegar, although a 50% mix is still not a desired scent! I will probably go back to Downey.
    I have tried cheaper store brands in the past and 1)I did not like the scent, 2)they did not clean well, 3) they left a powdery residue on the clothes.
    So. I am content w my DIY laundry soap. I will probably keep tweaking it but overall, I am happy to be saving at least $20 a month!

    • Wendy C.

      I use Fels-Naptha too. I like it’s fragrance. I also use vinegar in the rinse. I haven’t had any problems with odors. I don’t get the overly perfumed smell that you get with some detergents, but that’s a plus for us since some of my family members have allergies.

  • Vienna Brewer

    That’s strange you were getting a bad smell. Borax is a wonderful deodarizer. I use Ivory bars. I love the clean smell. Did you try different bar soaps?
    I love my homade recipe. I guess I eyeball equal parts borax, washing soda, and grated Ivory soap bars. Really I would try a different barsoap before I gave up. You can even use the pretty stuff when it goes on sale at Tuesday Morning.
    I’ve made it in liquid form and used it in the dishwasher with great results. Maybe you were using too much?

  • Melinda

    we use the Fels-Naptha too, but I splurge on the Downy liquid softener because I like it and gives just enough scent…we have used this soap for two years and only turn to mass produced because I didn’t make the homemade in time for laundry day…we have five children and hubby is a welder and no complaints or bad reactions…we eyeball the Borax and washing soda to and also make the liquid because our washer is old and doesn’t handle powder detergent very well…we’ve tweaked the recipe for our needs…

  • Jessica

    I put vinegar in mine and use a bar of Dr. Bronner’s hemp soap (comes in different scents) and also use some Fels Naptha. I measure out the ingredients and have found that I don’t need fabric softener except for in unusual circumstances and that everything comes out clean and fresh smelling. We’ve been doing this for 3 months now and have saved a lot of money. We have a family of 6 and it’s gentle enough that no one gets the “itchies”. Here is what I use:
    Laundry Detergent


    1 C Borax
    1 ½ C Baking Soda
    1 C Super Washing Soda
    ½ C White Vinegar
    1 bar grated Castile Soap OR 1 ½ C Fels Naptha
    Essential Oils for scent (or can use scented castile soap and skip essential oil)


    On medium-high heat, in a large pot, simmer 1 quart of pure water along with the grated castile soap, stirring continuously, until melted. Do not allow to boil. Remove pot from heat and add remaining ingredients stirring vigorously until dissolved. Pour contents of pot into a 5 gallon bucket and begin to slowly add 2 gallons of pure water while continuing to stir. Let laundry soap sit for 24 hours prior to use (this allows it to thicken).

    **Use ½ cup of laundry soap per load**.


    After the 24 hr thickening period, you may use a funnel to transfer soap into alternative storage bottles or leave in 5 gallon bucket.

    This is a low suds recipe and is completely safe for high efficiency machines.

    After soap has cooled, it may be too thick for your liking. You can add water until desired consistency, remember that it is supposed to be gel-like.

    For the brightest laundry, pour white vinegar in fabric softener compartment with each load.

  • Allison

    I’m not sure if anyone has posted this…

    The likely culprit of the smell is your fabric softner. It leaves a coating on the inner drum of your washing machine, the residue builds up and mildew flourishes. To get rid of it, obviously you have to stop using liquid fabric softner…. Run a few loads of hot water through your machine with nothing but borax and vinegar. Repeat periodically. If you want a fabric softner in your wash use vinegar. As for scenting your soap, use essential oils. Personally I use dryer sheets to add a little clean scent. I’ve been making laundry detergent for almost 4 years and now when I’m on a walk in my neighborhood and someone is drying their clothes… All the perfume that comes out of their vent makes me sick. Similarly when I have borrowed a friends washer and had my clothes covered in her Tide detergent, had a headache all day and actually grew frustrated with the constant smell. You will be shocked how you loathe Store bought laundry detergent once you become accustomed to the homemade version. Hope this helps and you give it another try!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks Allison. I don’t personally use liquid fabric softener, but this is a helpful tip for those who do. I added about a tablespoon of the Purex Crystals to some of my laundry loads when I used the homemade laundry detergent to make the clothes smell better. It didn’t really help. :)

      • Dorie

        Allison I agree about the heavy smell of fabric softener and tide, is just sickening once your not used to it.

  • Allison

    Here is an interesting forum on cleaning your washing machine, definitely check out the pics one of them posted. http://forums.whirlpool.net.au/archive/1844416
    I should also add, that I use oxiclean to get the grime out. I have a 1 and 3 year old… Rarely do I have issues getting their clothes clean. Currently I am using the concentrated soap cream on pinterest, had been using the Duggar’s recipe. I use Kirk’s Castille soap and it’s an HE front load washer. To answer the person who asked if you can use it in an HE, yes, it’s low suds, just use 1/2 the recommended amount in your washer.

  • Mandy Martin

    There is a recipie I use that I adore, it works great. It’s from duggarfamily.com makes 10 gallons though we leave it concentrate 5 gallon buckets. after almost 4 months, with the same bucket, no odd smell or anything.

    1/2 C Borax
    1 C Soda Ash (Washing Soda, same thing)
    1 Fels Naptha bar.

    That’s it. Grate and melt the bar in 4 C water on stove, In 5 gallon bucket ad the Borax and Soda Ash, half fill with warm water, stir till disolved, add the melted bar mix, stir, then fill the rest of the way with water.

    After 12 hrs, stir and put some in clean empty laundry jug. 1/4c per load, shake well before each load.

    Fabric softenr, I won’t give up my sheets and my dryer so I take my fav liquid, in air tight container put 1 part liquid fabric softner to 2 parts water, add a couple inexpensive sponges cut in half (Ocello has the best for this). When you toss clothing in the dyer, give the sponge a couple squeezes (not enough to dry it out, it still needs to be a bit damp) and toss in the dryer. Works great, and it’s cheap.

  • http://www.practicingfrugal.com Dianna

    I have been using The Duggars recipe for over a year now. I recently noticed that sour smell on some of my clothes, so I took the recent $2 wisk coupon and bought a bottle of wisk. I am not sure, but I think some of the clothes I washed with the wisk also have the sour smell. I hope to figure it out soon so my kids will quit bringing me more laundry that smells bad.

    • Linda

      My son is on well water and I am on town water and we both had our laundry smell sour after washing with the homemade laundry detergent. What is making this terrible smell? We had to wash our laundry again. That is not saving money if we have to do this. Please does anyone know what to do when this happens. I have made my soap using water. Now I am going to try using it dry. Please give me any suggestions.

  • Garry

    I wonder if those getting the sour smell are using water that’s too cold. The homemade detergents aren’t formulated for cold water the way the store bought ones are.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I do use cold water–hadn’t thought of that. Thanks!

      • Frances

        We use the liquid product. It actually leaves my clothes feeling cleaner but not as washed out looking as regular liquid. We use warm water for every wash except towels. We use hot for those because towels are breeding grounds for nasty things. I will never go back to regular detergent. :)

        • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

          I wholeheartedly agree with washing towels in hot water!

  • Christy

    Hmm – I have used homemade detergent for 4 years (except for the 9 months that I used 20 bottles of Wisk I got for free with coupons – lol).
    The only time I noticed a sour smell, I cleaned the washer and it was gone after that.
    I also mostly use cold water – except for whites and towels.
    The detergent I use is 1 box of borax, 1 box of washing soda, 1 small container of oxy-clean, 2 bars of Ivory soap – grated. I also added some Purex Crystals to the last 2 batches. I mix it in a 5 gallon bucket and then put it into smaller airtight containers.

  • Anne

    I have used the powdered detergent for about 4 months now. It is all I use. I won’t go back! However, my recipe doesn’t have baking soda in it. I use oxyclean poweder instead of the baking soda. I never have an issue with smell.

  • http://bohemianhijabi.com Bohemian Hijabi

    I have been using a similar recipe, only without the baking soda. I also use Fels Naptha Soap, but I am not sure if that has anything to do with it. My washing maching smells stinky after a while (could be the hard water we have in Florida), so I clean it every other month. I run it on a hot cycle with two cups of bleach, one hot cycle with two cups of vinegar, and one cycle with just hot water. I also happen to use homemade fabric softener, and I think the vinegar may help break the soap down better.

  • Jennifer

    I can tell you that, along with the others above, I’ve been using our own detergent for about 3 years now! I am also a couponer….and won’t even take laundry detergent if it’s free! I know our clothes are cleaner! I’ve never heard of someone’s clothes coming out ‘sour’ smelling….that’s weird! I don’t know if it is the baking soda you’re using along with the washing soda….but borax, washing soda (or we use pH UP for pools, same thing…sodium carbonate!!) and fels-naptha and I’ve got laundry detergent that works better than Tide will EVER work! I’ve done a side by side comparison too! My husband spilled chocolate ice cream all down a good shirt….and I thought this is the best opportunity to test it…if it doesn’t work, I’ll just buy him a new shirt! We washed it with Tide…stain was still there! Then I washed it with the our soap…and it was GONE!! I couldn’t believe it….so, I was convinced there! I really wished it would have worked for you….it’s good to know what is REALLY in your soap and what is being put on our skin! Thanks for all you do….I enjoy the blog and your menu planning….it’s got me motivated to menu plan and actually cook, which is totally new for me! lol God bless!

    • Christy

      Perhaps I am adding too much per load. I have the funny smell too. How much do you use per load?

  • Nicolette

    I make my own powder with ivory, borax and washing soda, but I still get the “dirty” smell on our clothes, my husbands cologne still stinks on clean clothes and my daughters accident pee smells are still on them. I’ve use vinegar and apple cider vinegar in rinse and I’ve tried in the wash too- still no dice. Any suggestions? I’ve also threw in lavender oil into the rinse cycle and helped a little bit… I don’t know what the deal is. With my cloth diapers too I have to double rinse and boil and hang dry them to not smell like ammonia! I’m thinking I might have to boil our clothes at this rate! My kids have horrible allergies too so no softner and no scented anything unnatural… So weird I can use essential oils. Can anyone help?

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I don’t know if you saw my update Nicolette, but we have stopped using the DIY detergent and have returned to using ALL Free and Clear for the family members with allergy symptoms (I wash their clothes separately). Everyone else uses the cheapest powder detergent, which in our area is Sun. Hope this helps.

    • Ellen

      For smells, I add baking soda. Especially urine smells.

  • Chrisha Dolan

    Hi, I just wanted to say that I have been using homemade laundry detergent for about three years now and haven’t had any issues with smell. My only concern is I think colors fade a bit faster but that may be my choice of cheaper clothing. I have used, Oil of Olay, Fells Naptha (not my favorite scent), Dr. Bronners Castile and several others. No smell issues….I have also added essential oils to mine for fragrance but I don’t think it is necessary. I won’t be going back to store bought unless I get really lazy or busy.

  • J.D.

    I use Sun and add vinegar and baking soda to it. It works like a charm.
    I also use vinegar as a fabric softener, an added benefit beside being so inexpensive is that
    your can use it on your towels and they soften without loosing their
    water absorbing ability, as many fabric softeners seem to add a coating to the cotton that affects that.


  • Sarah

    AGREED! I had a sour smell as well. I had to soak in vinegar overnight and rewash with a store bought detergent to get the smell to go.

  • Sarah N.

    I use home made laundry soap too and have never had a sour smell but I use the following recipe:

    1/2 cup of Dr. Bronners (unscented liquid soap, you could use scented)
    4 cups Baking soda
    1/4 cup Soda ash
    1 cup Hydrogen peroxide (I think this is the active ingredient in oxyclean but am not sure)
    Then just enough water to moisten everything together. Store in a bucket/bottle with a lid. Scale the quantities up to make more. 1 cup is equal to 16 tablespoons. I use 1/8 cup of detergent per load or 2 table spoons per full load of laundry.

    We have “hard” water so the baking soda softens it. If you have soft water you may not need as much of it.

    Also that “funky” smell on your clothing may be from the following:
    1) Too much soap in the wash that doesn’t completely rinse out. That is why when using store detergent you have to “strip” cloth diapers and towels periodically.
    2) If your water heater is set low and it is cold (so your pipes are cold) the water may not be really good and hot by the time it gets to your machine in the morning. Since you do one load a day in the morning it could be in lukewarm water. Check your water heating setting and turn it up (uses a bit more gas $) or run the washer after showers.

  • Amber

    I made that same exact recipe. Unfortunately, I put the OxyClean in it & I hate it! It makes ours clothes looks so faded! I’ve had to buy numerous color boosters to keep our clothes looking nice! I do not have a problem with the rest of the recipe, though. I used fels-nappa (spelling) bars instead of site, though. Smells clean and clothes seem to be clean. Lasted about 6 months so far. I’ll be making it again without oxyclean. Is there stain remover that I can add to recipe that isn’t oxyclean, I wonder?

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I haven’t heard of one Amber. Maybe you could do a little research on the internet.

  • http://halfpintacademy.blogspot.com Willow

    I used the duggars recipe for liquid and found I was using waay to much to get them clean and that the sour smell happened. I think I discovered it was because of our hard water. Borax helps, so I tried adding more Borax and it helped. I haven’t kept it up, but since I have most of the ingredients I am hoping to try it again after we move. I also use Dr. Bronners soap, because the fragrance of the felsNampa was too much for me when I was grating!

  • Lori

    I save on dryer sheets. Use a square piece of fabric and spray 5-9 squirts of fabric softener on it. Place the cloth dryer sheet in the dryer and reuse/respray as long as the cloth holds up. Periodically wash the dryer sheet to get rid of buildup. One bottle of fabric softener will now go a LONG way.

  • Jessiqa

    For years I used Xtra laundry detergent because it was the cheapest liquid detergent I could find. About 9 months after moving to our new house (with its own used washer) the washer itself took on that terrible smell, and it would not go away even after 2 rounds of commercial washing machine cleaners (Afresh and Tide) and running it with just hot water and a whole bottle of bleach. Since switching to my homemade laundry detergent the smell is gone! Here’s my recipe: Place 1 cup borax and 1 cup washing soda in a clean 1 gallon milk jug, fill halfway with HOT water, and shake until dissolved. Add 3/4 cup liquid dish soap (any brand should work, I use Mrs. Meyer’s in rosemary because I like the scent and it’s all natural), then fill the rest of the way with cold water. I use about 1/4 cup per large load.

    • Tamala

      Jessica – When you say “liquid dish soap” do you mean the type you wash dishes by hand with? Or liquid dishWASHER soap? Just want to make sure because this recipe sounds very doable! Thanks!

      • sandra

        Liquid dish detergent – the kind you use to wash dishes. I use either Dawn or Gain.

    • Michelle

      Does the dish soap create a high sudsing action during the wash cicle? I’m asking because I have a front load HE washer.

  • http://www.themoneybadger.blogspot.com Tricia

    I’ll throw my hat in the ring on this one.

    Like many others, I’ve made the DIY laundry soap for years. In the beginning, there was an issue with a smell, but I quickly learned that by adding some OxyClean and regularly cleaning my HE washer on a hot cleaning cycle, I could rid myself of that odd, lingering sour smell.

    With that said – many people I personally know have also tried to make their own laundry soap, and it seems that every person’s experience is different. I tried tracking who had an HE washer, who washed in cold water, who cleaned their machines, who had hard water, etc. The variables were so numerous, I gave up.

    I did notice that those with very hard water typically had the least desirable results. Our water, I discovered isn’t just hard – it’s downright *crunchy* on the water hardness scale.

    Now that I’ve learned how to tweak it for our circumstance, I love it and will probably never go back to commercial detergents unless I am too sick or too lazy to make it!

  • Mel

    I use the homemade also and have had some t-shirts smell foul. I started adding a small amount of Odoban. I also use vinegar.

  • kathy

    have been using the liquid homemade laundry soap. i have used both zote and fels naptha. i have had no problems at all. i no longer need to use fabric softener at all.i made the diy wool dryer balls and they are great. my clothes just smell clean. my husband and son dont want to smell like lavender or lemons. no sour smell at all.

  • Savannah

    I have tried using homemade laundry soap both as a liquid and the powder. I first started using the liquid and noticed that I was getting spots on my clothes so I changed to the powder and I seem to still be getting spots on my clothes. Any ideas? Anyone else experience spots on their clothes?

  • Brandy

    I absolutely love this recipe. I have been using it for months and find it no different than the other detergent I used to buy. It is definitely cheaper and lasts a lot longer than other detergents. I would highly recommend this recipe for anyone wanting to save money. I have become a frugal person also. I’ve made my own febreeze, cleaners and cook most of our food from scratch.

  • Adrienne

    I didn’t read all of the comments, so I don’t know if anybody else mentioned it, but I read at Natural Mom’s Talk Radio that she had the same problem with the weird smell and she found that putting a couple drops of tea tree essential oil really helped. I did the same thing and it worked for me too.

  • sandra

    I’ve never had the weird sour smell and I have been using homemade detergent for a few months now. However, I use the liquid kind.

    I use 2 cups of Borax
    2 cups of washing soda
    1/2 cup of Dawn or Gain dish detergent
    Downy Unstoppables to give it that fresh smell.

    I mix all of this up in a 5 gallon bucket with hot water. Once it’s all mixed up, I pour it into 1 gallon jugs and wait for them to gel up.

  • Susan

    I used the homemade laundry detergent and after 6 months of using it my whites are very dingy!!! Time to go back to Tide pods!!!

  • Sandy

    Hi Kimberlee! I have just started following you.. THANK YOU so much for sharing so much of your struggles and experience! My children are grown, but we have always struggled and I am making the plunge to become more financially free! I am writing you because I already implement a lot of the same things you do, but you have given me some more great ideas.

    I make the laundry soap for almost a year now, and I use Fels Nappa. However, I make the liquid version. We love it! The only thing I do different is I have a Downy ball that I put vinegar in to the fill line and throw in the wash. I still use cheap dryer sheets. Our clothes are clean and smell great! I also discovered if I use the double the amount needed in a SMALL load, my husbands’ dirty grimy work shirts come out cleaner! Hope this helps….It has been a serious money saver for us.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Hi Sandy–welcome! I have heard that the liquid version works better, I just haven’t tried it yet. Thanks for the info. :)

  • Mary G.

    I don’t have problems with odors on my clothes, but my teen does. We solve the problem by adding an extra 1/2 cup of baking soda to her load, use warm water, then once the machine begins to agitate, we shut it off for 30+ minutes and let the clothes SOAK.

    I add white vinegar to both the wash AND rinse cycles too. No need for fabric softener that way, so the washing machine doesn’t get that nasty greasy build up, and the dryer stays clean too.

    Also, leave the lid OPEN when not in use, so it dries out thoroughly!

  • Nicki

    I, too, have hard water…horribly hard water!!! I have used every recipe out there and eventually stopped using my homemade detergent b/c of the sour smell and dinginess. I have decided to try it again and have made 2 gallons of dry detergent in a large glass canister but this time added 2 bars grated Fels Naptha, 2 bars grated castile soap, 1 box borax, 1 box washing soda, and a container of oxyclean free and clear. I am really hoping for good results.
    I also made the suave conditioner/vinegar fabric softener recipe and am using that with it. I had never thought of the fact the homemade stuff was not really formulated for cold water. I will wash with warm and see if that makes all the difference this time. If I still have problems with our hard water and detergent I will add a container per gallon of purex crystals to the mix. Here’s to success!

  • Terri H

    this recipe has worked to take the sour smell out of towels for my BFF when she was having the sour smell issue that even regular store bought detergent couldnt get rid of ….she has hard water as well,,this combination has worked ..Ive been using it for months and it works good for our family and many of our friends use this as well..we alternate with the liquid as well too!! try it the baking soda and oxiclean should make a difference with your hard water….:)

    1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax- laundry booster -Borax will: whiten your whites, soften hard water, remove soap residue from your clothing, neutralize any laundry odors, disinfect clothing, increase the stain removal ability of your detergent
    1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda adds extra cleaning and freshening power remove stains especially greasy stains
    1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean- brightens laundry,helps to remove odors
    4 (14.1 oz) Bars of Fels Naptha Soap-soap removes stains and powerful cleaning of clothing
    1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda-give you whiter whites, brighter brights, and odor free clothing.
    2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener- (If you are okay with no scent in your clothes, you can omit this)- helps clothing smell so yummy!!

    • Michelle

      What amount to you put into each large load with this recipe?

      • amey mcwhorter

        this is the recipe me and my friend have been using for about 6 months now. we were just visiting and started talking about our soap seems to be leaving our clothes smelling really bad. we live in north florida have hard water so im not sure if thats our problem or not. i have decided to try zote instead of fells naptha next time. she tried ivory soap instead of fells naptha and still got the awful smell and went back to store bought detergent. i still want to try to tweak it somehow cause it saves so much money.

  • http://www.bearmountainbooks.com Maria (BearMountainBooks)

    I made the liquid/gel with Fels, but I have been reading that using too much will cause a build-up. For that problem, use Vinegar as a rinse or right in the wash.

    I also have read that some of the smell problems are from front load washers–mold gets in various parts of the gasket seal on the front door and can cause problems with smell. If that is the case, I don’t think going back to regular store bought would solve the problem.

    As for the soaps–Fels and probably Zote contain detergents–not just soap. Ivory doesn’t so I can see where it would work differently. Any skin soap (even if it does contain a detergent) probably doesn’t contain the same high amounts of detergent.

    From what I gather in researching, soap is only one small component of cleaning clothes–there’s an important pH that is really doing most of the work. The soap contains oils that allow the soil particles to stay agitated in the water and off the clothes. Thus, soap bubbles are not important.

    I am quite sure I never get water hot enough to dissolve the bar of Fels. I melted it in water on the stove and that took 15 minutes of very hot water and stirring–so I can’t imagine that the washer would always get the soap part dissolved. I wash in cold a lot and dry on a line.

    I used a “whipped” recipe to keep the finished liquid “gelled.” (You can’t use oxyclean in the recipe if you are whipping it–you have to add it separate if you want it.

    I don’t particularly care for the heavy smell of Fels so I will probably try zote next…even though the smell doesn’t necessarily stay on the clothing, just working with it is such a strong smell!

  • Mary

    My socks came out gray at the foot part and white at the leg part. “What gives?”

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      I am not sure unless they are made of different fabrics and one of them absorbs color more.

  • Sandy

    Hi Kimberlee! Was just going through your Pinterest boards and saw this pin and read it. I also make homemade laundry detergent. I make the liquid and use Fels Naptha soap. It is made for laundry and is a great stain fighter/treatment. My sister tried the powder form and reported similar results to yours. However, I use a downy ball with vinegar in every load. Been using this almost a year now and have had no trouble with sour or bad odors. Might want to try it again using the liquid and vinegar. I also use dryer sheets for the dryer.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks Sandy!

  • http://www.myblissfulspace.com Crystal @My Blissful Space

    I’ve had increasing issues with the smell as well. Initially my husband thought it was just fleece and that maybe there was a reaction with something in the homemade detergent (we use Borax, Super Washing Soda, baking soda, Fels Naptha and OxiClean). But I’m noticing the smell now on tanks and camis and my fitted Old Navy tees. Does seem like maybe there are some fabrics that are worse. We wash everything in warm/cold except for towels and undies, which we wash in hot. We have soft water. I really don’t want to give up my detergent so hoping to find a solution!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Let me know if you find a solution. I finally had to stop using it. :(

  • Elizabeth

    I have recently came across on how to make laundry soap I have been doing loads of research mainly the only reason I’m looking into making my own is because my daughter an I both have extremely sensitive skin and the fragrance free soap is well just overly priced.. I come to the conclusion that I’m going to try several different recipes making about a weeks worth to start out with of each one. But for the smell I have found that one thing that is common in store bought soap is a for of Salt, hydrogen, Ammonia, a couple of other ingredients that cut grease.. But not only grease but mold that can build up over time in the drum of your washing machine.. With the dirt, grease, and mold these can get back into your clothes and cause the smell that you had.. Like many other people suggested that it could be your washing machine that is true.. I suggest take and turning your washer to the hottest setting and pour two cups of ammonia, 2c. Epsom salt dissolved , and 1c. Washing Soda without any clothes run it on a cycle that has a long soak this should help clean your washer and remove build up of the bacteria in your washer. Because even using store bought soaps you can still get bacteria build up that can lead to a dingy(sour) smell.. think about it mold build up in your shower if you don’t clean it regularly it can happen to your washing machine and dishwasher and the build up can cause several problems.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks for the tip Elizabeth! I would suggest that readers check with the manufacturer of their machine before they use Epsom salts in their machine.

  • leslie

    ok, I made the recipe of 1 box each of: borax, washing soda, baking soda, 1 bar zote…blended till fine powder. i used 2 tblsps for large load children’s clothes. warm wash, cold rinse. used 1/2 c vinegar for softener.

    this is my first ever load…tonight. It reeks to high heaven in my whole house like….old cat pee. I have no cat. but golly, the washer is front loading he, less than year old. Never ever ever had smell before. It’s kinda nauseating.

    put load into dryer anyways…this is supposed to work…on a wing and a prayer…dried without any bad smell. no smell good or bad…just no smell and superb softness i have ever felt. static gallore tho. threw it back in on steam cycle and whoa — the bad smell came back.

    i am heart broken. what gives?

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      If you read my update, that was my finding too. I don’t know if it is from the fat in the soap or what, but I am definitely not using the homemade detergent anymore. Hopefully you can get the smell out by using regular detergent.

  • Tina

    I have been making my own laundry detergent for a little over a year now. I have made liquid laundry soap one with Zote and the others with Fels Naptha. And I can tell you DO NOT USE ZOTE. It doesn’t have a good smell. I think someone said it smelled like cat pee and that is true. So I dumped that detergent out and went back to Fels Naptha.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks Tina. I do think that was the problem with my batch.

  • Shelley Burge

    I know many people with front loaders have a terrible problem with sour smells and mold in their machines. The machines must be washed a certain amount of cycles (depends on model) with Hot water and a special cleaner. But what most fail to do is clean the gaskets of the soap scum and mold build up, so it comes right back in no time.
    I have a HE top loader and we leave it open between washes so it can dry out and we run the “pure cycle” (which is our models version of the clean cycle) which uses “VERY HOT” water and we put some vinegar in the drum for added disinfecting power.
    I have been making homemade detergent for over 6 months now and have not experienced any sour smells. My machine has a “ECO warm” setting for water temp and I use that on all washes except for towels and bedding in which I use “VERY HOT”.
    I have tried 2 different recipes, one with ZOTE and one with Fels Nappa. I preferred the Fels Nappa better. I am about to make a new recipe, this time with Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap.
    Regardless the DIY recipe I use white vinegar in rinse cycle for every wash!
    I have read that a dash of salt works well for hard water issues and is also good for color brightness.
    I do not use bleach at all anymore, I use homemade bleach with Hydrogen Peroxide.
    If you still use bleach, DO NOT use vinegar in the cycle. They have a chemical reaction!
    The biggest change I have tried and LOVE is wool dryer balls! No more chemical filled dryer sheets (although I love the way they smell!). You can buy wool dryer balls or make them yourself. Either way they are 100% wool, they suck the dampness out of the clothes and cut down your drying time. The wool balls also eliminate the static cling problem!!! I use Lavender Essential Oils on the dryer balls and keep them in a air tight container between uses to infuse the fragrance, cause EO are expensive! If you do not use the EO, I found my clean clothes come out smelling like the hot dryer drum and were less than yummy.
    Between the DIY detergent, “ECO warm” water setting, the vinegar for rinse cycle/fabric softener, and my 100% wool dryer balls infused with Lavender EO…… I love the way my laundry smells (especially the towels & bedding), I love the way my laundry looks, I love the fact that I am eliminating chemicals from our home and earth….and I am especially loving my grocery bill savings!
    I do know this….everyone’s PH balance is different and will react differently to these homemade recipes. That may be why some people still have arm pit stains or smells in their work clothes. You may have to experiment till you find what works, make smaller batches as trials.
    For me personally, I have allergies and asthma, and my husband and daughter have eczema. The Borax seems to make the eczema itch like crazy (and it is not even dry winter yet) and there is a lot of debate on health concerns of Borax. For my next recipe I will try without the Borax, although I wonder if my clothes will come out as clean? I adore the way the washing soda makes the laundry smell, but the powder of the washing soda really stirs up my asthma every time I scoop it into the washer….that is why I am trying a liquid version this time around. Wish me luck!

  • Michelle

    I realize this post is older, but I am going to throw in my two cents. I have used the Duggar Recipe for the powder in the last two washing machines I have had. The first time I tried, I was living in town with a top-loader, and now, I live in the country with another top-loader and well-water with a lot of iron. Both times, I can honestly say that I haven’t had any problems. I use the homemade on sheets, towels, every day clothes, and then I save my “good” detergent for my dress clothes, special care items, etc. I use plain Ivory bar soap, super washing soda, and borax. I don’t use anything fancy. I read on another website that for whites, you can add about a cup of peroxide in the bleach dispenser for extra stain remover. I do wash everything on “warm” though and use my “good” detergent for things that need washed on cold. I still use dryer sheets. Once my dryer sheets are out though, I want to make those wool balls.

    I choose to make detergent because I live about 30 miles away from the stores, and I find it easier to keep the ingredients on hand rather than to have to buy big containers of store-bought detergent when I get groceries.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee

      Thanks for the tips Michelle!

  • Merrie

    I didn’t take the time to read all the comments so maybe someone already told you this: Adding white vinegar to the final rinse will remove all odors. Bonus is that it makes your clothes super soft and you don’t need softener. I do NOT like Zote soap, I use 2-3 bars Fels Naptha. I also DO NOT add baking soda. Just the box of borax, and a box of washing soda. I microwave the fels after cutting into chunks for about two minutes and let it air dry for a day or two and then pulverize it in my ninja. It takes seconds and makes a fine powder. Smells really good and works great! Just add it to the water before you put the clothes in if you have problems with it not disolving. Ive been using it for over a year and will never go back to using THE BIG NAME brand. I found your blog through your Frugality vs Poverty post on Pinterest and couldn’t agree more. Love your blog!

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Hi Merrie – welcome! Thanks for the input. I am going to try the vinegar idea and see if that helps (and I don’t blame you for not reading 186 comments – haha!).

    • vtmom2

      I use the same recipe but add essential oil to either the bucket or individual container .

  • Julie

    Wow, I can’t see me ever going to all that trouble, and I’m also very picky about smells. I have found if I go to Big Lots Outlet Store, I can get a fragrance free detergent — 125 loads for $6. I used to buy my detergent at Giant Eagle for $6 and it was a much smaller bottle.

    I normally wash one load a day, so that is going to last me 2 months. I think it’s a good deal. The problem is that it’s an outlet store, so it may be gone next time I go. Maybe I should have stocked up.

    I always wash my clothes with warm. The reason I choose warm, is the water comes out faster. If I choose cold, a small stream of water is going into the washer, and it takes forever. But I might switch to cold. I do use hot for whites.

  • James Gause Jr

    The pink version of the Zote soap has a much better smell than the white.

    • http://thepeacefulmom.com Kimberlee Stokes

      Thanks for the tip James!

  • Snarf

    I found that if there’s not enough barred-soap in your soap, you’ll get that funkadelic smell.

    • http://www.thepeacefulmom.com/ The Peaceful Mom

      Thanks for the tip!

  • Cherryl

    It’s the ingredients which clash with each other. Baking soda is a very weak cleaner. You really only need the borax, super washing soda, and the soap. Really, you only need borax if you have hard water. I also use Fels-Naptha instead of Zote soap. My recipe is for mom’s super boss laundry sauce that comes out like whipped butter. This seems to allow the ingredients to more easily dissolve in the wash. Without needing vinegar in the rinse my clothes come out smelling fresh, and then I hang them outside to dry–double-fresh!
    I noticed that you followed a recipe but omitted ingredients. I think it takes a couple of tries with any recipe before you can tinker with them successfully. I do like Zote soap for dishwashing, just never tried it for my laundry yet. It has citronella, which could become a bit funky smelling.

    • http://www.thepeacefulmom.com/ The Peaceful Mom

      Thanks Cherryl! I have heard others say that the Zote may have been the problem. I just haven’t tried it again.

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