Embracing Everything Emma

Enjoying Life One Baby Step at a Time…

Clean as a Whistle September 17, 2012

Filed under: Embracing Everything Mommy — erinnlinkous @ 6:00 am

When I began this blog, one of my first posts was about how to keep things clean and remove stains. I still use a lot of the suggestions I gave in that post but one thing I had yet to try was making my own laundry detergent. When I got pregnant with Emma, I stocked up on A LOT of laundry detergent that would work with her sensitive baby skin. I had a supply that lasted me well. I just finished it up about 2 weeks ago. Time for my own detergent! I wanted to share with you my thoughts on it and how it compares to other things we’ve tried. Oh, and it’s great for sensitive skin, too!

First off, I got this recipe for powdered laundry detergent with GREAT reviews. I have several friends who make their own and this is the recipe they use. It smells great. It cleans great. I’ve never walked around them and noticed stains everywhere or a foul odor following them so after hearing all the rave, I knew I had to try it, too. I always try to do my follow up homework. I don’t try something very often that no one else has tried before- I’m a trial and error kind of girl. Being that other people do the trial and errors, I get the final product.

The second thing I did was buy my supplies. It was relatively cheap, too. Here is what I found to make my detergent:

  • Grater- call me weird, but I didn’t want to use a cheese grater that we used regularly to make our detergent. I found this one at Target on clearance for about $2 and it has several different levels on it. I used the one that grated my fels naptha the finest. It worked like a charm! I will add here that several people have used their blender or food processor for something that grates less fine.
  • Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda- I looked at my local Kroger for this and was unable to find any. I was really disappointed. Maybe they were out that day? I ended up running by Food City who had it on sale for $2.50. Not bad!
  • Borax- I love borax so I already had a stash and no receipt. Average cost for this from Target (which is where I bought mine) is about $4. It is totally worth it. It goes such a long way and has so many different purposes. A lot of times I’ll throw some borax in my washing machine and run it without clothes just to clean it. I LOVE borax!
  • Fels Naptha- This didn’t cost me a dime. It was a gift from my friend, Stacy, Thanks Stacy! Actually Barry picked it up so we’ll thank him too! It normally runs for about $1.50 at your local grocery store however I have heard you can get it at Walmart for $.97. I will be more than happy to spend $.43 extra to keep my sanity. No thanks, Walmart.

When I finally ran out of my store bought detergent, I did a little dance. I was on cloud nine. I pulled out all my supplies along with my awesome storage container- a potato salad holder from Sams. I love things with multiple purposes. I put my grater in the potato salad holder and began grating my fels naptha on the finest side (you can also use other soaps, like ivory, if that’s your preference). It worked so well and was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I had to watch my hands so I didn’t cut them. I haven’t bought my fancy gloves yet. I will soon though! Once the fels naptha was finished, I sniffed my creation. Call me weird. It’s ok. I love the smell and reminds me of clean clothes. We run out of clean clothes around our house quick. Keep in mind you use the ENTIRE bar of fels naptha. Don’t forget! The next thing I did was pour in 1 cup of the washing soda and 1 cup of borax. I’ve heard rumors that you can use 2 cups of each but for my first batch I decided I would play it safe and use the recipe I knew. Once it was all in there I pulled out my spatula and began mixing away. It smelt so good that for the first time I wished I had dirty clothes to wash. I mixed and mixed, probably more than I needed to, and then found my measuring utensil. I had a leftover plastic spoon from eating out a few weeks ago and stuck it in there. Perfect! Didn’t cost us a dime. I snapped the lid on and put it on my washing machine waiting for the need for it to be used.

The time finally arrived and we had some dirty clothes. Being a weaning momma, I run out of clean clothes a lot faster especially if I’m out and about all day. I put the clothes in the washer and put two scoops of my new detergent in the wash with them, which averaged out to about 1 tablespoon. Different recipes called for different things but the most consistent thing I saw was 1 tbsp for regular clothes and 2 tbsp for actually “dirty” clothes (ie: soiled, stinky, etc). Let me add here that we have an HE washing machine and this recipe is GREAT for it. The soap doesn’t sud and is completely safe to use. So don’t be concerned when you don’t see bubbles. Something it also doesn’t do is make your clothes smell exactly like the soap. It’s just like adding white vinegar for stains, the smell doesn’t stick around after the wash is finished. I was ok with no fresh smell but decided to go ahead and throw in a dryer sheet for an added bonus. If I don’t have dryer sheets, I will still use this homemade detergent. One day I hope to have a line to dry my clothes but don’t get me started. If JR hears me talking about line drying clothes again I may go missing. It’s pretty much a daily topic at the Linkous house.

Here is my review as well as the recipe. Enjoy!


  • This was QUICK and EASY. I made this in less than 5 minutes and was amazed at how quick it came together. Using a fine grater was definitely key. The only thing you use ALL of is the bar soap. The other stuff will last for multiple loads. It took less time than it would for me to clip coupons, find the detergent on sale, and go buy it.
  • I wish I had doubled mine. Once I tried it and realized how much I loved it, I wanted more. From now on, double batch it will be!
  • It’s cheap. The total cost you would normally spend to purchase all these items would be around $7.50, but you have to consider that you don’t use ALL of the ingredients the first time around. It averages out to be about $.05-.10 a load depending on the price you spend for the ingredients. That’s CHEAP. Cheaper than store board. Oh, and I definitely think it smells better, too! Here’s how it averages out:
    • 1 cup of borax= $.44
    • I cup of washing soda= $.38
    • 1 bar fels naptha= $1.50
    • Total= $2.32 (with 50 loads this averages at $.0464, or $.05, a load!)


  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 bar fels naptha (or other bar soap for washing)

Do you make your own detergent? If so, do you use the same recipe or a different one?


4 Responses to “Clean as a Whistle”

  1. That’s weird about Kroger…I’ve found it there before. It was on the top shelf…..glad you enjoy it! Wait till you hear about Soap Nuts. 😉

  2. Lori Says:

    I really want to try this but I’m such a laundry snob! I love my downy and April fresh scent 😦 I know I can make my own fabric softener but did I mention I’m a laundry snob. Maybe I need to transition myself slowly…very very slowly lol.

    • erinnlinkous Says:

      It’s taken me awhile. I was really impressed. I thought I wouldn’t like it but I did so that was good for me 🙂 I still haven’t done fabric softener but white vinegar can be used as a natural softener, FYI. And I’m talking about white vinegar tomorrow, too 😉

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