Why I WON’T Use Homemade Laundry Soap

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Why I won't use homemade laundry soap

The Lesson I Learned about Homemade Laundry Soap

I have seen SO many posts over the years about saving money by making your own homemade laundry soap.  I think it’s a good idea – in theory.  However, I learned a tough lesson about this more than 25 years ago.  My mother-in-law found some laundry soap that was on a “great sale” and she gave me some of it.

I was a busy working Mom with a toddler, so didn’t really think too much about it.  I just dumped in load after load of laundry with this bargain basement laundry soap.  However, after a few weeks, I started to notice that all our clothes had started to fade.  Our jeans looked dingy, my husband’s dark work blue work shirts looked about two shades lighter than the ones I hadn’t washed in this detergent, and worst of all, some of my expensive work clothes were looking noticeably faded and dingy.  Oooops!  

This crappy soap ruined just about every piece of clothing we owned.  The sad part was, we were a young couple on a budget – the clothes looked really awful, but we still had to wear them for months and months.  That makes for a memorable lesson so now when I see these posts for all the homemade laundry soap, I just pass them by.  

It’s a Risky Way to Save Money

That’s the problem with something like this.  Yes, you may save a few bucks by using a homemade laundry soap, and you may manage to find a recipe for it that is awesome.  Maybe it’s healthier or better for your clothes than a commercial soap, but it’s definitely a risk to save a relatively small amount of money.  What if you pull someone’s soap recipe off some blog post, and it’s just a little bit “off” as this one was?

I’m don’t know about you, but I’m no scientist.  I have no clue what goes into a good or bad detergent.  Do you?  And when you put a load of laundry in the washer, it may have several hundred dollars worth of clothes in it.  And if you happen to be a busy Mom like me, who isn’t paying close attention, it could be a very expensive mistake.  Yikes….

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  1. I do make my own laundry detergent, but only for towels and underwear! LOL! I still use the tried and true brands for our clothes for the exact reasons you mentioned. I am especially picky about what I use for my work and church clothes.I like to take good care of them so they last! Also, the powder detergent I make can leave a residue on dark fabrics and black pants are a staple for work. That said, it still saves me some money to make a batch of detergent once every 6 months or so, because we go though a ton of towels!

    1. Great tip. I should probably do that periodically just to get my whites really bright. I’ve noticed our socks especially being kind of dingy.


  3. I use the same recipe my great grandmother used…not a hit or miss for me. But then again, I also taught Chemistry for a while. A little knowledge can go a long way.

    1. Boy, that’s handy to know. I know diddly squat about chemistry, but sometimes I think those old tried and tested recipes are the best.

  4. I use different soap on most things. I have comforter dog blankets, dog toys and they can get them pretty dirty along with my outdoor work clothes. I use Dawn dish detergent and Borax or Dawn and bleach on most things. I was out of soap once and squirted some in. I was so shocked they only had to be washed once.
    My other clothes I use a top store brand or hand wash. I have been doing this for years and it doesn’t clog my washer. The whites come out whiter than my #1 brand laundry soap. I agree about that bargain soap, it ruins things.

  5. I have been making my own soap for about two years now and I love it for several reasons…I work in an environment where fragrance free is strictly enforced, both my daughter and I have sensitive skin and I try to be frugal to the best of my ability. I have noticed that my whites tend to be a little dingier but my family wears mostly dark colors anyway, so it really is not that big a deal. I do use regular fragrance laundry soap for my bed linens and animal beds but the bottle is small and lasts a lot longer. I recently put a new pump in my front loading washing and was worried that he was going to tell me that it was my homemade soap that caused it, but he said that it wasn’t at fault, just plain old wear and tear. Sooo…I went ahead and made my soap for the year for a grand total of $45.00

    1. Sounds like it’s working out well for you. I think it’s kind of hit ‘n miss, if you manage to find a recipe for soap that works well or doesn’t. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I also make my own laundry soap and decided to add OXY clean in with it. I use hot water, fill it up before adding clothes and agetate the washer a bit before I add my clothes in. My experience has been wonderful. I have found that the recipe I use will get out “stink” that some pricey brands I’ve used just will not. I have an elderly dog that cannot help herself, but she “leaks” on all of her beds. And NOTHING would get that pee smell out, except the homemade laundry soap I made. It also gets the stink out of my husbands work clothes….and he is a plumber. So for me it has worked out well. So sorry for your bad experience and diy is not for everyone. But it has saved me TONS of money on detergent…and that is worth it to me. I DO have some of my favorite detergent on hand for our work and wear clothes. I mainly use the homemade on the pet beds, hubbys work clothes and towels. So the money I save is definitely worst it, just to not have to use the expensive brand on EVERY load. Hope the review helps. Have a beautiful new year 🙂

    1. Oh lord save us from incontinent dogs. My son and daughter-in-law have one too. It’s definitely a problem to get that smell out permanently. It’s a good thing you’ve found something that works. It seems like most people use a mix of homemade and store bought. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I’ve been making my laundry detergent for about a year. And yes our whites are gray and dingy. I too thought it was the water, but now I’m not so sure. I need to rethink this one. Thanks for all the post. It helps

  8. You definitely make a good point; I have no doubt there are bad recipes out there. If a homemade recipe seems to work, except on the whites, as Janelle said, you could still use the home adequate stuff on your colours and so etching else on the whites. I’ve been using my own soap for maybe 6 months and so far it’s great. My clothes smell clean, they’re not fading, don’t look dingy. My recipe is really simple though.
    I think it’s worth a shot to try before you decide commercial is the way 🙂

  9. I’ve used homemade laundry soap, and the recipe I used worked pretty well for getting the clothes clean. The only drawback was that it took too long to make it for the amount of money I saved. I can get decent detergent at a good price waiting for sales and using coupons. Right now I’m hooked on Persil and don’t want to use anything else.

    1. That’s a good point. I didn’t think about the time factor to make it up. Persil? I haven’t heard of that one. I’ll have to check it out. We just switched to something very mild because the new high efficiency soaps were irritating my husband’s skin.

    1. That’s smart too. I didn’t even think about the homemade soap clogging up the machine, but I’ll bet it would. Thanks for pointing that out.

  10. I’ve tried homemade laundry soap several times over the past twenty years. I even gave the recipe to my mom to try. Verdict – YUCK! Hard or soft water, the homemade soap gave us dingy, *smelly* clothes! Whites ended up absolutely gray. I remember buying a white shirt for my husband and holding it next to the freshly washed older “white” shirt and realizing that the older shirt was honest to goodness GRAY. And they smelled bad. Washing in good detergent didn’t help. I ended up tossing a lot of clothes.

  11. I have been using Homemade laundry soap for a few years now. I have not noticed any of my colored clothes looking different, or faded. BUUUUTT this is a huge but I have noticed my whites look dingy and I cannot stand it. I just chalked it up to my horrible El Paso water and was going to see what happened when we moved. The thought occurred to me a few times that it might be my laundry soap but though NAH the colors look better why wouldn’t the whites. I had another friends in this area that has whites turned gray too, so I figured it was just the water. (but she also made laundry soap….just a different recipe) Now I am wondering again…Thanks for getting me thinking!

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