How To “Sweeten” Your Homemade Laundry Detergent

The Laundry Chronicles

I have written a LOT about make homemade laundry detergent.

Here is a rundown of all the posts I have done that chronicle my laundry detergent journey:

It has definitely been an educational process! But one of the things I haven’t talked about much is how to get that “fresh and clean” laundry smell that the expensive name brand detergents offer…but for a fraction of the price!

Almost from the beginning (over a year ago now)…I’ve been using Downy Unstopables Fresh Scent Booster for when I want to add a nice scent to the my homemade laundry detergent.

I realize there are other ways to add scent to the wash…namely adding your favorite Essential Oils. Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my essential oils! I actually have quite a collection now! But I personally find it hard to use these precious oils for sweetening the wash water. They’re just too valuable to me for that, and in my experience with them, you have to use a fair amount for it to make a difference in the scent of the soap.

So I continue to use Downy Unstopables. There are two scents available: Fresh and Lush.

Downy Unstopables

My personal favorite is FRESH because of it’s clean and breezy scent….but I have also used LUSH which has a relaxing lavender smell. Not only do they SMELL wonderful (no really, they do!)…you only need a very small amount in each load of clothes in order to get that nice scent!  Honestly, if I use more than a teaspoon in a load…it’s too strong for me. I like a very subtle scent. Each bottle lasts me a LONG time because I don’t actually end up using the product in every load of wash…which is another PLUS in my book! You can decide if you want to use it in the dirty work clothes or just your more delicates. ;-)

OR….if you don’t want to bother with adding something to each wash load…I have also experimented with adding the product to my homemade stuff. When I am adding the HOT WATER to my Super Fast and Easy Laundry Detergent I add some of the Downy Unstopables too. I probably use about 2 to 3 tablespoons per one gallon of laundry detergent I make. It works great and eliminates a separate step…which I’m definitely in favor of. :-)

Homemade Laundry Detergent

If you are interested in trying out the Downy Unstopables to “sweeten” your homemade laundry detergent, the P&G eStore has a deal for readers of my blog.

Now through August 31st, 2012 get 10% ALL items at the P&G eStore and get FREE shipping on orders over $25. If you purchase this item or any others through any of the links on this post, I will earn a commission from P&G.

And right now is an especially good time to check out the store because P&G is a big Olympic sponsor and there are a lot of great Olympic-themed bundles and deals right now to take advantage of.

I would love to know if you decide to try this out.

Also, I bet you could think of lots MORE uses for this stuff too! (Stinky shoes perhaps?? A musty storage closet??)

Please feel free to share! :-)

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  1. Sarah Smith says

    Hi! I was just wondering about the chemicals in these UnStoppables. I’ve been making your laundry detergent and LOVE it, partly because I know all the ingredients. Would adding something like this defeat the purpose?

    • Erika says

      I just tried your idea with the Purex Crystals in Fresh Spring Water. I’m so happy!! I have been trying to figure out how to make my whole apartment smell like that without having to wash my slip covers every two weeks. Thank you so much for the awesome idea!

  2. Stephanie says

    I use the Purex version, only because its cheaper. It’s still a great product! I would have NEVER thought to add these to my laundry detergent! Great idea! Will definitely check the epage for the Downy deals!

    • Amy says

      I made one of the powdered versions of the laundry soap and used the purex crystals. I smelled all the other ones and really liked the Purex best. But I had also been previously using Purex laundry soap so I may have already trained myself to like that smell.

    • says

      Because they use less water, HE front-load washers require soap that is less sudsy. The good news is, this homemade detergent is VERY low suds. So it is my PERSONAL opinion that you should be able to use this in HE washers with confidence.
      Also, there have been many, many HE washer owners who have commented on other posts that they use it and it works just fine.
      Hope this helps!

      • Ayshela says

        They also require much less soap, since they’re using less water. My Sister in law had to have hers replaced under warranty because a part actually failed because she didn’t know she had to reduce the soap to about a tablespoon per load. Just in case anyone else didn’t know… =)

      • CTY says

        Clean it very well inside & let dry. The cap can be used to measure–the line in the cap is 2 TB. Use it to dispense anything–and doesn’t take up much space. Love the carpet deodorizer use. Holds my homemade dish washer detergent. Good for filling with grass seed and dispensing to the small bald spots in the yard. You can fill with “snow melt” and keep by the steps for quick re-treatment. Fill with Borax & sprinkle on weeds between the sidewalk cracks (Borax will kill all plants, so use it in isolation to other plants). Fill with Legos to keep in car for times when you are trapped in a grown up place & the kids need something to do (waiting rooms etc). Can also hold a variety of games in same container: pick up sticks, barrel of monkeys, jacks (do kids still play jacks?), marbles, cat’s cradle elastic band. Fill with confetti or rocks (for noise makers) for Homecoming games. Fill with water or sand for cheap free weights. Use as pretty balloon bouquet weights. Keep all your tent stakes together. Keep spoons, forks, knives for camping. DIY survival pack: fill with matches, light sticks,whistle, small flashlight, little hand sanitizer bottles, first aid items etc. Pretty soon you will be anxiously awaiting your next empty bottle. Use to keep you homemade dry detergent in.

  3. says

    When I make my homemade laundry detergent, I use the “grate the soap” type of recipe. So, when I am melting the soap on the stove, I add my UnStoppables then. They melt quickly with the soap and it’s super easy to mix the scent equally throughout the entire batch. For the non-grate recipe, you could melt some UnStoppables and add to the finished batch. I love that, with this method, you can control the strength of the scent…and it doesn’t take much of the UnStoppables to get great smelling laundry!

    • WendyB says

      As soon as I clicked on the link, a pop-up in the new window said 10% off for new customers. I’ve never been to the online P&G store, so I guess I’d qualify. If you’ve been to the site before, maybe it’s recognizing your IP address or cookies and doesn’t think you’re a new customer?

      • WendyB says

        I closed the window, then went back through the link again. The pop-up with the 10% off code didn’t come back up. So I’m guessing you may have visited the site before and it remembers you. :-( On the up side, There are $2 off coupons you can apply to the Downy Unstoppables. (Wishing I had written down that 10% off code right about now…)

    • says

      P Jones….when I first clicked on the link at window popped up with the 10% off coupon code: QXA-LEI-KY3-ISA. The next time I clicked on the site it didn’t come up. So I cleared my cookies in my browser, clicked on it again, and it came up. Hope this helps! :-)

    • says

      I was actually curious about that as well Tabitha….here is Procter and Gambles response about the spelling of UNSTOPABLES:

      “Downy chose the word “Unstopables” to embody the playful and feisty spirit of the new product’s unique form. The name puts a spin on the word “unstoppable” similar to how Unstopables puts a fresh twist on your laundry! However, Downy and Procter and Gamble definitely do not endorse the misspelling of the word “unstoppable” in daily usage.”

      It could have also had something to do with the fact that trademarking “Unstopables” with this spelling was easier than trademarking “Unstoppables.” It’s very difficult to secure a new trademark on a common, normal word. It’s a lot easier to register a trademark on a “nonsense” or misspelled word. And Unstopables is a P&G trademark.

      Hope this helps. :-)

  4. Regina says

    You should try the Purex Crystals in Fresh Spring Waters. In my opinion, the scent is much, much better than Downy. The Purex has a more natural fragrance, where the Down has a “manufactured” smell. Hadn’t thought of putting it in my candle warmer – will be trying that soon.

  5. says

    I have been adding the Fresh Scent Unstoppables to my No-Grate Super Fast Laundry Detergent and LOVE the scent! I mix my detergent using twice the washing soda (due to extreme sulfites and minerals) and don’t add the cold water to the bottle (I use 1/4 cup in my washer rather than 1-2 cups). I use about a tablespoon of Unstoppables per gallon and hang my clothes on the line to dry. Wonderful! :) I use a HE washer and it works in the HE with no problems!

    • Michele says

      Oops – make that the Purex version. I’ll try the Downy in the laundry detergent next time I make some…that will be awhile, as my 5 gallon bucket is still nearly full. :o) Love the fact that this detergent lasts so long!

  6. Jennifer says

    I do a powder homemade detergent – using grated fels-naptha, borax, and washing soda – and add some powder oxygen bleach (oxy clean or other), plus some of the purex crystals. I just bought the downy kind to try but haven’t tried it out yet. I like the scents better. To me the Purex kind smell fake-y.

    My “secret” is when I have to wash stuff that is really messy (and I have an 8 month old and a 3 year old), I do half mine and half powdered tide and it works great and still keeps the cost down.

    • lacey says

      I do half homemade soap and half gain powdered soap because the clothes always smelled unclean when I just used homemade. Maybe by using the unstopables I wouldn’t have to use gain anymore.

      • Jackie says

        I make a powdered version of detergent as well. I use one box super washing soda, 2 boxes borax, one large tub of oxi clean, one box Biz, 4lb box of baking soda, large bottle of purex crystals and instead of the grated fels- naptha soap (which I was afraid would clog my HE washer) I use an inexpensive box of detergent that is okay for HE machines. This makes a HUGE container and lasts for MONTHS, smells great and generally does a great job. I only have to supplement for my husband’s clothes that are sweaty, muddy and hard to get the funk out of ( I use a 1/2 cap of Frebreze laundry odor eliminator and a 1/2 cap of Purex liquid on his work clothes). The kids school uniforms, clothes, and my stuff work fine with the homemade stuff. Even with the “supplements” for his stuff, making this is still a cost effective solution. :)

  7. Suzanne says

    Sprinkle around the cat box, then vacuum up. No kitty litter oder in the vacuum and as I vacuum it freshens the whole house (and it won’t clog the bag like floor powders). Sprinkled some in the trunk of the car (older car that was sitting for two years and is now back on the road) The whole car smells good now. Thought about some under the car mats too! Love them in shoes, you can sew them into sachets (great for drawers and closets too), or just sprinkle some into the shoe. How about the bottom of the laundry hamper and waste baskets. I use the Purex brand (only $5 at Dollar General)

  8. Gayle says

    I have tried both the Unstoppables and the Purex one. No comparison in my books. Purex may cost less…..but it also gives off less scent and doesn’t last nearly as long.
    But since I cannot justify (to myself) the cost of adding this to each load, I am mainly adding to just sheets and towels. Love, love, love the stuff!

    • Brandette W. says


      I totally agree. I stocked up big time when Purex first came out and had all kinds of great coupons. I used it some and still do, but I had a sample of Downey and there is NO comparison. The Downey one smells so much longer and so much better.

      The Purex one smells nice out of the bottle, but the scent never lingers which is what I want. The Downey one I can tell what was washed in it days later.

  9. Jennifer says

    I’ve been adding 3Tbs per batch of homemade soap (powdered). Then for loads that I want a little more scent I add 1/4 to 1/2 tea. more. I also made little flannel pockets and add 1/2 to 1 tea. inside and put them in my dresser and closet. When the scent starts to fade I toss it in the wash and refill with fresh. I also make my carpet deodorizer with a spoonful.

    • says

      I use the Purex Crystals in my powdered mix as well (another reason I prefer the powder) and love it. I think they are cheaper than the Downy, depending on what coupons you use, but both have a great “fresh” scent. It definitely makes up for what the homemade detergent was missing.
      I never thought about putting it into closets and dresser drawers though. Great Idea!

  10. Cynthia says

    I have yet to make any of your laundry detergent, but am going to very soon. I got the dish soap that smells like Gain, because my boyfriend LOVES the smell of Gain but we’re looking to getting a new car and get hitched soon, so we’re trying to cut corners where we can. I’d love to boost the smell even further, especially to his greasy work clothes, but Gain’s scent boosters like the Unstoppables is not the original scent =(
    Does anyone know of an alternative that smells relatively close?

  11. Robyn says

    Anyone know IF or WHERE I can get these in Australia?? I’ve never seen it. Would love to try it. I’ve seen them on the P&G eStore website for $6.49, but I don’t think they ship internationally. They want over $13 a bottle plus outrageous postage on eBay. Perhaps some kind person would be willing to post some to me and I will reimburse costs. Thanks. email: robynmck at gmail dot com

  12. says

    Hi Jillee! I’ve been using your recipe for homemade laundry detergent for a few months now, and I love it!! My only problem is that it works great on my clothes – my fiance’s notsomuch. He is a habitual gym-clothes-in-his-gym-bag-and-leaves-them-there-for-a-week kinda guy. Needless to say, his workout clothes and work clothes often smell awful when they go into the wash. I’ve been adding a cap full of bleach to each load, but it’s not working so well. I tried adding more Dawn, more washing soda, and more borax to each new batch, but the clothes are still coming out with that sweaty-mildewy smell. I’ve read your tip for adding essential oils, but worry that will just cover up the smell instead of getting rid of it. I’ve also tried to do a pre-rinse, heavy wash, 2nd rinse cycle, and that doesn’t work either. He’s ready to switch back to Tide, but I’m trying to hang on to our money-saving homemade alternative! Do you know of any ways to boost the cleaning power of homemade stuff?

    • says

      Hey I thought I would tell you for really stinky clothes I like to prewash with a cup of vinegar in the machine….then wash a second time with my detergent. I know its a double wash but my husband has a physical job and can sure work up a Im pregnant and its worth it to me to be able to have a fresh clean

    • Lynn says

      I use homemade powdered soap with Pyrex crystals mixed in. I also mix the crystals in my vinegar I put in my Downey ball. If I want extra scent I add more to the load. Honestly, baking soda in the wash and vinegar rinse works the best. Bleach doesn’t always get rid of the smells. You could also try oxygen cleaner, either store bought or jillee’s recipe.

    • Alison says

      Hilary, I add 1/2 to 1 cup ammonia to my husbands work clothes. He works at a plastic recycling plant and when they do waste treatment(water waste from washing the plastic) the smell gets in his uniforms and will not come out. I just add the ammonia to the bleach dispenser on my machine. Works perfectly. Hope that helps.

      • Cydne says

        I had this problem too. Even vinegar rinses didn’t get rid of it. I did some research and learned that in areas with hard water DAWN itself can be the culprit, so I switched to Palmolive. (I use Clean & Clear because I like the scent better than regular Palmolive).
        Also, adding oxy-clean (store brand) to my detergent helped. I mix the liquid dish soap, borax and washing soda. It is a very dry paste. Then I add the oxy-clean (same amount as borax and washing soda).

        This has worked on everything I have used it on and our whites have not looked this good in years.

  13. Lindsey says

    Hi! I just made my first batch of detergent today, my house smells amazing! I also used the armpit stain remover today! I love it! I went ahead and order another “Unstopables” from P&G so I have some on hand. Thank you for this website! I’m obsessed! I’m always telling my husband what kinds of things we can do to save money! You are awesome!

  14. Hollie says

    I use the Purex Crystals in my 1 year laundry powder, that I got off this site. I also disolve it the diy fabric softener from this site. My friends all love it and I think, but am not sure, that it is more natural and to me, better smelling, than the Unstoppables.

  15. jenny says

    I just made my first batch of liquid laundry detergent and am using the oxi cleenwith it. My clothes are brighter and I am happy with the results. But now I have stumbled across the downy unstopables thread…can I add them to my 5 gallon bucket of detergent after it has been made and what is the ratio and how do I do it? I would love to have a fresh scent.
    Thanks in advance for your help!

  16. Shana says

    I tried adding some of the Unstoppables melted in hot water to your recipe for home made fabric refresher. It smells lovely, but was still hot last night so it smelled strongly of alcohol still and I didn’t get to try it before bed. the purex type smells good too (though neither brand has a real lavender fragrance) but Purex contains fabric softener as well as scent boosters. Beware of using it on items that cannot tolerate softener like My Pillow brand pillows. I found that the extra cost for Unstoppables VS Purex was worth it because I can use it on absolutely everything and the fresh scent really stays.

  17. Robin says

    How does your homemade laundry detergent do with nicer work clothes (e.g., do they fade)? I had to switch from Tide a couple years back because our clothes started fading (and on the cold wash temp to boot!). Now our beloved Trader Joe’s brand is starting to do the same. Thanks.

  18. Anna says

    So I had a happy accident while making a batch of this the other day , thought I would share … I accidentally added about 1/2 cup of [ or started to ] sun brand oxyclean to the hot liquid after melting the soap … WARNING! This will make the whole pot overflow like a volcano .. BUT , after cleaning the mess up [ which actually ended up beaing an awesome stove top cleaner ] I was left with a very smooth , very thick soap , which when watered down does not separate …I also decided I wanted to try to scent the whole batch with the unstoppables , so I melted about 1/3 cup in the microwave and added the liquid to my soap .. and it worked ! My soap smells great and so do my clothes !

  19. Anna says

    Oh ! another thing , instead of grating the soap , put the bar in the microwave for 2 minutes and let cool , it will puff up HUGE , but once cooled it will crumble into a powder and melt sooo much faster ! The bar needs to be fresh , and moist feeling , if it is dry feeling soak it in water for a 30 minutes , then nuke .

  20. Beth says

    I use the unstopables. If you plan on using them for something other than the wash. I have found that you can not just leave them lying around, because when they get damp they get sticky. But I will put out a small bowl in the living room for a short period of time to fresh up the air then use it in the laundry. Also I have asthma and have found that this product is one of the few I can handle without it starting a attack. And FYI Wal-Mart in lower Alabama and Central Mississippi sells the big bottles for $6.98. But I just moved to Jackson MS and found that the grocery store Kroger’s sells the same bottle for $4.98. I had to buy several when I saw them at that price.

  21. says

    OMG! NOW I’m finally going to try home-made laundry detergent! I love my Unstopables, and we are very picky about the scent of our laundry. Between your no-grate detergent and this I think I’ve finally found a recipe that the hubsters and I will like. Thank you thank you thank you!
    ♥ ♥ ♥, Niki

  22. Sarah Olivieri says

    Did you know that Proctor & Gamble have actively tested on animals for over 20 years? They have cruelly and unjustly subjected dogs, pigs, rabbits, rats, mice,guinea pigs to extremely cruel and painful experiments. Google it. It’s not a situation to be taken lightly. When you purchase anything, you are casting your vote. In this world, it pays to educate yourself before promoting something you would never want to consciously be a part of. Just saying.

  23. Kristie says

    Hello Jillie,
    love reading your blog. for the great lavender smell I use white vinegar instilled with fresh lavender buds. let soak for 2 months, strain and use in the rinse cycle. smells amazing and no need for a dryer sheet or buying another type of softener! thanks for the great recipe for laundry soap, it works great around here with 3 active boys.

  24. shelley says

    i love these pages full of recipes and such. Its right up my ally. I will not be using downys unstopables in fabric softer or use in a scent burner. One of the ingredience is “fragrance”. That right away is a red flag to me. Most of the time fragrance refers to a cloppity goo of chemicals. If you want a nice scent to waft through your home, use non toxic inscence or essencial oils in a carrier oil in your burner. They put poisons in our shampoos, lotions, food and baby products. Why take the chance, especailly using this stuff in a burner where your inhaling who knows what.

  25. julie says

    I was reading some of these great posts, and I wanted to add alittle tip for those whocan’t get the smell out of their clothing. Family Dollar sell a product called OXYDOL. It’s a dry powder huge box for $4. add this to your mix..4 scoop fulls (scoop is included) to each batch. This stuff melts very quickly. I would recommend dividing the batch in half and adding this to one half for stinky laundry, because you will lose a bit of the scent with this because it really removes nasty odors tremendously. Hope this helps. Keep on saving ladies. And thank you for your AWESOME recipes and the time you took to share them with us. LOVE the Unstopables…I’ll consider myself saving the enviornment by using these products instead of the high cost chemically induced name brands. And I won’t smell like tofu,pochulli(spelling?) legumes, and sweaty armpit. With all the chemicals on our foods, I think the topical toxicity of fragrance, suffers in comparason. Thanks Again. Julie

  26. Colleen says

    I am actually getting ready to go to the store today to get supplies to make my own laundry soap. One of the biggest pluses im not sure if anyone mentioned is how much it will reduce your actual trash through out the year! Those bottles are extremely wasteful. We go through alot of detergent mostly because of my little one and my fiance working in the restaurant industry. So i know this homemade will eliminate any smells and work just fine. Not to mention save me a ton of money. One other thing since you mentioned the Downy unstoppables. I saw on Pinterest about adding a few with some water to a Scentsy pot. I dont have one but since we have baseboard heating i filled cleaned out candle jars and placed them near the heaters. It activates and keeps my house smelling like fresh laundry( the blue scent is my favorite) and then when they start to lose their scent i just add them to the wash. not as strong but im not wasting them. :0 I LOVE your blog. I cant tell you how many people i passed your tips and linked them to you. You have yet to steer me wrong. And i wish there was a way i could tell you how grateful I am to you for all the money you have saved my and my family.You even have a fan in my fiance. he has become a believer when he sees how it saved us cash. He’ll even ask if i got it from the Jillee lady. lol. From not having to buy new stove burner covers, to being able to unshrink clothes. I love you tons. Please dont ever stop blogging!!!!

    • Colleen says

      just to update..spent a total of 23.13 on the actual ingredients for the dry mix. plus 2 bucks for the containers to put it in. total of 25.13! came in under your $30 mark! :) ( i know that was probably just a general estimate given price points throughout the country)

  27. CHSchick says

    Just curious, when using the grated method, do you need to use a kettle that you will no longer be using for food? I mean, does that soap smell/taste come out of the kettle? Also, exactly how much do you add to a HE frontload? I think I saw 1 T. in one comment and 1/2 cup in another comment, so I am a bit confused. Also, for the grated method, what temp of water do I add to the grated/cooked liquid once I have it poured into my containers? Thanks in advance!!! :) I have already tried the liquid Dawn version and liked it a lot, but want to try the grated version as well.

    • JulieD says

      I have been making the grate method of laundry soap for many years now using Fels Naptha (I buy in bulk online from Wares Direct). When I melt it I just use my everyday pan and make sure I wash it right away or the soap will dry on the side and make it harder to clean. Not sure how much to use in the HE washer as I do not have one but I just learned to experiment over the years with different amounts for different wash load needs. After my grated soap has melted I just add cold tap water. One key hint that I learned the hard way is do NOT try to add the powdered ingredients while the pan is still on the burner or you will have a BIG mess to clean up LOL. I agree it is a great stove top cleaner but oh my!!

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