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Laundry Products: DIY or Buy?

For those of you who’ve ever wondered if “homemade” necessarily equals “cheaper”…..we offer you another chapter in our “Homemade vs. Store Bought” series. Today we focus on our extensive collection of homemade laundry products!

A few weeks ago I did a post on Homemade vs. Store Bought Cleaners where I analyzed a whole bunch of our homemade cleaning posts based on three factors – the effectiveness of the product, the cost, and the health benefits. I then presented my conclusion as to whether or not it is worth it to make the product at home or to just buy it at the store. We had a fantastic response to that post and got a lot of requests to do the same thing for our homemade laundry and beauty recipes. Today I’m tackling the laundry recipes

Just like the the cleaners post, I’m including a price breakdown for each product. I based the prices on products and ingredients found at Walmart since that is a store just about everyone has access to. I didn’t use sale prices or coupons so keep that in mind when it comes to cost. If you don’t have time to make homemade products you may be able to get store bought things for much cheaper with coupons.

Fabric Refreshing Spray

Store Bought: $.18 per ounce
Homemade: $.03 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Make Your Own Fabric Refreshing Spray

Conclusion: Make your own! The price difference is huge and the homemade recipe only has 3 simple ingredients so it’s super easy to make.

Wrinkle Release Spray

Store Bought: $.66 per ounce
Homemade: Less than $.01 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Homemade Wrinkle Release Spray

Conclusion: Make your own! Just look at that price difference!

Homemade Shout

“Shout” Stain Remover

Store Bought: $.08 per ounce
Homemade: $.02 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Make Your Own “Shout” Stain Remover

Conclusion: Make you own! This recipe is incredibly simple and you save a few bucks in the process. Plus, it’s just as, if not more, effective than the store bought stuff.

Fabric Softener

Store Bought: $.08 per ounce
Homemade: $.02 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Homemade Fabric Softener

Conclusion: I’m a little torn on this one…the recipe is just water, hair conditioner and vinegar. Because of the hair conditioner, this homemade fabric softener still contains some questionable ingredients (unless you get all natural hair conditioner). But it does save a bit of money. So I’ll leave this one up to you ;-)

Fabric Softener Crystals

Store Bought: $.45 per ounce
Homemade: $.14 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Make Your Own Fabric Softener Crystals 

Conclusion: Make your own! Great savings on this one and no questionable ingredients.

Reusable Dryer Sheets

Store Bought: $.05 per sheet
Homemade: $.02 per use

Homemade Recipe: DIY Reusable Dryer Sheets

Conclusion: Jillee loves these reusable dryer sheets and still uses them with all her laundry. The cost difference is small but you’re saving the environment by not having to throw away used dryer sheets, so my vote goes to the reusable kind. Tip: If you prefer store bought, you don’t need to use a whole dryer sheet in each load. If you cut a sheet in a half you would only be paying $.025 per use.

Wool Dryer Balls

Store Bought: $5 per ball
Homemade: $1.25 per ball

Homemade Recipe: Energy Saving Wool Dryer Balls

Conclusion: Make your own! Wool dryer balls are a great substitute for fabric softener. You can use them forever and they are free of any harsh chemicals.

Oily Stain Remover

Store Bought: Zout, $.13 per ounce
Homemade: $.10 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Getting Oily Stains Out of Dark Colored Clothing

Conclusion: Make your own! I’ve never actually used Zout but it was the closest option to our homemade oil stain treatment that I could find at the store. The savings here isn’t huge but I love, love, love this recipe. It has never failed me and uses ingredients I always have on hand.

Grass Stain Remover

Store Bought: $.14 per ounce
Homemade: $.02 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Grass Stain Buster! The Ultimate Laundry Spot Remover

Conclusion: Make your own! This recipe is extremely effective and inexpensive.

Liquid Laundry Detergent – No Grate

Store Bought: $.12 per ounce
Homemade: Less than $.01 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: No Grate Homemade Laundry Soap

Conclusion: Make your own! This one is a no brainer. This recipe is simple, effective, and inexpensive.

Dry Laundry Soap

Store Bought: $.13 per ounce
Homemade: $.09 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Make a Year’s Worth of Laundry Soap for $30

Conclusion: Make your own! Another no brainer. I’ve been using this recipe for well over a year and I love it. It makes a batch that can last a family of 4 a year. It’s made with natural ingredients and it’s inexpensive.

Laundry Detergent Tabs

Store Bought: $.29 per ounce
Homemade: $.09 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Homemade Laundry Detergent Tabs

Conclusion: Make your own! These tabs are made with the detergent listed above. They are so much cheaper than store bought detergent tabs!

Laundry Stain Stick

Laundry Stain Stick

Store Bought: $.83 per ounce
Homemade: $.08 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Make Your Own Laundry Stain Stick

Conclusion: Make your own! This recipe is a little time intensive but it’s much cheaper than the store bought version.

Bleach Gel Pen

Store Bought: $1.36 per ounce
Homemade: $.03 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: How to Make Your Own Bleach Gel Pen

Conclusion: Make your own! Such a huge savings here!

Whitening Solution

Store Bought: $.14 per ounce
Homemade: $.05 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Miracle Laundry Whitening Solution

Conclusion: Make your own! This homemade whitening solution is extremely effective.

Spray Starch

Store Bought: $.09 per ounce
Homemade: Less than $.01 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: How to Make Your Own Spray Starch

Conclusion: Make your own!

Washing Soda

Store Bought: $.07 per ounce
Homemade: $.04 per ounce

Homemade Recipe: Making Your Own Washing Soda For Homemade Laundry Detergent 

Conclusion: Buy it! The homemade version is a tiny bit cheaper but for me it’s just not worth it to make my own. The only reason I would say you should make the homemade version is if you can’t find washing soda locally.

Dryel Cleaning Cloths

Store Bought: $1.48 per cloth
Homemade: $.21 per cloth

Homemade Recipe: How to Make Your Own Dryel Cleaning Cloths

Conclusion: Make your own! This homemade version is effective and so much cheaper than the store bought Dryel cloths.

Laundry Color Catchers

Store Bought: $.18 per sheet
Homemade: $.10 per sheet

Homemade Recipe: Make Your Own Laundry Color Catchers

Conclusion: Make your own! The savings per sheet isn’t huge but this is a one time use product so the cost adds up.

It’s obvious that making your own laundry products really IS the economical choice in addition to the environmentally-friendly one! :-)

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Homekeeping Tips

  • A few things…can you please send me the amounts of the era, water, ammonia vinegar?
    Also my mom use to make another mix for whites with ammonia, oxi-clean and 2 other ingredients, do you have anything like this?

  • Hi Jillee, I live in an apartment. I always used wax on my kitchen and bathroom linoleum (I think it’s linoleum?) floors. Over time, I had a wax buildup problem in kitchen and maintenance had to REMOVE the sections that were really bad. I was told, ‘NO MORE WAX’.

    Do you have a DIY product that will make my floor shine?! I love my kitchen to SHINE!!!


  • For the liquid laundry detergent- have been making this for a couple of years. But instead of Dawn I use a castille liquid soap or an “organic” one. I add this after the first two dry ingredients have been dissolved in hot water and the cold water added. Leave room at the top to add the liquid soap last. Shake in a few drops of lavender essential oil.

  • I find that just using Blue Dawn straight on oily stains works great. I’ve even got old stains out on previously washed t-shirts using Dawn. I might have to do this 2 or 3 time, but you’re going to wash clothes anyway.
    Perfect for me.

    • Friend taught me a similar trick several years ago: just spray stain with white vinegar and add a little Dawn. Rub in and let set for a few minutes then wash as usual. Great for greasy stains! I have also removed set in stains with this method. When she taught me the formula it was on a fresh mustard stain on white cotton shirt…ugh. Came right out!!!

  • I have avoided powdered laundry detergent for years. They don´t always dissolve and wind up left on clothes (although I haven´t tried yours and can´t say if yours will) I was wondering if you have a liquid recipe? I use coin operated machines and rewashing is expensive.Barb K,

  • Thank you for all your laundry and cleaning solutions! I have been using the liquid laundry detergent for about a year and I’m very happy with the results. I have been using the wool dryer balls too with essential oils and they work great, also have given them as gifts and they were well received.
    Next up, using your Shout solution as I just ran out, perfect timing!
    Thank you Jillee!

  • One more thing: If you grey water your washing water don’t use borax and washing soda. Anything with Boron is toxic to plants and sodium destroys the structure of clay soils, making them slick and greasy by removing air spaces and prevent good drainage. Once clay soil is damaged by sodium it can be very difficult to restore it to a viable condition. You can verify this information at the following websites: http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/greywater-ha…oaps-and-detergents/ ; http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/greywater-ha…-and-your-detergent/ ; greywateraction.org/faqs/greywater-recycling ; legacyla.net/transformation/?p=270

  • That “Dry Laundry Soap” for $30 a year shows way too many products. Borax and washing soda are chemically almost identical and only one is necessary to soften water and break down the soap. For more than 20 years I used 2 teaspoons of a mixture of grated Ivory soap and washing soda in my laundry for a family of four and it cost me only $10 a year. With a perfume free detergent, my husband’s shirts still smelled a bit sweaty in the armpits and he worked in an office. The homemade powder did the trick. I never used any other product for laundry (can’t imagine needing much of any of the above recipes) and I usually line dry anyway. But now I live in an area with such hard water even Calgon doesn’t help and I’ve had to go back to a liquid detergent as soap binds with the mineral hardness and destroys washing machines and clothes. I’d rather DIY, but right now, I have to buy. If I could figure out a non-soap DIY alternative, I would use it. My mom does love her wool dryer balls though and I have used them in her dryer. They’re pretty awesome!

  • Jillee,

    I made your stain remover. My husband gets stains on his polo shirts daily, from his vape “juice” which is oil-based. The ONLY thing that gets this stain out is pure-d Original Dawn. But I made your stain remover with the baking soda, Dawn, Ammonia and water and put it in a regular squirt bottle. Every time, it “gummed up” in the squirt part of the bottle; I ruined 2 bottles this way. For some reason the baking soda solidifies and causes the squirt bottles not to function. I am going to find another solution, but if you have one I would like to hear it. I bought the regular squirt bottles you get for $1.00 at HEB or Kroger.
    Thanks. I love your blog and have shared it with others.

    • Use an empty ketchup bottle to saturate the vape stain with the dawn concotion, then, while doing that, suggest he grow up and stop the vape, it’s worse than smoking!

    • I use a quarter cup of Dawn,1/2 cup peroxide,a capful of Odorban & the rest water in a spray bottle.
      Takes out blood (even 3 day old stains)
      Vape juice, hot sauce, wine, &much more.
      I let it sit overnight or wait till I do whites.
      The reason I use Odorban is my husband is a heavy equipment operator & comes home with grease, blood, & hydraulic fluid. Take the smell out.

      • Don’t you just love OdoBan? Best thing I’ve ever seen to remove cat urine smell…and I don’t even have cats! Also removed mineral spirits smell when ex spilled on his clothes. Nothing else had worked after several washes. I’ve used it for so many things, I couldn’t even begin to list ;-) Been using the same gallon bottle for almost 25 years now!!!

  • Just started making all of these and live them. I was concerned about the liquid fabric softener too so I used an all natural organic conditioner with no questionable ingredients. Problem solved!!! I use it in the liquid sifetener and dryer sheet recipe. I love the stain remover!! It really gets the job done better than commercial products! Thanks for all your hard work and awesome ideas!

  • I haven’t seen the stain stick recipe before- what a great idea! Empty deodorant containers to fill- genius! That made me think…I’m going to try using an empty lip balm container for a purse-sized stick. They are small to carry, but may save the day when away from home. Thanks for all the laundry tips- I’ve tried many of them, with great results!

    • Love the idea of using lip balm container for on-the-go purse size. Definitely giving that a try. Great for hubby who gets more food on his clothes than a young child. lol

  • I’ve used homemade laundry detergent for over a year and have loved it enough to not switch back to store bought. The homemade whitening solution listed above works great. I soak our whites over night every other week and it keeps them looking nice and bright! Thanks for all of the great info in this post!

  • Hands down, the best/cheapest fabric softener I’ve found is just pouring straight white vinegar into the dispenser. Works even on a load of straight towels!

  • The homemade Shout works better than any other stain spray that I have tried. If I have grease spots, a bit of straight dish detergent does the trick.

  • We made the home-made laundry detergent and found that it did not clean as well as Tide or All and that after a few washing the clothing had a dingy/dirty smell so we went back to store bought. Disappointed

  • The diy version oft the wrinkle release spray is one that I tried and had good results with. I was using about one
    bottle per month and at $4 per bottle the cost can really add up.Since I started making my own cO don’t worry about how much I use.. It’s much cheaper to make it myself.

  • I make my own fabric softener using white vinegar, epsom salts, water and EO. So far I have liked it alot!! I thought I got the recipe from this site…maybe not.

  • I continue to do homemade laundry soap because it is so cheap. I just wish it worked better. In my experience it doesn’t work well on cleaning clothes that are full of sweat or body oil. If I add scent to my wash then I can’t tell but that just means that perfumes can mask odors. I miss fresh laundry.

  • If you end up purchasing dryer sheets…I’ve discovered second or reuses for the dryer sheets. They are great at cleaning chrome and hard water marks in my shower. Just wet them rub over the chrome and glass and then rinse off. I do it while showering. They are also useful in stinky athletic shoes.

  • I think purchasing the wool dryer balls is the better alternative. The homemade ones are $5, whereas the store bought ones are less than $2.

    Plus, dryer sheets. They can be used and reused up to 6 times (I do this). Then, as a bonus, after cleaning your venetian blinds, wipe them down with the used sheet. It helps to repel dust.

  • I don’t toss the dryer sheets, but save them. I will find a use for them someday! Currently use to wipe the washer/dryer smudges. Birds can use for nests (along with lint).

    This is a fantastic post today. I’m going to actually invest some time and make these products, as well as “share” on FB.

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