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I think I am just DONE trying to make natural laundry soap work for me.

Back in 2008 when I started blogging, I decided I was going to be super frugal and make my own laundry detergent.

I was so excited about the way my detergent looked and smelled, and I gave it a really, really good try.

homemade laundry soap fail

Sadly, after using it for a while, my clothes started to smell funky, like they hadn’t been washed at all.

In fact, they came out smelling like they’d sat in the bottom of the hamper for a week.

I switched back to regular detergent and ta-da!

No more Eau De Hamper.

I’ve been using mainstream detergent ever since, but when I signed up with ePantry, I thought, “Ooh, maybe some of these natural detergents will do the trick!”

I bought Mrs. Meyers’ laundry soap first, and though I didn’t have smell issues, it did have a little trouble removing grease spots, and it came in a super annoying, messy container.


(There is seriously no way to use this container without it becoming a sticky, soapy mess.)

So then I bought a container of 7th Generation laundry detergent, which comes in a super cool, compostable container.


Unfortunately, that dreaded hamper smell started to return.


So, this is currently what I’m using, and my clothes are smelling clean again.

costco laundry detergent

(Interestingly enough, the clear plastic lid on that container says P&G. Which makes me pretty sure that Costco’s private label detergent is actually Tide.)

I know other people use natural detergents and they’re not walking around smelling like they live in a hamper, so I’m not sure what’s going wrong for me.

Maybe it’s something about the makeup of my water?

I dunno.

But I think I just am going to give up and make peace with the fact that mainstream detergent and I are going to be lifelong friends.

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Stefanie Alberto

Wednesday 1st of July 2020

Not just you. I found that I had to use much more diy detergent than stated in the recipe to get my clothes clean. Do you know that point in the recipe, after you melt the soap and mix in the Borax and Washing Soda, where you are supposed to dilute it in 2 gallons of water? Skip the diluting part. Just use the detergent in the concentrated form. And use a full cup for a large top-load wash.

When I started doing this my clothes came out smelling fresh. It completely killed the sweat smell, better than Tide even.

However the problem became that I put in all that work for a detergent that only lasted for about 4 loads. So I'm not sure about cost savings over store bought detergent. Also, I hear soap-based detergents wreck the machine.

Tried Mrs. Meyers and ALL Free&Clear. Neither worked very well.

We use Persil now. We use Borax as a laundry booster in our dirtiest loads (underwear, t-shirts, bedding and towels). We are also a fan of soaking in Oxiclean overnight for stubborn protein based stains.


Sunday 13th of October 2019

I thought it was just me. Clean, washed clothes in my closet smelling rancid. I tried using white vinegar in the “fabric softener” to scrub any natural laundry detergent residue out. It didn’t work either. This has been going on for years. So I finally searched the internet and here I am. Think I’ll go back to commercial detergent. Hopefully I can find some that doesn’t 1) pollute the environment, 2) doesn’t reek of perfume, 3) doesn’t use nano-technology.


Monday 26th of November 2018

I know this is an old post but this is exactly how I’m feeling. After using more “green” laundry detergents like Charlie’s Soap, Nellie’s, My Green Fills, Seventh Generation and having stains not come out and clothes that smell somewhat clean coming out of the dryer but like a dirty hamper when pulling g out of closet to wear, I have thrown in the towel. I feel like you need chemicals to get things clean. I don’t use too much of anything but natural things don’t work for me. What her it’s shampoo, soap, lotion, bathroom cleaner; nothing cleans a bathroom better than bleach and nothing makes my hair softer than Pantene Pro V. I’ve gone back to Tide and Downy and our clothes smell and look amazing again. Finally!!


Wednesday 24th of January 2018

I know this article is older, but, DIY laundry detergent is still a popular subject. I've been trying to switch over to non toxic laundry detergents and feel like I've been going in circles. At first I was all gung ho about trying to make my own, until I read about the detergent residue from soap based detergents. And that's not the worst of it. I talked to a number of people who told me about the soap residue in the machine. Not just in the tub, but caked to all the parts in the machine. Someone who bought a used washer from someone who used DIY detergent for a year, said they repair and maintain their own appliances and they took the washer apart and to their surprise they scraped off 3 pounds of soap scum from the washer parts.

So I'm not going to use a soap based recipe. The problem then, is that there is the group that grades laundry detergent and how toxic it is and all of the least toxic detergents are soap based. So I'm struggling to find just ONE detergent that works and doesn't leave residue behind and is non toxic. Why is that so hard?

If anyone finds the magic answer before I do...please leave me the answer. :-)


Sunday 3rd of January 2016

We have gotten to know a cool laundry soap company called My Green Fills, which sends you little packets that let you mix your own soap in refillable jugs soooo easily. I always planned to make my own detergent, but it felt like too much of a hassle, so this seemed like the best of both worlds to me. It might be worth a shot rather than getting in bed with toxins (literally, in your sheets :) ).


Sunday 3rd of January 2016

Oh, I forgot to give you the link

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