Homemade Laundry Cleaners

Homemade Laundry Cleaners

Homemade laundry cleaning recipes.  Easy and inexpensive to make.

White Vinegar

Eliminate soap residue by adding 1 cup of white vinegar to the washer’s final rinse. Vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics but strong enough to dissolve alkalies in soaps and detergents.

Vinegar also breaks down uric acid, so adding 1 cup vinegar to the rinse water is especially good for babies’ clothes. To get wool and cotton blankets soft and fluffy as new, add 2 cups white vinegar to a full tub of rinse water.


Baking Soda

1/4 to 1/2 cup baking soda per wash load makes clothes feel soft and smell fresh.

Dry Bleach*.

Dry bleaches containing sodium perborate are of low toxicity (unless in strong solution, then they can be irritating to the skin). Use according to package directions.

Baking Soda

You can cut the amount of chlorine bleach used in your wash by half when you add 1/2 cup baking soda to top loading machines or 1/4 cup to front loaders.


To remove smoky odor from clothes, fill your bathtub with hot water. Add 1 cup white vinegar. Hang garments above the steaming bath water.


For homemade laundry starch, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 pint cold water. Place in a spray bottle. Shake before using. Clearly label the contents of the spray bottle.

The Author:

Michigan State University Extension

32 thoughts on “Homemade Laundry Cleaners

  1. Did you know even though you clean the lint filter after every drying load, the filter can still be dirty (even if you can’t see anything)?

    Take the filter over to the sink and run hot water over it. If the hot water lies on top of the filter or seeps out slowly, the filter is still clogged. According to a service technician, dryer sheets can cause a film over the mesh in the filter and that will burn out the heating element. You can’t see the film on the mesh but it is there. He said the best way to keep the dryer working is to take the filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or any nylon brush) at least every six months. He says it makes the life of the dryer last at least twice as long.

    1. Great tip! I had no idea that the lint filter could still be dirty even after cleaning it. I will definitely try washing it with hot soapy water every six months to keep my dryer working better and longer.

  2. Blood Stains on Clothing – Use hydrogen peroxide on blood stains. Just apply and watch it fizz. The stain will disappear. If the stain is stubborn, you may have to rub the area after applying the peroxide. This has worked for me over and over!!

    1. Thank you for the tip on using hydrogen peroxide to remove blood stains! I’ll definitely give it a try next time I have a stubborn stain to deal with.

  3. To Remove Ink – To remove ink, including permanent marker ink, from carpet or clothing, spray with Aqua Net Hairspray, then wash clothing immediately, in your normal wash cycle. For carpet after spraying ink stain with Aqua Net hairspray, blot with papertowels to get as much ink out as possible, repeat until all ink is gone. Any hairspray would probably work, but I’ve just always used Aqua Net.

    1. I’ve never thought of using hairspray to remove ink stains, but I’ll definitely give it a try. It’s good to know that Aqua Net works well, but any hairspray might do the trick.

  4. Dryer Doors – When my son decided to use the dryer as a hiding spot for a game of hide and seek, the fold down door did not want to support his 65 pound frame and bent. With this, whenever I would dry a load of laundry, the door would pop open from the tumbling of the clothes. I proped and ironing board to close it for awhile (till I kept tripping on it) then I found at my local craft store…super magnets. These magnets are incredibly strong and 6 does the trick. I have called Sears about a replacement door and it is over $200.00!! With $3.65, I have used the magnets for 2 years and had no problems since.

    1. That must have been quite a surprise when your son hid in the dryer! The super magnets you found at the craft store sound like a great solution for keeping the door closed. It’s amazing how just a few dollars can save you from having to spend over $200 on a replacement door. Thanks for sharing this clever fix!

  5. Removing Blood – Hydrogen peroxide bubbles blood right out of almost anything… H2O2 actually makes it bubbly and warm. A few drops to make it bubble, then repeat a few drops at a time until it stops bubbling when you add new. Then put directly in the washer and wash as usual. I have always been able to get it all out this way. I am a nurse and had to wear white all the time.

    1. That’s a great tip about using hydrogen peroxide to remove blood stains. I’ll definitely give it a try! Thanks for sharing your experience as a nurse.

  6. Clothing Bobbles – Most of the cases the dress materials/cloths after few washes get bobblings on it, it looks yuk and no one prefer using it. Do we have a solution?

    Yes we do, take a used toothbrush and rub it against the cloth with bobblings in one direction (no forward and backward) pretty fast until the bobblings are gone.

    Precaution: Beware of the delicacy of the cloth, don’t rub the brush harsh.

    1. I’ve always struggled with clothing bobbles, so I’m glad to learn about this toothbrush trick. I’ll remember to be gentle with delicate fabrics. Thanks for the suggestion!

  7. Having gone through a growth spurt, my 15 year old son needed all new clothing. After wearing them once he did the laundry, forgetting to remove the Blistex from the pocket of a pair of pants. After going through the dryer 2 pairs of dress pants and 3 dress shirts were badly stained with grease. After trying every method I could find to salvage the clothing, I tried spraying the grease stains with WD40. I let the clothing set for 5 minutes then treated with Lestoil and washed. One shirt required a repeat treatment, but all of the clothes were fine with no sign of stain afterward.

    1. Wow, dealing with grease stains can be really frustrating. I never would have thought to use WD40 and Lestoil. I’ll keep that in mind for any future mishaps. Thanks for sharing your successful solution!

  8. Melted Crayons in the Dryer – If your child leaves crayons in the pocket of their pants and they make it to the dryer, then your dryer looked ruined for sure. Use toothpaste to remove the marks off the dryer drum. This happened to me I have twins and had to call crayola to get answers, it worked!

    1. Melted crayons in the dryer can be a nightmare, so it’s good to know that toothpaste can help remove the marks. I’ll remember to contact Crayola for advice if I ever find myself in that situation. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  9. Blood Remover – For the Ladies: Kirby pet stain and odor remover gets blood off your mattress really well.

    1. Thanks for the tip about using Kirby pet stain and odor remover for blood stains on mattresses. It’s always helpful to have specific product recommendations. I’ll keep that in mind for any future accidents. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

  10. Helpful Hair Products – I have been a cosmetologist for 20 years, and I have a couple of suggestions.

    Hairspray is an excellent quick fix if you get an ink stain. Blot stain, then spray with hairspray to keep stain from setting in. When you get home, clean as usual.

    My other favorite is baking soda. Not only is it a wonderful gentle cleanser for pots and pans, stoves, and bathroom residue, it works great on removing hairspray buildup. Wash your hair with your shampoo, rinse, then use a handful of baking soda and work it through hair concentrating on build-up spots, rinse, then apply your conditioner. You may have to do it a couple of times depending on how bad your hair is.

    1. Thanks for sharing these helpful tips! I never knew that hairspray could be used to prevent ink stains from setting in. I’ll definitely keep that in mind for any future mishaps. And baking soda sounds like a versatile product that can be used for various cleaning purposes, including removing hairspray buildup. I can’t wait to give it a try and see the results for myself. Great suggestions from an experienced cosmetologist like you are always appreciated.

  11. Removing Dried Latex Paint from Denim

    I’m an artist and I greatly overestimated my ability to perform my craft “neatly.” Well, after ruining 3 pairs of denim jeans with blobs of latex paint – which, of course, I let dry as opposed to grabbing a damp cloth and trying to rid myself of the problem immediately, I knew something had to be done. So I did a little investigating and these jeans that had been ruined about 3 years ago are now clean as a whistle.

    I do try to use natural products as much as possible, but this “recipe” requires a manufactured cleansing agent. Here goes:

    1. Dampen the spot (now I’ve ONLY done this with jeans) with Goof Off – a product easily found in hardware stores. It does have an odor, so remember to work in a well-ventilated area. Put enough on so that it has soaked through to the other side of the fabric.

    2. Let sit for about 2 minutes.

    3. Then – and here’s the KEY – use a fabric stain removal PUMICE STICK and gently begin wiping over the paint spot. Now, NO HEAVY pressure – we’re not trying to make holes in our clothes! Just a gentle “massaging” action will IMMEDIATELY demonstrate that the paint is moving around the fabric and you can begin to rinse it off with plain old water.

    Question: Could you use heavy sand paper instead of the pumice stone? Well, I experimented and had the same great luck with 80 grade sand paper – but, again, just “sand” enough to remove the paint. It won’t take long and before you know it, another pair of jeans returns to the closet!

    4. Launder your jeans after you’ve removed all of the little splatters.

    1. Great tip for removing dried latex paint from denim! It’s always frustrating when accidents happen, especially with something as permanent as paint. Goof Off seems like a strong cleaning agent that can really penetrate the fabric and loosen the paint. Just make sure to work in a well-ventilated area, as the odor might be strong. The use of a fabric stain removal pumice stick or sandpaper is a clever idea to gently remove the paint without damaging the fabric. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Homemade Laundry Gel

    A really good laundry detergent substitute.

    Items needed:

    1.) Clean dry 5 gal bucket w/lid
    2.) 1 bar of soap ( homemade, Fels Napatha, Ivory) grated
    3.) 1 cup borax
    4.) 1 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda)
    5.) 3 gal boiling water

    Stir grated soap into hot water until dissolved. Some folks like to cook this on the stove.
    Pour into bucket. Mix borax and washing soda together dry.Pour slowly into soapy water stirring constantly. (Do not use your hands!!!) Stir until thick. Use 1 cup of gel for a normal load. With soap products you must ALWAYS use the hottest water possible and rinse well or your clothes will get dingy.

    However, I have yet to find a detergent that get diapers as soft as Ivory and Fels Napatha still works wonders on construction or farmwork soiled clothes

    1. This homemade laundry gel recipe sounds interesting! It’s a great alternative for those who prefer making their own laundry detergent. The combination of grated soap, borax, and washing soda seems like a powerful cleaning mix. I appreciate the tip about using the hottest water possible and rinsing well, as it ensures the best results. It’s also useful to know that Ivory and Fels Napatha are still effective for specific types of soiled clothes, like diapers and construction/farmwork garments. Finding the right detergent for different purposes can be a challenge, so it’s great to have options. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  13. Cleaning Plastic – To get stains and that greasy feel out of plastic, I use an inexpensive oven cleaner. It works quickly and the stains are gone! Just spray on, leave for a couple of minutes, then wash thoroughly in soap and water. Amazing!!

    1. While using oven cleaner on plastic may be effective in removing stains and grease, it is important to exercise caution. Make sure to thoroughly rinse and wash the plastic afterwards to remove any residue from the cleaner.

  14. To remove ball point pen ink; spray liberally with hair spray. The ink will dissolve on contact. Rinse with cool water and repeat. Test for colourfastness of fabric first to make sure it wont damage the fabric.

    1. Hair spray can indeed be effective in removing ballpoint pen ink from fabric. However, it is always best to test a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure that the hair spray does not cause any damage or discoloration.

  15. I have a great tip for removing blood stains from fabric. Soak the stain in peroxide. This will remove even dried and set in blood stains. I learned this tip while I was in a nursing home and had gotten blood on my clothing. One of the nurses soaked the stain in peroxide and sent it to the laundry. When it came back the stain was gone even though the blood stain had been there for quite a while and had even gone through several washings and dryings. This is safe to use on whites and colors.

    1. Using hydrogen peroxide to remove blood stains from fabric is a commonly recommended method. It is important to note that hydrogen peroxide may have bleaching properties, so it’s best to test it on a small area of the fabric first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration.

  16. Blood Stains are removed totally with just Hydrogen Peroxide. Put on spot, let foam, blot and do again. After a short time, item can be washed anyway you want and the stain is totally gone.

    1. Hydrogen peroxide is known to be effective in removing blood stains. The foaming action helps to lift the stain from the fabric. However, it is still recommended to test the hydrogen peroxide on a small area of the fabric before applying it to the entire stain, just to be sure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration.

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