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How to make homemade laundry detergent and when to use it?

Stained clothes but no access to your washing machine? Try these tips on using homemade stain removers and homemade fabric softener to get the job done.


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Can you think of anything worse than staining your favourite outfit almost as soon as you leave the house? You may not be able to put it in the wash straightaway, but it doesn’t have to be a total disaster.

With these homemade laundry detergent recipes, you can create a makeshift cleaner to get rid of the worst marks and make it easier to wash your clothes when you do get home.

Washing your clothes in the machine with a quality detergent like Drive, Omo or Surf is always recommended for best results. For a quick fix, treat stains with homemade liquid laundry detergent and a little water until you can wash properly.

What can you use for homemade laundry detergent?

While you’re unlikely to be able to match the quality of your regular washing powder or liquid with a homemade laundry detergent, that’s not to say you can’t make something that will get the job done in a squeeze. Simply replace your usual detergent with a household ingredient. Dishwashing liquid or shampoo can pass for homemade liquid laundry detergent in a tight spot.

How to make a homemade stain remover

To make a homemade stain remover that you can use on-the-go, follow these steps:

  1. As soon as you notice a stain, wet it with clean water. Some stains can be set with hot water so if in doubt always use cold.

  2. Apply a little of your chosen stain remover and rub in gently.

  3. Rub or dab the mixture into the fabric gently. Avoid being too harsh with the garment.

  4. Rinse the area again with water and dab dry with a cloth (or paper towel if you don’t have access to a cloth).

  5. Wash the item of clothing properly with your usual detergent as soon as you can afterwards.

If you stained your clothes at home, rather than on-the-go, but still don’t want to do a full wash then you can simply use your regular laundry detergent as a pre-treatment instead of the options above. Simple mix your regular laundry powder with water to form a paste and let it sit on stains for a few minutes before rinsing or apply a dab of liquid detergent to stains before rinsing clean.

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How to make a homemade fabric softener

We’ve covered how to use homemade laundry detergent when you’re in a tight spot, but what about fabric softener? There are actually recipes for homemade fabric softener you can try and although they may not match your usual brand, they’ll do the job if your supplies have run low unexpectantly.

  • Mix 2 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of glycerine in a bowl.

  • For a delicate scent, add a few drops of your favourite essential oils.

Use ½ cup of this homemade fabric softener per load of washing.  Put it in the fabric conditioner dispenser, so that it gets added to the wash at just the right time.

While these homemade solutions are helpful to get you out of a bind, they might not be as efficient as your usual laundry detergent for stubborn stains. Depending on the water type, homemade laundry detergents can cause too much foam in your machine  or create build-up in your machine. If you have any doubt, use a good quality detergent like Drive, Omo or Surf.