Clean Laundry – Miracle Stain Remover, Make Your Own Detergent and Dryer Balls


I’ve been keeping a secret from y’all and I just can’t live with it anymore. I have a miracle stain remover recipe that has time and again proven to work on some of the most stubborn stains. Recently, Pretty Handsome Guy came back from a business trip with a stained button down shirt. It had wing sauce on it AND it had been allowed to settle for a few days AND he hadn’t pre-soaked it or used any stain remover. (Have I not taught him anything?! Sigh.) I thought for sure the shirt was a goner. But, I decided to put my miracle stain remover recipe to the test. Low and behold after 24 hours of soaking in the concoction, the stain was magically gone! No scrubbing, it was simply gone. Can I apply for a magic wand now?

I can’t lay claim to the recipe. I found it on a local “Mommy” message board back when I was a new mom. But, this recipe has worked on more stains than I can count.

I mixed up a batch today to try on one of my son’s shirts that got blueberry jelly on it. My mom tried to wash it and get the stain out, but it was still there after laundering. Normally once a stain goes through the dryer it is set in. But, that didn’t deter the Miracle Stain Remover. Sit back and learn young Jedis (we just let the boys watch Star Wars the first time last week, so it is on my brain.)


1 scoop of Oxi-Clean
1 scoop of Liquid Clorox 2
1 scoop of Cascade powder dishwashing detergent (or another powered brand.)

Fill your basin with warm water then add the oxi-clean, clorox 2 and dish detergent. Give it a swirl and mix until the powders dissolve and bubbles form.

Place the stained garment into the mixture, being sure the stain is submerged. After two hours you can take a peek! My stain was gone.

For tougher stains, let it soak overnight. Remove the clothing to behold the miracle! Normally I will throw the garment into the wash, but you could simply rinse and dry it.

And, this formula is also safe for colors as well!

Laundry Detergent…

In the spirit of sharing, I also came across this recipe for laundry detergent from Busy-at-Home. It is so stinkin’ inexpensive, you won’t believe how much it costs to make. But first, have you seen the price of laundry detergent lately?! 150 oz. for “gulp” $21! Whereas the recipe I made yielded 250 oz. for….are you ready for this…$0.61! Yup, if you don’t believe me, you can see Busy-at-Home’s calculations. She figured out she would save 97% on detergent by making her own.

And the best news is that it is safe for HE washers. You only need 1/4 cup per load. The recipe was derived from Michelle Duggar’s own laundry room.

I mixed up the recipe (which contains only three simple ingredients: Borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda – NOT BAKING SODA – and Fels-Naptha.) All of these ingredients can be found at your local supermarket and/or Walmart. You might have to hunt a little to find them since the major laundry detergents have the prime spots on the shelves. I used a 2.5 gallon water jug to store our detergent (complete with easy pour spout!)

I’ve used the detergent for a few weeks (and a dozen loads) so far. It works great. The only thing I miss is the linen scent of the detergent I was using. But, for 3/100th of the cost I can deal!!!

Drying clothes…

And since I’m talking laundry today, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my secret weapon for drying clothes.

Nellie's Dryer Balls

They look like medieval torture devices, but these little blue guys have completely kicked our fabric softener sheets to the curb! I haven’t used them in over 4 years now! At first I was concerned about static (the bane of my hair’s existence), but then a friend told me that you can eliminate static by not letting your clothes over dry. Simply shut off the dryer when your clothes are about 95% dry. Don’t let the dryer run and run and run until the clothes are piping hot and there isn’t a spot of dampness on them. Instead, let the moisture sensor (if you have one) do its job and it should shut off right before the clothes are dry. The waist bands in jeans or sweatpants may feel slightly damp, but everything else feels dry. And most importantly, pull out fleece, polyester, and synthetic clothes about half way through the cycle.

The dryer balls (you should use two) work together to punch, separate, fluff and dry your clothes. They also help keep wrinkles to a minimum, but I’m not afraid of a few wrinkles (see my no iron solution to wrinkles post.) The Nellie’s Dryer Balls cost $16.99, but the cost savings of not using dryer sheets is definitely worth it. Plus, you don’t have to stress about the chemicals that are in dryer sheets. These little wonder balls (I can’t believe I just typed that) last forever! I have been using mine for over four years. They start to get darker on the nubs from dye in your clothing, but it doesn’t transfer and it doesn’t hurt their effectiveness.

Nellie's Dryer Balls

Nellie’s Dryer Balls

That’s all for today. I’m taking off my June Cleaver outfit now and returning to my normal Bob Vila attire.

Disclosure: No disclosure necessary today. I was not paid to write about any of these products and none of them were sent to me for free. These are all products that I use and love!

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I am glad to finally know someone personally who has tried the laundry detergent. I am definitely going to make it now, especially because we have Borax here because of a science project :)

We use the wool laundry balls purchased on etsy, they work great too!

Thanks a ton! A friend has been meaning to give me her recipe, which I suspect is the same as the one you posted, but hasn’t gotten to. And the homemade detergent…I never dreamed this possible. I’m going to start replacing rinse agent for the dish washer with vinegar (tinted with food coloring) soon, too.

I already do this, and my glasses always come out spotless and the plastics are not foggy anymore! I love this tidbit of gold handed to me from a good friend of mine! (I do not die the vinegar, i just dump a 1/4 cup in the bottom of the washer every load, might be more work then it needs to be, but that way i make sure its in there lol

Update: I’ve learned not to put the vinegar directly into the rinse agent dispenser. The vinegar breaks down the plastic internal elements which can spell trouble. Sorry if I led anyone astray, I didn’t know this until recently. :(

I tried vinegar in my rinse dispenser and brown rusty looking crud came out and stained a huge line down my dishwasher door. It breaks down the working parts within the door and they come out as rust. I would not advise doing this.

Hi, I bought the Fels-Naptha tonight with the thought of making the laundry soap, but I gotta say it’s SO SO SO perfumey.
I wasn’t expecting that.
I should have looked at the back of the bar before purchasing, I assumed since it was all old-timey cool looking it would have minimal ingredients.
Still a cool idea making your own soap but for any one thinking of purchasing it, especially if they were getting it on-line, be aware of the scent, if you’re used to unscented soap products it’s not the soap for you.

We made the dry detergent formula and used Ivory soap instead of the Fels. I think it smells great. Plus, Ivory was cheaper. With the Ivory, you just microwave each bar for about a minute, let it cool, and then the “foam” it creates crumbles into dust. Youtube it, its pretty awesome.

Wow what a fantastic Idea. I have been using the Fels, but I think the Ivory might dissolve better. Then a Burlap bag of lavender and vanilla bean in the dryer!

Hi, I tried this laundry recipe a while back and love it too! And for the person who doesn’t like the smell of Fels-Naptha, the smell is almost gone after the wash and totally gone after they come out of the dryer. I miss a scent and have tried replacing the Fels with Dr. Bronners Castillo soap (peppermint!) but alas the smell still doesn’t stay. And Bronners is much more expensive than Fels…so I will stick with cheap.

My helpful hint is to use your food processor (using the cheese grater disc) instead of a hand grater to grate up your bar of soap… Done in seconds!! I saw another recipe that also added in a scoop of oxyclean.. May throw that in there next time too just to try it.

Question about your stain remover… The bane of my existence are little oily spots on my shirts (usually from salad dressing splatters)… Does it work well on that?? Pretty much every shirt in my wardrobe has them…

Tricia, I’m not sure about the oil stains, but I recently heard to put a drop of dawn (or other grease fighting) dish detergent on the stain and let it sit for a while. The dawn will cut into the oil and pull it out. I did have good luck with this on a blouse I have. If it doesn’t work, try the miracle stain remover πŸ˜‰

Also, as a last resort, oven cleaner supposedly gets grease/oil stains out of clothes. My mommy told me, I haven’t tried it but I believe her. She is the Queen of thrift and ingenuity! (She also warns to test the fabric in an inconspicuous area like the back of a collar.)

I’ve been using a palin old bar of had soap on my spots. Even on items already put thru the wash. I hgad a deep red blouse with oil stains on is, so I tried settinbg the spot and erubbing it with the bar of soap, washed as usual and it was gone. Doesn’t matter what kind of bar soap, I bought the cheapest the grocery had! Worth a try!


Tricia not sure if you will read this over 3 years later but i recently started making my laundry soap and i love it but not only that my mother who is a fanatic of her laundry also absolutly loves it. She like you for as far as i can remember has had a issue with little oil spots on her clothes that drive her crazy and insisted on top of the line laundry soap that would get some of it out. After i made the soap and she did a load of laundry trying it i wasnt able to use the washing machine for over a week cause she loved it and washed everything she could put her hands on. And she said she was amazed with it for removing ALL of the spots on her clothes. we,have now made enough to last a year she doesnt want to run out. lol

Also just wanted to say that on the Dugger family website they offer a dry laundry powder recipe as well as the liquid… I use the dry recipe as it is much less complicated (1 cup super washing powder, I cup borax, 1 grated bar of Fels-Naptha). I do use the warm water setting though…. Sometimes on cold the soap wouldn’t dissolve completely…

Ace Hardware also carries the ingredients..

We’ve been making our own laundry soaps for about 5 years now using this same recipe, although we’re lazy and do the powdered recipe. We also use a small food processor to grate up the soap – much easier! It also helps if you’ve opened up the Fels and let it dry out for a few weeks (months), it’ll grate easier. What we do is when we make a new batch, we open up 3 bars to dry out until the next time. They totally help with giving a great scent to closets! We’ve been using white vinegar in lieu of fabric softener, but may have to try the dryer balls instead, one less thing to buy…I like that.

Brittany, great post. I enjoy saving money and you’re right laundry soap prices are astronomical. We pay more for less product. I’m going to give this a try. Thanks!

So nice of you to share your ‘secret’ stain fighting weapon.
Question tho – How much is a ‘scoop’ of the products? I know that OxyClean has a scoop, but confused about the others. Use same scoop? or about how much in measurement?
Love your site. Thanks

I’m going back to re-read this post and take notes! I’m amazed at how much laundry I do, and the COST is staggering! (Of course, three of the five members of this family are over 6’5″, so their clothes are really big.)

I nearly teared up at the thought of your letting your boys watch Star Wars for the first time. I still remember the first time my fellows watched. Our lives were changed! And I’m fine with that. :)

I started using a recipe for homemade laundry soap similar to this one. She suggests a fourth ingredient of Dial or Irish Spring bar soap. I have loved it so far. Anything to save money these days. Thanks to Kat Moss for the tip on drying out the bars. I don’t have a food processor and found it difficult to hand grade because the bars were still pretty soft. Drying them out will be much easier. Brittany, thanks for the info on the dryer balls. I will have to try them. I also use vinegar instead of fabric softener and I like the way my clothes feel much better with the vinegar. Meg, thanks for the tip on using vinegar as a rinse aid. I never knew you could use it that way. I love being empowered and having the ability to make my own cleaning solutions. Thanks for sharing everyone!

I recently made this same detergent. I also missed the smell of my old detergent. I happen to have a really good coupon for the DOWNY UNSTOPPABLE, so I bought a container of that and dumped in. Though it looks like you turned yours to liquid?? Left mine powder form nad just stirred it all together. I just pour it directly into the tub instead of using the detergent dispencer.

Thanks so much for posting this! The timing could not have been better. Was dealing with frustrating laundry stains and then read your blog. Ahhh!

Greetings! I am so in love with the idea of make-at-home detergent! I’m a bit concerned, though, because I have pretty sensitive skin and am worried the homemade will aggravate it? I currently use All Free & Clear, which has no dyes or perfumes .. Any advice out there for me?

Thanks :)

I tried making the detergent at home and loved it for most of the family. It was pretty easy to do and was definitely cost effective. But my teenage daughter who has allergies and and eczema had a terrible time with it. It really aggravated the eczema within a week of using it, and we had to go back to the All Free and Clear. We used Ivory soap with it as well. If there are any other suggestions, I would love it.

Try using Zote laundry soap instead of Fels Naptha. It works well on stains, too. Just wet the end of the bar and rub directly on the stain before washing. Can be found with the other laundry soaps.

Great post! I’ve made my own laundry detergent before and was very satisfied with the job it did. The best part is it costs pennies per load compared to commercial detergents.

Can’t wait to try the miracle stain remover!

I tried the stain remover & loved it! I have been wondering if you have tried it as a spot treater. I have a messy 15 month old & would love if the process was a little quicker & im afraid to try things before they are recommended! Thanks for all your great information & projects!

I have used the laundry detergent recipe for a while now. As for the smell, I bought some Lavender essential oils and put 10-20 drops in each batch. Increases the price some (to about $1 per gallon) but it’s worth it to me! Also have been using homemade softener AND I found a recipe for homemade oxi-clean to use with the stain remover recipe!

For those of you with oily stains, pizza, spaghetti sauce or most stains, use the while handcleaner GOOP. It is in the auto supply of Walmart or other retailers. I am in my mid 50’s and about 10 years ago I learned this trick. The grease attracts grease..I have had it work on stains that were “set” from the dryer that I did not notice. Rub it on the stains, let it sit a few minutes and then wash. It works! It was at one time, 99 cents a container, more now but worth it!

I have been using the miracle stain remover for years, but I only use the Clorox 2 and Cascade powder. It works like a charm! Try it without the Oxyclean and save some money!!

Haven’t used fabric softener for years… Married to a firefighter and evidently fabric softenerd mess with fire retardency (real word?) of clothing for the little people at my house and I’ve read too that it makes clothes actually hold a stain. Another idea to reduce static… Pin 2 safety pins each to 2 rags and throw in with wet clothes. Ta da, little to no static. Its a science thing, someone can explain I’m sure (not me!).

I’ve been using the powder recipe for about a year and think it qworks quite well but have noticed this summer my husbands work shirts not getting very clean. He works in a machine shop and gets VERY sweaty and greasy. His t-shirts will never look clean but don’t quite smell clean either esp. under the arms. Any suggestions for REALLY dirty clothes. I wash them alone and with extra detergant and double rinse of homemade softner. I hang out to dry also for extra airing. Help!!!!

Debbie, now that’s some dirty laundry! πŸ˜‰ I actually just googled how to get stinky towels clean. There were a couple of solutions. The one I tried was filling the softener dispenser in the washer with vinegar. I’ve also heard about putting a quarter cup of baking soda in with the laundry. Good luck.

Hello! I have used another homemade laundry soap, the all powder one, and I love it as well! It’s borax, super suds, baking soda, and fels naptha all mixed together. <3<3<3 it, also my friend has used the liquid one for a few months now and loves it as well :) I have the dryer balls too, the only thing I hate is using the dryer at night, its fairly loud with those balls bouncing around in there, but other then that, my clothes have come out softer then ever, and I actually don't use softeners at all, mainly because my and my daughters skin is irritated by it! Thanks for all your hard work! Love your site! Keep on being handy!

Tennis balls really stink in the dryer, really stink. I always used them for down comforters and jackets. Because they smell so bad it makes me wonder, is there some chemical released that would be better in the synthetic balls than in our lungs? You might want to try WOOL DRYER BALLS. I found the directions on line. Basically you wind wool yarn into a ball. (I’m learning to spin and have LOTS of “less than perfect” yarn so this is cheap for me.) when it gets to be a few inches tuck the end of the string into the ball, put the balls into an old nylon, tie a piece of string between the balls, throw that ball sausage into a load of laundry (hot is best, warm will work,) and then throw it into the dryer (again, hot works best.) When you cut them free start more yarn around the balls to make it the size you want (– tennis ball size or larger) and repeat the washer/dryer felting process. When you take them out of the dryer, check one to make sure they felted enough and will stay together. With use they’ll felt even more.

Vinegar’s a wonderful rinse for dishes, clothes, and hair (just rinse it out of your hair or you’ll smell like vinaigrette!) It seems to soften our clothes and leaves them clean and fresh. It’s summer in New England, so that means mostly line drying after the vinegar rinse… but I’m going to do a load of laundry now so I can try out that wonderful idea of safety pins on rags!!! That would be wonderful, and it makes sense that they could draw out the electrostatic charge. I’m thinking it will work because I washed my husband’s pants with a 18K gold medal/chain in the pocket (who knew?) which also had a finger rosary (metal ring with bumps) in the same pocket. When they came out he had an 18K plated gold finger rosary. It was very cool, but he wasn’t happy. Maybe the safety pin rags would be a good static buster for your daughter’s clothing. Genius idea if it really works!!!

Has anyone mixed up a big batch of the miracle stain remover and kept it for a long period of time? I have 2 small boys and I use stain remover EVERY SINGLE DAY. :) Anyway–just wondering if it congealed or remained fluid. I want to use it, but don’t want to have to mix it up constantly……TIA.

Okay. No prob. I will give it a go! Hopefully it’ll be just fine w/ a shake each time before I use it. I’ll let you know :) . Thanks for the recipe! I’m very excited to try it b/c I go through bottles of Resolve Max like crazy.

I tried mixing up the Stain remover and it did not go well. There was a delightful chemical reaction that caused a lot of heat and frothing. After removing the “experiment” outside overnight, it had solidified. Going to try to break it up into a powder later (fingers crossed). Not sure how it will work if I’m successful at removing it from the bottles…

Well, I tried to save time later by mixing up a “concentrate” so I would just have one container instead of three. I may try just using the powder Clorox 2 next time and mix all the powders. Just call me Mr. Wizard…..

Angie (aka Mrs. Wizard), I see. I typically just fill a small tub with the mixture and soak the stained garments in it overnight to get it out. Let me know if your concentrated concoction works πŸ˜‰

This sounds so awesome. I really am excited to try this, ha! I don’t have any kids yet; just a 26 yr old accident prone eater. It’s nearly become a game; we guess when the stain will actually occur. It’s hilarious when it happens during appetizers. Especially when he forgets Not to wear a white shirt. I spend some time scrubbing under the faucet. Usually, I just use bar soap, or whatever antibacterial hand soap in the bathroom.
But anyway, I did have questions! For the Laundry Detergent, is it equal amounts per ingredient? And how did you make it liquid, plain water? If so, how much liquid should be added to the formula? And the ingredients listed above, the Borax, Super Washing Soda and Fels Naptha, those alone would be the Powder Detergent formula correct?
TYIA! Great tips.

I was wondering if this stain remover would work on old deodorant stains (the gross dark ones, not the yellow sweat stains) and if not, does anyone know what will???

hi just wondering to make it into a liquid,how much water would you put in and what size of container.I like to keep a batch made up.Right now I am using the dawn,ammonia and water.Would like to try this.My daughter still believes in shout,even though she works herself to death scrubbing

ok everyone i have a pair of very light colour jeans and they were washed with red :( now they been sitting for years as i could never get it out :( but now i have come across them again my favorite jeans would love to wear them again can anyone help me plz

With all the laundry talk I have to share my “no-iron” shirt trick!
Put the shirts in the dryer for 5-10 minutes at low –take them out (they should still be wet but warm) and hang on plastic hangers. The 5-10 minutes in the dryer will get out all the wrinkles and they will dry smooth from hanging.

I have not personally tried this, but I have heard Tennis Balls work just as well as the dryer balls.
I heard that one several years ago, but at about $3 a tube, I’m thinking about taking the gamble before I spend $18. Heck, if nothing else, the pet can play with them if they don’t work.

Here’s a site of someone who has tried it evidently.

Is this concoction okay to reuse? I mixed up a bath and am soaking clothes atm. When I remove those clothes will it work with a second load of clothes or will I have to mix up another batch?

They were clean, just some toddler clothes I recieved from a friend for my daughter..
They had a few stains. And this solution worked on one of her other shirts, so I figured I’d
try and get these clothes stain free. If it works, I’ll let you know.

I decided not to re use it, because I went ahead and washed it after soaking.
However, I do LOVE love, this recipe. i wonder if the Oxi Clean and Clorox 2 would work without the Cascade?

I use an entire box of the washing soda the borax an entire 3lb tub of oxi clean and 3 fels naptha bars to make an entire 5 gallon home depot bucket full of laundry soap. it lasts for months. I am getting ready to make some more here in the next few weeks it has lasted me about 6 months and i still have a good month’s worth left… and I do a LOT of laundry. i love the recipe its so easy to make it costs me anywhere between 25-30 to make it.. it gets a lot of the stains out so i really dont have to pre treat much of anything..and it brightens and whitens. i love it!

Just had to tell you THANK YOU for posting your stain remover recipe. It really works! We have six children ages 14 yrs to 8 months so I deal with all kinds of stains. I just used it on school issued white football pants (old and dingy to begin with) that had been used daily for practice and games for two weeks (!) before our son brought them home to be washed. Mud, grass & sweat were ground in for weeks. Soaked them overnight, dumped out dirty solution, added fresh mix and soaked for another half a day. They boarder on “sparkling”. While putting his pads back in them he asked, “What did you do? These are amazingly clean!” When an eighth grade boy notices, it’s clean! Best part…no scrubbing! I had in the past used fels naptha & a nail brush with miserable results.

It gets out baby stains just as well. After years of ruined clothes, I am finally one happy Mama!

I am going to try this stain remover recipe. I was just wondering one thing…I wasn’t sure how much water to use. Do I just add the ingredients to the washer and fill with water according to the size of my load? Or do I need to use a smaller container- like a 5 gallon bucket- to do my soak ?
Thanks :)

Tamara, I fill up a small (1 gallon?) basin and add the stain remover recipe. I usually let the clothes soak at least 24 hours to really do their thing. If there is any stain left, I just rub it and it disappears! Then I throw the wet clothes in the washer.

Back in 1981, When i was in vocational school for food prep our instructor gave use the same stain remover recipe minus the oxy clean. We had to wear white uniforms and got stains daily but this soak took care of everything! I used it on cloth diapers and lined dried and people would stop and ask how i got them so clean.

I read all your articles and they were very good. I take care of the laundry room and found this information helpful. What are the measurements for mixing up your own washing detergent. I did not see that information. I know that you don’t use the full packages of all three. Thanks for the articles.

And how much water should you use? I don’t want to use TOO much water and find that it watered down the stain remover. Thanks!

I use this exact recipe for the homemade laundry soap and have for a couple of years now and I LOVE it! I add a bottle or 2 of the Purex crystals to my recipe and it smells awesome!

the homemade laundry detergent doesnt work on uniforms and heavily soiled clothing, its good for linens and such you dont mind some stains on.
i used that recipe for 4 years, to no avail, and had to switch to Arm & Hammer pods, with the Purex Color safe bleach.
the homemade laundry detergent is good if you cant afford regular detergent, or you are out in the middle of nowhere and need something you can make yourself to last. no amount of soaking helped either.

HELP! I forgot I left oxiclean stain remover on a white toddler romper and the remover has dried :( It was on too long and now romper has a huge yellow stain on it. I already tried washing in washing machine twice, once with oxyclean detergent, and the second time with just distilled vinegar. I also soaked it overnight in the sink with 2 dissolved denture tablets. The yellow has fainted slightly but it is still there. Did I remove the whitening agent in the romper? Note the romper has a pink trim on it, so I’m worried about fading that color. Can I try to spot treat it with bleach to whiten it again (by using a toothbrush and avoiding the pink trim)??? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!