A Laundry Soap Update

I've been making our laundry detergent for one year, now. I have to tell you that I still love the idea of how much money we are saving. But there is something shady going on.

For about 6 months, I've noticed one or two pieces of clothing becoming gray and our clothes not keeping their colors (fading).

I began searching for any information as to why and how to stop it. It wasn't until about 2 weeks ago when I googled homemade "laundry detergent graying clothes"  I came across this POST from a fellow blogger. 

Before I continue, let me explain something... Our family is on a mission of becoming as self reliant as possible without becoming back woodsy, tree hugging hermits. I honestly believe that there is the possibility of facing a time in our future where people are going to need to know how to do "old fashioned" things. Making laundry detergent is one of those things and I enjoy it.

Being able to make laundry detergent and keeping our clothes looking good for as long as possible is a big deal to me. Why save money on laundry detergent, but then have to buy new clothes every few months? I don't get that!

After reading Hillary's POST, I began searching and reading what I could find regarding TriSodium Phosphate. It seems, that I'm not the only one looking for brighter, whiter clothes. There are tons of sites where people are looking for help in getting their clothes clean. The funny thing about this is,  people are not only using homemade detergent but many are using store bought. If you did not read the link that Hillary posted, you really need to read it. You can find it HERE.

I talked with friends of ours that owns a feed store. This family run store is not like the big box stores. They run their business the old fashion way. The older men in the area stop by every morning to sit in the rocking chairs around the wood burning stove to enjoy a cup of coffee while catching up on all the news that comes from the farms around the area.

The shelves are stocked with a small amount of a product and the family knows everything about those products. While I was in there I asked about TSP and the response I got was enlightening. I was told that it use to be in our detergents, but the gov't stepped in and had it removed since it promotes the growth of algae in our streams. The gov't is more concerned about small aquatic animals than they are about the lives of innocent unborn babies, abused children and elderly people.

 He continued to tell me that it is a strong cleaner and it would take care of the problems with my detergent and that many, many people used it for years without problems. I was also told to try it in a small amount of detergent and watch for any reactions, especially in our under clothing.

So what did I do after reading and listening about TSP? I bought a small box!

I thought I could lose $3.00 a lot easier than it would be for me to start spending $10 or more a month on store bought detergent. Actually, I wouldn't be losing the three dollars, since I can use the TSP for cleaning the carport, walls, etc. I came home and poured about two quarts of my detergent in a pan and warmed it up and mixed four tablespoons of TSP in until it dissolved. (TSP will not dissolve in cold water) I washed clothes for a week and could not believe how our whites were so WHITE when they came out of the washer.

I've been using it for almost two weeks. So far, no one has complained about any itchy, rashy areas. I have about 1½ more quarts of laundry detergent before I have to make another batch, so I'll just keep adding the four tablespoons until I'm finished with this bucket.

Reading Hillary's recipe and reading the box of TSP (7.3% or 8.5 grams phosphate in a ½ cup), I've not changed anything in my detergent recipe except for adding the TSP. Here it is...

4  cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 cup - Washing Soda
½ cup Borax
½ cup TSP

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda, Borax and TSP. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.

*** I'm not telling you that you should use TSP and it is illegal to sell laundry detergent with it.  But if you are having the same problems with discoloration in your clothes, it maybe worth a try. I know many people are concerned with  phosphates and adverse reactions so use your discretion.


  1. Lori, Are you able to find real tsp? My family has used tsp for years, mainly to wash walls before painting because it works as a deglosser. The only tsp I can find in stores now is phosphate free.
    I wonder if a person can use a small amount of tsp in the dishwasher to actually get dishes clean? I will have to search on-line.
    Thanks for the info...........Denise

  2. Denise, yes this is the real stuff in the red, white and yellow box by Savogran. I found it at the feed store and our hardware store carries it in the big box.

    I made some liquid dish soap to test. I added a 1/4 tsp to the sink and was very surprised at how the dishes squeaked they were so clean. So, I'm sure you could probably put it in the dish washer.

    The right side of the sink was so clean when I got finished washing dishes, the left side looked as if it had not been touched in weeks.

  3. very interesting!
    I have heard that all the good cleaning stuff was also removed from dishwasher detergent because a state or 2 banned them.
    sure is frustrating, all I want to do is get things clean!


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