Save Money in the Laundry with Herbs and Household Solutions

It's time for another herb focused money saving tip.

A few years ago my family started getting soap related rashes, so I began cutting back on the amount of laundry soap I use per load. This turned out to be an economical move that doesn't have a down side. I tried the same strategy across a number of laundry brands and finally settled on a routine in which I use about a third of the recommended quantity of laundry detergent regardless of the manufacturer.

To avoid having to use dryer sheets, I sprinkle about a quarter to a third of a cup of baking soda into the wash before the rinse cycle. I think the soda keeps everything smelling clean and it may have some whitening and brightening potential too. (A 1/2 cup of white vinegar works for this too.)

To make clothes and linens smell even nicer, I add a damp cotton cloth to each dryer load which I've spritzed with lavender essential oil and distilled water (around a five to one ratio of distilled water to essential oil) Essential oils aren't really oil; they're concentrated fragrance that's water soluble. I use distilled water so I can keep a couple of spray bottles on hand to take care of all my washing for a month or more. Distilled water is bacteria and chemical free, so I don't have to worry the mixture degrading.

Some other suggestions that may help in the laundry room:
  • Wash heirloom textiles or other delicates with a soapwort solution.
  • Use lemon juice as a mild bleach, and increase its bleaching action by placing treated clothes in the sun for a half hour or more (check them periodically).
  • If lavender essential oil doesn't smell nice to you, substitute a solution of lemon balm or rose geranium fragrance instead.
  • If you like the fragrance you add to clothes in the drying cycle but it begins to fade too quickly, renew it by using a diluted fragrance solution in your iron and steamer too, and add dried herb pillows to your linen and lingerie drawers.
  • If you're switching to a lower soap laundry regimen, try cleaning your washing machine by running a hot water cycle with the addition of two cups of white vinegar. It'll remove the soapy residue and give your washer a new lease on life.
You don't need harsh chemicals to get your clothes clean. Some laundry gurus claim that the agitation in modern washing machines is all you really need to remove light soil. In theory, a little baking soda to soften clothes and extract odors should do the job. If you're saving pennies, that and some fragrance will protect your clothing, make it smell nice and give you home some inexpensive and natural air freshening too.


  1. I just got a new frontloading machine and am learning how to use it. Can the baking soda be put in the drum or does it somehow get out in the dispenser on top? Currently it is set up for liquids.

  2. Hi Laurie,

    In your place, I'd deploy the baking soda from the opening where the fabric softener is typically poured, but I'd add about a half a cup of water to the powder just before application to avoid clogging the opening. I think this may have the added benefit of keeping that area clean and free of gummy residue. Let us know how it goes.



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