Household Hazardous Waste


Most store-bought laundry soaps are detergents, not real soap.  Although most soap is better for the environment, washing only with soap can cause soap scum and graying of clothing, unless you have soft water.  To soften water add baking soda to the water and leave for 10 minutes before adding laundry and soap.  Experiment with the amount of baking soda, starting with 1/4 cup and increasing to 1/2 cup or a bit more.  If you want to try making your own laundry soap, rather than using only a store-bought castile soap, try this recipe:

Simple Laundry Soap

Mix well 1 cup each:

  • washing soda
  • borax
  • liquid castile soap

Although sticky at first, this mixture will dry to a powder if left out.  Use 1/2 cup per load in agitator machines or 1/4 cup per load in high efficiency machines.  Requires warm water wash.  Use vinegar in the rinse cycle to combat graying in hard water.  Fill fabric-softener dispenser with white vinegar or add 1/2 cup vinegar to load at the beginning of the rinse cycle.



Buying Laundry Powder & Liquid

  • Use non-phosphate vegetable-based detergent.

TIP: Add 1/2 cup borax or washing soda to the wash cycle to boost cleaning for heavily soiled clothes.  Consumer Reports found that Seventh Generation powder works the best of any of the natural laundry powders.  It stated this laundry cleaner is very good at removing blood, grass and tea stains.  Consumer Reports Greener Choices only focuses on food at this point, and no information about previous studies is found on-line.  To compare detergents for toxicity, visit the Environmental Working Group pages.

Fabric Softener

  • Vinegar

Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to rinse cycle to deodorize and soften fabrics--and keep them bright. If there is a softener dispenser on your machine, pour vinegar to the fill line.


  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%)

Spot clean. Let dry. Repeat if necessary.

  • 1/2 cup borax

Presoak in mixture of 1/2 cup borax in 2 gallons of hot water.

Diaper Pail Deodorizer

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon tea tree oil and/or
  • other essential oil

Mix and work out all lumps with a fork. Sprinkle in bottom of pail ager liner is removed. Periodically rinse pail with vinegar and water and dry in the sun.

Laundry Stain Removers

Caution:  Treatment will depend upon the fabric as well as the type of stain and the minerals in your water. Do an internet search to make sure you are using an appropriate treatment.

  • 1/4 cup liquid detergent
  • 1/4 cup glycerin
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Mix and pour into a squirt bottle. Use sparingly and run on stain. Wash. TIP: Do not use hot or warm water on sugary stains. Wash and rinse in cool water only.

  • Equal parts vinegar and water

Mix and use to remove tough stains including grass, perspiration, rust, jam, coffee, orange juice, wine, beer, ketchup, barbeque sauce, chili, urine and pet stains. You may wish to research your specific stain.