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Tue, Oct. 22

PRACTICAL SAVER: Solutions for troublesome laundry issues

Undeniably, clothing can be a significant investment. Subsequently, it's heartbreaking to have your favorite item ruined by a stain, or to have clothing that looks old before its time. Maybe it's dingy whites or stubborn garment odors that are your laundry problems. Fortunately, there are some very simple and economical solutions to our most frustrating laundry room issues.

Armpit stains are one of the most noticeable laundry issues. If the armpit areas on your shirts begin to appear dark or yellowed, the recipe below is likely to solve the problem. It is extremely easy to make, and uses ingredients most of us have on hand.

Homemade armpit stain remover

1 tsp. dishwashing liquid

2 - 3 tsp. hydrogen peroxide

1 - 2 tsp. baking soda

Using an old toothbrush, work the mixture into the stain. Let it sit for approximately an hour, then launder as usual. (Source unknown.)

Clothes will last much longer if you catch and pre-treat any stains before the garment is laundered. My favorite stain pre-treatment is a simple bar of Fels Naptha. This bar soap costs around $1.50, and is found in the cleaning aisles in most grocery stores. (It's the key ingredient in many homemade laundry detergent recipes.) Moisten the bar, rub it directly onto the stain, and then launder the clothing as usual. Test it on an inconspicuous part of the garment, as there is always a chance that stain treatments will discolor the fabric. Fortunately, in my many applications I have never had that happen. I have experienced great success with this treatment, even on stains that had previously been washed.

It's a good idea to cut a Fels Naptha bar into two or three pieces and keep a portion in each bathroom and in the laundry room. Then, as a stain is discovered, the bar is readily available. A bar of Fels Naptha should last well over a year, so it's very economical!

Keeping your white clothes bright can be one of the biggest laundry challenges. Like many others in the Prescott area we have well water, and I've noticed that whites washed with well water tend to become a little gray looking over time. We've found success by adapting a recipe I found on the Sewing Room Screaming Blog. We've used this recipe for several months and our whites and lights are much brighter. This recipe costs only about 10 cents per load, which is significantly less than the price per load for name brand detergents.

Homemade laundry detergent with oxy clean

2 cups Borax

2 cups baking soda

2 cups washing soda

1/2 cup Oxy Clean

1 bar Fels Naptha (grated)

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Use 2 to 3 tablespoons per load.

This is only one of three homemade laundry detergents our family uses. The homemade detergents not only work wonderfully, they also save our household over $80 per year. Other recipes for homemade detergents are posted on my website at

Some odors in clothing can seem impossible to remove - like sweat and that odor that usually arrives in the monsoon season (we call it a "skunky" smell). For hard-core odors like these, we add half a cup of a product called Odoban to the rinse cycle. We're still using a gallon of Odoban that we purchased for $10 at the hardware store over a year ago. This product is also available in a spray form that can be used to remove odors from other household items.

For odors that are not so potent, add a half-cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. This also will soften the laundry by removing soap and fabric softener buildup. Vinegar is usually cheapest at warehouse stores.

Using the laundry solutions I have shared today is a win-win. They are all inexpensive, and each one will help you save money by extending the life of your clothes. If you have other ideas or recipes for making your laundry sparkle, I would love to read them. Email me at

Kara Rozendaal, a financial planner, wife and homeschool mother of three, has lived in Prescott Valley for 16 years. "I love saving money and love to share my tricks with others." Learn more about coupon classes and ways to save money at her website,

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