Learn how to make homemade OxiClean. You can make this magical laundry booster and stain fighter yourself with household items like washing soda and hydrogen peroxide. OxiClean is great as a pre-treatment for stains and a great laundry booster but it’s expensive! I’ll show you how to make your own for just pennies a load.
I remember when OxiClean first came out on the market. I was 12 and liked to watch the infomercials with my sister. I was captivated when the people in the advertisements added scoop of white powder to a big tub of stained linens and they transformed back to bright white before my eyes like magic.
OxiClean is now available everywhere and in many different formulations. You can buy the classic laundry detergent booster but they also make stain treatments, liquid laundry soap, carpet and pet stain removers and so much more.
But what if I told you that you can make this all yourself?
Yes, you can make your own homemade OxiClean and it works just like the original product.
How do you make your own OxiClean?
Before we begin it’s good to know that oxygen cleaners like OxiClean work well on organic stains, like grass, red wine or blood, but not so good on things like grease or petroleum based products like Vaseline.
If you have a grease stain on your clothing try rubbing a little Dawn Dish Soap on it as a laundry pretreatment and check out 20 secret uses for Dawn Dish Soap here.
Because there are no harsh or caustic chemical ingredients in OxiClean, and because it breaks down into oxygen and water, it is considered a very environmentally friendly product.
Is OxiClean Safe for Fabric?
When dissolved in water, the pH of OxiClean can be as high as 11. (Chlorine bleach can be up to 13)
Since the pH of the water is raised significantly there is the potential to damage the fibers in the clothing and other items you are washing, so even though it’s not as damaging as chlorine bleach, oxygen bleach will still wear your clothes down faster than just regular laundry soap.
Save the homemade OxiClean for the times that you really need it instead of every single load.
What is OxiClean made out of?
OK, this is about to get very scientific. It’s time for a chemistry lesson. It took me a long time to research this and translate it into layman’s terms. I wish I paid more attention in high school chemistry class. Now that I think of it, did I even take chemistry in high school? I’m pretty sure I didn’t…Let us begin:
The four main ingredients in OxiClean are:
- Sodium Carbonate
- Sodium Percarbonate
- Hydrogen Peroxide
Sodium carbonate is a salt made from sodium and carbonic acid. It appears as a white crystalline powder. It's a naturally occurring mineral.
Sodium carbonate is also known as soda ash, and is sold separately as washing soda. It’s like baking soda’s cousin that you sometimes hear about and is often used as an ingredient in all natural cleaning recipes and as a laundry booster on it’s own.
Some DIY OxiClean recipes call for baking soda but you need to use washing soda. It won't be nearly as effective with baking soda.
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In fact you can actually make washing soda by heating baking soda, but that’s a different blog post for a different day. There is only so much chemistry I can handle at one time.
Sodium carbonate is one component of activated sodium percarbonate (we’ll go over sodium percarbonate in a moment) another ingredient in OxiClean.
Sodium carbonate boosts the water’s pH, making it more alkaline, which neutralizes acids that may be produced during the cleaning process so the stain molecules can be rinsed away easily.
According to research by Laundry Alternative, OxiClean consists of 50 to 60 percent sodium percarbonate.
When you mix sodium carbonate (washing soda) with 3% hydrogen peroxide you get sodium percarbonate (the main ingredient in OxiClean)
Sodium percarbonate must be added to hot water to be activated. When activated, it breaks down back into hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate. The release of oxygen molecules creates bubbles and loosens stain molecules from fibers so they can be rinsed away.
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You still with me?
So to break this down in simple terms OxiClean is mostly made of sodium percarbonate. Sodium percarbonate is made when you mix sodium carbonate (washing soda) and hydrogen peroxide.
When the sodium percarbonate is mixed with hot water it separates back into sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide.
The hydrogen peroxide component works as a bleach and sanitizer. It breaks down into oxygen and water.
The sodium carbonate raises the PH of the water to help the hydrogen peroxide lift the stains and clean better.
OxiClean also contains low-sudsing surfactants (soap) to complete the cleaning process.
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Is OxiClean toxic?
Hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate are not carcinogenic, nor a neurotoxin. However, both sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate can be caustic to the body. The amount of sodium percarbonate in household products usually does not cause problems. However, exposure to the pure chemical can cause burns, skin irritation, eye irritations and even blindness. Inhalation can cause throat irritation and coughing.
DIY OxiClean Recipe Tips
This recipe can be used as a laundry pre-treatment for stains or as a laundry booster with your regular detergent.
To make a stain pre-treatment mix the ingredients into a spray bottle and spritz directly onto the stains.
To use as a laundry booster pour the ingredients directly into the washing machine with a full load.
What I like to do is mix the ingredients into a spray bottle, spray it on the stains and let them sit and then when it's time to start the washer pour the contents of the bottle into the machine with the clothes and hot water. The full recipe is at the bottom of this post.
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How to use homemade OxiClean on hard surfaces like floors
- Apply using a cloth, sponge, brush, or by pouring solution directly onto surface.
- Let Stand 5–30 min. Scrub as needed. For large surfaces, work with small areas, so solution does not dry on the surface.
- Rinse with clean water and blot until dry.
How to use homemade OxiClean on carpet
- Apply only enough solution to saturate stain. Allow solution to stand 1-5 minutes. Do not allow solution to dry on fabrics.
- Blot with white towel.
- Repeat until stain is not visible. Rinse carpet with clean water and blot until dry.
How to use homemade OxiClean on upholstery
- Apply with clean white towel and use to blot out stain.
- Apply solution directly on stain.
- Repeat until stain is not visible.
- Then, dampen a clean white towel with water and blot area to rinse.
Is Homemade OxiClean color safe?
Yes, but you should still do a spot test to make sure the colors in the fabric won't bleed.
Is Homemade OxiClean really cheaper?
It depends. You need to shop around and buy the washing soda and hydrogen peroxide at the cheapest price and compare it it the OxiClean prices.
In general, yes it will be cheaper but not if you are buying really expensive washing soda. If you already have the supplies in your laundry room for other homemade cleaners then it's great to whip up in a pinch but if you are going through the stuff fast then it's worth buying the supplies in large bulk quantities.
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Make homemade OxiClean with this recipe using washing soda and hydrogen peroxide
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup hydrogen peroxide
- ½ cup washing soda
- measuring cup
- spray bottle
Mix all ingredients together and store in a dark spray bottle.
To use: Spray on soiled laundry and let it sit overnight.
If you have a number of clothes that are soiled, you make up a batch of this and soak them in it overnight. Then, launder as usual.
You must store it in a dark bottle and use within 24 hours otherwise the solution will break down and become less effective.
Gayle M Gohdes says
the "you must use within 24 hours" is going to be a problem for me.
I'd rather just buy the generic oxyclean and/or washing soda and dump it in my washer. Done. It is not that expensive. I also really Like biz...it works great for soaking and adding. I also use Borax powder. who has time to futz around with stuff like this. I like easy!
With the powdered OxiClean you buy from store you would also need to use it within 24 hours after water is added. The pre-mixed spray bottles are fine because they add something to it (who knows what it is?) I just keep the box of washing soda and the peroxide in the laundry room on the shelf and put it into the wash right when I'm doing a load unless I'm pre-treating a stain. In that case I would use the spray bottle. Do what ever is easiest for you! I'm all about making things simple!