DIY Laundry Detergent

I’m a big believer in a little more work upfront for the benefit of an easier life in the future, especially when it comes to saving money.  So when I usually spend my upfront time scouring ads for my favorite laundry detergent deal (Dynamo, buy 1 get 2 free), I am usually rewarded for my efforts by eventually finding this sale and stocking up.  However, I haven’t found such a great deal in a long time, but I have been honing my addiction to Pinterest where I am continually tempted by the homemade laundry detergent I see there.  The powder detergent recipe I have been eyeing is supposed to be quite cost efficient and relatively easy to make, so I decided to give it a go and was pleased with the results.

This recipe appeals to me for many reasons.  First of all, I know what’s in it.  Similar to cooking, making your own anything puts you in control of the ingredients and what is being released into your environment.  Secondly, it was cheap.  The blog writer states that this recipe lasted 9 months for her at 8 loads a week.  That’s 288 loads.  I only do 3 loads a week… this recipe will be lasting me 2 years if my math is correct and with ingredients costing under 20 dollars, I think it’s a pretty good bargain.  Lastly, the idea is downright nostalgic, and I love that.  I love the idea that I’m doing something my grandma may have done.  The process of making soap links me to a communal history that I have the honor to share with countless other women in time, and there is just something sacred about that.  Maybe I’m just sappy and sentimental, but grating soap gives me an awful lot of satisfaction.

So here’s the original recipe, where I got the ingredients, and how much each item costs:

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  • 1 (4 lb, 12 oz) box of Borax (Meijer, $3.49)
  • 1 (4 lb) box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (Target, $2.51)
  • 1 (3 lb, 7 oz) box Super Washing Soda (Meijer, $3.29)
  • 3 bars Fels-Naptha Soap (Meijer, $1.04 each)  These smell SO good!  I think if I could put a smell to the word ‘clean’, this soap would be it!
  • 1-2 small containers of Oxi Clean (Meijer, $3.99 each)  Optional – I only used 1 container because there is a serious lack of grass and food stains between my husband and I. I’m assuming that will change shortly.

My total price – $16.40 (with 1 Oxi Clean)

Instructions:

Step 1:  Grate the Fels-Naptha soap.  Because I have a HE washer, I grated the soap using the fine side of a box grater and then used my hands to break down the soap into powdery pieces.  You could also use a food processor to do this.  If you don’t have a HE washer, you can grate it into larger pieces.

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Step 2:  Mix all ingredients together and toss.  I had to use my hands again because the Borax had a lot of clumps in it that needed breaking down.

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Step 3:  Place homemade laundry soap into container of choice.

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To use, place 1-2 Tablespoons in with each load (the Oxi Clean even came with a convenient scoop just the right size – how lovely!)  If using with a HE washer, put soap in the barrel instead of the dispenser.

A couple of more helpful hints from the original post:

  • Don’t use with cloth diapers.  Baking soda affects the absorbency.
  • May not be safe for septic tank… do your research first on this.
  • Safe for sensitive skin.
  • If you can’t find Fels-Naptha soap, Zote is a good substitute.  Use 2 bars instead of 3 then.

AND, because I’m kind of a math freak this way, here’s some cost breakdowns for comparison sake.  For the following brands (all found at Target), I found out how much it would cost to buy 288 loads and then how much each load would cost to run.

7th Generation- $54.54 so 19 cents a load

Tide Free and Gentle- $53.97 so 18.5 cents a load

All Free and Clear- $41.97 so 14.5 cents a load

Arm and Hammer for Sensitive Skin- $24.08 so 8 cents a load

Target Brand Up and Up- $35.95 so 12.5 cents a load

Homemade detergent- $16.40 so 5.5 cents a load (or possibly less depending on whether you use 1 or 2 tablespoons per load).  No contest.

If you’re being really good, save even more money and hang your freshly cleaned laundry on a line in the back.  Renae wrote a great article last year about how to create your own laundry line.

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Post by Megan Mulder : Mom Colored Glasses