Tuesday, April 26, 2011

~Homemade Laundry Detergent~

I have no idea why it took me so long 
to start making my own laundry detergent.
  It was extremely easy and really fun. :-)

These are the ingredients you need.
They are not at all hard to find.
In fact they were all on the same shelf at my Wal-Mart!

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
20 Mule Team Borax
Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap
(You can use other bar soap,
but I really like the smell and color 
of the Fels-Naptha.)

You can make powdered or liquid detergent.
I chose to make the liquid because,
one, it is the best value,
and two, liquid detergent is best for our septic system.

The steps are very simple.
First you grate your bar of soap.
Simmer 4 cups of water on the stove,
add the soap a little at a time 
and stir until it is dissolved.

Pour 3 gallons of warm tap water into a five gallon bucket.
Add your soapy water from the stove.
Then add 1 cup of washing soda
and 1/2 cup of borax.
Stir well until it is all combined.

Put the lid on your bucket and let it sit 
for 24 hours.

And then...
I was so excited to do the first load.
I used one cup of detergent.

It came out great and I thought the towels
smelled very fresh.

But now for the fun details!  Let's talk cost break down.

For this first batch I used 

1 cup of washing soda
1/2 cup of borax
1 bar of soap

and made 52 cups of detergent = 52 loads

In my busy household I wash, on average, 1 to 2 loads of laundry a day, 7 days a week.  That would be between 31 to 62 loads a month.  So I am figuring that this one batch (52 cups/loads) will last me about a month.  Therefore I will probably need to make a batch each month, or 12 batches (624 cups/loads) per year.  How much will this cost?

I will need 12 cups of washing soda for the year.  A box of washing soda contains about 6 cups, so I will need 2 boxes.
I will need 6 cups of borax for the year.  The one box I already bought will be more than enough.
And I will need 12 bars of soap.

Here are the costs:

washing soda $2.77 per box X 2 boxes = $5.54 total
borax $2.98 per box X 1 box = $2.98 total
bar soap $0.97 per bar X 12 bars = $11.64 total

Total cost for a years worth of ingredients (including tax) $21.82

Divide that by 624 loads and you get a cost of 

$0.035 per load

Ok, so how much would I spend for a year's worth of commercial detergent??

I looked up Tide with Bleach at Wal-Mart.

A 100 ounce jug washes 52 loads.  So I would need 12 jugs each year.  

The cost:

Tide with Bleach $11.97 X 12 jugs = $143.64

Total cost for a years worth of detergent (including tax) $155.49

Divide that by 624 loads and you get a cost of 

$0.25 per load

A difference of $0.215 per load or $133.67 per year!  

If that wasn't neat enough,
think of this.
At the end of 12 months
I will have three cardboard containers
and 12 paper wrappers to dispose off -
easily burned with our trash.

Contrast that with adding 12 of these every year to a land fill.

If you are interested in trying this out for yourself, here are three posts that I found very helpful.

This is wonderful step-by-step post that includes a stain fighting comparison of homemade detergent and Tide with Bleach.

You'll have to scroll down a bit to get to the detergent recipe.

Simple directions for homemade powdered detergent.

This is a year's worth of washing soda and borax 
and six months worth of laundry bar soap. :-)

Linked to A Wise Woman Builds Her Home
From the Farm Blog Hop #34


Miss Paige said...

I appreciate your post very much: I just started to make this laundry soap, liquid version, late last year. I found the kit in a Lehman's Non-Electric Catalog. I have since passed it on to friends, but had never really thought through the cost breakdowns, as you put them up. Thank you for that! -Paige Smith

Lesley said...

I can't wait to try this! I do have one question though: do you think it would work on cloth diapers? I have to buy a special detergent to wash my cloth diapers in.

Miss Paige said...

For Lesley and others with similar concerns: I use this on our family's barn clothes, after they have been working in all the grime of a cow barn. Everything comes out smelling fresh. Also, the homemade soap conquers the cloth training pants messes my 2-yr=old is still making. I wish I had known of this recipe back when I had the energy to keep up with cloth diapers!

Lisa said...

Do you know if you can you use this in these new high efficiency washers. I know I'm supposed to buy the soap w/the "HE" label, but would rather make my own.

Miss Paige said...

You should be able to use this in those HE machines. This is a non-sudsing soap, and that is the main concern with the HE technology, I understand.

Mrs. H. said...

es, thank you Paige, I believe I read on one of the links I listed that this detergent was fine for high efficiency machines. I think the author of the post mentioned that the "special" detergent is just another way to get consumers to buy something at high cost.

Lesley, I think it would clean the diapers just as well as any other detergent. The one thing I would be concerned about is the harshness of the homemade detergent. If you are using Dreft for diapers and baby clothes, I would be careful when switching to make sure it doesn't irritate Ezra's skin. Please let me know if you try it out! :-)

Amber said...

I had found this "recipe" previously online and bought all the stuff to make it but haven't yet. Question for you - do you use an old pan to heat your water and soap in? I don't have any old pans and don't want to ruin my good ones. I thought that it might not hurt it since it's just soap, but since you've made it I thought I'd ask.

Miss Paige said...

I did have an old pan, that I know use as my "dedicated soap" pan. It isn't actually harming the pan, but I wondered whether I'd ever get a soap taste if I used the pan for food anymore. You could pick up a pan at a garage sale or thrift store.

Hendrick Family said...

Oh my goodness! I'm totally doing this. I can buy what I need and take it back with me to Haiti. Incredible!

I made homemade laundry soap one time and used it for awhile, but it didn't really get my clothes clean. It was not this recipe though. I'm eager to give this a try!


Dianna said...

I found the last picture in this post via Pinterest and it inspired me to put my borax and washing soda into canisters instead of having the ugly boxes leak all over my laundry room. Thanks!