Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent: Big Savings

I accomplished a lot in my little bungalow and on the grounds today!  It always amazes me that I am still putting in a full day's work and our home is so widdle! :-)   We do have a large flower garden to keep weeded and a vegetable garden.  I'm still working on organizing my aunt's barn, too. I never get bored.. that's for sure! My hands are always busy.

I even found time to prepare a batch of homemade laundry detergent.  I've been making my own laundry detergent for approximately 3 years. I always put off making another batch until the very last minute. I'm not sure why because it takes less than 30 minutes to make. I think it's the grating of the soap. It's my least favorite part of the process. Once I start the grating I always chastise myself for putting it off because it's done in no time at all. Sometimes if I'm overly ambitious I will grate the entire bar so I have a head jump on the next batch.

There are quite a few recipes online for making your own detergent. The one I use was found on Crystal's Family Homestead Site. I double the recipe to fill up my bucket which is supposed to give me enough detergent for 160 loads. I purchased all three products at Winco. I put the entire cost of the product next to each item. Remember that you're only using a small amount for each load. You can see how inexpensive it is to make. I used to be able to find the Washing Soda at Walmart but they stopped carrying it. I believe they still carry the Borax. I've read that you can order all items online. I think Food Maxx used to carry some of the products also.

1/3 bar Fels Naptha (1 bar $1.09)
1/2 cup Arm and Hammer Washing SODA (not baking soda) (1 box $2.77)
1/2 cup Borax ($3.86)

Here is how I make it:

1. Grate the soap (I also save slivers of bath soap to add).
2.  Place the grated soap in a large, tall pot. Add 6 c. hot water. I don't put the temperature on high because it will boil over and make a mess. I turn it on low to medium and keep an eye on it.
3. Once the soap is melted in the pot I add the washing soda and Borax. I stir until it's dissolved.

4. Place in a large bucket.
5. Add 1 gallon of hot water plus 10 c. water and stir.
6. It will thicken into a kind of gel as it sets overnight. You can add essential oils if you want a scent. You can use 1/2 to 1 oz.
7. I use 1/2 cup of detergent per load of wash.  It cost me $1.60 to fill this big bucket with homemade detergent!!! Pretty good, huh? A friend uses this detergent in her high efficiency washer with no problems since it does not have a high suds. She uses the same amount as she would any other detergent.

Crystal figured out the cost of the detergent and it came out to .01 a load. When you compare that to the detergents on the store shelf you'll see it's quite a savings.  That was a huge enough saving to convince me to try it. Our clothes have never been dingy. Also, my husband is not able to use scented detergents but this detergent does not effect his skin.  The only load I do use store bought detergent for are my towels.  When we lived at a previous home the well water had a mineral that gave my towels a funny smell.  They would probably be okay by now but I have always used the store detergent (currently using a brand from the dollar store). I also add White King water softener to my white load (washed in warm water) and let them soak for 30 minutes. Other than those few additions the detergent has always worked great for me.


  1. I am glad to see you have a new blog, I missed your Xanga posts.
    lots of good information on your blog - our income is steady right now but my hubby has a disability and I can easily see how we could be in the same situation you. So I am working hard to live frugally, save as much as I can and take good care of my hubby.

    I know just what you mean about staying busy - I never seem to run out of things to do! And I really don't understand why people think us homemakers must be bored.

  2. We use the same basic recipe! I've found if I add the entire bar of Fels Naptha it cleans better for me. It increases costs a tad, but not much, and it's still an amazing bargain.

  3. I used this stuff for awhile years ago.. it does work. Kinda 'sloopy lookin'. I'd love to make my own now--but I'm leary of that particular recipe. We run the gray water onto the ground--not in the septic and we have a stream downhill. I've been using something called Ecos. Its all soy based with some lavendar. I get it at Sams--big huge bottle for Around $13. The only other place I've seen it is a health food market and it was way overpriced in tiny bottle.
    I wish there was a homemade detergent I would feel comfortable adding to my soil and stream.

  4. Cool! I used a different recipe last time but I think I will try yours out next time!

  5. RYC-I'm getting better, but it can take a while for Vertigo to go away. I understand it has to do with crystals in your ear. Linda

  6. This is great!

    I started making laundry detergent last year again. I had made it 10 yrs ago and don't remember why I stopped because I like it. The recipe i follow uses a whole bar of Fels Naptha to 1 cup Borax and 1 c. washing soda but then it goes into a 5 gal. bucket which you fill with water. I use 1 c. in a full load.

    I didn't like grating the bar either and then i remembered I have a shredder attachment on mixer and now it's so fast. I usually do 2 batches when I have everything out anyway.
    I like adding a cup of Tide Release liquid or Biz into the mix if I can get a good deal on them. Or add it to the whites.

  7. I've been wanting to make home made laundry detergent myself and have the borax and washing soda on hand. I just don't have the Fels Naptha bar soap yet. I'm wondering if you know why this soap in particular is the one we need?

  8. I don't know if you've seen my question yet but on another site (blog), I read that one can use Sunlight bar soap or Ivory. By the way, if you or your readers have a Whole Foods near you, that is where I picked up some washing soda. I picked up a bar of Ivory soap today. Hopefully I will make this within a week or so.

  9. I'm sorry I didn't respond last night but my computer was running so slow and your site would never completely load so I wasn't able to leave a comment.

    You can use any kind of soap you'd like. I've used Ivory before when I can't find the Fels Naptha. I've also saved slivers of all kinds of soap and used those. Just make sure you grate the soap and that it dissolves. That's really important. You'll do just fine. :-)

  10. I've seen recipes before, and I've been meaning to try this as laundry detergent is super expensive! I've had trouble finding the washing soda,but I'll keep trying. Now I know why I've been saving those soap slivers---they'll come in handy.

  11. strangely, I have not been able to find washing soda in the towns nearest me. I've looked all over. I did find it on Amazon but I think it was overpriced. Next time I go to the bigger town in our area I will check their walmart, if they have it I will need to buy more than one. This used to be at all the grocery stores, bummer.


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