I’ve been tweaking our family recipe for homemade laundry detergent since I published the powder recipe some time ago. We have a new HE machine now that uses WAY LESS WATER and the powder would not have a chance to dissolve completely during the regular wash cycle.
In this variation I am using Castile Bar Soap which dissolves quickly in a pan on the stove and is decidedly cheaper than the Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap that I had been buying with equally good results.
For folks who can find Borax at their local grocery mart and Washing Soda (which is not the same as Baking Soda!) at one of the discount stores you can make this recipe for just over a penny per load!
Here is an example breakdown:
Cost estimates for buying locally
(prices obtained January 2011)
- Borax at KMart = $2.50 for 76 ounces = 3 cents per ounce = 1 cup is 24 cents
- Washing Soda at Ace Hardware = $3.79 for 55 ounces = 7 cents per ounce or 1 cup = 56 cents
- Castile Soap $1.00 (couldn’t find at a local store but only a buck on the web)
Total cost for 2 Gallons = $1.80
With 128 loads (2 ounces each) the cost = 1½ Pennies per Load!
What if you can’t find the items at your local stores?
Frankly, because of my own chronic illness and inability to get out and shop, I buy the bulk of our groceries and household products online and I still save money over buying commercial detergents.
Cost estimates for buying online
(prices obtained January 2011)
- 1 bar of soap ($3.35 on Amazon eligable for free prime shipping )
- 1 cup of borax ($12 for 76 ounces from Amazon … eligable for free prime shipping cost of 16 cents per ounce or $1.28 for 1 cup)
- 1 cup of washing soda ( $9.99 for 55 ounces from Amazon eligable for free prime shipping — about 18 cents per ounce for a total of about $1.44 cents for one cup)
Total cost for 2 Gallons = $6.07
With 128 loads (2 ounces each) the cost ~ $0.05 Pennies per Load!
Only a thin nickle a load even if you had to buy everything online.
But does it work?
Well that depends on what your criteria is. It certainly works well for me since I put a high value on eco-friendly and when you are on a fixed income cost savings are key. So yes, it saves money and it is better for the environment with no harsh chemicals, dyes, fragrances or new plastic bottles each time we buy detergent.
Does it get clothes just as clean as commercial stain-lifting — de-greasing — whitening products? Nope, that is not my experience. But none of us are working on a farm and we don’t have really small children smashing tomato-puree into their clothes. So it works just fine for us.
Recipe from the video above:
- 1 bar Castile Soap
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Washing Soda
- ½ cup Essential Oil Blend — OPTIONAL (see my blog for this DIY step-by-step)
Place unwrapped bar of castile soap in a pot on the stove and add 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally until the bar is completely dissolved.
In a large bucket (we use an old five gallon paint drum), add the solution from the stove and mix with one cup each Borax and Washing Soda. Stir gently until the powders are dissolved.
Add 1½ galons of water to the bucket (24 cups) and stir again.
Pour your mixture into storage containers and use only TWO OUNCES per load (that is ¼ cup).
Better for you, better for the environment and better for your budget!