Friday, February 11, 2011

Here's the Deal...

A great deal.  Since July, I've been making my own laundry detergent, and love it.  It was painful to buy two large bottles of Tide BJ's Warehouse every couple months, and when some girls at my church started making it, I decided to give it a try.  My husband was 100% against it when I pitched the idea, since he does SO much laundry (NOT! He's had to turn the washing machine on maybe 1 time in the past 2 years).  So I started with 1 gallon, and told him I just wanted to "try it out." As clothes moved through the laundry room, he could find no complaint, so cooking up detergent became part of my to-do list, and I'm no longer dependent on my Tide habit.  Here's my recipe:

1/3 bar of Fels Naptha soap
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Oxi Clean
In a large pot, heat 6 cups of water.  Grate soap on cheese grater into small shavings, and add to water.  Stir until shavings dissolve.  Add Washing Soda, Borax & Oxi Clean to hot soapy water, and stir to dissolve.

Pour soap mixture into 2 gallon bucket with 8 cups of HOT water and stir.  Top bucket with COLD water totalling 2 gallons of the soap, hot water, and cold water.  Let mixture setup overnight.  To use, stir mixture to incorporate gel clumps and liquid, and use 1/2 cup per wash load.

Now here's where the deal comes in.  I've been doing this since July, and just finally today did the cost breakdown.  I knew I had savings in doing this, but I had no idea I was actually saving this much!  Here's the math, if you want to see it, if not, scroll down.

These prices are roughly what I paid, at my stores.

Fels Naptha - $1.79 per bar (5 1/2 oz) = $0.32/oz
Borax - $4.75 per box (76 oz) = $0.0625/oz
Washing Soda - $2.95 per box (55 oz) = $0.0536/oz
Oxi Clean - $8.99 per bucket (96 oz) = $0.936/oz

In the 2 gallons of the recipe the cost is:

Fels Naptha = $0.58/ 2 gallons
Borax = $0.25/ 2 gallons
Washing Soda = $0.42/ 2 gallons
Oxi Clean = $0.27/ 2 gallons

Also, for the quantities that are sold of the ingredients, you can make this many recipes of 2 gallons of detergent:

Washing Soda: 6.875 times - or 12 gallons
Borax: 19 times - or 38 gallons
Oxi-clean: 24 times - or 48 gallons
Fels-Naptha: 3 times - or 6 gallons

The total is $1.62 for 2 gallons (which is 256 fl. oz.), and you're supposed to use 1/2 cup per load (4 fl. ounces), so there are 64 loads in 2 gallons homemade, for $1.62, or $0.025 per load.  No, your eyes are not deceiving you, and that is not a typo - I wrote that my homemade laundry detergent costs me two and a half cents per load.

If I weren't making the homemade, my choice of detergent is Tide, and I have a front loading washing machine.  Tide is $17.97 for 150 fl. oz. of 2X Ultra High Efficiency, for 96 loads at Walmart, which is $0.18 per load. So roughly speaking, Tide is seven times more expensive than homemade laundry detergent.  That's like a bottle of water costing $7 instead of $1.  Craziness!

Ok, here are my personal experience tips.
1. I have two buckets, so when I start running low on detergent, I don't have to relocate what's left to use my bucket, I just use the clean one to make a new batch.

2. I didn't buy my buckets, I got them for FREE!  Go to one of the grocery stores with a bakery that makes cakes and decorates them in-house.  All of the bright pink, blue, green & yellow frosting comes in buckets, mine happen to be 2 gallon buckets.  When they finish the frosting, they don't recycle them or send them back to be repacked with weird hot pink frosting, they get thrown away.  I stopped by the bakery on one of my regular grocery trips, and they gave me two empty buckets that hadn't made it to the dumpster yet.  I had to clean them myself, but that didn't bother me.  If you have to clean your buckets, I recommend scraping them into the trash first to get all the dry frosting out, and then using hot, soapy water.  The frosting is pretty greasy, so if there's a lot left in the bucket, it's tough to de-grease once you add water.

3. Use a big enough pot.  I really need to get a new one to accommodate my detergent making.  Once you add the borax, washing soda and Oxi Clean in, it starts to suds and foam, and mine boils over almost every time.  At least it's just soap, so it makes me think everything is getting cleaned while I'm wiping it up!

The initial investment (using my prices, I don't know what the price difference will be where you are) is $18.48, assuming you don't have any of these ingredients already living in your laundry room.  You'll be able to make 6 gallons of detergent (or 192 loads of laundry) before you have to go buy another bar of Fels Naptha,and you'll still have all of the other ingredients left.  To do 192 loads of laundry with Tide, I would have to spend $35, and then that's it, you go buy another big bottle of Tide.

As far as a time investment goes, I don't think it's that involved to not be worth your time.  Now that I've made it a few times, I can whip up a batch in about 20 minutes.  I actually spend more time cleaning up after my pot boils over because I haven't bought a new one that's big enough, than I do making the detergent.  Yes, dumb, and writing it down makes me want to go buy a giant, cheap stock pot because I realize the silliness of how much cleaning up I do after I get soap all over the stovetop.

I grabbed my recipe off a site called Tipnut that you can see here.  I used Recipe #3 and doctored it up by adding Oxi Clean (not necessary, but I'm saving so much money I didn't feel guilty spending a couple more dollars on some extra cleaning power).  Tipnut has 10 recipes, different variations of liquid and powdered, so see what works best for you!  I chose liquid because I have a front loading HE washing machine and can't start my water before adding clothes to dissolve the powder - just a preference though.  As a follow-up to the recipes, Tipnut also has a great FAQ answer page here.

I still keep a bottle of Tide on hand just in case, but only resort to using it occasionally, like when I run out of homemade and don't have time to make more when I have to wash something I need to wear in an hour.

Next time, I'll talk about my fabric softener, and rehabilitation from Downy.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I am really looking forward to the fabric softener post. We don't use any soap in our laundry since we have a LaundryPure wall unit that uses UV light and ionization. Usually, I don't need softener, but on those dry winter days, I often wish I could kill some static with a softener. But, alas, we are allergic to the store bought ones.


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