Saturday, September 1, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Laundry detergent has been something I've wanted to do but I wasn't completely convinced that it would clean as good or be as fresh as commercial laundry detergent.  But when a friend posted something about a fomula she was going to try I finally decided to do it.  My friend has been making her own laundry detergent for some time.  What convinced me was that she said that she was a Tide user for years and that her homemade detergent cleans just as well . . . if not better.

My detergent of choice is Gain Original Scent.  As much for it's wonderful smell as for its cleaning ability.  I have tried other cheaper brands, in the past, in an effort to save money.  But I have always returned to my favorite.

But I figured making my own would at the very least be a satisfying experiment even if it wasn't as good as Gain or didn't save me any money.

So, I went to the store and picked up everything I needed which was all located in the detergent aisle in the same section of the aisle.  Your store may differ, of course.

1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax 
1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 
1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean 
2 (14.1 oz) Bars of  Fels Naptha
2 (2 lb) Boxes of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda 
1-2 (55 oz) Bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener (optional)

The total bill . . . $28.75.

Mixing up the detergent is as simple as dumping all the ingredients in a bucket and combining everything.  Well, except for the Fels Naptha, which is a bar soap, and needs to be grated.  You can use a cheese grater but that's a lot like a lot of work.  I like finding the easiest way to do something and the quickest way for me to grate the soap was to use my Kitchenaid mixer with the shredder/grater attachment.  Easy peasy.

The easiest way to mix the ingredients was to add a little of each into the bucket and mix . . . repeat.

This makes a lot of detergent . . . 18.5 pounds.  And,  you only need 1-2 Tablespoons per load! 

If you decided to use the fabric softener you will note that it comes in a pretty sturdy bottle with a pretty nifty lid.  What you can do is fill the bottle (I removed the label) and then use the cap as your measuring cup.  The cap half filled is just the right amount you need per load. This one bottle (55 ounces) will do eighty loads . . . that's right 80!  And that's only a smallish portion of the entire batch.

The way I do the math (with the help of my genius husband as I am mathematically challenged) is that my brand detergent (Gain) goes for $15.47 for an 8 1/2 pound package that will do 120 loads.   That comes out to 12.5 cents per load.

My homemade detergent cost me $28.75 for 18.5 pounds that will do 355  loads for 8.1 cents per load.  And if you cut out the fabric softener . . . which, again, is completely optional . . . that would have cut $8.96 from the cost.

I used the fabric softener so it would cost me $44.37 to do the same amount of laundry with my favorite brand.  A decent amount of savings.  And, I also since I won't need to buy a fabric softener that's an additional savings.

Now . . . the biggest question is how well does it wash, how clean were the cloths and how did they smell.  Well, the clothes were certainly as clean and they smelled fabulous.  Not the SAME smell but really quite nice.  

I'm sold!

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