Note: I originally wrote this over two years ago on a previous blog, and I haven't purchased storebought laundry detergent since. It makes me very happy to think about how much money I've saved, and to know I am not tossing tons of chemicals into our local water supply. So, I'm sharing it again, here.
I have found that I enjoy a bit of scent in my laundered clothes, and I solve that by using woolen dryer balls (rather than disposable dryer sheets), and putting a drop or two of lavender or rosemary essential oil on them before tossing them into the dryer.
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So today, I made laundry soap - I won't know until tomorrow when I run a load with it whether or not it works satisfactorily, but here's what I know at this point - the total cost of supplies for this would have run me approximately $3.00 (while overall, it cost more than that, you'll see that a large quantity of detergent takes only a fraction of the supplies... if this works, I've got enough to keep me supplied for months).
So the savings is undeniable - if this gets my clothing clean, I'm way ahead of the game.
So what about the other reasons?
Secondly, chemicals - that is one thing I'm looking to see - we've got Borax, A&H Washing Soda, and the Fels-Naptha soap (which, to be frank, did smell and feel mildly caustic - I am wondering if Ivory might be a better answer, and if it would work as well?). So this part is an open question for me, but without a doubt, there is less going on here than there is with any commercial product.
The time start to finish to prepare this was about 25 minutes - no major issue to spend that much time once a month or so. Here's how I did it:
Homemade Laundry Detergent
1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda
2. Once the water boils, begin sprinkling in the grated soap, a couple tablespoonfuls at a time. Stir constantly - it will begin to suds up and will overboil if not stirred. Work slowly so that soap dissolves completely.
4. In a very large container (like a clean bucket), pour in 4 cups of very hot water, then add the soap mixture. Stir, and add an addition gallon plus 6 cups of water and mix well.
Now... this is where I messed up - I had a container I thought would be big enough to use and it quickly became clear it wasn't, by half. The only container I did have available to me (my bucket not being clean enough to use) was my large stainless sauce pot. So here's hoping my metal pot isn't ruining the soap - or that the soap isn't ruining my pot. Oi. I'll turn the soap out into a couple smaller containers tomorrow and find out.
The proportions for using this are 1/2 cup of detergent for a load of laundry. I'll take a final picture tomorrow afternoon to show what it looks like after setting up, and then do a test load of laundry.
Oh - as a nice final bit of frugality - the supplies (other than the Borax, which I already had) didn't cost me a penny, because I was able to purchase them with giftcards I'd acquired from using Swagbucks. Considering that laundry detergent has been a budget buster for me in the past, I'm pretty tickled that it may be something entirely free for me for the next few months.
UPDATE: The first thing I did after waking up this morning was to head into the laundry room and take a peek. Happy dance - I've got gel! It's about the thickness of jelly, rather than gelatin, and was firmer at the top of my pot than down toward the bottom - but it thickened all the way through, and it was an easy few minutes work to turn it into a pair of plastic containers. The total amount looks to be a little more than double that of my commercial jug of detergent and the amount to be used is pretty close to the same.
I've run a couple loads of laundry and can't tell any difference at all, other than a lack of scent... which really isn't a bad thing, although I may toss in a little essential oil in a cheery scent whenever it's time to make my next batch, just because I can.
And yes - barring finding out something that isn't apparent yet - I'll be continuing this project and happily saving the $20.00 dollars a month I spend on laundry detergent.