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Simple Saving Savvy: Have you considered your laundry detergent?

Simple Saving Savvy

Practicing Wise Stewardship & Blessing Others Out of Our Abundance

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Have you considered your laundry detergent?

I had never really considered using anything else but store bought laundry detergent. So when I first heard of homemade laundry detergent from my friend Lynn, I was intrigued.

She turned to homemade detergent because of her family's severe allergies to store bought brands and because of the cost effectiveness compared to paying more for "free" brands.

When I first started out to write this post, I was going to feature the recipe she uses and that was it. But as I delved a little deeper, I found there are quite a few cost effective and natural alternatives to store bought laundry detergent. And most of them reportedly clean better with less "stuff" and are better for the environment.

I'm going to discuss a few of these but am by no means advocating one product over another, especially since I am still using my store bought detergent and have not yet wholly converted. But I am mulling it over and am seriously considering taking the plunge and giving a couple of different options an lengthy trial. Especially if it saves me some money!

Before we get into specifics, let's look at the cost of using regular store-bought detergent:

If you buy Tide Free (70 oz.) at Homeland, the box will cost you approximately $8.69 and according to the label washes 40 loads. Let's say you have a coupon for $0.35 which after doubling gives you a $0.70 discount off one box. Your final cost will be about $8.00. On the box, it states that the box washes 40 loads if you use ½ cup. This works out to be about $0.20 per load.

Now let's keep this in mind as we discuss the various alternatives and their costs.

My friend Lynn uses the following recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent w/ Borax

1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1 grated bar of ivory or any other bar soap (which is about 1 cup)
*tip: freeze the bar soap, it'll make it easier to grate. Once grated, let dry for awhile before adding to main mixture.

You’ll end up with 2 cups of detergent.
Each load uses 1-2 Tablespoons.

Again, if you buy supplies at Homeland, the total cost will be around $7.31 for the following:

76 oz. Borax $3.99 (43 recipes)
55 oz. wash soda $2.99 (31 ½ recipes)
One bar of ivory $.33 (1 recipe)

The cost breakdown per batch is about $0.51. Each batch washes 16-32 loads depending on the amount used. So if you figure it somewhere in the middle...around 21 loads per batch, it works out to be $0.02 per load!!

Lynn says she loves the way her homemade detergent cleans and she's definitely loving the cost...she figures she is saving roughly $200 per year!

If you are opposed to using Borax in your laundry detergent, then you might try this recipe. I found it at Passionate Homemaking

Recipe adapted from Green Clean by Linda Hunter

1 cup castile liquid soap Dr. Bronner’s or Mountain Rose Herbs are good choices as they are organic and main ingredients are coconut oil & olive oil) OR Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds
2 cups water
1/3 cup salt
1 cup baking soda or washing soda vinegar

Warm the salt and baking soda in water until mostly dissolved. Transfer to a one gallon container. Add your soap fill the rest of the jar with water, this giving you 1 gallon of detergent.

Use 1/4 -1/2 cup per load, depending upon how dirty the load is. Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to your wash during the rinse cycle. This works as an effective fabric softener and disinfectant. Depending upon the hardness of your water, you may want to decrease the water quantity or increase the soap quantity.

Please note: do not add essential oils to your detergent. These oils will break down the fiber in your clothing. If you want a particular fragrance, try putting a few drops of essential oils on a rag and throwing it in the dryer. This will add fragrance but not transfer to your clothing.

Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking says "this recipe does clean very well, although I was not impressed by the cleaning job it did on my cloth diapers."

She also says it's hard to give an exact price calculation but figures this recipe makes enough detergent for 64 loads (at 1/4 cup per load) and with the ingredients costing no more than $4.00 (on the generous side), your total cost is most likely less than $0.06 per load.
And for a 100% natural laundry detergent, you might also consider trying soap nuts...I read about these at Passionate Homemaking as well:

Soap Nuts are the only laundry soap that grows on trees, thus giving us the most sustainable and natural option out there. It is 100% safe and natural for the most sensitive skin. Soap nuts are the dried fruit of the Chinese Soapberry tree. They contain saponin, a natural cleaner.

They are simply harvested, de-seeded, and then dried in the sun.

Great for hard water and high efficiency machines. They are biodegradable, hypo-allergenic, brighten colors, low sudsing, and contain a natural fabric softener. You can reuse a handful of nuts for 5 or more loads (depending upon water temperature, etc), and then they can be added to your compost!

Most soap nut orders come with a reusable cotton bag which you use to place the nuts in and then throw in the washer, keeping them contained. The best price I have found is the NaturOli Soap Nuts. If you buy it in larger quantities ($50 for 800 loads), you are looking at around $0.07 per load! You can also purchase them in smaller quantities, which will be no more than $0.12 per load. Plus you will save additional money as there is no need for dryer sheets or fabric softeners.

I hope this gives you some food for thought. And if you decide to try one of these methods, I would love to hear how it turns out!



Blogger Kim said...

We have been making our own soap for a while. Works great for my family. Here is the recipe we use. Also you can read my comment at about the soap. Thanks for the post. It may seem weird at first but it saves tons of money, last forever and works great!
12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar soap (grated)

Mix all ingredients well and store in a sealed tub.
Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load.

July 2, 2009 at 11:09 AM  

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