I’m pretty sure I gasped quite loudly. Certainly, the lady standing near me in the laundry aisle turned and looked at me with a questioning look on her face. The price tag for the Tide Free and Gentle laundry detergent was almost $18.00. Over 40¢ a load. But I knew the other detergents either irritated The Mister’s skin or didn’t get his work clothes clean.
I grimaced as I put the box in the cart and vowed to find another way.
And I did.
Several years ago, I came across a post on The Simple Dollar blog about making your own laundry detergent, but it was for liquid detergent and I prefer powder. It also seemed like an involved process so I let it go.
I did another search for homemade laundry detergent after Christmas and was pleasantly surprised to find a post on DIYNatural about making a powdered version. Stacy at the Humorous Housewife also has liquid and powder recipes.
The Ingredient List:
Armed with their information, I headed out to buy the entire list of ingredients:
- Arm & Hammer Washing Soda ($3.99)
- Borax ($3.38)
- Ivory soap (10 pack of 4.5 ounce size for $5.79)
Yep. That’s it! Three measly ingredients.
Now, the washing soda (not to be confused with their baking soda) can be a bit tricky to find in some parts of the country. I picked mine up at an ACE affiliated hardware store because I knew they had it (if they don’t have any in stock, they can order it for you and there is no charge for the shipping). I also found a tag for it (but not boxes) at a Super Walmart for about 50¢ cheaper.
Now the Borax is the same stuff that has been around forever with all sorts of household uses. Shop around for this. I’ve seen it at Target and Ralphs/Kroger for over $7.00 and other places for what I paid for it at Walmart.
I opted to use Ivory soap instead of Fels-Naptha. I know there are other laundry soaps and Octagon is a favorite, but I didn’t see any of the other soaps. People seemed to be happy with their results using Ivory and it is what we use to bathe, so I decided to go that route. Keep in mind as you decide which soap to use that many people commented that soaps with moisturizers, such as Dove, caused problems for them.
The Recipe And How To Make It
Homemade Laundry Soap Recipe1 Bar of Soap 1 Cup of Borax 1 Cup of Washing Soda
You’ll love how easy this is…
Grate the soap. Almost all of the tutorials I read or watched on You Tube, showed people grating their soap by hand. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen for me.
I got out the food processor. My grandmother used to wash dishes with Ivory, I just figured that I would make sure I got the thing good and clean before using it for food again.
Put the blade in the processor and the other lid on. Turn it on.
Add the powders through the hole in the lid.
You will get a consistency very similar to store-bought laundry powders.
I keep mine stored in the old Tide box and use a coffee scoop (1/8 cup or 2 Tablespoons) for measuring.
We’ve been using this soap since January 6th and I have to say that I absolutely love, love, love it. We have very hard water so I use one or two scoops depending upon what I’m washing. If The Mister’s work clothes are extra dirty, I just add a scoop of Sun oxy cleaner (which is basically powdered hydrogen peroxide). Note: I add it to the washer and let the soap dissolve before I add my clothes.
Week 1: I notice that there are some residual suds coming out of the clothes. No wonder the previous detergent has been irritating the skin.
Week 2: The Mister’s new work socks smell a bit like petroleum…it makes sense since they have a petroleum by-product fiber in them (polyester). Makes me wonder if the other detergent was cleaning or just masking smells. I also notice that the optic additives that make clothes seem brighter (and mask stains) are washing out.
Week 3: The clothes smell like…nothing! They are also quite soft and look very clean. Even The Mister’s work clothes. I notice that The Mister hasn’t been scratching himself due to detergent irritation.
Does It Save Me Money?
Using the recipe above, a cup of the soap is about 47¢ (based on what I paid for the ingredients; each batch makes about 3 cups of soap). That comes out to about 6¢ a scoop. Even using two scoops and some Sun oxy cleaner, I’m paying less than 20¢ a load. The Tide was over 40¢ a load. So, yes, I’m saving money. A lot over the long run.
But, more important, there is a sense of satisfaction from using my own homemade soap (it feels so retro) and it is more eco-respectful.
I don’t think we’ll ever go back to store bought laundry detergent.
Have you ever tried homemade laundry soap?