So fresh, so clean

My balcony, home of all photoshoots.

A little while ago, I made my own laundry detergent from the “recipe” found here. It’s just a cup of Borax, a cup of washing soda and a grated bar of soap (Ivory or Fels Naptha). I know that making one’s own detergent sounds crazy and pushes the limits of pinching pennies and DIY efforts, but I’m buying the soap anyway, and the Borax and washing soda are cheap. I figured it’s worth a shot — if it failed, it wouldn’t be a big financial loss.

The good news is, I like it! It works well even in cold water, and I use only two tablespoons per load.

Here’s the financial breakdown:

Ivory 10-pack: $4.27 (enough for 10 batches, or $.427/unit)
76 oz Borax: $4.29 (enough for 9.5 batches, or $.451/unit)
55 oz. washing soda: $2.99 (enough for 6.85 batches, or $.436/unit)

Total: $11.55, or $1.31/batch of 24 loads
Cost per load: $.054
My usual detergent: $7.97 for 96 loads
Cost per load: $.083 (this is not totally accurate, since Chris dumps in way too much detergent!)
Four batches of the homemade stuff will wash as many loads as a bottle of the Arm & Hammer detergent, and costs $2.73 less! If I was buying a bottle every three months, I’m saving $10.92 a year. The savings are actually a little higher, because I can make six batches with the first set of ingredients, with borax and at least a few bars of the soap left over. And like I said, Chris is of the “more is more” mentality, and I know he was washing clothes with at least half a capful or scoop at a time. To help make sure that we’re using the right amount of the DIY version, I threw out the scoop that came with it, replacing it with a plastic measuring spoon.
Grating the soap takes no time at all, and I like knowing the ingredients of what I’m using. When I made a second batch this weekend, I used a potato masher to crush the lumps in the washing soda and Borax. This made it go much faster than stirring for forever. I used the large side of the grater for the soap because it’s quicker, but I think that using the small side would make mixing it easier. However, I’m not willing to spend time scrubbing between all the tiny holes to get the soap off.
When you use the large side of the grater, cleanup is really quick: hot water takes care of the soap, and the detergent rinses easily from the spoon and masher. A swipe of a sponge clears away the inevitable dust from the powders.
Here’s what it looks like when it’s all mixed together. It’s nearly indistinguishable from what you buy at the store.

Steph, are you going to give the liquid version a shot?

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One thought on “So fresh, so clean

  1. It’s on my list of things I’d like to try this year. I — either fortunately or unfortunately — bought a bunch of laundry soap with an online deal, so I’m a couple of months away from needing to buy any detergent. You have to boil the liquid, though, so I’m on the lookout for a large pot from Salvation Army to dedicate to hand soap/body wash/laundry detergent. (P.S. — Josh is against this plan. He thinks we should just buy the stuff.)

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