Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Frugal Living: Make your own Laundry Detergent (Powder version)

*Disclaimer: I am NOT the original creator of this detergent "recipe". There are tons of these floating around in the blog world and on pinterest. They are mostly all the same, give or take an ingredient. I am merely passing this on to all my readers because it is truly the BEST detergent and cheapest thing out there. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't share?

Why make your own laundry detergent? If I told you you could make the absolute best detergent out there for only $16 and it would last you close to a year, would you be willing to read on? And that yes, you can use this in a fancy front loading HE machine and/or a regular old top loader? Are you convinced yet? Seriously...it's so easy, my 4 year old could make it.

Here is what you need. I bought all my things at Walmart and all but one ingredient was located on the same aisle literally right next to each other.

1. 1 (4 lb 12 oz) box of Borax $3.38
2. 1 (3 lb 7 oz) box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda $3.24 (Please note: this is not the same thing as baking soda. It is in a yellow box and located in the laundry detergent aisle)
3. 3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap (this is located in laundry aisle as well...not in the body soap aisle) $0.97 each
4. 1 (4lb) box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (this is in the food/baking aisle) $2.24
5. This is optional: 2 small containers of oxyclean. I only used one and my kids are super messy...and their clothes still come out spotless. $3.86

OK, let's total this up: $15.63

I repeat...for LESS THAN $16 you can have close to a years supply of laundry detergent. There is one small catch. You will need to buy a jar to put it all in (which you can use from now until eternity). I bought the largest glass lidded jar I could find at Walmart for $10 (my receipt says it is a 2 gallon jar). So, even still...$25 for this entire year's worth!!! 

Next I will address how to make it and answer some of the questions I've gotten so far:

To make:
Mix all ingredients except the Fels-Naptha together in your containers really well. Next, you'll need to pull out your cheese grater and grate the 3 bars of soap on the finest side of your cheese grater. Now, mix all that in really well with your jar of other ingredients. It's so, so easy to grate. 

To use:
I used the scoop that came with my oxyclean which is about 1.5 tablespoons. Yes, that's all you'll need. It seems crazy that that small amount of detergent will clean all the spaghetti stains out of your kids clothes, but IT WILL!! You do not need to pretreat your clothes, but if you have an especially soaked in stain, take a small amount of this on a small toothbrush and rub it on the stain before washing. But, really, you probably won't need to.

Common Questions:
1. What about front loaders? You put the tablespoon of detergent directly in the washer, not the pull out drawer. 
2. Is this HE compatible? YES!!! 
3. Is it safe for sensitive skin? As far as I can tell yes. I have read on a few sites that people have used bars of ivory soap instead of fels-naptha. My kids and I have extremely sensitive skin. I've always only been able to use fragrance free and this does not bother anyone's skin in my family. Several of my friends use it on baby's clothes and have had NO problems. I was extremely nervous because the Fels-Naptha seemed to have such a strong scent. But, I have had no problems nor do I feel like my clothes have some over powering smell of detergent (it will smell really strong when you are making it though). I have one child with asthma and bad allergies and this does not bother her at all.
4. Can I use this on cloth diapers? I'm going to say no because someone said you can't use baking soda on cloth diapers.
5. Can I use this if I'm on a septic tank? I've heard both yes and no from people on this. Some have used it and had no problems. However, if you want to be more cautious, wait until tomorrow and I will post the LIQUID version of this that you can definitely use on a septic tank.
6. But what about all these little shavings of soap? Do they really dissolve? Will it leave a residue?
Yes, it really will dissolve and no, it will not leave any trace of any residue. It's unbelievable.
7. But, what about those soap shavings in cold water? I'm telling you. I use a front loader, HE which means there is very little water in the washer...and the soap still dissolves without any problem. I don't know how...it just does. I even did a very delicate cycle on cold and it still dissolved.
8. Is it safe for colors? Your colors will be brighter and it will not fade them! 
9. You really only need 1 or 2 tablespoons? Really. That's all. That "other stuff" you buy at the store is just full of fillers which is why you use so much more of "it".  In fact, most people would be fine with only 1 tablespoon. I use 1.5 because I've got toddlers with spaghetti covering their clothes.

Even if I become a millionaire, I will still make my own detergent. It's just so much better and now I'm way too cheap to ever waste so much money on "the other stuff". It takes less than 15 minutes of your time to make and less than $16...why wouldn't you want to try this??

Leave any questions you have and I'll try and address them. I hope this helps many of you who are trying to be better stewards of your money. Tomorrow, I'll post the liquid recipe for you all! 


Brittney said...

What a great idea! May have to try this. Thanks so much!

Karla @ {The Classy Woman} said...

Good job, Sarah! I've seen the homemade laundry detergent a number of times on Pinterest, but haven't tried making it. I love to save money and I'm a big DIY-er, I might have to give this a try because that is some serious money savings!! :)

Meggan and Trent said...

I tried to make it once and the soap shavings concerned me. You have convinced me to try it again!!!

Kallah Oakes said...

haha - I love that "even if I become a millionaire" - totally how I feel about all my money-saving ventures these days! esp shopping at Nord Rack and the clearance section of J.Crew. Even if I can ever afford not to, how could I go to pay full price?! :)

Sheila Annette Santiago said...

HI...I followed the instructions for the powder detergent which was not difficult to do. The detergent did not make suds with 1 and a half tablespoons of the powder. After completing the cycle the whites did not appear to be clean.
a) Should I use more detergent?
b) Should it have suds in order to clean the clothes?

Sarah said...

Hi Sheila! I would try grating another bar of Fels-Naptha soap into your jar. It should produce some suds. I'm sorry you had a problem.