Homemade Laundry Detergent Saves Money

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Those who have struggled with finances have often resorted to do it yourself activities to prevent additional expenses and to save money.  There are several inexpensive alternatives to the store bought supplies needed around the house. One such commonly purchased supply is laundry detergent.  This is an inescapable expense if one wishes to function in the world and can become pricey. There are entire aisles at the grocery store dedicated to laundry detergent and depending on the brand and what special attributes they claim, the price tends to increase.  The cheapest and most cost effective avenue is to make your laundry detergent at home. The recipes are easy to follow and one can make a liquid or a powder detergent in the comfort of their kitchen. The following are some recipes I have used and have found to be quite cost effective.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

  • 1 laundry soap bar 5 oz. (Fels Naptha, Zote, Marseille are examples)
  • ½ cup Borax
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 5 gallon bucket with lid
  • 1 mask (optional) used when making the detergent*
  • 1 set of eye protection (optional)*
  • 1 set of vinyl or latex gloves (optional)*

Using a cheese grater of a food processor grate the bar of soap then pour into a large cooking pot with 4 cups of hot water.  Heat on medium stirring frequently until all pieces of soap are dissolved. Next, add ½ cup Borax and 1 cup Super Washing Soda to the melted soap mixture.  Stir until all powder is dissolved. Pour mixture into 5 gallon bucket and add hot tap water to bucket until the water level reaches 3 inches from the top. Stir the mixture until the water and the soap mixture are combined.  Cover with the lid and let sit for 8 hours or over night, whichever is most convenient. Remove lid and stir mixture well. This is a concentrate and will need to be mixed with half water and half detergent, when using. I recommend finding an additional, smaller container to mix half concentrate and half water when needed.  This step makes doing laundry easy when you don’t have to pull out a 5 gallon bucket each time you want to do the laundry. Use ½ a cup for a medium size load of laundry, making adjustments if the load is small or large as needed.
-Recipe passed down from family and friends and written on an old sheet of paper

Dry Laundry Detergent

  • 1 laundry soap bar 5 oz.
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1 large container
  • 1 mask (optional) used when making the detergent*
  • 1 set of eye protection (optional)*
  • 1 set of vinyl or latex gloves (optional)*

Using a cheese grater or preferably a blender or food processor, finely grate the laundry soap bar.  Next mix all ingredients together making sure the mixture blended well and all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Pour the mixture into a large container with a lid. Pour ¼ cup of detergent for a medium size load of laundry. Adjust accordingly if the load is small or large.
-Recipe modified from Willow and Sage

To put the cost and the amount saved into perspective, a bottle of Tide liquid laundry detergent costs approximately $12.00 at Walmart for 64 loads, lasting a little over 1 month for a larger family of five.  The DIY liquid laundry detergent cost me less than $5.00 and lasted about 3 months before I had to make a new batch; which works out to be $1.67 a month. That’s a savings of $10.00 a month or $120 a year. This is quite the savings for a small amount of work.  Depending on how much laundry your household washes, the savings will be more or less.

The whole process of making laundry detergent at home is easy and doesn’t take long to make, and the above recipes take less than 30 minutes to complete.  There is also the added benefit of knowing what you are using and the effects on the environment. All of the above have been deemed safe for humans, animals, and the environment.   If there is a reaction to the detergent or an irritant, the process of eliminating possible sources is simple, allowing the irritant to be removed quickly. Conversely the commercially available detergents often have multitudes of chemicals and combinations and therefore more difficult to determine the cause of an irritant.  I would challenge anyone to look at the chemical composition of their laundry detergent to appreciate the simplicity making laundry detergent at home. As seen in the above recipes, the detergent can be complete with a few household chemicals and laundry washing can commence.

Any additional recipes that readers may have can be left in the comments for other readers.

*Although all of the ingredients listed are deemed to be safe for humans and for the environment when properly used, I always wear a mask, glasses, and gloves when mixing chemicals of any sort, whether deemed safe or not.  I recommend the same to everyone as a precautionary measure.