In continuing my Eco-Friendly Family series, I knew I wanted to do a post about DIY Laundry Detergent. We were spending an easy $25 a month on laundry detergent, then there was the cost of Fabric softener which was another $15, and dryer sheets which run about $7.
In my last Eco Friendly post I wrote about Wool dryer balls and Eliminated the cost of dryer sheets, but that still left us spending almost $40 a month on laundry supplies. Not to mention the ingredients IN those supplies! (In All Free and Clear- just to name a few: Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Polethyleneimine Ethoxylate, Dipropylethyl Tetramine etc.) If you’re interested, look up whats in YOUR detergent and what the purpose of those ingredients are.
So I began the search for a DIY laundry detergent that was easy, HE safe because we were purchasing a new W&D, and one that was GENTLE yet still effective. After comparing dozens of recipes I finally came down to the three ingredients I knew I needed for it to work and the easiest process I could come up with to make it.
So I headed to the store. I purchased a bar of Fels-Naptha, a box of Borax, and a box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda all in the laundry aisle of Walmart. The I bought a bottle of Sauve Conditioner and a bottle of vinegar. I spent a total of $10.77 cents. Then I got to work!
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup A&H Washing Soda
1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha
.5 gallon water
1.5 gallons COLD Water.
Cut your Fels-Naptha into three equal parts. It cuts very easily. Put your other two parts away for your next batch! With these ingredients you can make 3 2-gallon batches for a total of 6 gallons of detergent.
Shred your fels-naptha. I used a cheese grater. =)
While you’re shredding the soap, bring half a gallon of water to a boil in a large pot or stainless steal bowl. (Half a gallon of water is equal to 8 cups.) Once the water is boiling, add your Fels-Naptha and stir it a bit. Then let it melt completely. While it’s melting, add your 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax and stir. Let this come back to a boil and boil lightly for 5 minutes. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP! (Added bonus here- It makes your house smell awesome.)
While thats boiling, pour 1.5 gallons of COLD water into a large bucket or pot. I used a large stock pot. Once you’ve let the soap boil, remove it and pour it straight into the cold water. You’ll see the soap turn to gel almost immediately. Stir it up (you can use a hand mixer on low). Stir it well, then let it sit for about 30 minutes and stir it again. It will be thick, but not too thick. Think shampoo consistency.
After that you’re ready to pour them into your containers. =)
10 cups of water
3 cups of vinegar
2 cups of suave conditioner (This is where you can customize scent. I used apple. If you can’t use scented softener or detergent, just leave out the conditioner!)
Mix your conditioner and vinegar, then mix it with the water. DO NOT SHAKE IT!!! You have to stir this. If you shake it, it will foam up and never go back down. Then pour it into your container!
You use 1/2 a cup of detergent per load.
You use 2 Tbls of softener per load.
Here is your cost break down:
For the detergent you spend $.46 on Fels Naptha, $.029 on Washing Soda, and $.17 on Borax. 1 batch gives you 64 loads of laundry (16 cups in a gallon, so 32 loads, and one batch makes 2 gallons.) So that comes out to $0.009 a load! HOLY CRAP. Less than a penny a load of laundry. I can live with that!
For the softener you spend $.82 for the conditioner and $.34 cents for a batch, which gives you 202 loads of laundry. That comes out to $0.006 per load!
So overall- Using this detergent means it costs you less than 2 pennies per load!
Compare that to the cost of a load of laundry from store bought detergent and softener! You spend $17 on a bottle of Gain detergent and get 64 loads out of it- thats a cost of 26 cents per load. The saving are incredible.
Here are some tips and things to keep in mind:
* The detergent will separate some in the container. Thats why mine are in pour containers rather than something with a spout. You want to be able to shake it a bit before you use it.
* The detergent works great! Everything comes out clean and soft, and with less staining than when I was using store-bought detergent.
* It takes about 20 minutes to make a batch. With softener you can get away with just 4 batches a year. A batch of detergent lasts us just over 2 months.