Wait, don’t leave! Please hear me out, this might seem like it could not possibly be worth your time but I believe you will be surprised. I read about people making their own detergent for years and have seen many links to ‘recipes.’ As I watched our grocery budget a little closer the last few months, I realized detergents and cleaners are consistently the items that quickly make the total rise. Even if I used a coupon, I often spent $3-$4 on a bottle designed to wash 32 loads of clothes. After having success using vinegar in place of fabric softener, I thought this seemed like the next logical step.
I searched different recipe options and decided a smaller batch seemed the best for my trial run. I used the following recipe found at TipNut.com:
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
1/3 bar Soap (grated)
- In a large pot, heat 3 pints of water. Add the grated bar soap and stir until melted. Then add the washing soda and borax. Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.
- In a 2 gallon clean pail, pour 1 quart of hot water and add the heated soap mixture. Top pail with cold water and stir well.
- Use 1/2 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel)
I gathered up empty containers I had saved. Here is the best part: a bar of soap (Fels-Naptha was recommended in many recipes) cost less than $1, the Borax and washing soda are about $3 per box. You will not use anywhere near the entire box of either ingredient since it only calls for 1/2 cup.
Here are a few things I did as I went through the process.
- Instead of measuring out 3 pints, I just estimated about 1/3 of a gallon of water to get it started.
- Instead of adding all the ingredients to a separate 2-gallon container, I simply added the rest of the water needed to the cooking pot to make about 2-gallons of finished product. I estimated this by using empty, 1-gallon vinegar bottles.
- Since I’d made the 2-gallons in my pot on the stove, I poured the finished detergent into my recycled containers by using a funnel.
Which gave me several finished containers of laundry detergent for less than $2 in materials and less than 30 minutes of my time.
I’ve been using this for about a week and it has successfully cleaned everything I’ve thrown at it. I don’t have babies or preschoolers, but have had some towels come clean that sat (wet) in a certain someone’s gym bag for several days. I shake the container a little as was recommended since the detergent settles out a little the longer it sits. I also waited a day to use it so that it could gel between cooking and first use. I only use about 1/4 cup in my high efficiency washer so I expect it to last at least 100 loads from this batch, which cost well under $2 total.
What do you think? Have you successfully used homemade cleaners?