Two years ago, I posted about making my own laundry detergent. I mentioned how I had left behind the liquid in favor of the dry.
Fast forward through time and you will find me not using either. Until recently.
I decided I was going to try again after reading this post from Mooberry Farm. She had a little different configuration of the same ingredients I was using. But, the real difference was I no longer had any of our homemade castille soap, so I had to purchase some Fels-Naptha.
For those of you who don’t know what Fels-Naptha is, it is a heavy-duty laundry soap in a bar (often used for stain treatment) that costs about $1.15 per bar. You can buy it in just about any supermarket in the detergent aisle.
Let me give you the new measurements and directions and then explain a little more (I tweaked the directions a bit from what was on the Mooberry site):
Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
1/2 bar of Fels-Naptha
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
2 gallons of water, divided
a large saucepan (8 cups or larger)
large bucket or container with lid
liquid storage containers for finished product
1. Grate 1/2 a bar of Fels-Naptha into a saucepan (I still use my Bosch grater).
2. Cover shavings with 4 cups of water and heat on low, stirring often, until soap has melted.
3. Remove from heat. Add the borax and washing soda and stir in another 4 cups of water. Mixture will resemble pudding.
4. Pour mixture into a bucket or other container with a lid (I used a cooler–see photo below), add another 24 cups (or 1 gallon + 8 cups) and stir well. In fact, you may want to use a whisk.
5. Let mixture set overnight.
6. The next day, the congealed soap will have settled to the top. Stir it back in and pour into storage containers if you’d rather not dip your hand into a bucket every time you do the laundry. I used old laundry detergent bottles.
Use 1/3 – 1/2 cup of detergent per load of laundry.
And yes, you can use it on your cloth diapers too!
A few notes of interest:
*I didn’t have enough old detergent bottles to pour into, so I keep a very hard to open cooler with the remaining amount in my laundry room. This has proven to be a very good method.
*I don’t add essential oil. It would take way too much to make a difference in the smell, so if I ever add any, it will be tea tree oil for it’s anti-bacterial properties. I’d rather use my yummy-smelling essential oils in other ways.
*Speaking of smells, Fels-Naptha does have a distinct, yet not unpleasant, odor. However, that smell does not transfer to your clothing.
*The reason I think this is doing so much better than my homemade castille soap did, is because Fels-Naptha is intended for laundry. Additionally, upping the amount of borax and washing soda helped the consistency greatly.
*This does not suds. It’s ok.
*The mixture ends up looking a bit curdled. It’s ok.
Now, for the question that will determine if I continue to make my own laundry detergent…
Is it cost effective enough to be worth my time?
First off, the time required to make this is nominal. It’s easy, folks!
Secondly, I am going to use very general numbers since prices vary regionally. If you want it exact, use your own region’s prices.
Fels-Naptha – 1/2 bar = 58¢
Borax – 1 cup = 53¢
Washing Soda – 1 cup = 44¢
Water – 2 gallons from tap = 20¢
Total per batch = $1.75
Total per load = 3¢
For me, each batch fills around 3 of the containers I had on hand. We only use one kind of detergent and for that size it costs around $3.00 a bottle when on sale (and it goes on sale often). I do have to use a bit more of the homemade detergent than the store detergent, but not much. So without factoring that in…
Cost difference = $7.25 in favor of the homemade detergent
And since we taken it this far, let’s figure my savings for a year if I only used homemade detergent…
Let’s say it takes me 2 weeks to go through each 50 fl oz bottle of detergent. That means every 6 weeks, I am making more at $1.75 or buying more at $9 for 3 bottles. That’s $15.17 a year for the homemade and $78 a year for the store bought, which equals…
Yearly savings = $62.83
Is the trouble it takes to make my own laundry detergent (again, nominal) worth $62.83? In some seasons, I’d have to say no, but right now this feels like a significant savings for very little work.
What do you think?