Monday, January 4, 2010

Like homemade? Try this.

If you like to save money, here's an easy home recipe to try...for laundry soap.  Yup. I've always been one for bargains and hate to pay big bucks for detergent.  I was always super happy to get Arm& H@mmer or Pur#x depending on whichever one was on sale with a coupon to lower the price even more. About a year ago, I came across a site with information how to make your own laundry detergent for super cheap!!  So why not, I already had two of the three ingredients anyway.  All you need is a bar of Fels-Naptha soap (or Ivory or Castile soap), a box of 20 Mule Team Borax and a box of Arm & H@ammer Washing Soda (not baking soda, WASHING soda).  The Mule Team Borax and the washing soda are located in the laundry aisle at the grocery, usually top shelf.  The Fels-Naptha may be there, though in Giant Eagle you have to look in the hand soap aisle, bottom shelf between lotions and hand soaps.  You can make the detergent either a powder or liquid.  I've made both, and I prefer powder.  Faster and easier to make; easier to measure out. Easier for the kids to use (since you have to remember to stir or shake the liquid before use). Google  will find you a multitude of recipes all over the place. This one is from The Frugal Shopper Site. This page also has links to other homemade items- check it out.

Powdered Laundry Detergent (aprx. 32 loads)
1 Cup grated Fels-Naptha Soap
1/2 Cup Arm & Hammer WASHING Soda
1/2 Cup 20 Mule Team Borax


Grate the bar of soap, nearly one entire bar grated = 1 cup. If you want to work out your forearms and hands, use a hand grater as I have here. If you'd rather do this in 30 seconds instead of 15 minutes and don't care about your forearms...use your food processor. :-D  

You can leave the soap grated as is or you can further reduce it down to powder. It does mix better as a powder, but I've made it both ways. Takes about three whirrrs in the Magic Bullet to make a powder out of the grated shavings,  or if you already have your food processor out, change the blade and give it a whirl in there.  You can see the difference below.

Put the grated/powdered soap into a container, add the washing soda and borax. Mix thoroughly.  *Great science lesson about measuring and mixtures here. :-D If you make the liquid version (see link), more lessons about solutions-solute, solvent, suspension, etc.  FUN stuff!! 

I use a plastic coffee container with a snap lid (pic above). Works well. Easy for even the kids to pick up and scoop out of. Oh and that's the best part...note the measuring utensil in the container: a tablespoon. Only ONE Tablespoon per load. This is low sudsing and great for front loaders. If I had a top load washer, I'd probably use 2 TB.  A double batch of this recipe will about half fill a large coffee container and gives you aprx 64 loads of detergent. 

The cost breakdown: 
1 Bar Fels-Naptha - $1.50 to $1.75

1 Box Arm & Hammer Washing soda- about $4 bucks depending on where you get it. (aprx 7 cups)

1 Box 20 Mule Team Borax - $5 to $7 depending on where you buy it. (aprx 9 cups)

You can get at least 14 batches out of washing soda and 18 batches of borax per box. When you do the math it equals to just slightly over $2 per batch (32 loads). Cheaper if you find any of the above on sale or have coupons.  Not to bad, eh?  It cleans clothes really well -trust me I have THOROUGHLY tested it out! Two, get down in the mud and grass kids, who also like to help hunt (blood and guts), and work on bikes with daddy (grease). All comes clean with this stuff. 

You will also find hints of using white vinegar as a laundry softener and I have used that. Yes, it does work, and no, it doesn't make your clothes smell like a salad! :-D  I do like nice scents to my clothes but have yet to go get the essential oils to make my own (by adding them to vinegar) until I get motivated in that department I'll keep my bargain store-bought with coupon softener. Though it is good to know if you run out of softener, you can use vinegar in a pinch! 

There you go. Cheap laundry detergent that can be made in less than 5 minutes and WORKS!!

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