So first it was home-made ice cream, then home-made pizza, now home-made laundry detergent???
I am not the type of person that will just making something home-made for the sake of making it home-made. In order for me to consider making something home-made, it has to either:
a. Be cheaper to make
b. Have better/healthier ingredients when home-made
c. Taste better/work better
d. Be a fun activity to try with the kids
Or some combination of all of the above.
So the other day on facebook, I saw one of my friends had made home-made laundry detergent. And I was skeptical. Surely it couldn't be cheaper or better? But then she posted the website for the recipe she used, and I was inspired to try it!
So first let me preface this by saying that I was already saving money on laundry detergent. I usually buy Purex, which is not the most expensive brand (regular price $5-6 for 48 loads). I always buy it on sale and stock up when it's $3-$4 (so about 30% off). Pat myself on the back for saving on laundry detergent.
The recipe my friend posted on Facebook is here. The website claimed to make a 2-gallon batch of laundry detergent, covering 64 loads, for only 71 cents. Ok, now I had to try it!
There are only 3 basic ingredients in the home-made detergent: Fels-Naptha laundry soap bar, washing soda, and borax. I was able to find all 3 of these in the laundry detergent aisle at Wal-Mart. I spent a little over $8 for all three ingredients, but the purchase will make many 2-gallon batches of laundry detergent.
Here is the breakdown:
Fels-Naptha bar: $0.97
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda: $3.24
Total without tax: $7.59
Total with tax: $8.21
Then I added it to a saucepan with 6 cups of water and heated it until the soap melted.
Next, per the website recipe, I added the washing soda and the borax.
I had a bucket, but no lid, so I improvised with a towel and headband.
And the next day, sure enough, my soap had turned into a gel.
A look into the container (like jello):
So yesterday afternoon, I tried out the new soap with a few loads of laundry. The gel was like a big glob in the water for a few minutes, but pretty quickly mixed with the water. As the website warned, it did not become sudsy/bubbly-looking.
So how much does this save?
Well, I used the same calculations that the website used to determine the cost of the home-made detergent. The initial cost of the ingredients were slightly higher than in the example on the website, but I still calculate that my 2-gallon batch cost about 91 cents to make. 64 loads. Or about 1.4 cents per load. Compared to about 7-8 cents per load that I was getting when I bought the Purex detergent on sale. So how much does that save per year? If I've estimated my # of load of laundry per week, it adds up to be about $25/year in savings.
Some of you may say, why go through all that for only $25 a year in savings? By itself, it's not much. But combined with everything else I try to save on, it adds up. A few hundred dollars a year by switching insurance companies. A few hundred dollars a month by not eating out. A few hundred dollars a year by buying basics at Aldi. None of these things by themselves are huge savings, but just think if you could get all of your expenses reduced by 30% or more a year, it really adds up! Enough of a savings to amass a bigger chunk to go toward something more meaningful than expensive detergent.
Yesterday I saw my husband throw his cycling clothes in the washer and he reached for the Purex instead of our new home-made stuff. And I asked him why he wasn't using it, and he said "But these are expensive shirts! I don't want to ruin them!" Ok, so he's not comfortable switching over yet. And he's even the one who started making our own home-made house cleaning supplies! But that's another story. Hopefully when he sees I'm not ruining everyone's laundry by using this home-made soap, he will come around.