With each day that goes by, it seems as though the price of everything rises, from gas to groceries. Most everyone is looking for ways to save money in many areas. Cutting the cost of laundry detergent by making your own homemade powdered version can help stretch an already tight budget. Homemade laundry detergent is as effective as the store-bought version when used properly, and costs almost nothing to make except about an hour’s worth of time.
The Savings of Homemade Detergent
One common reason people make homemade laundry detergent is that it saves money. For example, a container of a brand-name laundry detergent purchased at Sam’s Club for the price of $13.94, promised 100 regular loads. After purchasing the homemade laundry soap ingredients and doing the math, it cost $1.00 for the same 100 loads of laundry. That is a comparison of $.01 (that’s one penny!) per load using the homemade detergent vs. $.14 per load using the brand-name detergent.
The Effectiveness of Homemade Laundry Detergent
Some would argue that store-brand laundry soap is made specifically for fabrics and therefore is more effective or cleanses better than the homemade equivalent. In the experience many have had with homemade detergent, it does a thorough job of cleaning clothing, bedding, and even cloth diapers. Consider the ingredients used to make this detergent. Fels Naptha is a laundry bar, used by many to scrub at stains. Washing soda is a deodorizer and Borax is a stain remover, among many other things. This combination makes “home grown” detergent useful for its intended purpose.
One thing that is important to note is that the amount of detergent needed for each load will differ depending on the type of washing machine and size of the load. The recommendation given below of one tablespoon is a general guideline for a front-loading washer. If you find that your clothing is not getting as clean as you’d like, simply add more detergent, small amounts at a time, or pre-treat as necessary. Homemade laundry soap does not have a sudsing agent, making it ideal for front-load washing machines.
Ingredients and Instructions for Making Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap
Homemade Powdered Laundry Soap Ingredients
2 bars Fels Naptha soap, finely grated
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda, not baking soda
1 cup Borax
Fels Naptha can be found in many grocery stores, as can A&H washing soda. Walmart carries Borax and may carry A&H washing soda in some areas. Washing soda and Borax have many other purposes, so don’t worry that only a small amount goes for the detergent.
Grate Fels Naptha and let it air out in a dry environment for a few days so it doesn’t clump. You can use a hand grater or even a food processor with the correct blade.
Add the washing soda & Borax to the Fels Naptha and put it in container with a tight-fitting lid, mixing well. Use 1 Tbsp. per regular size load, and 2 Tbsp for a larger or dirtier load. This batch will last for a long time and can certainly be doubled or tripled for larger familes!
If the laundry room is in the basement, make certain the storage container used for the detergent has a very tight-fitting lid. Try going to the local Walmart bakery department and asking for a large bucket. Or visit a local restaurant and ask for an empty pickle jar–they normally have wide mouths and are larger than conventional jars. An ice cream bucket usually is not a good bet, unless you live in a very dry climate and your soap will not clump, but it works in a pinch.
Use some distilled white vinegar for fabric softener, experimenting with the amount that works for you, if your clothes seem a little stiff. Be sure to run a cleaning cycle through your front loader as instructed by the manufacturer of your washer to avoid build-up inside the machine.