You’re gonna fall into one of three categories: completely skeptical and uninterested, curious but hesitant, or sold and already know the ease, basic ingredients, and cost savings that pour through your laundry every month. I’ve been making my laundry detergent for almost two years now and Tide couldn’t pay me to take a jug of their detergent home. Well they could but I’d still use my detergent and keep their cash money.
There are tons of recipes out there for detergent and really there’s no one, right recipe. It boils down (no pun intended) to what ingredients you want to purchase and keep on hand for each batch. So feel free to bounce around and find what works for you but for the sake of this post, I’m going to feature the recipe I found and have stuck with.
ITEMS & INGREDIENTS NEEDED
1 5-gallon bucket (avg cost with lid, $4.99 at local hardware store)
*if you’re smart, you’ll tap the bucket with a nozzle before hand
1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (avg cost for box $1.89)
this is different than baking soda
1 cup of Borax (avg. cost for box $2.89)
1 bar of soap (brand dependent, my cost is $.99/bar)
These simple ingredients that will cost you $10.76+tax to get started, and will produce 6 batches of detergent. Each batch yields 52 loads of laundry. For example’s sake, if you made this all at one time, you would produce 312 batches of laundry at $.03 per load. You heard me, three cents.
Let’s compare to a Tide bulk buy available online via Amazon. You can purchase two 150 oz jugs yielding 90 batches each for $47.74. To match our 312 batches, we’ll need 3.5 jugs. So we’ll pretend we can buy 3.5 jugs and even get free shipping. Your cost would be $83.14 divided by 312 loads for $.26 per load. No, a quarter doesn’t sound like a lot, until you multiply by every load of laundry washed in your household and then compare that to three cents per load.
And if cost alone doesn’t convince you—have a child with a skin allergy and forced to use only one brand of detergent? Or just tired of feeling like you’re always buying detergent? For the record, I made this recipe 3 times in 2010. Three! Can you say you only bought 3 bottles of detergent over an entire year?
So, want the recipe now?
1. Start with your favorite brand of soap and 4 cups of boiling water. Whatever you choose will become the very faint scent your detergent carries. You can also alter your scent, by using a scentless soap and adding in an essential oil at the very end. While waiting on your water to boil, whittle your bar of soap into a small bowl. You can use a heavy duty cheese grater, you can use a paring knife. It cuts down very easily.
2. Once the water is boiling, stir in the soap. You want to keep it boiling for a few minutes and stirring as needed to break down most of the pieces. You may not melt all of them, and that’s ok. You just want a good soapy mixture.
3. Once you think your soap mix is about ready, you’ll need your 5-gallon bucket and an old milk jug. Using just hot water from your sink, fill 3 milk jugs worth and pour into your bucket.
4. Pour your soap mix into your 5-gallon bucket and stir for 2 or 3 minutes.
5. You’ll now add your 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda to your bucket and continue to stir.
6. If you’d like to add an essential oil, you’d add at this point. If 100% pure oil, a few drops will do. If it’s a diluted, non-100% oil, I’ve added around 3-4 tablespoons per batch to get a pleasing, not overly strong, aroma.
7. Snap your lid on your bucket and let it sit overnight. Your watery base will become gooey slime overnight and ready to wash clothes. I will note, if you’re bummed about this 24 waiting period or you start using this detergent and think, “I don’t want to wait 24 hrs to keep washing clothes if I run out.” You can totally use this detergent in its liquid state if caught in a bind. But since its nature is to almost congeal, for lack of a better term, I use 2 cups per load when it’s still all liquid. And that’s it!
• As I mentioned before, you can tap the bottom front of your bucket but keep in mind your end product will be thicker so allow for a wider tap.
• You can also save one of your old brand name detergent bottles and transfer smaller portions into this jug and use as you normally would.
• If you are just starting out, it’s a lot of fun to keep a running tab of each load you wash right on your bucket with a permanent marker.
I hope if you fell into one of the first two categories I’ve helped sway you, at least some…Feel free to comment with any questions or suggestions on your batch!