Sunday, June 6, 2010

Being thrifty like a fox. Er, something like that.

Many of you know that as we have begun this crazy adventurous journey with the selling (hopefully one day) of our home for a less expensive one, we have also begun trying to find ways to reduce our spending.  By a lot.  The thing that kept coming up whenever I'd run into others who are on a similar journey, (Besides the fact that everyone has their own chickens, and trust me, I'll cover that in another post.) is that it's kind of become the trendy thing to make your own laundry detergent.
I began researching it because, and you may not know this about me,  I'm a big researcher. Oh yeah.  That's me, all the way.  I googled recipes and tips for nearly two hours. Here's what I found out.  There's a lazy way, and more in-depth way of doing this.  Guess which one I chose?
Did it even cross your mind, to guess the in-depth one?  I mean, seriously.  Okay... it didn't cross my mind either.  Heh, heh.  Basically, you can make a liquid, or a powder.  The liquid one involves a big 5 gallon bucket, and melting down Fels-Naptha soap in your kitchen and I'll just be honest.  That was too hard for me.  Also, there are many sites with notes about the questionable toxicity of Fels-Naptha soap out there. Questions have arisen about it's possible long-term effects due to a product component called stoddard solvent. Not to mention that it can be difficult to find.  That said, it's something that I'm choosing to steer clear of, but that's just me.  Plus it was too hard.  Did I mention that yet?
So here's what you need for Laundry Powder.  I found everything at my local grocery store in the laundry aisle. A box of Borax, which cost me all of $3.99  A box of Arm and Hammer (Super washing soda) washing powder, which I found for $2.99.  And 10 bars of Ivory soap, $4.99.  (I'm pretty sure I could have found it for less, but I'd already dragged my hoodlums to Walmart, and Costco, and they were done.)

For each batch, you will need, 1/2 cup Borax, 1/2 cup Washing powder, and 1 bar grated soap. Clearly, you'll be making a multiple batch of this if you bought 10 bars of Ivory.
Now you'll need to grate all 10 bars of Ivory.  And seriously, I lost my mind right about here.  It was a perfect opportunity for me to sit back and take advantage of my man's biceps, but I got this hair-brained idea that I should get it done while he was at work so I could really impress him with my thriftyness.  Yeah.  That was stupid.  Do you know how sore your muscles are after grating 10 bars of soap?  Sore. 

***News Flash, MONTHS later*** 
Do not grate your soap.  Pulse it in a food processor, along with the borax and arm & hammer powder, and then you'll have a nice finely ground powder that won't leave undissolved chunks in your laundry, not to mention you'll be done in no time. 

Whatever.  I'll know for next time.  I filled up this container from Walmart that I purchased for $5.87.  Now, go find a Tablespoon and stick it in your jar, because that's all you'll be needing for each load.  One Tablespoon.  Yes, you did read that correctly.  And I researched further to find out that this is perfect for those of you with HE machines.  It's low-suds, which is important apparently.  Also, it's great for septic systems.  Better than normal detergent, in fact.
After filling up my jar, I still had a ton left.  Plus, I only used half my box of Borax and I had a cup of Washing soda left!  The breakdown has already been done by millions of other thrifty people, so while I might not be exactly perfect here, I'm pretty close.

Total on materials, $11.97. (+ my cute jar, for a one-time grand total of $17.84.)
Total on what I normally buy from Costco, $24.00 ish.
I've read that it comes out to about .04 cents per load.  I'd say that's pretty thrifty, wouldn't you?


Here's the recipe/breakdown for 10 bars of soap.

Washing Powder:
5 c cup Borax
5 c Washing Powder/Soda
10 bars grated soap (pulsed in a food processor)
Mix and use only one TBSP per load. 



65 comments:

  1. I am going to try this. Thanks for sharing thrifty lady!

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  2. Sasha, you are genius. And brave. I think you should bag up your mix and sell!

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  3. Does it smell good? I've never tried homemade detergent and I really like my clean laundry to smell 'fresh'!

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  4. you're hilarious! love your writing style. I've been wanting to try that too. I have a recipe similar but it's for liquid. Really it's those big expenses like laundry detergent that really kill on the grocery bills.

    xo,
    Shellagh

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  5. I've been wanting to do this and haven't done the research. I'm glad you did it for me! :o)

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  6. Just thinking a little bit more about this...do you think I could use my food processor with the grater attachment to grate the ivory soap?!

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  7. How do you like it? Does it smell good?

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  8. One of my friends is teaching me how to do this the next time she makes it. Her clothes actually come out cleaner than using store bought detergent!

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  9. hey girl! i am so happy you did this post! i was wanting to do this same post so i bought the five gallon bucket, borax, and i am still trying to find that "hard to find soap"! well, that stops now! i am so glad you are a researcher because me? not so much! and i am glad you told us about the bad stuff! so, i am going for the powder version! what about the smell? does it smell good? i am a smeller and everything has to smell good! let me know!

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  10. I have done the bucket liquid laundry soap and I do have some problems with it. It fades colors and and it does not have a loose consistency which makes it difficult to get out of the bottle. I stopped making it after the third time. I think I will give this a try. Walmart does not carry Fals-Napta. I found it at the supermarket.

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  11. Well, believe it or not, there's an even lazier way of doing it... Have your sister make it FOR you. That's what I did. Plus, I didn't research anything and now I'm faced with the knowledge that Fels-Naptha is potentially toxic? PLUS...I've been using 1/4 cup for each load! Crud.

    You overachievers get me every time...

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing! We are trying to love more and spend less in our house, too. I am thrilled to have the "recipe."

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  13. I'm in! I was just waiting on someone to find an easier recipe for me!

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  14. Elle Bee brought up a great idea about just using her food processor to "grate" the soap. I would have done that except I don't actually own one. I own a mini chopper, and I started to use it, but it was a pain. And too hard. So that was automatically out! However, if YOU have a food processor, I say go for it.

    Why don't I have one? I need to ponder...

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  15. I think you are THRIFTY mama!! THRIFTY!!! and i posted something on your facebook page : )

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  16. I love the smell of this with ivory soap! The lavender ivory is discontinued but it smelled SO amazing. I've even seen recipes using Kirks castile soap. Makes your clothes smell so fresh!

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  17. I think I'm going to have to try this. Last time I got off pretty thrifty with my laundry detergent because my mom bought it for me. haha

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  18. Oh, I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!! Ok, now that I got that out of my system, let me first say that I'm not going all psycho stalker on you. I'm just ecstatic that you posted this because I too have been looking for ways to save my family money on cleaning materials, such as laundry soap. Thank you so much!! Can you just clarify something for me? You posted Arm & Hammer washing powder...is that the same as Arm&Hammer detergent? And will I find that in the same aisle as the detergent and Borax? If you would be so kind as to leave me a note about that on my blog, I will be one grateful lady!! Thanks Mama! You're the best!

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  19. Yeah, what Flower Patch Farmgirl said... (other than I made my own in a 5-gallon bucket!) Hmmm... Maybe I should switch to this recipe now that my liquid is almost out. Darn me not researching like you and feeling like a doof now! Hopefully I wasn't causing any harm to my poor family by using mine... And BTW, yours does look a lot easier and can be stored in a bonus too cute jar like I've been jonesing for for detergent. You know it's hard to keep liquid in a jar like that!? :) My hubby just bought me new HEs, so I guess I would just put a TB dry in the detergent bin??? Off to research more and quite talking your ear off! :)

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  20. i love this idea. we are also trying to simplify our home and expenses and i love the idea of creating more myself. can't wait to try it. thanks, friend!

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  21. Sasha ~ you are so cool! I wonder if one could use dove soap?? Since my skin just doesn't like ivory soap ~ high maintenance! ;) inspired by Sasha once again! he he! Thanks girl! I have been wanting to research this myself.. but you just handed me the lazy way out!!! he he! kidding ~ I will need to research the dove part and if it works in front loading machines... unless you know that already??! wink wink! ;)

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  22. Wow - this is great. I am amazed that you only need a little bit for it to work? Does it work?! I love ideas like this and find myself thinking; if everyone did this then how wonderful that would be etc etc. You got to start somewhere! Lou x

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  23. When I started looking into making my own laundry soap, the liquid recipes I found were easier, so I made liquid. But next time, I'm trying powder!

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  24. & to think i didn't cook this weekend, didn't do laundry....i swing by here & realize youve whipped up your own homemade soap...i am so impressed
    dangit woman!

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  25. oh yeah, & i'm totally whipping this up today
    after i go to the much neglected grocery store
    thanks for the recipe
    suzy homemaker!
    mwah!

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  26. You never cease to amaze me Sasha girl. Boy you did do your research. I'm kinda lovin' this idea. Not sure if I'll go to the trouble, but now I know where to go if I ever change my mind. Thank you!

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  27. Can you add something to make it smell good? I'm seriously thinking about this. What do you store it in and where did you get your cute little container??

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  28. I've been on the fence about this, but you made it look like it's worth it! How does it smell though? That's my only hesitation...

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  29. Thats the craziest things I've ever heard.. only 1 tablespoon?! I'm beyond impressed.

    I think if I were to try this... can use this for baby clothes do you think... wait a minute... I don't even have a washing machine. I do my wash at my parents because I refuse to pay $2.50 a load at my complex.

    Did I have a point? Oh yeah... can you use a food processor to grate those?

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  30. Wow! That is awesome... I am definitely going to give this a shot. Have you washed with it yet? Do you feel like it works as well?

    I researched this at one time but found all of the recipes to be too much trouble... thanks again!
    Stephanie
    www.thegimlinfamily.blogspot.com

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  31. I want to try this too!!! I am putting it on my shopping list right now. Great idea and thanks for sharing.

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  32. Ha! This is nice... the day I move out of my parents house I might like to use this!!!! But for now I´m pretty sure my mom would kick me out if i mention the idea to make our own soap... pff with my sister coocking her caterings home... its a mess =(.
    But thank you for the tips =) Let us know how it turns out after the first wash!!!!

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  33. girl~ when you decide to do something you go all out! you go girl.

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  34. girl~ when you decide to do something you go all out! you go girl.

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  35. I'm so glad you posted about this! I've been on a hunt for "soap nuts" for months, but I can pick this stuff up today! Also, we started making our own shampoo, conditioner and "cleanser" (not soap) and LOVE it. Couldn't be happier. Two guesses as to what I'll be doing tomorrow ...

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  36. SOOO been wanting to try this....thank you for the inspiration. And SO glad to know that it will be friendly to my HE machine!

    Keep squeezin' those lemons!

    Many hugs
    Jen

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  37. I so want to try this, but I'm a little skeptical. Let me know how your clothes turn out or if you are stuck with something you don't like for a gajillion loads.

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  38. Way cool....I have one of those HE machines and I'm so glad you can use this product with it. Thanks for doing the research. Have a blessed day.

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  39. On a side note does anyone know how to have your clothes smell really good like downy good from one on those HE machines. Ever since I've had it my clothes just don't hold that wonderful downy odor like it did with my older washer and dryer. Hmmm?

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  40. LOVE it! We make the liquid variety and are still on our first batch! It is awesome! We also use downy liquid and water it down a TON and it still smells wonderful and softens so snuggly! Good job and praying for your house!

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  41. Okay....I am thinking I really want to try this without the hand grating. Wonder if I can put it in my grinder? :)

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  42. Oops...nevermind. I just read the comments and I think it's okay to use the processor.

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  43. Is it my imagination or does laundry detergent go up on a daily basis ~ even what I used to consider the "cheap" brands like Purex are expensive. This may be the answer to our prayers!

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  44. I would love to try this. But honestly, how well does it clean the clothes compared to, say, Tide? I would love to save the money but the husband is skeptical that it won't clean/sanitize the clothes.

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  45. I've been wanting to try this, since I already make my own household cleaners, but wanted to "see" someone else do it first. Thanks so much!

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  46. Just made my first batch and the clothes are happily getting cleaned "chemical free" and at SUCH a low cost. Thrilled that you shared this recipe. Thank you!

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  47. I'm not sure why I STILL haven't done this.

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  48. Tracy at Loving Pretty Things made it and gave me a little jar as a gift when we stayed at their house! Its AMAZING! I'm going to make it today!! :)

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  49. Woops--just left a comment through my husbands account! LOL. Anyway, it's Allegra & Tracy at Loving Pretty Things made it and gave me a little jar as a gift when we stayed at their house! Its AMAZING! I'm going to make it today!! :) THANK YOU for the amazing tutorial!

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  50. Maureen you did a great job with this! Your pics are adorable!
    xoxo Mom

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  51. i've made this both ways. i thought the liquid was harder to deal with, i gets all gluey in the bucket. which said bucket was hard to get the lid off of..i did the powder first time and didn't think i liked it. i later found out that you HAVE to process it to get the fine consistency. doh! i will be making this again as i have 10 boxes of washing soda to use up. hehe. i don't like the smell of ivory soap. it makes me sneeze like crazy! i use a soap from my local save a lot store, it's in the spanish section of cleaning products. can't think of the name of it..but a good castile soap works just as well. good luck to all who do this. it will last you a freakin lifetime! or at least seem like it does! my liquid lasted 4 months!

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  52. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fels-Naptha

    That was a fancy word for mineral spirits which USED to be in Fels Naptha. You can make yours anyway you want to but I love the recipe with the Fels Naptha soap.
    I just got blueberry jam stains out of a shirt. We are washing our floors with it and made a diluted spray cleaner also. We thought about using the food processor too for grating. It's just to dissolve it.
    The FN soap is at Walmart right next to the Super Washing Soda and Borax. It costs 97 cents a bar.
    Considering it gets rid of poison oak it's pretty handy to have.

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  53. Could you share what size the bars of soap are? So many different recipies for the laundry soap and most of them are using different brands of the bar soap. just found your site and I'm on my way for a personal tour.

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  54. Could you share what size the bars of soap are? So many different recipies for the laundry soap and most of them are using different brands of the bar soap. just found your site and I'm on my way for a personal tour.

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  55. I love this recipe! I just made it today with my 4yo. I used my little food processor, 1bar, 1/2C Borax, and 1/2c washing soda. The consistency is fabulous and I can't wait to use it in my HE front load washing machine. Thanks for doing all of your research, you saved me the trouble!

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  56. I gonna make it today!!!! I went out and bought the ing. to make the liquid, and after grating the fels-naptha, I was so discouraged, I hated the smell of it, not knowing if it would make my clothes smell bad I did'nt go any further!! but you've given me new hope.. ivory I can handle...I have 4 grandkids that live with me "need I say more" I also have seen zote? have you tried that?

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  57. I love this recipe. I grate it by hand, but I only do 4 or 5 batches at a time, so it's not so difficult. I just posted about the new batch I made last night, of course linking to your recipe! http://toaprettylife.blogspot.ca/2012/03/lovely-laundry.html

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  58. I am one of those silly girls that did the melt down with Fels Naptha. Ummmmmm, I don't like it. But I will say that it gets my clothes WAAAAAAAY cleaner than the store buoght. Even my hubby's dirty, I just worked on the truck/lawn mower/in the yard/skinned a dear clothes. Oy! Then I realized that essentially the same recipe could be done with other bars of soap and so my next project will be to use a Mrs Meyer's Lavender bar in place of the Ivory or Fels Naptha. Is your recipe ok for regular washing machines? Like the old kind? Not the new exciting fancy HE ones?

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  59. I have been searching EVERYWHERE for the powder version of homemade with the addition of TSP - does anyone have that? This is my favorite recipe so far, but I want the additional TSP and don't know how much to add...?

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  60. TSP is an abbreviation for Tablespoon. That's the measurement you use for each load.

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    1. TSP is actually the abbreviation for teaspoon. TBSP is the abbreviation for tablespoon. I believe the TSP the above commenter might be speaking of is Trisodium phosphate (TSP, E339). A cleaning agent, food additive, stain remover and degreaser. It is a white, granular or crystalline solid, highly soluble in water producing an alkaline solution.

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  61. I've been using this recipe for about 1 year and I LOVE it. I use it just as it is and add a little Downy Unstoppables to the wash -- amazing! Clothes come out clean everytime (of course I still pre-treat stains with a pre-treater if needed before hand). This is very cost effective and requires very little effort.

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