Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent

When I moved to San Francisco, I moved into what had once been my husbands bachelor pad.  During the time before our wedding, he continuously expressed his interest that I would "hurry up and graduate so I could make this place a home and not just a place to sleep."  Well, needless to say, when I got here, there was quite a bit to be done!

One of the things that my husband did was buy a box of laundry detergent.  Because he'd been using it for six months before that, it had about ten loads left by the time I got here.  As someone who's always been on the "do-it-yourself" edge, I decided that while we were waiting for it to finish off, I would research making my own laundry detergent and fill the box up with my own concoction when it was empty.

I based my version off of DIY Natural's recipe.

-1 (or 1.25) cups of Borax
-1 (or 1.25) cups of Soda Ash
-4.5 (or 5.625) ounces of Grated Ivory Soap
-A container for your finished product

The first step is to obtain your ingredients.  The container was easy, since I was just using an old one.  Any jar or box would work.

I made my Soda Ash by hand the day before, and pulled out some old Ivory soap I wanted to get rid of.  You can use any natural, Castille, or handmade soap in this recipe, which I usually do in my cleaning supplies, but I had some old Ivory bars I wanted to use up from before my soap-making days, and since the recipe said go for it, I did!

Grating the soap turned out to be a laborious process.  I used a simple cheese grater, but I'm sure there are other ways to do it.  The original recipe called for a 4.5 ounce bar of soap, but I found that if I grated two bars until they were just about stubs I couldn't hold anymore, I ended up with 5 and 5/8 ounces of grated soap -- exactly 125% of what the recipe called for -- so I simply added an extra quarter-cup of the other two ingredients and wha-la!

Once you have all your ingredients, the next step is to add them together and stir for five minutes.  Easy enough, right?  WRONG.  I kept having to stop because I was coughing from breathing in all the soap particles.  While you're stirring, the volume of your mixture actually decreases a lot, partially from breaking the bits up more, partially from minimizing empty space, and partially from all the dust it releases into the air.  I highly recommend doing this step outside or in a well ventilated room!

When I was done, the finished product fit nicely in my old box, so I threw a rubber-band around it and put it in the closet.  I can't wait to use it!

For each load, you only need a tablespoon!  That's right, just a tablespoon of the detergent.  I'm estimating there's just over 3 cups of detergent in the box right now, which is about 50 tablespoons.

Let's take a look at the cost:

Box of Borax: $4.29
I used: 1/4
Borax: $1.08

Box of Baking Soda (to make Soda Ash): $1.35
I used: 2/3
Soda Ash: $0.90

Ivory Soap 10-Pack: $4.50
I used: 1.75 bars
Grated Soap: $0.79

Total Cost of Detergent: $2.77

That's about half what the original box of store-bought detergent cost!  Now here's the kicker:

Homemade Detergent: $2.77
Makes 50 Loads
5.5 cents a load

Store-Bought Detergent: $5.50
Makes 15 Loads (as per box)
36 cents a load

Look at that!  You've saved 85% of your cost of detergent!  What's not to love?

Next time, I'll tell you about another way I found to cut costs on laundry.

Has anyone else tried this?  How does it work?  Any tips?  Let me know in the comments!