About 3 weeks ago I got fed up with the detergent we were using. Our clothes didn't smell clean and stains were not coming out. I won't call out the company that made the stuff, but let's just say the brand rhymes with tALL tree and tear.
Now maybe you're saying that perhaps my clothes didn't smell clean because I was using a non-scented detergent. Scented detergents do not get your clothes any cleaner - they simply mask any odors left on the clothes by the icky phosphate soap that damages water pipes and ecosystems. Clean clothes should smell like nothing but air. Remember being a kid and playing under the clothesline while sheets were drying? THAT is the clean scent I'm talking about.
So, I went on to the interwebs to find a recipe to make my own. A good friend of mine uses this recipe, but I didn't have a big enough container, or lets be honest - the patience to make a liquid. I ended up using a recipe for powder, and so far it's working GREAT! Our clothes smell super clean, stains are disappearing, and we're saving buco bucks.
Handmade Herbal Laundry Detergent
Approx 4 oz. grated soap (comes out to about a standard sized bar)
Postscript: I found that 2 cups of grated soap was the most effective
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
1 cup baking soda
essential oils (optional)
Normal loads use 1TBSP - 1/4 cup. I've been using about 1/8 cup with great results.
I used this bar soap (much cheaper at Target and my local grocery) and grated it in a cheese grater. That definitely took the longest cause my wimp-ass arms kept tiring out!
When my parents moved out of their house they owned for about 19 years, my sis and I had 27 hrs to pack them up and get them moved. While packing up their bathroom closet, we found a little box full of tiny bits of discarded bar soap that looked like it had been hidden away by a family of cheap squirrels. THIS would be a great use for those nubs for additional savings.
Borax and washing soda can be tricky to find, but I found them in the laundry aisle at our Fred Meyer grocery store (Fred Meyer is owned by Kroger, so if you have a Kroger or a Ralph's, you may be able to find it).
Because we have sensitive skin in our house, I decided to not use essential oils. Instead I used homemade scented baking soda to add a little natural fragrance to our laundry.
Costs (be impressed, I don't just "do" math for anyone)
-Bar of soap - $3 (5 oz)
-20 Mule Team Borax - $2.79 for 76 oz = $.0367 per oz
-Arm & Hammer Washing Soda - $3.29 for 55 oz = $.059 per oz
-Arm & Hammer baking soda - $5 for 12 lbs (192 oz) = $.026 per oz
Costs per batch - note the interwebs say 1 cup = 8 oz
-Soap - $3 (could find this cheaper for sure)
-Borax - $.587
-Washing Soda - $.957
-Baking Soda - $.208
If I'm using 1/8 of a cup (1 oz) per load, that works out to $.1056/$.11 a load. Had I used my parent's creepy doomsday soap, it would be $.0383/$.04 per load.
Compared to tALL tree and tear, where I was paying $.249 per load, that is a damn good savings! Plus, I'm keeping waste out of the landfills, and chemical crap out of the waterstream.
Making laundry soap isn't going to make you a millionaire, but I'll just reiterate when you're watching your budget, every penny can make a difference.