Making your own cleaning products - isn't it supposed to be LESS expensive that way? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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About a month ago I decided to try doing homemade laundry cleaner rather than continuing to buy conventional detergents or their eco-friendly counterparts. So I did a little research online, and settled on a recipe that called for 2 tbsp castile soap, 1 c washing soda, 1 c baking soda, and 1 c vinegar.

 

First obstacle, can't find washing soda anywhere. No one sells it. Did a little more online research, found out it's sodium carbonate, and can be found sold as the pool chemical PhPlus. I did find that, paid $10 for it, and it's almost gone now.

 

Next, I found out just how tough it is to keep enough baking soda in the house to put 1 cup in every load of laundry! I've probably bought another $6 or $7 worth of baking soda in the past month.

 

I paid $15 for the bottle of castile soap, and I've used about 1/4 of it, and almost exclusively on the laundry. So that's about $4.

 

The vinegar was the cheapest; I think I paid $2 for the gallon and I do use that for other things, but I would estimate that about half of it has been on the laundry, so that's another $1.

 

So in total, I have spent over $20 to wash my clothes for a month. I could order the washing soda online, but once you factor in shipping, it's not going to be that much less money. I thought making your own was supposed to be LESS expensive??

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#2 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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Oh wow. I too couldn't find washing soda just anywhere, but I did find one grocery store in town that sold it. I think $2.50 a box, maybe $3.

 

I don't use baking soda but borax. Also about $2.50 for a box bigger than the washing soda.

 

And then I use Ivory Pure soap, grated.

 

The mixture I use is:

1 3/4 cups borax

1 3/4 cups washing soda

1 bar Ivory soap

 

I usually make a batch of about 6x that amount at a time - however much I can get out of the ingredients I have on hand.

 

I think I spend about $15 on a batch that lasts me 6-9 months. I use 1 heaping tbsp per load. I actually don't know what commercial detergent costs, but I'm pretty confident that $15 for 6-9 months is a good deal.

 

Some people do use things like tea tree oil - fairly expensive but nice. If you wanted to use special things, maybe make 2 batches - one for everyday loads, and one if you felt the need to disinfect (diapers, family cloth, whatever).


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#3 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 02:17 PM
 
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Mine's simple and cheap.

 

Equal parts washing soda and borax.  A bar of fels naptha grated into it.

 

I've found everything at our little grocery store and seen most of the rest at the regular chain stores.  It comes to less than $5 for a huge bucket that lasts forever.

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#4 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 02:33 PM
 
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OP - Are you sure that receipe was per load? All of that? Yeah, I can understand the cost would add up quick.

 

My receipe:

 

1.5 cups Borax

1.5 cups washing soda

1 grated bar Fels Naptha (Zote or Irvoy an option too) (Use food processor to grate soap)

 

Sometimes I also add 1 cup of OxyClean

 

Mix it all up in a large bucket

 

When doing laundry, add one heaping tablespoon of mixed detergrent per load of laundry

 

Washing soda - Have you tried calling a hardware store? Ace hardware, TrueValue, possibly even Home Depot/ Lowe's? Here in Colorado I find it at Target and Kmart , some grocery stores carry it, but not all. It might be like $3 a box.

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#5 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 02:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm pretty sure I've seen borax in the grocery store. I'll get some.

 

laohaire, how is it that all the recipes I'm finding online call for something in the neighborhood of 1/2 cup to 1 cup of everything but you're using one tbsp? It begs the question, how much is enough and how much is superfluous?

 

EDIT: Denvergirlie - Yes, the directions said to fill the washer and add each ingredient in the amount given.

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#6 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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wow! I can see why it would end up being more expensive than convential detergent.  I was able to find washing soda at my local grocery store but you might have to look around im assuming the pool store would make it more expensive.  I paid rougly under $2 for a box.  Have you seen the liquid laundry soap recipe before?  It yields a huge 5 gal. bucket of it (which you then dilute 1:1 with water prior to washing) the duggars have a recipe online its basically  you can view the whole recipe at http://duggarfamily.com/recipes.html  I've 

 

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup - Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
½ Cup Borax 

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#7 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 02:42 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HerRoyallHighness View Post

I'm pretty sure I've seen borax in the grocery store. I'll get some.

 

laohaire, how is it that all the recipes I'm finding online call for something in the neighborhood of 1/2 cup to 1 cup of everything but you're using one tbsp? It begs the question, how much is enough and how much is superfluous?



I only use one tablespoon as well.

 

However, I think you're confusion is the 1 cup measurement is to make the detergent mix.

 

Once you've mixed up your detergent, only add one tablespoon per load

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#8 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Apparently we're posting at the same time. See above.

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#9 of 26 Old 11-30-2010, 04:54 PM
 
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Yeah, this!  I'm sure that recipe is supposed to be a batch, not per load.  I made my own once (ended up deciding it did not do the job well enough though)  and it called for a grated bar of pure soap, cup of borax, cup of washing soda and something else.  That was then heated on the stove till thickened, and then poured into a large bucket and diluted with hot water.  It made a TON and I used about... 1/2c of that 'gel' per load.   I'd consider searching up a difference recipe!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denvergirlie View Post

OP - Are you sure that receipe was per load? All of that? Yeah, I can understand the cost would add up quick.

  


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#10 of 26 Old 12-01-2010, 07:06 AM
 
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Ding, ding, ding, ding. We have found the answer to the OP's problem! That's a batch, not a load. Looks like all of us use a tablespoon for each load. Problem solved! Whoo, I bet your clothes were really salty, lol!


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#11 of 26 Old 12-02-2010, 09:47 AM
 
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Tipnut dot com has ten awesome laundry recipes. I tried the six I had the ingredients for and I am still using them 8 months later. I made small batches of each of those six recipes (~1 gallon of each of three liquids and ~3 cups of each of three powders) just to get a feel for how to make my own laundry soap and what the differences were in the recipes and our water (hard due mostly to calcium) and washer (energy-efficient top loader). The first liquid and the first powder are what worked best for our variables and will be the ones I make again when the rest of my "samples" are finished. I am rather pleased by how long these samples have lasted and the cost!

 

Borax can be found in many places for a low price. Washing soda was the trickiest item to find, but we finally found it at Ace Hardware and it was a reasonable price. I got fels naptha soap for only 50 cents each at a local discount store. Although it is more expensive, I plan to use castille bar soap next because I already have them and we haven't used them for anything else yet.

 

Different recipes will cost different amounts based on the raw ingredients. Liquid castille soap is pricey, as you know. If you want to lower the cost of your homemade laundry soap, find a different recipe and search out lower cost sources.


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#12 of 26 Old 12-02-2010, 09:56 AM
 
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Quote:
Yes, the directions said to fill the washer and add each ingredient in the amount given.

 

HRH, would you share the link to that recipe? 


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#13 of 26 Old 12-02-2010, 10:36 AM
 
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In terms of amount to use per load (regardless of recipe - or even whether you're using homemade vs store-bought), I've read that you should use enough to break the surface tension of the water. So, not even necessarily even to have bubbles/suds in the load. Obviously, when things aren't getting clean, you can up that.

 

When I've followed this rule, I can sometimes not even add soap, because there is residual soap left in the clothes. (They suds up even if I don't add detergent to the load.) This happens when DH does a load, and then something(s) he washed get into the dirty laundry when I do a load. Or when I toss in a garment of a visiting relative. Towels, especially, hold onto the detergent and often provide enough for the next load.


In times when I've used commercial washers, there is usually enough residual detergent in the washer to make the load suds up, so I don't use detergent in those circumstances, either.

 

Start with a tablespoon, and go from there!


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#14 of 26 Old 12-02-2010, 01:49 PM
 
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Oh, and if someone IS looking for liquid castille soap, Mountain Rose Herbs carries it in several sizes for good prices. I just saw 16 oz for $6 and they are an affiliate of MDC.


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#15 of 26 Old 12-02-2010, 05:41 PM
 
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Try another recipe.  :)  The recipe I use is similar to a pp:

 

1 bar Ivory soap, grated fine

1 cup borax

1 cup washing soda

 

I use 1-2 tablespoons per load, and all the ingredients are available at my local grocery store.

 

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#16 of 26 Old 12-03-2010, 02:57 PM
 
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Oh that's a hoot.  I followed a search link for washing soda to Ace Hardware's site.  The list of 'related items' to the left of the Arm and Hammer product page includes 20 Mule Team borax, Fels Naptha, and plastic pails with lids. Seriously, I'm inspired to try this. After we use up the giant box of Tide.


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#17 of 26 Old 12-04-2010, 06:16 PM
 
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I decided to do this too.  I'm in small town Missouri and at my grocery store there were Borax, washing soda and Fels Naptha right together.  I bought a good size box of the borax and soda and three bars of FN.  It was less than ten dollars total.  It will do about, if my math is correct, about 280 loads at a Tablespoon per load.

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#18 of 26 Old 12-04-2010, 09:44 PM
 
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So, for you guys with the simpler recipes and only 1 Tbsp of mix per load... how much do you save? Any of you ever figured it out? I buy the eco-friendly stuff, which frankly isn't THAT expensive (and is very convenient!), so you'll have to convince me that I'd save a ton by mixing my own. :p

 

Also, lest anyone think the OP has poor reading comprehension: I've come across recipes online for homemade washing powder that use heaps of ingredients, too - like a cup of mixture per load. I always thought "How do people afford this?"... plus, my washing machine has a little drawer to put the powder in, and it wouldn't FIT a whole cup! I'm glad to see there are versions with saner quantities out there!


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#19 of 26 Old 12-05-2010, 07:31 AM
 
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Based on my figures the homemade is about .09 cents per load.  Commercial about 27 cents per load.  We do about 15 or 17 loads here a week.  Using 15 loads average homemade is 1.35$ and commercial is 4.35$  per week.  And thats not including if you use fabric softener.  I also switched to vinegar  and added in a bit of lemon oil to it.  That cost I don't know off the top of my head but a huge jug of vinegar was like 2 something.

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#20 of 26 Old 12-05-2010, 07:58 AM
 
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The one I use works out to 2.5 cents per load. 

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#21 of 26 Old 12-05-2010, 08:19 AM
 
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I've come across a couple recipes that either aren't clear or just have the wrong information in them -- like quantity to use per load. Sounds like this one might have been one of them. If you like the castile soap and have a co-op near you, Frontier offers Dr. Bronner's at something like $30 per gallon instead of the $60+ it retails at. That could be a good cost savings. The key is getting in on a co-op, so you get wholesale price and free shipping to the organizer's house. You can also start your own wholesale account if you order $250 worth of groceries at a time. (They also carry bulk spices and dry goods, teas, make-up, Glad Rags, things like that.)

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#22 of 26 Old 12-05-2010, 07:05 PM
 
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I use a dry recipe because 1) it's easier to make and 2) I have a toddler, and I don't like having a bucket of any liquid around. It's a safety hazard. The recipe I use:

 

1 cup washing soda

1 cup borax

1 bar Fels Naptha soap

 

And I put 1 tablespoon in per load. Works just fine. 

 

OH - and here's a little aside: when making any cleaning product, it's counterproductive to add vinegar AND soap (or vinegar and baking soda) to any recipe. Vinegar is acidic, soap is basic. Unless you need the fizz power of the two chemically reacting to each other (like to clean out a drain) you're wasting ingredients. 


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#23 of 26 Old 12-06-2010, 12:11 PM
 
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I save my (empty) vinegar bottles for liquid laundry soap. No big buckets around here, either. I just don't have the space. I also reduced the recipes, so it was more manageable for my cooking pot. Liquid dissolves in cold water washes far better than the powder, in my experience. I use the powder recipes for hot/warm water washes (certain linens).


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#24 of 26 Old 12-09-2010, 11:33 AM
 
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Usually, I end up using more like 2 Tb with our water, and I use a water softener (1 cup added to the basic recipe).  Sometimes, though, when I can get laundry detergent on sale for a good price, I just buy it instead of make it.


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#25 of 26 Old 12-09-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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I use soapnuts... I buy the 2kg bag for 15$ and that lasts me for about 9 months to a year.... 

 

I don't know how much per load, but it is pretty cheap IMO... 


 
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#26 of 26 Old 12-10-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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The recipe I use is half cup washing soda, half cup baking soda, 2 ounces of grated soap--Fels Naphtha, Ivory, or Zote (or whatever scraps I have on hand), and 8 quarts of water.  Dissolve the soap, and then the sodas, in water over medium heat on the stove, add it with some more hot water to a bucket, and then add more cold water to make 8 quarts total; let it gel.  Suggested amount per load is one-half cup, but I often use half that. 

 

Each batch comes out to about sixty-four loads, so the OP really made me do a double take.  I make about two batches a year, so I'm only on my second box of washing soda (which I can buy cheaply at the grocery store).

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