Saturday, November 12, 2011

Super Duper Savings

Let's talk laundry. If you're anything like me, your eyes just perked up.

I kinda enjoy doing laundry. The actual task of gathering clothes and putting them in the washer/dryer is satisfying. It's one thing I can get done quickly and cross off that never ending to-do list. I don't like putting the clothes away.. but that's a post for another day.

Justin & I accumulate a lot of laundry each week. I don't like to wear jeans or anything more than once. And I like to change kitchen washcloths/towels every other day. All this unnecessary information is just to paint a picture of several overflowing laundry tubs each week at the Rothenberger casa.

When I thought about that Tide I was pouring several times a week I regarded it as liquid gold. That blue liquid was costing us a lot of moolah. And I don't like spending moolah on things that aren't beautiful or shiny or comfy.

Seriously, I'll pinch a penny anyway I can. So I made my own detergent. And you know what? I love it. It's soft on our clothes, good for the environment, and the best part is . . . it costs next to nothing. Seriously nothing and laundry detergent are standing in line together.

If you want to save money or smell good or get down with Mother Nature, here's what to do.

Step 1: Buy Borax, washing soda & a bar of soap. 
* I got all of these at the grocery store. I lost my receipt, but I remember it cost between $6.50 - $7.00 for these items.

Step 2: Grate the bar of soap into cute little crumbles.
* I used my regular ole' cheese grater and it took me all of 2 minutes to grate the whole bar. Way easier than grating a block of cheese I'll tell you that much.

Step 3: Boil 4 cups on water on high heat. Then add the grated bar of soap and stir until it's all disolved. 

*My water turned yellow-ish because that was the color of the soap. 

Step 4: Pour 3 gallons of water in to a 5-gallon bucket.

Step 5: Add your soapy water to the bucket. Add 1 cup of the washing soda and 1/2 cup of the borax to the bucket.

Step 6: Stir really well. 

Step 7: Cover it with a lid and let it sit for 24 hours. Unless you're impatient like me and check it out first thing in the morning.

This is what my detergent looked like the next day.

I would compare the consistency to a watery jello. I tried to illustrate the texture by grabbing a gelatinous blob with my wooden spoon.

It's all good though. Just use 1 cup of this liquid goodness in each load and do a happy dance about all the money you'll be saving.

It cost $7 for all the ingredients up front - but I still have enough borax and washing soda to make at least 12 more bucketfuls. I'd have to buy some more bars of soap though and they cost $1 each.  So I could make a minimum of 65 gallons of detergent for $19!! That's 0.29 cents a gallon!

My homemade detergent just karate kicked Tide to the curb.

ps: when I was researching how to make detergent one source said that you could add a couple drops of scented oil to make your detergent pleasing to your smelly sense. My nose just prefers my clothes to smell like clothes, not wildflowers or fresh rain, so I didn't add anything.

pps: do you have any secrets to save a quick buck? any awesome at-home recipes you'd like to share? Let me know! I'd love to hear all about them!


  1. Ok, question: is this stuff ok to use on high efficiency washers? I've heard of a lot of people making their own detergent and LOVING it...I just don't want to ruin my washing machine that freaks me out with its "HE ONLY!" stickers. Any thoughts?

  2. I love doing laundry too! And what an awesome way to save money!! But I'll admit I'm scared... have you tried the homemade dryer sheets yet? I think I'd be more likely to try those than detergent...

  3. Great instructions! And I love your karate kick reference. Had me giggling.

    Super fun blog!

    Tanya from

  4. This is a great recipe! I have been doing this for several years now but I grate the soap then add the borax and washing soda mix it well and use it as a powder. I only have to use two tablespoons per load and I love it! I am new to your blog and am so glad that I found it!

  5. @ Katie (Paisley Print Shoes)
    Yes, you can use this detergent with high efficiency washers. My mom has one so I looked in to it for her. This detergent is not super sudsy, so it's very compatible with HE washers. They're actually friends :) If you give it a try, I would love to know what you think!

  6. @ Ashley - I haven't tried the homemade dryer sheets yet. I actually don't use dryer sheets because i've never found ones that are unscented before. But I never thought of making them myself . . I must research this asap!! Thanks for the idea! :)

  7. @ Alicia - That sounds like a good idea too! I'm always looking for things I can do myself to save money and be be sweeter to the Earth so I'll be checking out your blog for different ideas! :)

  8. Hum....I think I need to try doing this. Thank you so much for the instructions. =)
    I may have to look into the dryer sheets also (they are kinda expensive!)

  9. Awesome idea! I've thought about doing this, except making a dry mixture. I should definitely do it, even if I'm the only person in the house that ever uses it. It would save me some money anyway!

    Thanks for sharing!

  10. I've thought of making my own detergent, but haven't made the jump. I have to agree that sorting and doing the laundry is far superior to folding it and putting it away! :)

  11. We are on a make-it-yourself kick here recently, and I think this is next on the list now!! We keep borax in the house, so need washing soda and the fells naptha!

    I did make my own shampoo, its been about a month I guess. The verdict? I'm not thrilled with it over-all. But then, there may be adjustments that I need to make and just haven't found it yet. I am using a baking soda/distilled water mixture and conditioning with apple cider vinegar. My hair feels full all the time now(I have FLAT hair) but then it also feels greasy sometimes, which is gross. Jury is still out on if I will continue!

  12. @ wherelovemeetslife - I like to use a lot of natural products - but I tried natural shampoo one time and it made my hair feel like straw. It was so rough and scratchy feeling. I've never thought of making my own shampoo - I wonder how my hair would react to it. You'll have to let me know if you find any great at-home recipes! :)

  13. Cool idea! I really want to try this one day before we get an HE washing machine. My mom "regifted" all of her non-HE products to me so I am going to use them all up first. Have you found a DIY fabric softener that works?

  14. @ seventhandw - I don't have any fabric softener recipes because i don't use fabric softener. i'm not a big fan of using products with scents to do laundry. I should look into making my own unscented kind though! :)