Frugal Friday: Homemade Laundry Detergent!

A long while back we had a Relief Society Birthday Dinner Enrichment Night in my ward, and we had a great demonstration given to us by one of the women on how to make homemade laundry detergent. It had never even crossed my mind before that it was even an option to make my own detergent, but hello! Laundry did exist before Tide came into creation. So this was an eye opener. And when they broke the total costs down, I believe this came out in the vicinity of costing about 18 cents per gallon. Uh, okay. Double eye opener. I was sold. I knew this was something I definitely had to give a try. But to help take out some of the drudgery of everyday life, I’ve decided to turn it into a play. And so, I present to you…

The Dirty Laundry Dilemma
An American Play by Debbie
Cast of Characters:

Borax (1/2 cup)
Washing Soda (1 cup)
Fels Naptha Bar Soap (1 bar)
and Water (lots)
*These items can be found in the laundry aisle of a store. We use Fels Naptha soap (as opposed to just any ol’ bar of soap) for it’s laundry cleaning, stain removing capabilities. It can be hard to find, but can be found at Kroger (and possibly other stores) or can be purchased online. Also, don’t mistake Washing Soda for Baking Soda. They are NOT the same! I also found the Washing Soda at Kroger.
(Bonus Home Storage Tip: you will have a lot of Borax and Washing Soda left over, so just buy several bars of of the Fels Naptha soap, store the extras away somewhere, and there you’ve got about a 3-year supply of laundry detergent always available for when you need it! πŸ˜‰ Woohoo!)

Supporting Cast:

Grater
Pot
5 Gallon Bucket with Lid
Large Bowl
Empty Container (i.e. milk jug), thoroughly cleaned (to keep your detergent in)
Spoon (not pictured)
and a Funnel (also not pictured)
The Setting:
The year was 2010, and times were tough. The economy had plummeted and everyone seemed to be feeling the effects one way or another. Money was often tight, but hopes were high. And through these dark times came a ray of light: another way to save money! With the cost of store detergent so high, homemade laundry detergent seemed to be the answer to everyone’s dirty laundry problems…
The Plot:
Grate your bar of Fels Naptha soap. It will look like cheddar cheese, so make sure you don’t mistakenly through it on a salad or something! Also, it helps if you’ve been nice to your hubby that day (or some other strong person) so that they can do this step for you! πŸ™‚

Place 4 cups hot water in your pot and add the soap. Cook over medium heat until all the soap dissolves, stirring constantly.
Fill a 5-Gallon bucket half full with hot water.
Add your soap mixture…
And your Borax and Washing Soda. Stir until dissolved.
Fill your bucket to the top with more hot water.
Stir and seal. Let it cool over night.
(The next morning… or day… or even week if you want!)…
When you open your lid you will find that your soap has somewhat gelled. (Note: my soapy level looks low in this picture because I had already done 2 batches by the time I took the picture)
You can give it a little stir if you’d like to help even out the gelled parts with the liquid.
Using some sort of scooping device (I used a large pyrex measuring cup), scoop and poor approximately 1/2 a gallon of cooled soap mixture into your large mixing bowl.
Add equal amounts of water to your bowl. (A gallon milk jug will take about 6 cups soap mixture and 6 cups water to fill).
And now for the fun… Dig in! Using your hands (or if you have an aversion to slimy things, a whisk would work… or your kids!) mix together your soap mixture and water. And yes… it’s slimy. πŸ™‚
Use a funnel to pour your mixture into your empty, clean storage container (I used an old laundry detergent container).
And walah! Your very own homemade laundry detergent! Wasn’t that fun??! And with a little Mod Podge and scrapbook paper, you can even add a little spice and personality to your laundry woes.
Use about 1/2 to 1 cup detergent for each load (depending on how dirty the clothes are). Oh, and you may want to give your detergent a little shake before you pour it in to help mix up the gelled/water parts again.
(Please Note: If you don’t want to make 10 gallons of detergent right now :), you can leave the rest of the detergent ‘concentrate’ as is in the 5 gallon bucket. Just keep the lid on it, set it aside somewhere and then follow the last couple steps again when you run out of the detergent you just made and need more.)
The Reviews:
So does this actually work? It does!
Some have said that their whites are actually whiter when they use this detergent. For me, I have noticed that my clothes are softer! And who doesn’t love snugly soft clothes?! πŸ™‚ The only downside (if you can call it that) is that although the detergent has a nice fresh scent in the bottle, that scent doesn’t carry over to your clothes… they come out unscented. So if you like your clothes to come out smelling a certain way, you can try adding some essential oils to your detergent to get a scent you enjoy or using a good smelling fabric softener should help as well. (Updated note: Also, I’ve noticed other recipes on the net that do not call for the final diluting phase. So if you are feeling like your clothes are not getting as clean as you’d like, just skip the last step where you add extra water and leave it in it’s concentrated form (or maybe only slightly more diluted) and try that out.)
Also, I know there were questions about using this with an HE washer. It works just fine. I have an HE front load washer and I just use about 1/2 cup detergent, add it like I always do to the machine, and I have had no problems.Thank you for supporting The Frugal Theater. Now go turn on your favorite music and dance around the kitchen while you make a soapy mess! πŸ™‚

THE END

Note: This post was stolen borrowed from my ward’s blog, but since I’m the one who wrote it for that blog, I don’t feel too bad about stealing borrowing it back. πŸ˜‰

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