It was a friend from church who jolted me to my senses by giving Jamey and I a couple gallons of her homemade laundry soap. We used it and it worked great. She also passed along her recipe and told us how cheap it was to make it. I finally realized the silliness of my ways and pledged to make my own batch when my store-bought detergent ran out.
Our local (non-chain) grocery store carries all three of the ingredients, but they were out of the bar laundry soap for over a month, so I had to order it on Amazon (with my trusty swagbucks). Last week, I set to work mixing it up even though my head felt like a bowling ball (I really hate colds. I'm all better now.). It was so easy and satisfying that it lightened my mood. And it took all of 20 minutes to whip up. Doing the math to determine the cost per load? Well, that almost made me sing.
Do you want to know how cheap it is? Well, it is my pleasure to tell you.
The Fels-Naptha bar cost $4.20 shipped from Amazon. The box of washing soda (55 ounces) cost $3.35. The box of borax (76 ounces) cost $4.45. For this recipe, you'll use the whole laundry bar, but only 1 cup of the washing soda and only 1/2 cup borax. When all the math is done (Jamey checked it for me), the 10 gallons of laundry soap cost $4.91. The amount you use for a front loading machine and a top loading machine differs slightly.
Drum roll, please...
If you have a top loading machine (like me), you will use 5/8 of a cup per load. If this is you, this 10 gallons of detergent will give you 256 loads of clean laundry at a cost of $4.91 which comes out to less than $0.02 per load.
If you have a front loading machine, you will use 1/4 cup per load. If this is you, this 10 gallons of detergent will give you 640 loads of clean laundry at a cost of $4.91 which comes out to less than $0.008 (yes, less than a cent) per load.
Go on, do a happy laundry dance. I'll wait.
Thank you, Jennifer, for giving me the jump start I needed (and free detergent)! :-)
Homemade Laundry Soap (recipe from Jennifer)
This recipe makes 5 gallons of concentrate which equals 10 gallons of ready-to-use laundry detergent.
1 five gallon bucket
a long handled spoon
an empty (used) laundry detergent container (or juice or vinegar container, clean)
hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap Bar
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Grate the laundry soap bar (I used my cheese grater) and add it to a medium sauce pot along with 4 cups of water. Heat over medium high heat while stirring occasionally until the soap has melted completely. While it's melting, fill your five gallon bucket half full with hot tap water. Once the bar soap has melted, add it to the bucket along with the baking soda and borax. Stir it well until everything has dissolved. Add hot tap water to fill the bucket and stir again. Cover tightly with the lid and let sit overnight to thicken. Stir well (it will gel and separate a bit). You just made concentrate.
When you're ready to use it, stir the detergent well, then fill your empty detergent container half full with the concentrate. Fill the rest of the container with water. Shake before each use. Use 1/4 cup per load for a front loading machine and 5/8 cup per load for a top loading machine.
For an update after 8 months of using this detergent and a great how-to video on how to make it, go here.