After looking for ways to cut my grocery bill down, I decided to give the homemade laundry soaps a try. There were several that popped up on my searches, some information was given about each, but few places told me much about their comparison. How do they work with the newer efficient washers versus the top loaders? What about cleaning power? How long does a batch last?
Disclaimers- Let’s get them out of the way.
- First, at the beginning of my adventure into detergent making, the washing machine used was a front loading high efficiency machine. The three year old machine crapped out the electronic board that made all the components work. So the front HE machine was replaced with a standard top loader, cheaper than paying to replace the electronic board. Therefore, all but the last recipe reviewed was used in both types.
- The water quality used in this review can be considered soft. As most hard water folks know, powders do not dissolve easily in hard water, this review gives an honest account of the liquid recipe. I did not increase the recipe to make a larger batch.
- My figures for the cost are based on America’s Heartland prices summer of 2012.
- Most are similar, a bar of soap, some powders, grating involved, though there were some recipes that suggested microwaving the soap. Not having success with rewarming biscuits in a microwave, I chose not try using the microwave. The last recipe added additional ingredients not used in the previous two.
- The wash loads were mostly full in cold, warm and hot. During the summer months laundry was dried hanging on the line. The loads washed with Purex Crystals added to the dry batches of both monthly and yearly recipes were much softer coming off the line. Tossing the towels into the dryer with no heat for 5 minutes softened any stiffness.
- A liquid recipe from http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/laundrysoap.htm This recipe made up in a 5 gallon bucket.
- First powder soap recipe http://www.diynatural.com/homemade-laundry-detergent-soap/ This was the initial recipe. It made up for the approximate 64oz, lasting a family of 3 with a sports playing teen a month. Note, based on the amounts of this recipe I only used 1/3 bar of soap and had the same results as with the first recipe.
- Year’s worth of Powder Laundry Soap A version of this for two months using the previous recipe ratios to check on and compare before mixing full version. Liked the softness of the Crystals and found the OxyClean addition to be beneficial overall.
The Basic Ingredients – Heartland of America Prices Summer 2012. First per batch is for the monthly batch. Second estimate is for the yearly.
- Fels Naptha soap, or another type such as Zote, Castile, or laundry bar soap – For these recipes Fels Naptha chosen, the hands down choice among family members for scent. AVERAGE $1.49 a bar. Monthly 1/3 bar batch cost $0.49 Yearly cost $2.98. Most time consuming ingredient, hand grating took approximately 20 minutes per bar.
- Borax for a 4lb 2 oz box cost 3.99. Monthly cost $0.21 Yearly Cost $3.99
- OxyClean depending on container size ran from $7.52 to $14.98 the average being $5.79 for 3LBS needed in the yearly recipes.
- Arm and Hammer Washing Baking soda used in the yearly powder. The price range was from $2.12 for a 4 lb box to and $6.68 for a 13 lb bag (which if you bake and/or use in baking or as a non scratch cleaning agent for bathtubs, pots, pans, etc works out to $2.09 for the yearly recipe
- Purex Crystals – fabric softener agent in yearly mixture. Price ranges per bottle run from $5.50 to $4.48. Two used in yearly mix average to $4.99 a bottle, or $9.98 for a year’s batch.
Cost Per Recipe
- Liquid monthly supply averaged to $0.98 for 64 loads or a price of $0.02 a load. Most time consuming recipe. 15 minutes to hand grate plus estimate on average of 30 minutes for cooking. Total time approximately 45 minutes a batch. (Though this is simple enough, can be done while multitasking.)
- Averaged to $1.49 for 64 loads or $0.03 a load
- Averaged to $28.12 for a year’s worth of approximately 768 loads of laundry. $0.04 a load.
Depending on personal preference of product scents/allergies, these products and respective recipes work as well as currently marketed products at truly fractions of the cost. It is best advised for a couple of months to try various recipes and ratios that work for your water and laundry needs. During the last six months usage of additional additives such as pretreatments was no more than normal for sports related garments (football, baseball).
The liquid worked well in the HE machines, and please note that many of the manufacturers of ingredients now have notation on their product that they are suitable for use in HE washing machines. No noticeable difference between either machine, only the size of load each could handle made any difference.
Water softness/hardness is another area of concern. Hard water requires a softener (borax is considered and ration may need adjustment). Salt (sodium chloride), baking soda, and Calgon might be other ingredients that would assist in softening the water. Various sources site an additive of 1/2 cup of borax with regular detergent per load increases detergent efficiency.
Best results will be found based on water quality, size of loads and dirtiness of garments, tweaking of recipes, and time available to shop and mix the batches should be considered. The yearly by far is the best deal, though recommendation to water quality and time available to shop and mix will vary.