Saturday, May 2, 2009

Laundry for Pennies...

I have decided recently that being thrifty isn't something we should 'do' just when we HAVE to. You can read that however you want....but, for this pay check to paycheck enlisted military means that sometimes the month lasts longer than the paycheck. If'n ya catch my drift. So, I have been trying to find painless ways to save a bit here and there. My initial worry was that I'd be sacrificing quality to save money but, I've found that, with a little added work, just isn't the case. I like to TRY and keep our home as 'natural' an environment as I can. I don't always succeed but, I figure if I do several little things it has to make a difference right? I have found in this quest to save money that if I forgo some of the 'deals' and commit to a little work I can have high quality product at a VERY small price.

My FIRST find is Home Made Laundry Soap. You can find 'recipes' online. The one I used came from a fellow Coast Guard Spouse. I felt confident trying it after a lot of glowing recommendations from other spouses. It is super easy to make and you may just briefly lose consciousness when you see how much it will cost you...or rather SAVE you. =) You make a 5 gallon bucket of CONCENTRATE at once. Once you have the concentrate made you use old (rinsed out) laundry soap containers (reusing=recycling's older and wiser brother...yay). For each gallon of finished laundry soap you use 1/2 gallon of your concentrate, so your 5 gallon bucket will yield TEN gallons of laundry detergent!!! That equates into roughly 180 loads for a traditional machine or 640 loads for an HE or Front Loader! Wow...right?!?

Now picture all those big laundry soap bottles...pesky right? I hate those. Even the 2x or HE soap bottles are a pain. No MORE! =)

Now, would you like to guess how much this batch of laundry soap will cost you to make? Wait for it....right around $2.10. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself. I did the math (with a calculator and everything). Of course your prices may vary given different stores, container sizes and cost of living factors etc. but this will give you a rough idea.

1 Fells Naptha Soap Bar=$1.29 (makes 1 batch)
1 box of Arm and Hammer WASHING Soda=$3.29 (makes 6 1/2 batches)
1 box Borax Laundry Booster=$5.50 (makes 19 batches)

+ .29

That's about a PENNY for each load for traditional washers and about 5 loads for a PENNY and a half in an HE or Front Loader Machine! SERIOUSLY. *gasp* Right?!?

The only other things you need are:

1--5 gal. bucket With a lid. Any clean one will do. I bought one at Fred Meyer for $4.
Hot water
1--Grater for soap ( I used the slicer/shredder/Grater attachment for my KitchenAid this is quick and easy but, any grater will do.)
stove top
pan for melting down grated soap and water

This takes a minimal amount of time and will save you a good chunk of money (and help our planet a bit too).

Sold yet?

Here are the instructions:

1 bar of soap, grated (I used Fels-Naptha Brand)
1 cup washing soda (Arm & Hammer Brand)
1/2 cup Borax
4 cups HOT water

Grate the soap, and put into a pan on the stove with the 4 cups of HOT water and cook over med low heat until the soap is melted.

Pour into a 5 gallon bucket, add the Borax and Washing Soda and stir well.

Add HOT water (we used the bath tub) to the top of the bucket to equal 5 gallons of liquid.

Let sit over night. This mixture will gel. Stir well the next morning. Take an old clean laundry detergent container and add 1 quart of laundry detergent concentrate and 1 quart of HOT water, screw on the top and shake well. You now have 1/2 gallon of homemade liquid laundry detergent. Shake before each use. You can add essential oils at this point if you so desire. I picked up some Tea Tree Oil to help with 'disinfecting' and the yummy smell.

Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads) Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)


FoxFamilyFive said...

Hayley: So I just read your laundry soap recipe, and I wanna try it! My only questions: can you add some kind of scent? And how long does it last? I mean since you make so much at one time. :)
6 minutes ago · Comment · Like · See Wall-to-Wall

Angela Pewitt Fox at 8:33am May 2
As far as I've read it does not go bad. You could always cut the recipe in half too....just get a smaller bucket or only fill it halfway in that last step.

You can add scents. You just buy essential oils and add a couple drops per 1/2 gallon. It's easiest to add it when you're bottling it. So, add the concentrate...add the water...add the oil and shake.

I learned, the hard way, last night with the dish soap (I'll post that one later) to add a drop or two at a time. I got pure tea tree oil and totally overkilled on it. I had to make a double batch of dish soap just to chill the scent out a bit. *LOL* So, yeah, it's way easier to add a little more than it is to take some out. *snort*

Anonymous said...

I am sooo doing this! Where did you get the supplies? Does Fred's carry all of it? Or would I do better at Target?

Kathy said...

I love it!

Just an aside, when we moved to our new house (almost 10 years ago, it's not so new now) I bought a new washer/dryer.

I bought a Sears Kenmore front load washer, it was about $200 more than a comparable top loader but I wanted to try.

10 years later, it's still hanging in there and has never been repaired. Although it cost more initially, typically your local gov't gives rebates and that made up about half the price difference.

It uses MUCH less water and we made back more than the cost of the washer in water and energy costs in the first 18 months.

But the reason I thought of it with your post is that I don't buy front loader soap, I buy Tide at Costco and I use 1/8 of the measuring cup per load, a front loader uses way less soap and water. I only buy laundry soap a couple of times a year.

So if I were to make my own soap, I'd be set. The main expense at that point would be water (which is quite expensive in San Diego). I love the idea of adding tea tree oil.

Everyone's hurting these days. My hubby has been out of work 6 weeks or so now so we're cutting corners everywhere we can.

You go, mama Fox.

FoxFamilyFive said...

Riss-Our Target didn't carry any of the 'ingredients'. Our Freddy's had them all. =) Good luck. =)

Kathy-We just bought Sears Kenmore HE machines as well. I LOVE them. They did tell us that they recommend always using HE soaps only. SO I was a little worried to try this. Several of the Coast Guard wives who've tried this have been using it in HE machines with no problems. It's a low sudsing formula so it's technically better for ANY machine. I ran a load through this morning with the recommended amount and didn't have any suds issues. =) I am a super happy girl. =)

I'll post the Dishwasher recipe in a minute here. It's super easy.

Diane said...

I want to do this. I'm gonna ask Papa if he has a 5 gallon bucket. If not, I'll go get one. I have a front loader LG. Got it 2 years ago and love it!

FoxFamilyFive said...

Gramma-It's really easy and saves a lot of money. If you prefer you can use a smaller bucket and cut the recipe in half.

Also, in retrospect, It IS really helpful to have a funnel for loading up your jug. *wink*

Anonymous said...

I have my first load of laundry going, I too have a front loader and am looking forward to seeing how this works. I didn't add any fragrance.

Yes ... I agree ... a funnel helps, I used a soup ladle and kept the whole bucket on the kitchen floor and used my fingers to get the gel into the bottle ... not bad though considering how much money I've saved!

Check out my Not Me! Monday post today!!

Kelly said...

Any reason why you use "Fells Naptha" Soap? I've never heard of it. Can I buy it anywhere? We don't have a "Fred Meyer" here. Can I use Ivory or something else?