Sunday, July 22, 2012

A new kind of cooking: Homemade Laundry Detergent

Morning everyone!!!    
Something new in mind today:  Homemade Laundry detergent.  Little did Elaine Adair know that her off-topic comment about homemade laundry detergent would take the world by storm in the QuiltvilleChat yahoo chat group.

Since she posted it a couple of weeks ago, it has been nagging me in the back of my mind:  I wanted to try it!  With a working (smelly, stinky) husband and three tomboy girls, we go through laundry soap like there's no tomorrow!  One lady wrote in that this works out to be about 1 cent per load;  Hmmm... I'm determined to see how accurate she was!  {{and poop!  I can't find the receipt, but I'm pretty close on the price estimates}}

Liquid/Gel Laundry Detergent
Recipe courtesy of Elaine Adair; via QuiltvilleChat yahoo group with my own comments in italics :)
Ingredients:  All "Made in the USA"
1/2 cup: Arm & Hammer All Natural Super Washing Soap (Princeton, New Jersey).   ~$3.50/box  
1/2 cup: 20 Mule team Borax  (Scottsdale, AZ).   ~$3.50/box
1/3 bar: Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar Soap (Scottsdale, AZ).  $0.98/bar
{{All the these ingredients were found in my local Walmart, badabing right next to each other in the laundry area}}
3 pints hot water
1 quart hot water
2-gallon bucket
4 quarts hot water 

Grate 1/3 Fels-Naptha bar.   Mix in a large saucepan with 3 pints hot water.  Heat to melt, but do not allow to boil.

Stir in Super Washing Soda and 20 Mule Team Borax.  Stir until thickened.  (Ummm......I stirred for a few minutes; it didn't seem to get any thicker than when it started out, so.....??)

Remove from heat.  Add 1-quart hot water to a 2-gallon bucket.
Add soap mixture and mix well.

Fill bucket with more hot water, leaving a few inches at the top.  Mix well.
{{HIND SIGHT:  I was fortunate enough to have a 2-gallon bucket handy.  Yeah Paul!  This is a loosey-goosey measurement statement;   I should have kept track of how many pints/quarts of water I was adding to the bucket for those people who don't have a 2-gallon bucket.  I measured to 3" from top of mine;  I'll have to measure a little better the next time I make a batch.}}
UPDATE:  My 2nd batch, I kept track!  Add 4-quarts of water to your bucket.

Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens.
Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

 We ALWAYS have milk jugs laying around;  we use them in gardening quite a lot!
Here are a few comments that have come up via the chat:
* Quite a few ladies say that their mixture never gels up.  Probably has to do with how much water gets added in the last step?
* There was some discussion on what to use to cook it and grate the soap.'s soap??
* Regarding the fragrance:  The fels-naptha bar has a pleasant light lemony-ish fragrance.  I still have the fragrance in my nose from making the batch moments ago;  I like it.
Okay... check it out.   And mind you---this is only QUICK math estimates on the fly!
Barely a DENT in the two boxes of dry ingredients.  
Guesstimating..... at LEAST 6 batches (maybe as many as 9?) per box!   
Since only 1/3 of the soap bar is needed....I'm imagining 2 bars (maybe 3?, so let's work with 3!)  3 bars at $0.98/bar....that's $3.00.  (I'm keeping amounts simple!)
Each box of dry soap:  ~$3.50each.  
So total:  $10.00 for 6 - 9 batches.  {{I'll be sure to keep track!}}
This produces roughly an equivalence to 1.75 gallons per batch (2-gallon pail not full)
therefore:  10-16 gallons total for $10.00.  {{Can you even get ONE gallon of Tide at that price?}}
Low end estimate:  $0.65 per gallon
High end estimate:  $1.00 per gallon
How many loads can go into one gallon?  
Well...there's 2 cups/pint;  2 pints/quart; 4 quarts/gallon.  So that's 16 cups/gallon, BUT the mixture only needs 1/2 cup per load.....
so.... 32 LOADS per gallon!  
Low end estimate: $0.02 per load
High end estimate: $0.03 per load

Hm.....seems like that lady who commented about 1 cent per load may not be exaggerating!

But even MORE impressive.........
I want to do a load of laundry !!!!!
Go figure.

How does it work???  Here's a test-case we documented:  Cassie's Test-Case shirt!


Angie said...

Please let us know how your dirtiest, stinkiest laundry comes out! My (very limited) experience with homemade laundry soap is that the lack of "brightners" added to commercial laundry soap leaves the clean laundry still looking dingy. I guess a lot depends on the mineral content of your water, too. Still, clean clothes are clean clothes!

Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

I made that once, didn't care for the liquid version of it. So I stuck with making the powder version of it. It did a pretty good job. But it does even better when you mix it all with TIDE, and you only use half as much per load, that did the trick. Been using it for years now. I have old kitty litter bucket (not one with a hinged lid, the lid comes off) that I store mine in on top of the washer. The humidity never clumps it up either. I also have tried different bars of soap which work good too, as long as you don't wash in cold water. I will be making me another batch here soon as I am finally to the bottom of the bucket.

Ellen said...

I also am interested in your results. I have been thinking about making my own detergent as well and have started collecting the ingredients, but my local Walmart and grocery stores have stopped carrying A&H washing soda. I have yet to try our local hardware stores. One of the problems I have read about using homemade is that the whites will gray. Some suggested solutions are to add oxyclean to the wash load and/or use vinegar as a rinse.

Andee said...

I too have been thinking about making this...can't wait to hear how it washes and it if it is worth it. Thanks for the visuals on how to make it!

Nanette said...

I didn't want to go thru the bother of the cooked version, I did the powder, version and it works great!! My dogs make a huge mess, my brother is a mechanic, it gets their stuff clean smelling good. I use 1 box borax, 4 pound box of baking soda, 4 pound box of Arm and Hammer Washing powder, 3 bars of fels naptha grated, mix it all together in a bucket, and use 1 to 2 Tablespoon per load. Stinky stuff gets vinegar in the rinse cup.

Razzle Dazzle Quilter said...

I have been making a similar mix for over a year now. Saves sooooo much money. We went around the house and rounded up all the bars of soap we have been gifted (we use body wash in the shower) figure we have enougn soap for 2 years laundry!!



Candace said...

Very interesting, been following the discussions on the forums. Thanks for the photos, looking forward to the feedback.