30 November 2012

Pin Busters! D-I-Y Laundry Soap

I saw this on Pinterest and was totally intrigued. I never really thought about making my own laundry soap, but this one sounded pretty nice. It's originally from How Does She?, which happens to be a blog that I follow. Here's a link to the original "recipe" and instructions.

A few things about laundry & me:
  1. I like it done "my way"
  2. Entire process must be as easy as possible because I do a lot of laundry
  3. Clothes must be clean, very clean
  4. Clothes must smell very, very good, but not perfume-y
I usually buy Tide and Gain in the large 150 oz. containers for around $18/each on sale at Target or Kroger. (Is anyone else shocked by the high prices on Amazon??) I use Tide for clothing and Gain for towels. The bottles say they're good for 96 loads, but that's only if you do medium-size loads. That doesn't happen often around here. I buy them around 5 times/year. I love the smell of original Gain & original Tide (and original Downy) - to me, that is the epitome of clean laundry - and they get the clothes clean.

If I can make my own laundry soap that cleans as well as Tide & Gain and smells as good, plus costs less - I'm all for it. But can it be done?

This is what I used to make my D-I-Y laundry soap. (I'm including links to amazon.com so you can see the products. I don't receive any compensation for you clicking on the links or buying from Amazon - I just wanted you to be able to see the actual products. If your local prices are similar to mine, you'll find it much cheaper to shop locally anyway.)

1 (4 lb. 12 oz.) box of Borax- at my store it's on the bottom shelf, under the fabric softeners, instead of with the laundry soap; it was much cheaper at my local store than on Amazon. (Update: I buy this at either my local Kroger or Walmart.)

1 (3 lb. 7 oz.) box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda- at my store, it's next to the Borax; again, much cheaper at my local store than on Amazon. (Update: I buy this at either my local Kroger or Walmart.)

1 (3 lb.) container of OxiClean- also in the detergent aisle. Amazon's price is comparable. (Update: I buy the generic version of this at either my local Kroger or Walmart.)

2 (14.1 oz.) bars of Zote Soap- my local store didn't have this, so I purchased on Amazon. According to the original instructions, you can also use Fels Naptha, which was in the detergent aisle with the laundry soap. (Update: I buy this at either my local Walmart for 97 cents/bar.)

1 (4 lb.) box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda - this was in the baking aisle of my local store. They didn't have 4 lb. boxes, so I bought two 2 lb. boxes. They were much cheaper locally than on amazon.com. (the link is a 1 lb. box - almost $5 for a 1 lb. box? I paid a little over $2 each for my 2 lb. boxes!!) (Update: I found 4 lb. boxes at my local Walmart.)

2 (13.2 oz.) bottles Gain Fireworks "Sweet Sizzle" In-wash Scent Booster - found with the laundry soap & fabric softener in my local store. This was the most expensive ingredient, and is entirely optional. You could just use one bottle or none at all. (Update: I watch for this to be on sale - they also have a great new scent - Moonlight Breeze! I also like Downy Unstoppables in the "Fresh" scent.)

The original instructions also called for 1-2 (55 oz) bottles of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener instead of the Gain Fireworks. I checked the scents of all the different crystal fabric softeners, but didn't like any of them, so I used the Gain Fireworks Scent booster for a nice scent, and just continue to add liquid fabric softener as needed to the washing machine. I don't like to use fabric softener on my towels, so keeping it separate is probably good for me - unless I divided the batches of D-I-Y laundry soap into with/without fabric softener. But first, I'd have to find a crystal version that I liked.

I used a large Rubbermaid container as my mixing container. Gus grated the two bars of Zote soap for me - he just used a kitchen hand grater and was finished in less than 5 minutes. I added half of everything and stirred with a slotted spoon until evenly mixed. Then I added the rest and mixed again. Super easy! Just don't stick your face too close while mixing, because there is a fine, powdery dust that gets kicked up.

How to use:
According to the directions, you only need to use 1-2 TBSP. per load of laundry, so I measured that out, checking it against the markings on the OxiClean scoop and also on the lid of the Gain Fireworks bottles. Luckily, the #1 line on the OxiClean scoop is 1 TBSP., and the #2 line is 2 TBSP. Same with the Gain lid - first line, 1 TBSP., second line 2 TBSP. So I opted to used all three of those containers to store some of the laundry soap for immediate use, and left the rest of it in the large Rubbermaid container.

I admit, I was worried about using a powdered laundry soap. I have always preferred liquids - mostly because I don't have to worry about whether or not they have dissolved completely. But this stuff dissolves almost instantly - no worries!

Cost analysis:  
Utilizing girl math Crunching the numbers, this is what I came up with (all numbers are approximate):
DIY version:
cost per average load - $.17
average yearly cost - $110

Store-bought version:
cost per average load - $.30
average yearly cost - $180 (assuming it's on sale)

Yearly D-I-Y savings: $70

Not bad! I can buy a lot of Starbucks for $70...or a really cute pair of shoes (or two)...

Verdict: definitely Pin-worthy.

  • easy to make - even grating the soap is easy
  • gets the clothes clean
  • clothes smell great
  • very low suds, so it could probably be used in HE machines
  • dissolves easily in any water temperature
  • cheaper than the good store-bought stuff

 So - are you going to give it a try??