Monday, February 15, 2010

Laundry 5 Cents per Load

I've been doing 1 load of laundry a day, and it's getting very close to the point where I'll only have one load to do on any given day. I'm very pleased with this consistency and with the order it's allowing me to introduce to our home.

I used the last of my laundry detergent recipe today, so I had to whip up some more. I have never been successful with the liquid soap recipes I've found online, so a couple of month ago, I switched over to the (mostly) powdered version. I'm very happy with it.

Laundry detergent recipes pretty well are ubiquitous on the web, and I won't pretend that I'm original in my concoction. All the same, I am proud of what I've learned and figure I ought to show it off.

I found a recipe I like (no idea where) and made a very slight adjustment to make it easier to remember. I changed the ratio of ingredients to be 1:1:1. It was pretty close to that before, and this gets my clothes fully clean.

1 cup grated Fels Naptha (a bar soap available in the laundry aisle at the grocery; look on the top shelf)
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
1 cup Borax Washing Powder.

Fels Naptha cost around $1 a bar; I think I pay $1.19. A 55-oz box of Arm & Hammer runs $1.89, and a 76-oz box of Borax is $2.89. Going by the weight of a cup of each of the powders and calculating the cost per ounce of the powders, I was able to calculate that the powder portion of my detergent costs me about $0.53/batch. I usually can get about three batches out of two FN bars, so I figure more or less 1.5 cups per bar.

Total cost: $1.39 for about a month's worth of detergent. I use one heaping table spoon full (that is, not a small cutlery spoon, one of the larger ones) per load, and our clothes have been cleaner and have smelled better since we switched to this. At one load per day, that puts our laundry detergent cost at about $0.05 per load.


  1. How difficult is the Fels Naptha to grate? I've tried to make dish soap out of bars of castile soap before and the grating was a royal PAIN.

    I currently use liquid castile soap and equal parts of borax and washing soda as my detergent, but the liquid soap is expensive. I have a bar of Fels Naptha that I use for stain removal. If it's easy to grate I may try to whip up some detergent this afternoon.

  2. All products I use...good stuff I tell ya. I do not think moms know how cheap the truly good stuff is! I will add to your laundry list... Vinegar can be added to the washer in the fabric softener dispenser. It is a natural water softener! Don't worry--vinegar has no smell once it dries. Great for the hair too for the same reason.

  3. NatureGirl: I've been thinking of trying vinegar in the wash - I think I'll throw some in today.

    Scottish Twins: I have one of those handheld rotary graters like they use at Olive Garden for the parmesan, and that's what I use to grate the FN. I find it's very easy and very quick; it takes about 10 minutes to put together a batch from gathering ingredients to putting away dishes. I don't even want to think about how it would be to grate it by hand, though!

  4. Hello Ms. Lilly! I just got to your blog via Scottish Twins's sidebar, and when I saw your face, did a doubletake. Wait a minute, I know that face! I jumped on my blog to check, and there you are in my "cheering section" (followers). And then I see mine is one of the blogs listed on YOUR sidebar! First, thanks! Second, I feel completely daft, because I usually check out my "cheerleaders" to see if they are bloggers too (I mean, it's not like there are that many of you!) and I must have missed yours! So it is great to get here in a roundabout way and see who you are!

    And then, thanks for the laundry post. I have decided I am going as much plastic free as possible, and so will not be replacing my laundry detergent with another big plastic tub when it runs out, and need to find an alternative. So thank you for the helpful tips!

  5. Thanks Blessed! I'm glad you found me via someone else, too, as it's kind of a relief that I'm not just spouting into thin air!

    Good luck on the laundry detergent. I had to experiment a little to find the concentration I like best.