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Homemade laundry soap - a REAL savings!

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I started making my own laundry soap last year to save money, and out of boredom (and curiosity) I calculated how much I saved. So I thought maybe someone else on here who is money concious (as we all should be) would find this interesting and/or of use.

I have made 5 batches of detergent in the past year (I do a lot of laundry). Each batch makes 2 gallons. Each load only takes 1/2 cup (or a bit more if the laundry is DIRTY). So a batch will roughly last 60 loads. The soap doesn't suds up so you have to train yourself to ignore the lack of suds. Each batch took 15 minutes to prepare plus an overnight "setting" period, then funneling the finished product into the gallon jugs.

The ingredients cost me this to buy:
Fells Naptha bar $1.25 (good for 3 batches, .42 cents per batch)
Borax $2.00 (good for 5 batches, costs $.40 per batch)
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda $2.50 (good for 10 batches, costs $.25 per batch)

Total cost for a batch is $1.07 and last for 60 loads. The last time I was at the market a bottle of Tide about that many loads costs $8.99. So I figure I saved almost $80 just this year with a little bit of effort. Also knowing that my laundry had no chemicals and was MUCH more environmentally friendly made me feel "green" for the day :)

try it out, you might be glad you did!

I found my soap recipie here:

http://www.thefamilyhomestead dot com/laundrysoap.htm

thank you, what an excellent idea.... Where did you find the Fells Naptha bar? and does it work well on dirty clothes, kids like to play outside alot, so they find the most interesting things to mess up their clothes...

Sub: #1 posted on Mon, 07/28/2008 - 16:05


I garden a LOT, we have dogs, chickens, goats, and my husband and I hunt all sorts of animals so we often have all sorts of dirt, blood, and other unmentionables on our clothes. I was TOTALLY skeptical when people said "it is just as good as my detergent." It isn't. It is BETTER in my opinion! I still use bleach on my whites and fabric softener (simply because I like the smell :) ), but I know that the detergent I make is just as good or better than the storebought, expensive soap.

I forgot to mention ... my per unit cost for energy has gone up due to rate hikes, but my power bill has dropped about 22%. This is how I did it ...

Since the early spring I have been washing all my laundry in cold rather than warm or hot, I have not noticed any lack of cleanliness in our clothes.

I started to hang most of my clothes out to dry on a washing line, and when it is raining or windy outside, I'll hang items on hangers in the house. I used to hang outside "sometimes" because the dryer was more convenient. But often the dried loads would sit in the dryer for days, so I figured why not pretend the dryer was broken and see if I could get into the habbit of drying with free solar power? I do sometimes "finish them up" in the dryer for 5 or 10 minutes to fluff out the wrinkles and knock off any lint or dog hair that gets left on in the wash, but normally I don't need to.

I believe that the combination of all the above stuff has helped make my power bill (in the heat of the summer, AC running quite often) an average of $25 less than in the early spring when the weather was good and I wasn't running the heater or the AC. My old bills were about $100, now they are in the low $70 range.

Sub: #2 posted on Tue, 07/29/2008 - 06:31

smo65d11 smo65d11

(Posts: 1468 | Credits: )

Oh I forgot... you can get Fells Naptha at any grocery store, if they don't stock it, they CAN get it, and usually within a few days. They have distributors that are more than happy to accomodate special orders at no additional charge. Talk to your store manager, they WANT to keep their customers happy in todays climate so don't feel bashful or like you are inconveniencing someone. They get paid to help YOU.

When getting the other 2 ingredients, make sure what you are buying is what you are SUPPOSED to be getting:

The Arm & Hammer Washing Soda is NOT Baking soda or their regular laundry soap. It is called Washing Soda and is clearly labeled on the outside. Same thing as the Fells Naptha ... they can special order it.

The 20 Mule Team Borax is sometimes just called "Borax". It is NOT like Comet Cleanser, it is the plain old original Borax. Same as the other 2 items, the can special order it.

You can also get a soap called "Octagon" but I personally haven't seen it at any of my local stores. I have seen both FN and Octagon available online, but the shipping makes the bar cost nearly $10.

I do know some people use soap scraps instead of Fells Naptha or Octagon, but I personally feel the $1 or so for the bar of FN that will last you for 3 batches is cheap enough not to be using bath and body soap scraps to wash your clothes. But for those whose money is really really tight, then go for it.

Sub: #3 posted on Tue, 07/29/2008 - 06:43

smo65d11 smo65d11

(Posts: 1468 | Credits: )

What a great idea!!! And that $80 extra bucks can be used for a lot of things. We are all going to have to try that.

Sub: #4 posted on Tue, 07/29/2008 - 06:51

kscornell kscornell
(Posts: 4409 | Credits: )

that does sound like a great idea!

Sub: #5 posted on Tue, 07/29/2008 - 07:20

bea2ls bea2ls
(Posts: 3840 | Credits: )

Thanks for the info! I'll have to give it a try! I do a LOT of laundry also and probably spend $4 to $5 per week!

Sub: #6 posted on Sat, 08/02/2008 - 17:00

alias1958 alias1958

(Posts: 1230 | Credits: )

I have found a great way to save money but it might be illegal. The next time it rains I will go outside and take a shower with my clothes on to safe money....what da ya think?

Sub: #7 posted on Sat, 08/02/2008 - 17:46

Lukeskywalker Lukeskywalker

(Posts: 1909 | Credits: )

Good idea, Luke. You can take a shower and wash your clothes at the same time, without increasing your water or power bills! :lol: :lol:

Sub: #8 posted on Sat, 08/02/2008 - 17:51

alias1958 alias1958

(Posts: 1230 | Credits: )

:P :lol:

Sub: #9 posted on Sun, 08/03/2008 - 10:05

Lukeskywalker Lukeskywalker

(Posts: 1909 | Credits: )

I did see the recipe above, but I have found 2 receipes, and each of them use anywhere from 3/4 to 1 whole bar of natural soap such as Fels Naptha Laundry Soap bar or Ivory. Each of the recipes called for 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax, 1/2 cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. You can either use a Cheese Grater on the soap bar, or a knife to make thin strips of the soap, and then mix all the ingredients in a food processor. The recipe that I have only requires that you use 1 tablespoon per regular load. For heavier stains use a little more. This formula is also safe in front loading washers since it is low sudsing. You might want to use a little less than a tablespoon on front loading machines, but most likely 1 tablespoon will be fine. Also, if you want to add smell to the detergent, you might want to add approximately 10 drops of Esential Oils (EO) such as Orange, Lavender or one of your choice. Hope this also helps. I know that everyone says you should be able to find the 20 Mule Team Borax and the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda for about 2.50 a box, but I have not been able to find it for that price. I am finding it for almost 5.00. If anyone knows specifically where to find it for 2.50 a box I sure would appreciate them passing the info on to us.

Sub: #10 posted on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 14:41


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