One of my jobs as a stay at home mom is finding ways to either save our family money or make a little extra from home. In the past I have shopped sales, used coupons and grocery apps, bought things we needed from yard sales, and thrift shops. I have even gone paperless in my kitchen and had several profitable yard sales myself. My latest money saving endeavor is making my own DIY laundry detergent.
Before deciding on which DIY laundry detergent I was going to try I did quite a bit of research reading lots of posts and comments, and looking at lots of laundry detergent recipes including liquid, gel and powdered before deciding on the right one for our family. The detergent I made had to fit a few criteria. First it had to be inexpensive to make. It had to be HE (high efficiency) washer friendly, this one is. It has to work for sensitive skin, the word on the street is that it does. Finally it has to get the job done the first time, after all I have boys!
This DIY laundry detergent has met all of my requirements.
Cost: This laundry detergent recipe makes enough to last an entire year and then some. It cleans roughly 542 loads of laundry at $0.o4 per load. When I compared that to the ALL brand detergent (100 loads for $10.77 or $0.20/ load) that I typically purchase for my family I am saving $0.16 per load. To put it another way that is a savings of $86.72! While I was paying $108.60 for the same number of loads using my ALL brand detergent it only cost me $24.43 to make my own plus $4.50 for a bucket from Home Depot to store it in totaling $28.93.
Need a moment to recover? Okay, I’ll wait…….
Be HE washer friendly: Most people with newer washing machines including both front and top loaders have high efficiency machines. Since these washers use less water they require special soap that produce less suds than your typical detergent. The great thing about this DIY laundry detergent is that it is very low suds, and perfect for HE washing machines. There has been some debate over if this detergent can go in the detergent dispenser cup of the washer. Many people say yes it’s fine that there are no problems, but if you are hesitant it can also go directly into the drum. Just put it in before you put your laundry in to be washed.
Work for sensitive skin. While everyone has a different definition of “sensitive skin” I can tell you that so far we have no complaints. I am also very sensitive to fragrances but this homemade laundry detergent hasn’t given me any problems at all.
Get the job done. The typical load of laundry only needs 1 TBSP to get clean, if my boys are a little more dirty than usual I’ll throw in a second tablespoon and I have yet to have any problems getting things clean. That’s not to say that things wont ever stain, but regular detergent doesn’t always get the stains out either. Personally I think it does as good as if not better than the store bought detergent, but that’s just me.
There was also some question on if this was a safe homemade detergent to use if you have a septic tank. While I live in town and don’t have to worry about it, I thought those of you who have them may appreciate knowing that it is safe to use. My research taught me that this particular DIY laundry detergent is safe because it contains no phosphates or fillers like montmorillonite clay that most of your commercial powder laundry detergents have. As it is also non-toxic it will not hurt the the vital septic bacteria like other toxic detergents and antibacterial soap will.
I think I have probably made you wait long enough so here is a list of things you will need to make…
The Best Budget Friendly DIY Laundry Detergent.
1 (4 lb 12 oz) Box of Borax– Located in the detergent aisle. My cost was $3.97.
1 (3 lb 7 oz) Box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda– Located in the detergent aisle. My cost was $3.97.
1 (3 lb) Container of OxyClean– Located in the detergent aisle. My cost was $5.97.
2 (14.1 oz) Bars of Zote Soap– Located in the detergent aisle, my store only carried the white but you could do pink instead. You could also use Fels Naptha if you prefer. My total cost for two bars $1.94.
1 (4 lb) Box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda– Located in the detergent aisle, but you may also find it in the cooking aisle. If you can’t find the four pound box you could also get two 2 lb boxes. My cost was $2.24.
1 (13 oz) Bottle of Downy UnStoppable Fabric Scent Enhancer or you could use Purex Crystals. I prefer a lighter scent but you could easily add two bottles and boost the smell. My cost was $6.97.
Additional supplies needed include: 2 kitchen trash bags, a 5 gallon bucket with a lid from Home Depot ($4.50), a tablespoon measuring spoon, and a container for you homemade laundry detergent. I’m using one I bought from Walmart a while back, it wasn’t being used and holds about half of the detergent.
How To Make Your Own Homemade Laundry Detergent
The first step in the process to make your own laundry detergent is to break down your Zote soap into a powdery form or very small flakes of soap. This will be the most time consuming part of the entire process, it took me about half an hour to take my bars of soap and turn it into a powder. From my research I found that there are three ways you can do this first step.
1. Use the fine side of a hand held grater and grate your soap into thin slivers over a large bowl.
2. You can grate your soap again into thin slivers then run it through your food processor to break it down even more. This extra step will turn it into more of a powder or very small balls of soap. Adding a little of your powdered ingredient (baking soda, or washing soda, etc) will help keep the soap from sticking to the blades.
3. Cut up your Zote soap into chunks and microwave it. You’ll want to put only half a bar in at a time and microwave it for about 1 or 2 minutes. The soap will expand a lot, it’s kind of fun to watch. If you still have soap that hasn’t “foamed” then go ahead run it for another 30-60 seconds. When you take it out of the microwave be careful as the plate and any soap that didn’t foam will be hot! Some of my soap foamed up right away and some of it had to be run through a couple of times. When it comes out of the microwave it will be dry and somewhat crumbly. You can either break it up with your hands or use your food processor to turn it into a powder.
*Note: You will want to do this on a warm day as microwaving the soap will stink. I had to open a window in my kitchen, it smelled like citronella for a few hours after getting it wall done.
Once you have powdered your Zote soap the only thing left to do is mix everything together, it will take only a couple of minutes and is super easy to complete! The “hard part” is over.
You will need to take your two kitchen trash bags and put one inside of the other. Dump all of the ingredients into the inside bag, tie it shut and close the second one around it. Then simply mix the ingredients inside the bag by turning it over and smooching it around for a couple of minutes. Once you have thoroughly mixed your DIY laundry detergent remove the outer bag, cut the corner off of the inside bag and pour the detergent into the bucket. And there you have it, your years worth of homemade powdered laundry detergent!
Have you ever made your own DIY laundry detergent? How did it go? If not, do you think you might be tempted to give mine a try?
Don’t miss out on any of my great tips to help your family
save money, have frugal fun and enjoy life!
Check out Pinterest for more frugally fantastic ideas.
Android users download the Two Kids And A Budget app