Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Ever So Pinned About...Homemade Laundry Detergent

So I love pinterest. And by love, I mean that when I first got an account I racked up nearly 1,000 pins in a week. It tapered off after that, but now after pinning I have what is nearing 4,500 pins...obsession? Probably not...but I do like it...a lot. That being said, majority of the things I pin, I place on a board and it is lost in a sea of weddings and dream homes and sweets and savorys and fashion and beaches get it, right? It's never utilized. But there are the lucky ones. The chosen pins. And this was one I have been itching to try...Homemade Laundry Detergent.

We make as many of our cleaning products from household goods and try to be chemical free. This not only makes us feel better about what we and our puppy (and someday babies) are breathing in, eating off of (or licking in Kiley's case,) and generally living in but it saves us a lot of money, contributes less waste to landfills and generally works better! This product is no exception!

I have had a couple of homemade laundry detergent recipes pinned for a long time, they may have even been my first pins, but had yet to try any of them. So when our giant "Eco-Friendly" Sams Club detergent was on it's last load, and after searching this very unenvironmentally friendly town for another similar product, Hari asked me if we could make our own. Does he not know me? Of course we can! So I did some research...looked at my pins, others pins, searched google and figured out what we were going to make. I found so many recipes! So I picked and chose and came up with the following:

What you need...
1   4lb 12oz box of Borax
1   3lb 7oz box of Super Washing Soda
2   2lb boxes of Pure Baking Soda (or a 4lb box if you're lucky enough to find one!)
3   bars of Fels Naptha Soap
1   1.3lb jar of OxiClean (optional for extra stain fighting)

We purchased all of our ingredients from Walmart (not usually our store of choice, but where we live it is the only option.) Everything was found in the laundry aisle.

1. Grate your bars of soap. I used a cheese grater. I was very nervous about using my cheese grater for soap - I was worried that it would break (the soap turned out to be very soft, so that was not a problem.) I was also worried about cleaning it after. As I grated the soap it was getting in every nook and cranny of the grater. Good news! It all rinsed off with cold water, then we ran it through the dish washer - good as new!

This was a bit of an arm workout - I have read that others used their food processors for a easy grating alternative.

2. Line a large bucket with a trash bag, I used a 3 gallon wash bucket that I had used to brine my turkey in last Thanksgiving. The larger the bucket the better, mine was a little tight!

3. Combine all your ingredients in the bucket and mix. We tried picking up the bag to shake it around - we immediately stopped this for fear of the bag exploding everywhere! I'm sure if you use a heavy duty bag you would be fine to shake away though. We used a large spoon to stir and occasionally picked the bag up (gently!) and rolled it on the counter to make sure the ingredients were mixing - this is important because we found a large deposit of grated soap still at the bottom. We also mixed by separating the mix into to containers and then pouring it back into the bucket (thank you, high school chemistry class!)

4. Take a minute to enjoy the smell - great, isn't it?! Your laundry room will smell great as long as this is in there, too! Luckily my laundry room is off my bathroom so this doubles as a bathroom freshener.

5. You're done! You can transfer the mix into a large container, leave it in the garbage bag or mixing bucket, or put in smaller containers to share! It makes about 2 gallons of soap. I found my container in the kitchen section of Walmart, it was only 1 gallon so I left the remainder in the garbage bag to transfer later as needed.

You will only need 1-2 tbsp of the mix for each load. I saved the OxiClean scoop which is about 2 tbsp and works perfectly!

Important Tips, Tricks and Information...
This is HE Washer safe, I use it in my top loading washer and it worked great. If you use a front loading washer, do not pour the mix in the tray that slides out, it will cause a mess! From what I have read (I have not used it in a front loading washer) you can just add it directly to the barrel.

For added fabric softening add 1/4 cup of vinegar - don't worry, your clothes will not smell! This will soften your clothes, brighten your whites and colors, and disinfect if needed.

Use at your own risk for sensitive skin, bloggers have raved that it has been fine for their own sensitive skin and even babies, but everyone is different!

Do not use for cloth baby diapers. The baking soda affects the absorbency of the fabric.

You can replace the Fels Naptha with Zote or Ivory soap.

The Cost
Borax - $3.38
Super Washing Soda - $3.24
Baking Soda - $1.24 x 2 = $2.48
Fels Naptha Soap - $0.97 x 3 = $2.91
OxiClean $3.86

Total Cost of Ingredients - $15.87 (before tax)

I also bought a 1 gallon glass container for a one time cost of $7.44

We only have just begun using it so we don't know how long it will last, but there are 512 tablespoons in 2 using 1-2 tablespoons per load that means it should last 256 - 512 loads. I like things extra clean, so I use 2 tablespoons per load and we usually do about 4 loads of laundry every two at that rate this should last us 29.5 months or 2 and a half years. Can that be right?!

I'm a numbers girl so let me break it down for you...
If you use 2 tablespoons per load that's 6 cents per load
If you use 1 tablespoon per load that's 3 cents per load
At our average # of loads this detergent will cost us 54 cents a month or $6.45 per year
For a family who does let's say an average of 5 loads per week (using 2 tbsp of detergent) it would last 11.8 months at $1.34 per month or $16.12 for the year! WOW!

Savings? Laundry detergents cost a variety of prices based on what you choose to buy and where you buy it. The last detergent we purchased was Ecos Plus Liquid Detergent from Sams Club. Based on their advertised price of $13.98 and 252 loads it should break down to lasting us as long as our homemade variety and costing only 5 cents a load - this however is not how it played out. Ecos lasted us about a year. We had to use more than recommended because it did not seem to get the clothes clean  - on top of that we also had to use OxiClean (an added cost). In addition to those costs, there is the cost of a membership at Sams Club and the environmental cost of the large plastic bottle that may end up in a landfill if not properly recycled (we do recycle  but you never know what happens once the truck picks it up!) None of this deterred us from buying Ecos as it is an environmentally friendly product and it was purchased in bulk so there was not as many plastic bottles being used. BUT - at $13.98 for a year we will save $7.53 with our new detergent (and there will not be the waste of the plastic container since we put ours in a reusable glass container.)

That being said, the cost savings for those who purchase detergent at grocery stores and big box stores will be even greater!

Now, does it play nice with the environment?
I honestly cannot report too much on this right now. Mostly because my research is limited. The two ingredients that I wonder about are the OxiClean and the Fels Naptha. I have read things about OxiClean that go both ways. I did read about the Fels Naptha on this blog, saying to use Zote instead because it is more environmentally friendly, but it did not go into to much detail. I will research this some more...but until then this is a far cheaper alternative to store bought detergents and there is less physical waste going to the landfill. That is already better than store bought!

Boy was that long, but I'll tell ya, it was packed full of information!

We hope you enjoy your new soap as much as we do! Cleans great, smells great, saves money, and limits waste! We're happy!

Kiley hung around the entire time we made this, she loved the smell!

-Katie and Hari

I tried very hard to find the various blogs I used to make my soap...but since I made it last weekend, I cannot remember what I took from where. I can give credit however to the one blog I had pinned that sent me on my quest: Being Creative to Keep My Sanity - Homemade Laundry Soap Thank you!

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