Back to the Basics, Homemade Laundry Detergent

hen we took a look at our spending, and saw a budget was desperately needed, I had to make a budget for the grocery shopping too. One of the basic principle of saving money is to track your spending, for a month for two, so you can see where the money is going, and where you can cut back. In my house we were spending 5% of our monthly budget just on laundry. When that doesn’t really seem to be a lot, remember its the savings on the little things that will add up to big savings.

I spend less than a dollar to make detergent that will last me about six months. When I told my mother in law, she said no way! I started making my detergent last year. I made my first batch with my mom who was visiting us during Christmas and taking a well deserved break from the cold. The ingredients cost me $6. Six months later, in June, it was time to make more. Since I already had the main ingredients, my only out of pocket cost $1 for the bar of soap, which I only use half.

Here is the recipe, adjusted to a smaller size, based on the Duggar family (19 Kids and counting)

Printable Version
Homemade Laundry Soap:


You will need:
1 large bucket, capable of hold roughly 3 gallons. (Check freecycle or your local restaurants for free buckets)
1 box of Borax (approximately $3-4 at Walmart)
1 box of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda $3-4 (must be the washing soda, I found this at my local Ace Hardware store or online here )
1/2 bar of Fels Naptha Soap $0.99 at Publix or (you can use any soap like Castile’s, ivory, etc just not perfumed soap)
Empty laundry containers, or even empty plastic milk or juice containers, anything with a lid (check on freecycle if you cant find anything around the house)

Step 1. Grate or shred 1/2 bar of soap.
Step 2. Pour soap shavings in to a saucepan with 2 cups water. Heat on medium low, stirring slowly and occasionally till soap is completely dissolved and there are no more shavings visible.
Step 3. Fill your clean bucket with 1 1/2 gallons of hot tap water (20 cups).
Step 4. To the bucket add the melted soap/water mixture, 1/2 cup of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda, and 1/4 cup Borax.
Step 5. Mix slowly till completely dissolved.
Step 6. Add 1 1/2 gallons hot tap water (20 cups) and stir.
Step 7. Cover (with lid or just a towel) and let sit overnight. (I end up letting mine sit 24 hours but is probably not necessary)
Step 8. Stir and fill half of empty containers with detergent and fill the rest with water. Hint: I am precise and measure out one cup detergent and one cup water at a time in to the containers.

Shake gently before each use. Use 1 capful or 1/3 cup for regular loads, 1/2 to 3/4 cup for heavy soiled loads. Mixture will be gel like. This will yield about 120 loads depending on amount used for each load (not the same as the amount of loads listed on detergent bottles, read more about that here).

Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil like lavender or tea oil per 2 gallons if you like.

Time invested to make this… about 15 minutes. Total cost to make two batches (a 12 month supply for our family) $7-9 depending on store. Total I would have spent on laundry detergent in a year $72

Our savings……. $63 to $65!

Just a little math here:
One box of Borax contains about 9 cups and make 36 batches, cost per batch .08 to .11 cents, one box of washing soda contains about 6 cups and will make 12 batches, cost per batch .25 to .33 cents. One bar of soap .99 and will make two batches, cost per batch .50.

At this rate it looks like the only thing I will need to buy to make detergent for the next 6 YEARS is the bar soap!

So some more math (yeah I like math don’t laugh)

This calculation is based on one recipe batch lasting 6 months, or equivalent to 5 loads of laundry per week.
Total cost of detergent for six years… $13-15
(Borax $3, Washing Soda $4, and 6 bars of soap $6)

Six years of laundry would be 1,440 loads, making each load cost .009 cents!

Total I would have spent at current prices (inflation not calculated lol) …… $432!
Whoa! I am saving about $419!

See what I mean about all those little pennies adding up? 🙂

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