Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Making It! Home Made Laundry Edition

It started on Pinterest. I happened upon a recipe for home-made laundry detergent. And for some strange reason, I was fascinated. I am, pretty much always, a slacker. I am not the type of person who makes my own laundry detergent.

That being said, I am cheap. Incredibly cheap and laundry detergent is not cheap. At all. So that was the initial appeal.

Then I read about how lots of people see an improvement in their eczema when they use home made laundry detergent. Since both of my rugrats suffer to varying extents, that was another appeal.

So, right after Christmas, I made two gallons of laundry detergent.

And now, I'm hooked. I've just made two batches, so I'm still perfecting my recipe, but here's how it stands now.

Jessi's Laundry Detergent
(Based on Jillee's Laundry Detergent)

1 bar Fels Naptha
1 bar Yardley Lavender soap
1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
Approx. 2 gallons of water

Start by grating your soap bars. I do mine in the food processor. See above re. slacker. I use both Fels Naptha and Yardley because I think Fels Naptha does a better job, but I like the smell of the Yardley. Empty soap shavings into a large pot and add 6-8 cups of water. Place over medium high heat and stir intermittently until soap is completely dissolved. Add washing soda and Borax, stir until combined. Remove from heat and allow to cool partially. Pour evenly into two one-gallon containers. I'm using orange juice bottles, but someday I'm going to buy something a little sturdier. See above re. cheap. Add water to within one inch of lid and shake. Allow to cool completely and preferably to sit overnight. Use approx. 1/2 cup per medium to large load of laundry.

So, then there I was, quite enamored of my detergent and I saw a recipe for Fabric Softener. I am using Heidi's version exactly (well, except for scent) so I won't bore you with the recipe. I love, love, love the smell - especially that I can have such a wide array of smells. I am washing everything in coconut this summer, I swear. But I also love the feel of the clothes when they come out. No static and towels are just amazing with the fluffy.

And then, this weekend, I was prepping for Lilybugs and I was separating out everything that needed to be ironed and I thought, wouldn't it be great if I could afford enough Wrinkle Release spray for this? And then, lo and behold, Jillee thought the same thing. Sort of. I tried to pull this up on my phone at home and ended up with a recipe that didn't call for the vinegar.

I used a spray bottle (the kind you get in the cleaning aisle). Mine is marked with ratios (1/1, 2/1, 3/1, etc.) I wanted a 4/1 ratio, so I filled the bottle to the 4/1 line with my homemade fabric softener and then topped with water. I have to tell you that I think this stuff is better than what I've bought in the store in the past. And smells like heaven. And is way quicker than ironing.

Cheapie McCheaperson and Her Cheaptastics:
Laundry detergent comparisons:
$16.75 - 100 oz. bottle of popular name brand "free and clear" type laundry detergent
=$0.17 per ounce

$1.59 - 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap
$1.00 - 1 bar of Yardley lavender soap
$6.99 - 55 oz. box of Washing Soda (used about 1/8 box)
$9.49 - 76 oz. box of Borax (used about 1/10 box)
= $4.41 for 2 gallons of detergent
= $0.02 per ounce

Fabric Softener comparisons:
$7.49 - 34 oz. bottle of popular name brand fabric softener
=$0.22 per ounce
$2.99 - 34 oz. bottle of bottom shelf super generic fabric softener I've been using
=$0.09 per ounce

$1.99 - 22.5 oz. bottle of Suave conditioner (I used about 1/2)
$5.29 - 128 oz. bottle of white vinegar (I used about 1/5)
=$2.05 - 88 oz. of home made fabric softener
=$0.02 per ounce

Wrinkle Releaser comparisons:
$5.75 - 17 oz. bottle of popular name brand wrinkle releaser
=$0.34 per ounce

$0.04 - 1/4 cup homemade wrinkle releaser - dilute to 1 1/4 cup
=$0.004 per ounce - practically free

A Couple of Things:

  • Diluting fabric softener apparently makes the cost increase by 12 cents an ounce - according to the major name brand I used for my comparisons
  • My fabric softener is so much better than the cheap stuff I've been using, I'd be okay if the cost breakdown showed mine was slightly more
  • Since even my skin (which is made of steel, people) is better since I started using this stuff, I can't imagine that it's not way better for those with skin conditions. Brynna's eczema has gotten better and Maren's has disappeared. 
  • There's a million tutorials, recipes and everything else on-line so even if mine don't sound so great, there's something out there you'll love.
  • I spend about one hour every two months making laundry supplies. Understand that I've only been doing this for three months, so that may alter slightly, but my point is it isn't as time consuming as you might think, because you make so much at a time.
  • We are getting ripped, people.
Have you ever made your own cleaning products. What were your results?


Ady said...

I made my own powder detergent, but it didn't have a smell and it didn't really impress me. So I will have to try yours. What kind of soap is that?? Can I buy that at Wal Mart?

Jessi said...

Fels Naptha is a bar laundry soap. I had never heard of such a thing until this. I got mine in the laundry aisle of Kroger. Someone told me they have it at Wal-Mart, but I haven't looked, so I can't confirm this.

Yardley is a heavily scented lavender bar soap. You can find it with the body soap at Kroger or Wal-Mart or at the Dollar Tree, like me. I think that using essential oils would probably be a better route for the scent, but I don't like fooling with essential oils.

I will disclose that the Yardley doesn't really scent the clothes, just the laundry room. The clothes, when you don't use fabric softener just come out smelling like nothing. Which, is probably what clean actually smells like.

Suze said...

We bought a bunch of Fels Naptha to put in kits to send to Haiti after the earthquake.
I think I should try this. I just dropped 7 bucks on a small bottle of detergent, and I do laundry just about every day! I can't wait until I can hang stuff outside to dry, too.
We do a lot of cleaning with vinegar or borax. It's cheap and environmentally friendly. Vinegar's kind of stinky, though, which you have to get used to.

Jessi said...

I'm slowly replacing all my cleaning products with home-made because of the cost (mainly) and the environment. I still have certain things that I love, and I'll keep buying those, but it just seems more and more like all these fancy things don't work as well as things I can whip up at home for practically nothing.

Sage said...

Ohhh... I want to do this!! Time to research. I'll have to buy a food processor... I guess I could grate it or something, but... let's face it, I'm pretty much a easiest-way-is-pragmatic-cause-then-I'll-do-it girl. And at the cost, and the rate I do laundry, it'd pay for that decently quickly, and plus I'd have a food processor.

It did break my heart a little that it doesn't make things smell like lavender. I love lavender like whoah. (Only thing better? Hot bleached cotton. Mmmmm.) I, however, will play around with essential oils, so... playtime it is. (Which reminds me, I need to remake some shower oil.)

Hrm... and instead of plastic gallons, I'm thinking maybe old namebrand laundry detergent containers. ... ohhhh... maybe a cooler with a spigot. Bigger batches then too.

My current laundry detergent method is buy a crapton around now (tax season), enough to last through the year, so I don't have to think about it.

Luckily, noone but me cares at all what any anything is used.

*laughs* Now there's too much in my mind. :) I'll shove something else aside for a bit.

... and captha, diseddu and ditherys... I am not positive those are words... but okay. Certainly not normal words.


Jessi said...

Sage - I love my food processor and use it way more than I ever thought I would, so there's that. But also, there's apparently a way to do it by microwaving the soap to melt it instead of grating.

Sage said...

Hrm... yeah, not combining cooking in the microwave into the scenerio. I burn myself even more with that than I do with the stove (but maaaybe not more than the oven).

OTOH... I could do a party of it, and do a bunch of batches at a time... ...and have kidlets do the grating, on box graters. I'm thinking my cousins might love this too, so group effort FTW.

Hmm... also have to remember to make sure it's okay in HE, and septics. I imagine it's both/can't imagine how it -wouldn't- be.

Jessi said...

I don't have an HE, but I've heard that it's fine and it's certainly low on the sudsing... As for septics, I can't imagine it would be bad, since it has way fewer chemicals than the commercial stuff. Good luck!