Friday, May 20, 2011

Frugal Friday: Homemade Laundry Detergent

Sadly, I can't find our camera at the moment and can't take or upload a picture ... so this will have to do for now.

For Christmas, A got me some Borax and washing soda ... haha. So, he helped me make my first batch of homemade laundry detergent earlier this week, which I am using for the first time today. I used the Duggar family recipe (3rd one down - liquid version) because I figured after 20 kids, it's gotta be tried and true.

I already mentioned that I got the Borax and washing soda from A - he got the Borax off of Amazon and the washing soda from Ace Hardware. I bought some Fels Naptha bar soap off of Amazon too - 2 bars with free Amazon Prime shipping came to $6ish. Since we both do Swagbucks - see the banner on the right - I used Amazon credits we already had and got it for free. We also have Amazon Mom - a program they gave to A's account for free - so we get free Amazon Prime shipping on qualifying products. Yay! Total price out of pocket was probably around $12, $18 with the soap. $18 for 10 gallons of detergent? I'll take it!

While I've thought about trying this for a while now, I haven't mainly because of my concerns that it would irritate mine/my children's skin. I'm still concerned about that, but since I now own the Borax and washing soda, I figured I should at least give it a go and see what happens. I'm first trying it on our towels and sheets ... then our whites because that's usually a small load and easy to pick out from our clean clothes if this does in fact end up irritating anyone's skin.

As a preface, I normally buy hypoallergenic laundry detergent and don't use any fabric softener. While I don't always have a reaction to fragrances, I do sometimes and I never know which soap/fragrance will be irritating to me or my children, mainly M. So, I just generally stay away. I tried looking for homemade hypoallergenic laundry detergents, but couldn't find anything. Regardless of the results, I will not be using this for C's clothes & linens until she is at least 2 just to play it safe. Since I've already been washing her clothes in baby detergent separately, this really isn't an inconvenience by any means.

Duggar Family Recipe

5 gallons, which you dilute by half when pouring into an empty detergent bottle, yielding a grand total of 10 GALLONS.

So far, some things I haven't particularly liked about this process:

1. Grating the soap hurts my hands. :) Yes, I'm a baby.

2. After letting it sit overnight, it seriously gels up. I've heard other people say "it gels a little", but I didn't realize that it would be one GINORMOUS chunk of jello-like substance in the middle of the 5-gallon bucket surrounded by an itty-bitty border of liquid. I was thinking more like the top would be gelatinous. I don't really know how I'm supposed to mix that up well ... so I didn't really.

3. The possibility that it will irritate our skin.

4. I have yet to figure out a good way to fill up our empty laundry detergent bottle halfway with this mixture.

So far, things I've liked:

1. It makes a TON at a time. We have a 5-gallon bucket that I pour into the detergent bottle, filling only halfway and then the rest with water. Therefore, I have 10 GALLONS of laundry detergent from approx. 15 minutes of work. Even though I typically do 5-6 loads of laundry per week, this will last me a LONG time. After filling a small bottle (32 loads), the amount in the bucket went down approximately 1 inch, if that.

2. It is relatively easy. In spite of hurting my hands a little from grating the bar of soap, mixing all of the ingredients together is a cinch.

3. The cost. I LOVE the fact that I have a huge box of Borax, washing soda and even another bar of Fels Naptha soap to grate for my next batch of homemade laundry detergent sometime next year. ;) j/k - I don't think it'll be THAT long ... but probably at least til winter? We'll see. I'll try to remember to update.

4 & 5. The time saved. While it is obviously easier to clip a coupon and look at a sale ad then make this huge bucket of stuff, the fact that you only have to do this one or two times a year - as opposed to every week or more - is a huge time saver. Time is actually more valuable than money to me and is therefore, a huge plus. (hence, 2 numbers :)

So far, the good definitely outweighs the bad, assuming it doesn't irritate our skin. That would obviously be the deal-breaker.

Okay I think my baby load is done in the washer ... Time to put in the whites!

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