How To Make Powdered Laundry Detergent

Friday, June 08, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-

As some of you know, I'm making a big effort to live a more green, more sustainable, more cost-efficient, and (oh yeah) more time-consuming lifestyle. My husband prefers to say that I just simply have lost my mind. I guess that works too. Either way, in an attempt to live like it's 1899, I've decided to try my hand at making my own powdered laundry detergent.

Much like baking a cake from scratch, there is something undeniably satisfying in making your own laundry detergent. You aren't so much at the mercy of what the store offering you. By making your own laundry detergent, you are a bit more in control. You can customize it to be whatever you want it to be. Below is the recipe I used, which you can customize it by adding essential oils to make it your own.

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1 bar Fels Naptha soap (or any bar soap)

Use food processor to grind Fels Naptha soap as finely as you can.
Add washing soda & borax to food processor & mix until powdery.

To Use
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons to washing machine & wash as usual.

I bought my materials from Target & Walmart, which  is significantly cheaper than purchasing materials online. Here's the cost breakdown for an initial purchase that will make you 6 batches. (Assuming you're not planning on using these ingredients for anything else, you'll get 6 batches from your initial supplies.)

Borax = 76 oz = (9.5 cups) = $3.39
Washing Soda = 55 oz = (6.875 cups) = $3.24
Fels Naptha Soap - 6 bars = ($0.97 each x6) = $5.82
Total Cost = $12.45

I was mainly doing this to save loads of money. Wait, did I really just say that? Loads of money? *sigh* Guess I did... but, did it really save money? Well, not necessarily.

Cost Per Load Comparison
Homemade Detergent - 1 tablespoon = 192 loads = 0.06 per load
Homemade Detergent -2 tablespoons = 96 loads = 0.13 per load
Windfresh (Sam's Club Brand) - 200 loads - $13.98 = 0.07 per load
Purex (Giant Eagle) 32 loads - $2.49 sale (-$1.00 coupon) = $1.49 = 0.05 per load
Purex (Giant Eagle) 96 loads - $6.99 sale (-2.00 coupon) = $4.99 = 0.05 per load
Tide Ultra Powder (Walmart) 120 loads - $17.97 = 0.15 per load
Tide Sport (Target) 48 loads - $9.99 = 0.21 per load
Tandil (Aldis) 32 loads - $1.99 = 0.06 per load

Fewer Chemicals
A huge benefit of making my own laundry detergent is that it contains far fewer chemicals than the previous detergents I've used. I've done enough research to know that typical detergent is loaded (*snicker* Get it? Loaded?  Ok, last of the bad puns... I promise!) with bad-for-you chemicals. Making your own detergent is an easy way to know exactly what you're washing your clothes in. So, how does homemade detergent price up next to a few less-toxic detergents?

Cost Per Load Comparison (Natural Detergents)
Homemade Detergent - 1 tablespoon = 192 loads = 0.06 per load
Homemade Detergent -2 tablespoons = 96 loads = 0.13 per load
Nellie's Laundry Soda = 100 loads = $18.99 = 0.18 per load
Nellie's Laundry Soda = 1101 loads = $139.95 = 0.13 per load
Rockin' Green = 45-90 loads = $15.95 = 0.18-0.35 per load
Country Save = 320 loads - $57.14 = 0.18 per load
Charlie's Soap = 160 loads - $25.98 = 0.16 per load

The Verdict
I prefer to use 2 tablespoons of homemade detergent per load. Just one tablespoon doesn't feel like it would be enough to get my clothes clean... thought it might. Just a personal preference. And, using 2 tbsp per load really defeats the cost effectiveness of the homemade detergent. I'll certainly make enough to use the ingredients from my purchase, but I won't buy any more after that. I think I'm just going to buy the HUGE tub of Nelly's Laundry Soda in the future. It's natural, smells great, and has even helped Phoenix's skin rash clear up.

Have you ever made your own laundry detergent? What recipe did you use? Did you like it? Leave a comment. 
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