Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Homemade Washing Detergent (The Frugal Solution)

Every other week, our family grocery shops together to make it go quicker - Jason with a cart, Joy with a cart, and me with a cart. We divide our list and set out to conquer. Because we’ve figured out which stores we can get the best deals on certain products, we usually hit four different stores. Those stops include quick (one person run in) trips to get a couple of items from Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar, followed by everyone grabbing a cart for Save-a-Lot, and then Walmart. We’ve been thinking of getting a Sam’s membership since we are closer to one when we take Joy to Chinese language classes. We figure we could probably pull it off while she is in class.

Have you noticed how prices just keep inching up? To say we keep trying to squeeze and figure out ways to save is an understatement. Since Jason has been going with me grocery shopping for quite a few months now, he has also seen first-hand just what I meant and why I kept going over my budget.  Things that I once paid 99 cents for are now up to $1.29 or sometimes more! Just for an example, flour tortillas used to be 99 cents in Save-a-Lot and now they are up to $1.29. Now that doesn’t sound like much alone, but when you figure lots of items inching up that much, it accounts for a pretty good hike on the grocery bill.

So, thanks to Pinterest (love it), I’ve found meals that don’t necessarily require lots of ingredients and which also make enough to last for two meals for our family. That’s one way that has helped. Another way is to make our own household products. Not having to purchase those helps tremendously.

Since I’ve noticed that quite a few families seem to be having the same problem and are pinching pennies and trying to find ways to be frugal, I would like to share more on this in the future and am eager to learn more if you have found more ways to be frugal. But for today, I just wanted to share the homemade washing detergent that Jason and I made. I know many of you have seen it, especially on Pinterest. It’s the Duggar’s recipe.  Click here to see the pin link.

The ingredients to make it are really inexpensive. The cost of all three of these cost around $7.50 (threw away my receipt so can’t remember the exact cost). I still have plenty of the Borax and Washing Soda left over for more batches, or to use to make dishwashing detergent (which I plan to do). You’ll only need to buy the Fels-Naptha soap next time. Actually I think if you do the math, each load is barely over .01 a load!

Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
Fels-Naptha Soap Bar

You will also need a 5 gallon bucket with a lid (can be purchased at Lowes if you don’t have one for around $4.00).

And you’ll need 10 (one gallon) milk jugs or other similar containers (such as old detergent bottles).  So start saving, or begging from your family and friends.  :)   Of course, make sure you rinse and clean them out.

You may also add Essential Oil Drops to add fragrance.  (We didn't do this because that was important to us and we were trying to save $).

And since I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients with the Fels-Naptha soap in its packaging, here’s an image to show you what the packaging looks like so you may find it easier at the grocery store. We purchased ours for 97 cents at Walmart on the laundry aisle. Actually all of the ingredients can be found on the laundry aisle at Walmart.

We also had to wait long enough to save enough milk containers, but as soon as we did, we mixed up a batch. And we’ve been using it now for nearly two weeks. The way we have it figured, this will last us until approximately September or October (8 or 9 months). So for the cost of what we pay for one container of detergent from Save-a-Lot which is a little less than $3.00 (remember we already had it figured out where we could get the best bought deal for our money so those who use the big name brands will have even more savings), we will now have enough to last 8 or 9 months.

First of all, grate your soap.

Of course, it’s nice to have cute helpers.  :)

Then you put it in a pot with 4 cups of hot water. Stir it continuously until there are no clumps or lumps left. It took about 10 minutes or so to get it to this point.

It is done when there are no lumps, flakes, or clumps and looks a little foamy.

Fill a 5 gallon bucket with half full of hot water. We did ours in the bathtub.

Let me insert here that Jason was sure he could do this in our 5 gallon "left over chlorine bucket" from our pool, although I had reservations. Let’s just say, I was right because it was impossible to stir it enough without a bigger opening.

Pour in the soap mixture from the stove. Add 1 cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and ½ cup of Borax. Stir.

We ended up digging up a regular 5 gallon bucket with a lid out of my dad’s garage next door.  :)  I was right.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.  :)

Jason had a paint stirrer for his drill which worked beautifully. Of course, it could have been mixed by hand. But since Jason was helping and men love power tools, he opted for the power tool. Just make sure that whatever you stir with reaches to the bottom of the bucket.

Fill the rest of the bucket with water until it is full. Stir again.

Cover and let it sit overnight.

When you open it the next day, the consistency will be a little more gel-like and thicker. Stir again.

Use a funnel to fill your chosen container half full of the mixture. Then fill it up the rest of the way (the other ½) with water. Shake.

Then if you’re like me, it will bug you to see the generic jugs sitting there, so you can make your own labels to spruce them up or you can print some here (found on Pinterest). Raffia always makes for better packaging too.

Use 5/8 cup for top loading machine. Use ¼ cup for a front loading (HE) machine. I just used the top of one of my old detergent jugs to measure mine out per load.

Works beautifully!

**Note** - Jason decided next time, he wanted to have two 5 gallon buckets available. After the solution has sat overnight and thickened, and you have stirred again, then pour half that solution into the empty 5 gallon bucket. Then fill each of those buckets with 2 1/2 gallons of hot water (basically filling each one up). Stir/mix both of those buckets again. Then the solution is ready to just fill the containers straight from the buckets without having to make sure you have the right amount of concentrate/water mixture in each container (because it is pre-mixed). It also prevents having to do alot of mixing/shaking of each individual container.


My next post will have the answers to the questions that were asked of me on the "Open to Questions" post last week! Thanks for the few questions I received! Actually I had all the answers written out (as I do most of my posts) and have misplaced it! So it's back to square one. Oh well.... :)

Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day! :)


Heather's Stitches said...

Very helpful post this morning since I ran out of detergent and it seems that the stores don't have a great sale this week.

I clip every coupon and use them, run store to store and shop at Aldi for most of our groceries but even milk has gone up in Aldi, was about 1.99 and today it's 2.99, still cheaper than milk here at our Wal-Mart which is almost 4.00 a gallon.

What do you use for your Dishwasher? I'm on the hunt for cheaper products.

Michelle said...

amazing! I just may have to try this!

LynnMarie said...

I use the exact same things you do but prepare it differently. I grate the soap and then add in the full box of each other two but don't cook anything. It all goes into a huge old Cat litter container and gets mixed up in there. When I use it, I add the water first, then the powder, then the clothes. Works just as well and I don't have cook anything. I'm lazy that way! I know a lot of people who cook and mix it and have to shake it to use it but the powder, I just tpss it in an let is swish around a bit first.

Marti said...

Good idea, when I get low on wash detergent, I am going to try this. Thanks.

Sandi @ The Primitive Skate said...

Hello Tammy-
I've seen this done by a couple of bloggers that I follow. And I've also seen it on Pinterest. I also heard alot of negative feedback that it don't get the clothes clean and they don't smell fresh.
So I am curious to hear your opinion on the ruslts after you wash your clothes. I thought about doing this myself a few times (because I am on a tight budget also) but the negative feedback had stopped me. If it works and does the job, I am willing to try it out. Thanks for the step by step tutorial and the extra info.

Carmen C. said...

Love your spruced up bottles:D I recently made some of this too but I used the pink ZOTE soap instead so mine is pink:)seems to work well and saves a ton of $$$$!

Farm Girl said...

This is one of those things I keep meaning to do. I don't know why I never did soap for the washing machine. I have done body soap and I know I want to try dish washer soap.
I guess I just need to stop procrastinating and do it. Very nice tutorial.

Shelley said...

I keep mine in the power form which is easier for me to make...so far I love it and don't think I will ever use anything different...I am looking for many more ways to save money as well,as help the environment. Blessings and a belated Happy Birthday to your sweet young lady :)

Shelley said...

I meant Powder :) But,it is pretty powerful..lol

Wendi said...

I have made the powdered version but never the liquid. When I run out of detergent I might have to try this.

I agree about the rising prices. I keep coming how with fewer groceries and more money spent.

Keep the cost saving post coming!

momstheword said...

I'd really like to know how this works for you, too. I have all the ingredients but what stops me is the fact that there's no optical brightners to keep your whites from getting dingy.

I suppose you would use Mrs. Smith's bluing or something like that, but I'm not even sure how that would work.

So please do an update post sometime and let us know if you're happy with it!

Linda said...

I have been using it for 5 months now and i love it. I add 2/3 cup of clorox 2 to mine though. My hubby gets grease and oil on his work clothes and they even come clean.

Walking on Sunshine... said...

This was a great post! Hubby and I have been wanting to try this and I told him when I was out of the detergent I have in the garage. I have around 8 containers. I usually buy them on sale for around $1.29 each. BUT I know the way you showed is so much better. Going to start saving those containers and not throw them away!!! I hope you do the dishwashing detergent soon. We've been reading about that one and looking at different ones but can't seem to find one that people are happy with using. And that is so expensive!!! Great post as usual Tammy!!!

Tonya said...

It is so funny that you posted this on your blog, because I made laundry detergent this past weekend using a recipe from Pinterest. I made the powdered kind, but would like to make the gel in the future. My mom and Tobye think I've lost my mind, but like you, I was tired of paying more for detergent every time I went to the store.It may be my imagination, but I think my clothes are softer and brighter! I plan to make dishwasher detergent next.

Rhonda said...

I just posted about this the other day. I made the same thing with a similar recipe. I used it for wash all day today. Seems to work ok. I am looking at recipes for dish and dishwasher soaps as well. I made mine for .03 a load. Can't beat that.

Joy ~ Doodlebug ~ said...


That was so neat--and cheap! It smells pretty good too.

Now we're almost one of "those" homeschooling families. We just need a mini-van. :D Lol!

Love you! 8!

God bless you!
Joy :D

Hollie said...

Oh my gosh....thank you for sharing this!!!! I'm going to try it also as soon as I get all the products gathered together! Please continue to share any $ saving thoughts or ideas you have!!!!

I'm like you about those generic containers! Thank you for the ideas & the label printing link!!!

renee said...

I have been doing this for about three years now. I found the recipe in Mary Janes Farm.
For those of you that haven't tried it, it does do the job. Many of the leading brands have SO many chemicals in them, they actually do more damage to your clothes than you realize!
Soap doesn't need to "suds" to get them clean. I haven't tried the liquid version,mine is the powdered version.
For the gal that asked about whitening power, well, there's a version for the Oxiclean as well. I found this from another friend of mine, and I haven't tried it~ yet.
I will share it here for those that are interested.
You can actually go to www.thefamilyhomestead.com to find this and so much more!
I use white distilled vinegar to rinse our clothing as well, and it works! Your clothes DON'T smell like vinegar.
I still do use the fabric softener, however, I only use it on the bedding and that is all. I use the Kirkland brand which is from Costco, and cheaper than Downy. Tammy~ you all should join Sams or Costco. You will save money! I will say, that you don't save necessarily on the things like toilet paper, I get much better prices from the other stores like my work~ Mills Fleet Farm, or even Walmart. I don't like giving kudos to Walmart, I have just never been a big fan.
Do you try and shop in cycles? Like I will stock up on certain items at a time. Does this make sense? I just stocked up on Manwich~ which was 10 for 10, and now I am looking to stock up on spaghetti sauce. I look for the best deals, and use my coupons, there are sites that offer free coupons, I am trying to sign up for more of those. I just pick a few items that we use, and when they go on sale, I will buy as many as I can. It DOES help. Things like eggs, milk and read, you will save more at Sams or Costco. I cannot shop for some generic brands because of Brandons' Autism, he is VERY picky. God will supply your needs~ remember that. I love to save money! LOL! I make it like a game! I am not an extreme couponer, but I generally save between 25 -35%. If I had access to more coupons, I could do better. Sorry to have been so long winded.
Have a great week.
Renee ( I never saw that doll, just to let you know, I didn't want you to think I was being rude)

SweetPepperRose said...

Hi Tammy! I must say I do try to watch my pennies, and this sounds like I should try it at least one time, with my hubby's help (I hate stirring!) I do love my Tide Mountain Spring with Alt Bleach, but like you said I do pay dearly for it. Thanks for the tips on the buckets!

Annie said...

My SIL made some for me a year or so ago. It was great and lasted forever!