I feel like my monthly Tide/Downy budget was roughly that of a gym membership. Not to mention the annoying, empty bottles that float about my laundry room.
So, when I saw DIY laundry detergent on Pinterest (and the Today Show and elsewhere) I figured it was worth trying at least once.
There are a number of receipes out there. I reviewed several, played around a bit and settled on a concentration that works for me.
Fels-Naptha laundry bar soap ($1.20)
Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda ($3.49)
essential oils if you prefer (I used some lavender essential oil I already had)
cheese grater, saucepan, wooden spoon
5 gallon bucket with lid
drill and mixing bit (much easier than mixing by hand)
empty gallon containers (I use my vinegar bottles)
I found the soap, Borax and Washing Soda at my grocery store. The bar soap will likely be the toughest of the three. to find. The other two are just about everywhere else. If you can't find the soap, you can order it on Amazon.com.
The boxes of Borax and Washing Soda will yeild 10 batches of 10 gallons. You will need a new bar of Fels-Naptha soap for each batch. So figure it's roughly $20 for 100 gallons of laundry detergent.
How To Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
Grate the bar of Fels-Naptha soap.
Heat 4 cups of water in a sauce pan and add the grated soap. On medium heat, stir until all of the soap has melted. Be patient here. This takes about 6 minutes and you'll be happy later that you don't have any soap chunks in your detergent.
Put on the lid.
Curse Proctor & Gamble and/or Unilever for robbing you blind for years.
Let it sit overnight.
I will admit that I opened the lid and mixed it several more times that day. Mostly because this awesome project that promised to save money seemed too easy. I wanted to play around more and make it more complicated that it should be. I thought, "surely I can't go patting myself on the back for doing something so simple".
The next morning, I opened the lid and mixed it one last time.
This recipe makes 10 gallons. Instructions say to fill your containers half full with this concentrated detergent, then add water and shake. I find that the water separates from the mixture. To avoid that, I left mine super concerntrated and just use less in the washer.
This DIY detergent works great, removes stains, and brightens clothes. I accidentally threw in white poplin top of Mairin's that was COVERED in DIY dripless popsicle (strawberries, raspberry Jell-O and pink lemonade). Normally, I would have pretreated this with OXY, but forgot. It was spotless and brilliant when I pulled it out.
Yellow mustard is the only thing that gave me some trouble, but other than OXY, I have never found anything that works on yellow mustard.
This detergent is amazing. I know what's in it. No dyes or extras or what-have-yous. And, it's SO CHEAP!
You can certainly use regular fabric softener or just distilled white vinegar ($1.89) as I've mentioned here. Vinegar softens clothes, colorfasts your brights, neutralizes odors and keeps your machine fresh and free from that mildew funk caused by the fats in regular fabric softener. If you really miss the smell, then use dryer sheets or a Bounce bar.
Your wahser will thank you. So will your wallet.