Every now and then I like taking a step back and talking about an important housekeeping problem that doesn’t necessarily relate to vacuuming. Today I’ll do just that. A while ago I was talking about some very helpful household cleaning products, but I never got to cover detergents. Detergents are commonly used, thus they basically produce inevitable expenses. They are used in laundry, housekeeping (home cleaning) cleaning utensils and for many other cleansing purposes. For many years, people have relied on processed detergents bought from malls and supermarkets. Making your own homemade laundry detergent was not something most people considered. However, this can now change. As you’ll see in the end, after comparing supermarket detergents with your own homemade solution, you never want to return to the old way of doing laundry.
What is homemade detergent?
Essentially, homemade laundry detergent is not any much different than its name suggests. It is simply a detergent you make on your own and which you use it just the way you normally use purchased detergents. Instead of buying finished products, you simply buy ingredients and then make the detergent. This description is for detergent used in laundry. You should not use it on your bathing water, especially if you have sensitive skin. Nonetheless, it is perfect for all your laundry items including cloths, bedding and carpets.
What are the differences?
Identifying the unique differences between purchased and homemade detergents should not be a daunting task as they are clear and straightforward. However, some may find this overwhelming, considering both are used for the same purpose. The obvious distinction is that you will be making the detergent on your own. The detergent does not go through the various processes retailed options are subjected to. You will also need your own packaging. Processed detergents are tested in tested and inspected for safety and quality assurance. This should not mean the homemade alternative is unsafe. In fact, if you have been using it for a while now, you will concur that it is simply better than any detergent you used in the past. The big question most people ask after finding out they can effortlessly make their own detergents at home is the instruction manual. How can I make it?
How to make homemade laundry detergent
Making your own laundry detergent is the simplest procedure ever. It does not take you much time and has no challenges at all, once you know what to do. In the beginning, I was also unsure. After I was introduced to mixing different ingredients and got the measures right, I never felt the need to modify anything. However, feel free to do further research on this matter and find out if other ingredients can be included to enhance the effectiveness of the detergent I’ll be presenting bellow.
Basically, you will be purchasing several ingredients that are also found in purchased detergents. Before you start making your own laundry cleaner, you must know what to buy and how to mix them. The needed ingredients include the following:
- Super washing-soda – I am fond of buying a 3 lbs. box. If you have a bigger family, you can purchase more to achieve economy or else you will be repeating the process several times. One box of super washing-soda costs between $4 and $10. Use 3 lbs for the mixture.
- Borax – my requirements also take up one box of the 4 lbs. borax. A box of borax costs between $3 and $13. Use the whole box for the mixture.
- Fels-Naptha – This commonly comes in a 5.5 oz. bar. My mixture usage takes 3 bars and you can increase if you also use more of the other ingredients. If you cannot find Fels-Naptha, you can still perfectly do with ivory or the zote soap. One bar of Fels-Neptha costs between $1 and $4.
You can buy the first 3 ingredients directly from here.
- Baking soda – One box of pure baking soda (the one you use in your pastries) should be sufficient for the above-mentioned proportions. I usually buy a 13.5 lbs. pack and use about a third in the mixture. A bag of pure baking soda costs between $17 and $20.
- Oxy-Clean – A single container having 3 lbs. is enough for this mixture. One container costs around $14.
- Purex Crystals – This is an optional requirement that you can do without. It comes in a 24 oz. pack and basically adds a fresh desirable scent to your laundry. If unavailable, you can use instead Downy Unstopable scents. This should cost you between $7 and $10.
Besides the opportunity of buying them online, all these ingredients are also available at the supermarket and should not take you much time finding. You can simply order them from Amazon or Walmart, which is the supermarket I often shop at. The prices are also quite affordable considering you will be able to get several loads from one mixture. Once you have all the ingredients in place, the remaining work is to mix them and form your own homemade laundry detergent. The mixing process is quite easy. Simply grate the Fels-Neptha bars into fine particles. Mix all the other ingredients together and stir them to ensure they are evenly distributed in the mixture. This is all you need to make your laundry detergent. From this ingredient list, you will get around 17 lbs. of detergent.
What are the benefits?
The advantages of making your homemade laundry detergent are quite obvious and straightforward. When shopping for laundry detergents, the main benefits you are looking for include effectiveness of cleaning, ease of cleaning, safety of use and longevity. Making your detergent may seem time consuming when compared to buying a finished detergent straight from the supermarket. However, you will enjoy many benefits that the others can never achieve. Some of the clear advantages of making your own detergent include the following:
- Affordability – From the ingredient list given, you will spend between $30 and $50. Those who use higher proportions will definitely spend more, although the benefits are still the same. You would normally use more purchased detergents than I if you have more laundry or a bigger family size. Nonetheless, I use $30 for around 17 lbs. of detergent and a few minutes in grating and mixing. 1lbs. of this detergent produces about 25 tablespoons. When using homemade detergent, you only need 1-2 tablespoons per load. I always use only one tablespoon since I have a few laundry. This means the whole detergent gives me 25 by 17 which is about 400 loads. At $30, the average use is around $0.075 per load. Now let’s look at the shop detergents. Before I started making my own, I would normally use Tide Ultra Free And Gentle Powder Laundry Detergent which contains 68 loads and is sold for about $18. That means one load is $0.265. So roughly, I was spending thrice more when I was purchasing finished detergents. Even if I use two tablespoons per load, it will only be $0.15 per load which is still cheaper than the cheapest finished detergent.
- Effectiveness – It is hard to admit the effectiveness of homemade detergents until you use them and see for yourself. This is the same case when purchasing finished detergents. All the promotions and purported hype is often unreliable and you can only be sure that the detergent works after it has proven effective in your case. Nevertheless, I can assure you that I have been using this recipe to make my own detergent for many months now and it works for me and my daughters perfectly well. It produces sufficient foam, gets rid of the dirt fast and you do not need anything extra to have that awesome sparkle and scent. Moreover, you can use it in your dishwasher and laundry machine just like you always do with purchased detergents. Affordability is only sensible if the detergent is able to clean your laundry to your desired standard. I have never complained about poorly done laundry and this is why I am sticking to the recipe.
- Safety – This is important. Mixing ingredients on your own often scares many as they think the raw ingredients are potent and harmful. To some extent, exposing these compounds to your skin may cause some itchiness if you have heightened sensitivity. You should therefore use a glove when mixing your ingredients to be safe. However, these ingredients are very stable and should not pose any threat for your family, provided you keep them away from children who may end up ingesting them. Before you leave the supermarket, remember to buy some containers or plastic bags where you can keep your unused detergent and store in a cool dry place. The detergent can last as long as you want and I have never had complains from my family about skin irritations and related side-effects.
Affordability, effectiveness and safety are the three most valuable benefits sought in detergents. You simply want something that cleans effectively, taking the least effort and keeping you and your family safe. The homemade detergent is convenient to use and also saves you a couple of bucks. If you calculate the extra dollars for the whole year, it is a lot of money that can be put into something else. It removes stains faster and works better than most detergents you will find in any supermarket.
What about the cons?
Although making your laundry detergent at home has several clear cut benefits, it does not lack disadvantages. Any product has both sides and you will have a few things you do not like. Firstly, it may not always be cost effective and affordable. Ingredient prices vary during different times of the year and finished products often come with coupons, something you will hardly find when buying single ingredients. For instance, RA had a limited offer for Arm-&-Hammer-liquid-soap at $0.35 per load which beats your homemade detergent on all aspects. The detergent was effective and there is no need for mixing anything as it is provided ready for use. Nonetheless, these are offers that only last for a short while so you should be on the look out for attractive deals. Coupons in particular are quite helping when you want to save some money. Some people also have a tendency of not shopping at Walmart/Amazon which is quite peculiar, although everyone has their reasons. In fact, Walmart and Amazon have some of the cheapest offers available, and their prices are often stable. If you shop from other outlets, you may find the price going up a bit and this may drastically change the per-load values.
Now that you already know how to make homemade laundry detergent, the remaining part is to find out how best you can achieve this feat (save more money, and reap all benefits). It is advisable to purchase ingredients from credible licensed businesses that are allowed to operate in the area. This will ensure you get high quality genuine stuff. Some people choose to add home-use ammonia into the mix to get a more powerful output. You can always look for other insights. However, you should always be very careful when preparing detergents and adding ingredients you have never used before. Make sure you go through all the instructions and precautions before you start using them as some may be harmful to your skin, eyes, nose and other places. If the detergent causes any sensitivity problems, you should stop using it and visit the doctor to determine what is the root cause of such irritations. Nonetheless, you can rely on this recipe to form detergents that can clean your baby’s laundry. Here’s the final output of my recipe:
Detergents are products you will use as long as you are alive and are therefore expenses you should strive to cut down as much as possible. Finding the most affordable way to finish your laundry should however, never blind you on aspects such as safety and effectiveness. It is important to ensure you do more research before trying something new. This homemade laundry detergent is safe and effective if you follow the instructions to the letter. Adding any other compound to the ingredient list may change the output for the better or worse. That is why I encourage you to list in the form bellow your experiences. Thank you!