My friend Nicole is amazed that I am becoming a master of housewifery (yes, it’s a word and yes, it does sound like sorcery) and said I should start sharing some of my adventures, good and bad, as I experiment with new routines and rituals, ways to cut corners and ingredients to save money on basic supplies.
My first true foray into being one of THOSE moms — you know, the pseudo-hippie, cost-efficient, wise-and-beautiful-simultaneously mommas — was making my own homemade laundry detergent.
It started with a panicked moment after Addie (brace yourselves, ye of weak stomachs) smeared poop from her diaper across the bars on her crib, the wall behind the crib, in her hair, among all of her stuffed animals and oh yes, across every square inch of sheet and blanket.
The best part? We didn’t have a drop of laundry detergent in the house.
So I did what any freaked-out Mom would do — I Googled.
Page after page, blog after blog displayed many of the same similar ingredients and a super-easy process.
For my test run, I simply used:
ONE bar of ZOTE soap (found in the laundry aisle of most large grocery stores/Wal-Mart)
THREE cups of Arm&Hammer Washing Soda (Do NOT confuse this with Baking Soda!)
I shredded and grinded up the soap until it formed very tiny little strips (I used a food processor; you can also use a grater, etc)
I then mixed in the washing soda powder, put it in a labeled bucket with a lid and handle for easy transport. (Aren’t my labels cute?)
Now, you can use Borax with these two ingredients, too, to add a little stain-fighting power, but I didn’t have it my first time around and, quite honestly, I thought my colors stayed bright and my stains came out great (even dirty bottom-of-toddler-socks marks!). It’s got a fresh scent to it, but the clothes don’t have much of a scent to it when they’re all done. (Some people swear against Borax and some swear you can’t do homemade detergent without it, so decide for yourself).
I’ve also ordered some essential oils (lemon, orange, lavender) to add a drop or two in every load for added grease removing powers (as suggested by several Mommy Bloggers) and for a little smell.
My next batch will be much larger (probably doubled or tripled) and I may try the Borax and definitely the essential oil.
To use, I let just less than 1/8 cup of the mixture dissolve in warm-hot water for a few seconds before I change it to cold water and add my clothes.
I then do my load of laundry as normal — fabric softener, etc.
ALTHOUGH… I have a recipe for fabric softener I’ll be trying shortly, too!
We do a LOT of laundry in our house. Between kids’ clothes, Scott’s work clothes and regular clothes, workout clothes and the occasional poop-a-polypse in cribs destroying half of a Bubble Guppies stuffed village, it’s not unusual for us to do five to eight loads a WEEK. Detergent is bought at LEAST once a month.
These are not EXACT prices, but on average, our detergent costs about $13-14 for a bottle that’s supposed to do at least 60 loads of laundry (doubtful, but sure). That works out to almost $.25/load.
With the Washing Soda ($3-4/box of 50-plus ounces) and Zote soap (about $2-$2.50/bar), and not needing to use as much as normal detergent for a load, I believe it costs us about… wait for it… $.03/load.
21 cents difference over five loads a week for four weeks a month = $4-5/savings a month, just for the low end of our laundry. I’m OK with saving $60-plus a year (probably closer to $100 for us). For us, it’s more about dropping that $14 -$28 purchase every month on our grocery trip and only needing $6 in soap and $3 in washing soda.
Now, the essential oils (about $3 each, but will last FOREVER) and Borax (still not sure if I’m even going to use this) will add to our per-load cost, of course, but still a good deal.
Upcoming homemade adventures:
Swiffer Wet sheets
Various cleaners (all-purpose, furniture polish, etc)
Got any suggestions or ideas for me?