Friday, March 27, 2009

Frugality starts at home

I've read a few friends' posts about making their own laundry detergent. I was thinking of getting in on the BOGO Arm & Hammer detergent at Wags this week, so I decided that if I wanted to try making my own, I needed to do that before the sale ended (to see if it was any good).

Well, I did it. I went out and got the borax and washing soda required for this recipe. I looked at the Fels Naptha, but when the label said prolonged exposure and contact with skin should be avoided because it could cause irritation... I passed on that. Besides, I already had 8 bars of Ivory at home (I planned let my kids carve boats with plastic spoons like we did in kindergarten).

Here's my breakdown:
74 ounce box of 20 Mule Team Borax - $2.98
~60 ounce box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda - $2.70
1 bar Ivory soap - free because I had it on hand.

There's enough Borax for 18.5 batches and washing soda for 15. Since I have 8 bars of Ivory and 8 of Dove - and a few random others - we're set for 30 gallons of laundry detergent for $5.68. That's $.31 less than I would have paid for 2, 32 load bottles of Arm & Hammer this week with sale and coupon. This is HUGE!

(If I'm being honest, I also had to purchase a 5 gallon bucket and lid for $4.88 and $1.79 respectively. I only had a lid-less 1.25 gallon ice cream bucket, but this will be reused for a *really* long time).

I followed her recipe (please click on the link - she requests that no part be reprinted) until we got to the gallon and 6 cups of water. She said that the final consistency would be something like egg drop soup, and I didn't have a bucket big enough for all that volume. So I figured I'd just add the 6 cups of water and use 1/4 cup of the detergent in the laundry instead of the 1/2 cup of diluted detergent.

So what I'm learning is that frugality comes through trial and error =) It formed something between crisco and jello-jigglers =) Then I figured that I'd just use one of our repurposed spaghetti sauce jars with a few cups of boiling water and shake the heck out of that 1/4 cup of soap and dump it into the machine. But as well as saving money, my time is valuable and should be saved as well (it took a LONG time to dissolve like that). So I bought the bigger bucket and lid, plopped the detergent jell-o mold in the bottom, broke it up and added a gallon of boiling water in 2 cup batches. And I stirred. And stirred. And stirred. It took what seemed forever, but was probably at least 30 minutes, and I got most of the clumps dissolved well enough to call it good.

And the best parts- the Ivory smell (not my favorite) is totally gone from the clothes when the wash cycle is over. Even better? IT WORKS!!!! It works and it works really, really well. Totally worth it!

So if you're interested in trying it, give it a shot. You really can use any bar of soap that you have around (or collect a few as you travel for free!) and spend about NINETEEN CENTS PER GALLON!!!!

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