How to Save Money on Detergent

I am finding the older I get the pickier I get. I find things I used to think I liked, I don’t. Things I used to tolerate, I don’t. Things I used to not like at all, now I like even less. (as if that was even possible.)

One thing I don’t like is chemicals. I’ve blogged a few times about my giving up shampoo in January of this year. I’ve also given up fabric softener. I use white vinegar in the rinse cycle of my washing machine. It helps get rid of all the laundry detergent. I also use, as a laundry boost, some baking soda.

The past few months I’ve made my own detergent. It’s a fraction of the cost, works better and is a cinch to make.  Here’s the recipe:

1 Cup Borax (find it in the laundry aisle)
1 Cup Washing Soda. (NOT Baking soda!)
2/3 bar Fels Naphtha.
Grate the Fels Naphtha and mix with other ingredients. Store in air tight container. Use at most 1 tablespoon per load of laundry.

I also just today made my own detergent for the dishwasher. So far I really like with one small exception, any food storage dish with any type of tomato based sauce will come out pinky-orange.  I know Clorox bleach is frightfully full of chemicals, but I just put the dishes in a sink of hot bleach water to soak then just put them back in the dishwasher and ran it  on a rinse cycle. (They weren’t lonely in there.)

I had a food storage dish that had vinegar water with cucumbers in it. Yum! They had been in there a little long and the smell was very strong. After running through a wash cycle (with  the water miser cycle nonetheless!) the smell was completely gone.

That sold me right then and there. Of course it didn’t help that the first load I washed today had been sitting in there since last Wednesday, or maybe it was last Tuesday. I did not pre-rinse any of the dishes and they still came out clean.

Here is the recipe know-how.

1 Box Borax
1 Box Washing Soda (NOT Baking Soda)
3 Cups Epsom Salt
27 packets of Lemonade KoolAid*

Mix all in an air tight container. ** Use at most 1 Tablespoon of the detergent per load. Play with it a little as dishwashers were not created equal and some might not need as much as others.

*I saved $$ and bought the off-brand in a tub. I am pretty sure it was sufficient. I don’t have a strong lemon smell but it seems to be working.

**Since you’re dealing with a large amount, you might want to mix it in thirds or at the very least layer it. I used an oversized mixing bowl and mixed with my hands.  Speaking of hands, you will want to be sure your hands are dry before using the detergent. It will clump. Also make sure everything that will come in contact with the detergent is dry. The wooden spoon you use to mix, your hands, the tablespoon, your children, your husband, the counters etc. Dry dry dry.

For about $10 I made a year’s supply of soap for my dishwasher. Totally worth it in my opinion.



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