Few people actually enjoy doing the laundry. Not only is it a chore that isn’t very enjoyable, it is also a necessary expense that takes a chunk out of the household budget one or more times each week. Big companies make a lot of money producing and selling detergents and stain removers, usually by charging more than they should. If you want to save money and become more frugal, you can make your own detergent and stain remover. It is easy and much less expensive than you are probably paying at the store.
Homemade Laundry Detergent
Major manufacturer’s learned long ago that they could sell more detergent and increase their profits by adding fillers. Some also add perfumes and charge a little more for them, knowing that lots of people will be gullible enough to pay the extra price. Others may simply not know how easy it is to make their own clothing detergent that works better, costs less and isn’t mostly filler. It is likely that the laundry detergent manufacturers don’t want you to know how simple it is to make your own.
Here are the steps:
Put 1 cup of baking soda on a cookie sheet or similar and bake it at 400 F for about an hour and a half, stirring it every 15 minutes. This turns the baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, into washing soda, sodium carbonate. (You can also use washing soda from the store, but that is also sodium carbonate and it is much more expensive than baking soda.)
Allow this to cool, then mix in 1 cup of sodium tetraborate, commonly sold as borax. Borax usually costs less than $7 for a five pound box and there are a lot of cupfuls in each box.
Put this in a food processor and add one bar of Ivory soap, homemade soap, natural soap or any solid hand soap that you prefer. If the soap is scented, the laundry detergent will also be scented, so this is the part where you can experiment a little. The soap should be ground up, grated or peeled, using a potato peeler.
Blend all the ingredients until they are thoroughly mixed and look like they are somewhere between granules and flakes. This is the laundry detergent and although it doesn’t look like it makes much, it is concentrated so it goes a long way.
To use the detergent, simply put 2 tablespoons of the detergent in the washing machine per load of laundry and wash as normal. The sodium is responsible for cleaning the clothing and the soap adds the suds and scent, if you use scented soap. I haven’t had issues with using it on our regular laundry, so this is safe to use on colored fabrics, if they are color fast. It contains no bleaching agents.
I credit my late sweet grandmother for showing me this inexpensive way to make laundry detergent. The difference in the way she made it and the way I make it is that she not only made her own hand soap, which she used in this, she also ground all the ingredients by hand.
After making a batch, the food processor should be thoroughly cleaned with hot water and rinsed well, but the homemade detergent even helps with cleaning the food processor, since the inside will still have a little of the detergent clinging to it.
The last time I made some of this, the total cost for one batch was about a dollar. Not bad for 16-20 loads of laundry, huh?
Homemade Stain Remover
This is an all purpose stain remover we learned to make in the Boy Scouts. It is even simpler to make than the laundry soap, but it does a great job on stains. Simply mix together a cup of dish soap, a cup of household ammonia and a cup of water. Mix this gently as the dish soap tends to foam up. Put this in a spray bottle and use it like you’d use pre-wash stain removers; spraying it on the stain, letting it sit for a couple minutes so it can be absorbed, then wash the clothing as normal.
This stain remover is a natural compliment to the homemade laundry soap, so while it will work with most laundry soaps, it works even better with homemade laundry detergent. Incidentally, the stain remover is also a powerful disinfectant. However, the bottle shouldn’t be used for anything else and it should clearly be labeled that it contains a poison, which liquid ammonia is.
Considering the amount of money that is charged by name brand laundry detergents and stain removers, you can save a substantial amount of money on your laundry by making these products. Your clothing will still come out clean and fresh. Yet this is a step in the right direction toward living frugally.