What people spend on laundry is insane. Today I will show you how to cut your laundry costs to 2 cents per load, plus the cost of the machine (your own or the laundromat). Mixing your own detergent and a clothes drying rack combine to reduce laundry costs so much there is no incentive to reduce it anymore.
Making your own laundry detergent and fabric softener is fun and take only a few minutes. As an added bonus, you feel like a mad scientist as you mix your concoction. The best part is I will talk a whole lot less today as I let the pictures do all the talking for me and any time you can get me to shut up for a day is a good day! (A picture is worth a thousand words so I am technically talking your ear off.)
You will need a few ingredients sometimes hard to find. I have included links to Amazon so you can get to work fast. Amazon prices are pretty good on this stuff. The two hard-to-find items are usually Washing Soda and Fels-Naptha. The rest of the stuff should be available locally.
Here is the mad scientist recipe for laundry detergent:
1 bar Fels-Naptha
½ cup Baking Soda
½ cup Washing Soda
½ cup Borax
5 Gallon Bucket
A few drops of scent (optional)
For folks living in town this recipe can be diluted to produce 3 gallons of liquid detergent. Stained clothing: Rub the stain with Fel-Naptha. Grease covered or heavily soiled clothing: Add a small amount of additional Washing Soda to the wash machine. Even if you use store bought detergent you can use these tricks to get clothes clean. Use sparingly. A little goes a long way.
I am showing you the liquid detergent formula. The same formula mixed dry can also be used. The dry formula is VERY concentrated. Don’t overdo it. It would be like pouring half a bottle of store bought stuff into the machine. Not pretty.
One final tip before we start mixing. Use an old kettle, wooden spoon, wire whisk, and grater. You will not want to use these utensils for anything else. It is a one-time expense. Consider it an initiation fee. I have an old stove in the garage we use for canning and for wild concoctions like detergent. You may wish to open a window if you do this indoors. The smell is not too bad, but there is an odor.
Step 1: Grate 1 bar of Fels-Naptha into the kettle.
Step 2: Add 8 cups of hot water to the grated Fels-Naptha. Place on stove and slowly heat. Do NOT boil! Stir until the Fel-Naptha is totally dissolved.
Step 3: Pour the water with dissolved Fels-Naptha into the 5 gallon bucket.
Step 4: Put another 8 cups of hot water into the kettle and slowly heat. Add ½ cup Borax, washing soda, and baking soda each into the kettle. Stir until dissolved. Do not boil.
Step 5: Pour the kettle of dissolved Borax, washing soda, and baking soda into the bucket with the dissolved Fels-Naptha.
Step 6: Stir the combined mixture in the bucket.
Step 7: You have worked so hard the last fifteen minutes I think you need a break. Come back tomorrow and see what has happened to your concoction.
Step: 8: I see you are back early. No problem. Notice the thick layer on the top of the bucket. The Fels-Naptha really expanded! You want to take the whisk and stir that good into the yellowish liquid underneath. I prefer using my hand to squish the stuff up first and then whisk the hell out of it. Your call.
Step 9: Add scent (optional). I save my money and pass on the scent. Besides, I smell pretty without any odor to cover my awesome bouquet.
Step 10: Add water until you have a total of three gallons.
Step 11: You are done. Your detergent is ready to use.
Most people can use a ¼ cup of detergent per load of laundry. Outdoor work clothes might need a bit more, up to ½ cup per load. This means one batch of detergent will handle around 100 loads or more. Rub Fel-Naptha on stains and use additional washing soda in heavily soiled loads of laundry. Additional Borax and washing soda to the above recipe is needed for construction workers, farmers, or oil rig workers. I have a farm and still use the recipe above without any problems.
Fabric Softener Recipe:
2 cups white vinegar
½ cup baking soda
Use an old gallon jug from the white vinegar and mix the baking soda reeeeeal slowly into the vinegar. When the whole thing settles down add water until the gallon jug is full. Add scent if desired. Use a quarter to half cup per load.
There you have it. A simple recipe to make your own laundry detergent. It takes fifteen minutes and is loads (ahem) of fun. Now laundry day does not also clean out your wallet.
Wednesday 14th of September 2016
Gwen, Borax is an old trick used in the backwoods for a long time. Borax or a dash of washing soda really helps cleans clothes with stains or grease. Keep a bar of Fels-Naptha around to rub on stains; it works like a miracle.
John, We used the dry version for a while but Mrs. A tends to use to much that way. The food processor works, but I don't like using equipment to make soap I'll use later for food. Just me, I guess.
Thanks for the comments.
Thursday 10th of March 2022
@Keith Schroeder, Borax is also great for killing fleas in carpet. I learned this from a veterinarian. Sprinkle all over the carpet and let it sit overnight then vacuum.
I did try this when I purchased my first home. The previous homeowner had a dog and the carpet was infested when I moved into the house. This stuff is magic. :)
Monday 12th of September 2016
We have been using the dry version of this for a few years now with no complaints. I use our food processor for the bar soap, because I am lazy.
Monday 12th of September 2016
I add Borax to particularly pungent loads of laundry. It's amazing!