Jun 15, 2012

1950s housewife, here I come.

It's June 14th and I'm continuing my "Penny Pinching Summer" in my quest to save and be less stressed about every aspect of my life where money and spending are concerned.  So far, I've been doing well by saving money at the grocery through coupons and store-brand shopping.  I've been keeping more green in my wallet by passing up the clothing stores for myself and Avery and only picking up things that are needed in our wardrobes.  I eat out less and cook at home more.  I bought pretty much all of the gifts for Avery's birthday using a gift card that I got to the Disney Store. 

Now, I'm looking to save money around the house.  The obvious answer led me right to my laundry room.  I know I can't be the only one who has gawked at the price of laundry detergent lately.  It's RIDICULOUS.  I buy Tide Coldwater because, obviously, I wash everything in cold water.  I also buy Dreft because Avery had eczema pretty bad as a newborn, so I didn't want anything to irritate her already delicate skin.  At ten months old, the eczema has all but disappeared and I'm ready to stop spending so much on detergent.  At Wal-Mart, the Tide Coldwater is around $12 for 100 ounces.  The Tide website says that you can get 52 loads out of a 100 oz.  So I'll base my numbers around that estimate, although I probably get less loads out of a bottle because I'm super guilty of not measuring out my detergent.  Pour some in the cap, dump in the wash, close the lid.  Anyway, back to the detergent.  If you are a good little laundry-doer and get the 52 loads out of a container, you're spending 23 cents a load.  I hear you now, Devan it's only 23 cents.  What on earth can you buy with 23 cents??  Just wait.  If you also count the Dreft, which is about $16, at 52 loads, I'm spending 30 whopping cents a load on baby clothes.  Yeah, that's gotta stop.
Once I decided that I wanted to go all pioneer woman and make my own detergent, I started looking around on Pinterest (of course) for the perfect detergent "recipe."  I was surprised by the variety of homemade detergents.  Some people put scented oil in theirs to give their laundry a fresh, clean scent.  Others put Oxi Clean in to make sure their whites sparkled.  Still others added baking soda to give their laundry that extra "oomph."  Despite all the variations, three ingredients remained consistent in all the recipes--Borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda and bar soap.  Most used a fancy type of washing soap like Fels-Naptha or Zote, but I decided that I would stick with good old, time trusted Ivory soap.  I decided to stick with the basic 3 ingredients for now and leave the recipe open to change if I decided it needed a little something more.
Count 'em...just THREE ingredients
After the ingredients were purchased, it was time to assemble.  I bought a small plastic container at Wal-Mart that I knew would fit in my laundry room and would hold a large amount of detergent if I decided to make it in bulk.  Making this detergent couldn't be easier.  Three steps.....ready?  Pour the entire boxes of Borax and Super Washing Soda into your container. 

After the two powders are poured, take a cheese grater and grate 3 bars of soap into the mix.  If you have a food processer, you can use that....I'm not fancy and had to use a basic hand grater.  The result will look like a bunch of grated Mozzarella cheese.  It's not.  Don't eat it. :)  Another plus to making this detergent?  Your arm gets a good workout while grating. 
Don't be fooled...it's soap.
Alright.  Soap is grated, powders are poured.  Now, stick your hand in and mix it all together.  This was the hardest part for me because I'm a texture freak and this was weird.  I mixed quickly and ran to the sink to wash off.  And I'm D-O-N-E, done.  
Now for the savings.  Prepare to be stunned.  Earlier I mentioned that I was spending 23 cents for every load of mine and Marty's clothing and 30 cents on Avery's.  On my three ingredients, I spent $7.86.  Most of the blogs I read of ladies making their own detergent call for either one or two heaping tablespoons of detergent in your washer.  Here comes a little math...stay with me....the Borax comes in a 76 oz box, the Washing Soda is 55 oz and the three bars of soap were a total of 9.5 oz=140.5 ounces of detergent.  The conversion from ounces to tablespoons is 1 oz=2 tablespoons, so I have approximately 281 tablespoons of detergent.  If I put just ONE tablespoon per load of laundry, I would be able to do 281 loads.  Ready?  $7.88/281= 3 CENTS A LOAD.  Even if I use two tablespoons per load, I'm spending about 6 cents.  Are. You. Kidding. Me??  Basically, every time I walk to my washing machine and do a load of laundry, I'm saving myself 50 cents.  On 281 loads of laundry, I'm keeping $140.50 for myself to spend on something else.  Take a moment to soak that in.  Can we say "No Brainer??" 
Of course I had to make the container pretty.  I'm a self-diagnosed over decorator.
Note:  Most articles I read mentioned that you might have some soapy build-up from this type of detergent.  It's an easy fix....dump a cup of vinegar in your washing machine and run an empty load to keep your drum clean and soap-free.  Some places also mentioned using 1/4 cup of white vinegar in the dryer as a fabric softner to remove soapy residue from clothing.  I'll be interested to see how my detergent smells and how well it cleans my clothing.  I'll keep you guys updated on that.  But for now, 20 cents of savings is worth trying my homemade detergent!  Next, I'm working on finding ways to save on fabric softner.  Stay tuned for more Penny Pinching tips around the home!

Sources:  Sugar Pie Farmhouse  Yellow Brick Home  How Does She?


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