Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Laundry detergent, round 2

After over 9 months and around 200 loads of laundry we have finished our first batch of homemade laundry detergent.  I made this batch over a year ago and we started using it in May.  I first posted about it in July (here) and again in December (here).  We have been very pleased with how well it works.  The big question was how long it would last and if we were saving money.

We finally have an answer on that.  Buying all the supplies was less than a dollar difference from the Target detergent we previously bought ($12.86 vs. $13.71).  This batch of detergent also lasted us a little over 9 months, the same as the store bought kind.  There's a big different between those 9 months of store bought though and the past 9 months.

That's cloth diapers. 


We started cloth diapering about the same time we started the homemade detergent (I think the first time I used the homemade detergent was in my pre-washes on the diapers.)  With our 12 initial diapers we were doing a load about every 36 hours.  In early November we were gifted another 6 and shortly after that we had to switch to disposals at night.  That bumped our diaper washing schedule to about every 3 days.  Regardless, we've done a lot more loads of laundry in the past 9 months.

Before Luke we did about 10 loads a month.  We do laundry every other week, 4 loads (whites, colors, darks, socks/rags) along with sheets once a month and Matt's scrubs about once a month.  We're still on that same schedule for all our clothes as well as, conservatively, throwing in at least another 10 a month for diapers. (I just finished the baby detergent the last time I did Luke's laundry so I'll start using homemade now.  We only do his laundry as needed so right now, with him fitting in 6 and 9 month clothes, that's about every 3 weeks.)

So we went from 10 loads a month to at least 20, thanks to cloth diapers.  Which means we doubled the amount of laundry for almost the same price of detergent.  I'd say that's a huge win.  When people found out we were cloth diapering we'd get asked about the cost of doing laundry.  I'd have to compare utility bills to get a real accurate answer but I can at least firmly say that using our homemade detergent made up for any extra costs there. 

Now we're ready for a new batch of detergent and I'm trying something new.  I had no problems with how the first one worked.  It was great.  But in an effort to go more natural I didn't really want to use Fels Naptha again (I've heard a lot of concerns about the chemicals in it) so we're doing a more basic recipe this time:

1 cup washing soda
1 cup Borax
1 grated bar of soap
These pictures are very obviously not taken in my unfinished basement laundry room since that's not a real pretty place for picture taking.
Grating soap sounds like a pain but it probably only took me 30 seconds a bar so 5 minutes total.  My biggest problem making my last batch was stirring so this time I did it in batches.  2 grated bars of soap, 2 cups each of Borax and washing soda.  Less to stir which worked a lot better.


My cost was a little higher this time

Ivory soap:       $5.07 for 10 bars at Target (I used them all)
Borax:                4.47 for the ounces used (Walmart)
Washing soda:    5.43 for ounces used (Kroger)
                       $14.97

I used more than one full box of both Borax and Washing Soda, using up what I had on hand from making dishwasher detergent and then bought more.  I figured the cost for those based on the ounces used at the price I paid recently.

So far we've used it on 2 diaper loads and it seems to work just as well as my last batch.  It looks like a little smaller batch so I'm not counting on it lasting quite as long or at least as many loads.  Then we can adjust our recipe and see what works next. 

There's some satisfaction in making your own cleaning supplies, especially when they save money and look prettier in a glass jar than a bottle of detergent.

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