Thursday, October 4, 2012

The post where I tell you about my dirty laundry.

"A penny saved is a penny earned." Oh, how true this rings when you don't have a job. I have found that one of the easiest ways to make money when you don't have a steady source of income, is to simply spend less. Aside from the more obvious ways to streamline the budget like cutting cable and cell phones, another way we have started to spend less is by making our own laundry detergent.

Finding laundry detergent recipes online is as easy as a google search, but I will share with you the recipe we use, mainly because the girls helped me make it today and they are adorably cute, so I look for any opportunity to snap a few pics of them.

Anyhow, the great thing about homemade laundry detergent is that you can add and take away ingredients to your suit family's needs. You can experiment until you find the perfect "recipe" whether you need a little extra stain-fighting power, more fragrance, less scent. Homemade laundry detergent is not an exact science, there really is no "wrong" way to do it.

Initially, our main reason to try making our own detergent was to save a little extra money. And while it does indeed save us quite a bit, I am now determined to use only homemade detergent because it just seems like a fresher clean to me. I love the way my clothes smell when they come out of the dryer!

Basically we started with this recipe and adjusted the amounts to meet our washing preferences. In today's batch we used:

  • 1 large box of Borax (4lbs 12oz)
  • 1 large box of Super Washing Soda (4lb box)
  • 1 large box of Baking Soda (we buy this in bulk because we have a pool, so we use the same amount of Baking Soda as Washing Soda and we get it at a bulk discount rate making our total per batch less than the actual total I quite at the end of this post).
  • Oxy-clean as needed to clean tough stains (we usually use an entire 36 oz container of the store-brand that is available, I just happened to have a coupon on the real stuff this time).
  • Purex lavender scented crystals (I have only one container of these that I use each time I make the detergent, so the cost for this at the bottom of the post includes what I initially paid for them months ago when we made our first batch. I spent nothing out of pocket to scent today's recipe).
  • 2 bars of Fels Naptha soap. (I used 3 this time since I had a smaller container of Oxi-clean than I normally use. See what I mean about it not being an exact science?)

Choose a container large enough to hold all of the ingredients and pour everything together.
 Use a cheese grater to finely grate the Fels Naptha soap.
You can grate the soap as coarse or as finely as you want. It all melts in the washing machine, it just melts a little faster if it's grated more finely. I would grate it more finely if I did a lot of loads in cold water. But when it comes to doing laundry, I wash everything on warm and I don't waste any time in separating out loads, so this really isn't an issue for me. :P
Using your hands, mix all the ingredients until you can see that the soap is mixed throughout.
Store your finished product in a container until ready for use. To make my "batch" easier to handle, I package it into several different airtight containers so that the one I am using isn't as heavy to get into and out of the cabinets above the washer. Then, just for fun (kinda like setting the odometer after you fill your car up with gas), I put a piece of masking tape on each container with the date, so that I know how long it lasts.
The great thing about this detergent is that since there is no extra "filler" like in store-bought brands, we only use about 1-1.5 tablespoons per load. That's right, tablespoons! The last time we made detergent was nearly 4 months ago on June 12, 2012 and we have still not used everything we made. I would estimate that I wash at least 3 loads of laundry a day between bed sheets, towels, and laundry. All ingredients listed can be purchased from Wal-mart, without coupons and before taxes for only $22.35! So for about $23 we have been able to wash well over 300 loads of laundry and we still have not run out. Add in a few coupons and you seriously cannot get quality laundry detergent any cheaper!

Share your money-saving tips with me! Aside from streamlining the obvious monthly bills, what kinds of things do you do to save money?

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