Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent and Dryer Sheets

I have heard about homemade laundry detergent for the last year, but all I could think was, "Homemade laundry detergent? Isn't that going too far with this whole money-saving-thing?" as well as, "There are just some things that I will not be a tight wad laundry detergent."
But I decided to give it a shot on this boring, rainy Saturday.

I used this recipe that I found at Why Not Sew? This is an outstanding tutorial with lots of great pictures. I didn't take any pictures because I was SO skeptical that I didn't want to end up wasting time getting cute pictures of something that might end up in the garbage. But I digress.

Homemade Laundry Soap
  • 1 bar soap (I used IVORY)
  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing soda
  • 2 gallons water

1. Grate entire bar of soap into a large pan; add one gallon water and heat until soap is dissolved...Stir, stir, stir (and DO NOT walk away. This stuff can bubble right up and over in an instance).
2. Add the Borax and washing soda (which is NOT the same this as baking soda) and stir again. This is the step where you will go from a liquid soap mixture to a gel soap mixture.
3. Pour in one gallon COLD water. Stir, stir, stir.
4. Use a funnel to fill gallon sized containers. (I used drink containers that I found at the store).

If you use just 1/2 cup detergent for each load of laundry, your 2 gallon containers will clean 64 loads of laundry. My bar of Ivory soap was $0.64, using some simple math (product cost divided by total cups of product) I estimate that one cup of washing soda is about $0.52, and one cup of Borax is roughly $0.55.

That means that I made two gallons of laundry detergent for $1.71. At the store a few weeks ago I bought two gallons of Tide for $10--and that was on sale, WITH a coupon. It's usually closer to $15.

That means that making your own laundry detergent is an 89% savings.

I immediately washed a couple loads of laundry after making my batch. Bingo. Totally clean! I NEVER would have believed it if I didn't try it myself.

Homemade Dryer Sheets

This one was a REALLY hard sell for me. It seemed absolutely RIDICULOUS to think that rags soaked in fabric softener could take the place of Bounce dryer sheets. But low, and behold, it works! I followed this tutorial to make my sheets.

  • Old rags or towels (I cut up 2 old baby burp clothes)
  • 1 cup Fabric softener
  • Plastic container to hold sheets (I used a small pencil box)
1. Cut up old rags or towels into 4 in. x 4 in. pieces
2. Place in plastic container
3. Pour fabric softener over the rags

When it's time to throw the laundry in the dryer just open the container, ring out a homemade sheet (dripping the excess softener in the container), and throw it into the dryer with the wet clothes.

This is absolutely remarkable. It leaves the clothing just a soft, smells just as good, and removes the static from the clothes just as well as name brand sheets. When the clothes come out the rag will be soft and dry and can be thrown back into the container to be used again.

I poured just one cup of fabric softener into the container. That one cup of Downy cost about $0.70. The same cup will treat about 100 loads (really, ONE HUNDRED loads). So, $0.007 per load. Bounce dryer sheets end up being about $0.05 per load.

This means homemade dryer sheets are an 86% savings.


  1. I've wanted to try the homemade laundry soap but have always been too chicken. Maybe I'll try it now!

  2. Jason really wants me to do this....I'm still in the "I will buy good laundry soap" line. Maybe one day.....

  3. Holy SCHMOLY! I used to make my own laundnry detergent but I had no idea you could do that with the fabric softener - something I will definitely try!

  4. I seriously NEVER, ever would have done this 3 months ago. But I found a great blog with lots of household tips and tried just a few of those. When they ALL worked I decided to try this big one.