Here are the recent answer to this question.
I'm not only cheap, but apparently lazy, too! I don't grate the fels-naptha. I just use a sharp knife to carve into small chunks - maybe the size of half a pecan or a brazil nut. Not a tough job at all. Takes a little longer to melt in the boiling water, but it does. We have really hard well water, so I use 2 cups of washing soda and 1 cup of borax in the mix.
I calculated that with 1 bar of fels-naptha ($1.49), about 2 cups of washing soda (1.10), and 1 cup of borax (39 cents), I can make a five gallon batch for about $2.98.
I use a large stock pot to melt the soap, whisking every so often. Once it's melted, I add the soda and borax and a bunch more water, just to get it all mixed well.
I pour that into a 5 gallon bucket and while whisking/stirring, add enough water to make the 5 gallons.
I use one-third cup per load and run an extra rinse since we have hard water.
Okay, let's do the math. A 5 gallon batch costs about $2.98 cents, so let's round up to $3 to make the math easier.
One-third cup per load comes to 240 loads per 5 gallon bucket. $3 divided by 240 comes to .0125 per load. That's a little over one penny per load. One and one-fourth penny per load.
Okay, let's compare that to Tide. I just did some quick comparisons online and found a range of 25 cents per load up to 36 per load. It was a quick search, so admittedly, you might be able to find it more cheaply (or even more expensively) if you look further.
By Deborah Mershimer 02/09/2010
Thanks so much for all your input! I lost my receipt from the store where I purchased the Fels Naptha, but I'll be making my rounds again and let you know what I come up with as a "real" price!
Someone asked about Washing Soda. I get mine at Albertsons. Fels Naptha at Kroger. Borax at WalMart. They're all within a mile or so of each other so it's not a bother to pick them up when its' time to make more detergent. I've learned to make several batches at once so that I don't have to do it often.
By susan 02/09/2010
It's kind of hard to give you an exact cost of homemade laundry detergent, not knowing if you are going to make liquid or powder detergent, or how much you will need to use per load, which depends on your water type. It IS much cheaper than buying laundry detergent though, and there are ways to cut its cost. First, you do not have to buy fels naptha to make it; you can buy any type of bar laundry soap (in my area, ZOTE is much cheaper) or use any bar body soap (like Ivory, Dial, etc).
Personally, I use leftover slivers from our bath bars and small motel bars which people have given me for free at yard sales or family members have saved. I've never had to buy the bar soap for the recipe. The one box of Borax lasts a long time (over a year), and the recipe I use uses only 1/2 cup at a time. Washing soda can be harder to find, but you can buy it in the pool section at wal-mart during the summer, or leave it out of the recipe if you are unable to get it. I've found one chain of stores in our area that carries it. It lasts a long time too, about a year per box for us. The recipe I make only uses 1/2 cup per recipe.
I use a small measuring scoop to make sure I don't use more than needed. I make the liquid version because I have the space to keep it. Our water isn't too hard, so I have no need to use extra to clean our clothes. I've figured that it costs me less than 3 cents per load to make. It cleans our clothes just as well, if not better than store bought. And I don't find it too hard or time consuming to make. I like it a lot and appreciate how easy it is to save some money.
I find it amusing at how people try using their blender or food process, etc, then complain about all the time-consuming steps. I use a small hand grater and grate mine while watching tv. I turn on the water to boil, then turn it off and add the soap flakes and allow them to melt while doing other things. I reheat and finish making it later, and it goes really quickly.
By Sandi 02/08/2010
Where I live in New England we have a grocery chain called The Big Y. Every so often they have a sale buy one detergent and get one free, and occasionally two free! If I can afford it I try to stock up. Also use care when measuring. The new type detergents which use less are a pain to see. I think someone thought this was a great idea, and a way to sell "more" detergent to the consumer who felt they were getting a bargain.
By Patricia Hamm 02/08/2010
I read an article and I believe it was on this site that prices a load for about 9 cents using this combination and I personally like it better.
1 cup borax
1 cup cheap laundry powder purchased
1 bar soap grated.
Use one tablespoon per load.
By PENNY K 02/02/2010
Where does one find washing soda nowadays? I get my borax at Walmart; it's about $3 per box.
I use Purex detergent, at WMart for $3. I cannot figure out why detergent has gone up as it has. I do not use the amounts called for. I use about 3 tablespoons for full load, and one T borax for deodorizing.
I sometimes use grated handmade soap [soft skin version, 5% fatted soap] and a little borax for baby clothes. But I dissolve it in hot water first. I use that mix to wash baby clothes I've bought at garage sales, and double wash, and wash once more in just hot water.
The best laundry soap I've ever used is the laundry soap my sis in law and her mom make. It's more alkaline, and they use potassium hydroxide rather than sodium hydroxide. They save fat from cooking and also bought a beef so had fat from that. But I don't see why one couldn't make a liquid soap using vegetable oil from the potassium hydroxide, because that's what's used for shampoos and liquid soaps.
It's an adults only project, no children around at all, and done with lots of ventilation, as in open garage. My sis in law, her mom, my brother and I made 17 batches of laundry soap one day. [Preps were made before hand]. The soap is allowed to harden in butcher paper lined boxes for weeks and then pulverized [it gets crumbly] in food processor. They used 1/4 cup or less per full load.
No perfumes, no fabric softener, just lovely, clean clothes. Probably a 2 -3 percent fatted soap. I'd have to get the exact recipe.
By Marjorie C. Woodworth 02/02/2010
My opinion on making your own homemade laundry detergent isn't worth all the work and the money invested. I bought two boxes of Washing Soda and two boxes of Borax. The Fels-Naptha Bar Soap cost more than $1.56 per bar. I shredded several bars of the soap in my food processor, and that was an added mess that I had to clean up.
By the time that I added up all the ingredients to make a double batch, it cost more money than buying the liquid laundry detergent at one of the dollar stores. Once I finish using the container of homemade laundry detergent I'm going back to liquid.
By Linda Kennedy 02/01/2010
I use this all the time, but with only 1/2 cup Borax. I use about 1 Tablespoon per load and get around 25 loads per batch. I pay $1.56 for Fels-Naptha bar soap; $2.96 for a box of Washing Soda (just over 4 cups), and $5.00 for a large box of Borax (about 5 cups). That makes one batch of laundry soap cost $2.80 and one batch of washing cost about 11 cents!
Add your voice to the conversation. Click here to answer this question.