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Saving Money on Laundry Soap

Tips for saving money on laundry soap from the ThriftyFun community.

Use Expensive Soap Where It Counts

It got really expensive buying good laundry soap for my clothes and the dogs' blankets. I now use my favorite laundry detergent for my linens and clothes. I buy the cheapest brand for the dogs blankets, etc. It has really cut down on my laundry soap budget.


By Pamm from Tulsa, OK

Perfume/Dye Free Bargain Soaps

I have to use perfume and dye free, for both my sons and husband. I use to make my own, then got lazy. Purex makes a great hypoallergenic (and they are usually the least expensive) or if you have a Kroger store, TEMPO is a couple of bucks and has the perfume dye free. I use Borax in every load, instead of bleach (non-chlorine). I also use 1/2 the recommended amount, and the borax does the rest of the work!

Use Less Soap

You are using too much soap if you are following the directions on the box or bottle. Those directions tell you how much to use up to the point that the water is saturated, not at which the clothing is clean. The saturation amount of detergent is about double the amount you need to use. Ditto for liquid softener.


I read this advice on the internet from a conservation group, but can't recall where. To summarize, if the directions call for a cup of detergent, use half a cup. You can always increase it a little. I have tried doing this with dishwasher detergent, and it doesn't work well in my dishwasher (which is on its last legs anyway).

By Cookwie

Tip for Using Less

I have been on the same bottle of detergent since the summer and do a fair amount of laundry. I use way less than the bottle recommends (if I used what they said, I would have an overflow!).

Start the washer (only works in a top-loader), add the detergent (a quarter to a third of recommended) and stir the water and detergent with a wooden or other long handled spoon. Add a little borax or vinegar. You will get the detergent, etc. started dissolving, and the suds will form. Add the clothes and let 'er rip. Plenty of suds, clean clothes.


Use more if you have really dirty clothes, but for run of the mill stuff, works just fine and saves lots of detergent!

By Kay

Using Every Bit Of Soap

I pull the spout out of the laundry detergent jug to get the last amount out. I usually can just grab it with my hand and pull it out, but you could use pliers. There is usually enough soap for one more load.

By Lydia

I Wash The Bottle

I have a pretty large washer, and I can fit the laundry detergent bottle in it easily. When my detergent bottle is "empty", I wash it with a load of laundry. Then I know I really used every last drop!

By washburn6394

My Own Measuring Cup

After seeing a hint in a magazine, I have started using a measuring cup for detergent - 1/3 cup per full load. I get Purex or Arm&Hammer concentrated when they're on sale.


By Louise

Usage and Storage Tips

I use ERA. I buy it when I see it on sale for 2/$5.00. I stock up and only buy it when it is on sale and use only half of what the directions say to use. When you hear the machine spinning go in and look at the drum inside. If you use the full amount, you will see a large amount of suds! That means your clothes are retaining too much soap which will ruin your clothes very soon. Also keep your soap in a warmer room. If it gets cold it gets thicker and causes you to use more than you need.

By Freedom059

Sears Laundry Soap Tubs

I buy the tubs of soap from Sears. The tub says it does 280+ loads but I've found you only need half a scoop. So I'm getting twice that amount. It only costs $20.00 so that works out to be only about seven cents per load.


By Veronica

Sun Wash Powder

I buy Sun wash powder. It does a good job and is within my budget. It however is not very strong smelling so I buy Gain fabric softener and add a small amount to my wash powder at the start. No need to later add in the rinse cycle my clothes smell good and I save money.

By Sharon

Ajax and Water

I use my old laundry detergent bottle and mix 1 part Ajax dish detergent to 6 parts water. I have a husband who loves to work outside and work on the cars. His work clothes get really dirty. This works just fine.

I also use baking soda in dishwasher. Just fill compartment and add a little bleach. I haven't purchased commercial detergents in quite a while now. Hope this helps.

By Lori

Homemade Recipe (Liquid)

On this site, a woman makes her own detergent. A great idea that I fully intend on trying. Here is the recipe:



  • 1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap, grated
  • 1/2 C. Borax
  • 1/2 C. Washing Soda (not baking soda)
  • 5 gallon bucket


In 2 qt. pot, put grated Fels Naptha soap, Borax, Washing Soda and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring occasionally until the Fels Naptha is dissolved. Continue on a low boil for 20 minutes. Add 6 cups cold water, mix with a wisk until solution is blended. Pour mixture into an old, clean, bucket. Add 22 cups of water to the bucket. (at this point, I mark the side of the bucket with a Sharpie so I don't have to measure the water again) Mix with a wisk until blended. (the texture will look like snot, lol!). If you like, you can add some essential oils, or just leave as is. Mix with the wisk every so often for 24 hours. (I did this the first 2 times I made the detergent. Now I just mix well with the cold water and pour into 2 large containers). Pour into empty laundry bottles. Use 1/2 to 1 cup per load. Stains can be treated with moist Fels Naptha lightly rubbed onto stain. For extra heavy duty loads, add 1/4-1/2 cup of Borax.


  • Fels Naptha Soap: $.99 (1/3 bar = $.33)
  • Borax $2.79: (1/2 cup ~ $.10)
  • Washing Soda: $2.59 (1/2 cup ~$.10)
  • Cost per 2 gallons of detergent: $.53
  • Cost per load: $.01 - .02

By Megan F.

Homemade Recipe (Powder)

I make my own also. I use powder so I don't have to worry about melting anything.

  • 1 bar zote soap
  • 3 cups borax
  • 3 cups washing soda

This makes enough for several months since you only use 2 Tbsp. per load.

By halloweenfreak

I Avoid Liquid Laundry Soap

I usually make my own laundry soap with the recipe above with Zote, washing soda, borax, but I use any samples, motel bars, etc of soap I get for free. I never make or buy a liquid laundry product; why pay for the water, and the containers are heavy. And messy. A batch, or a double batch (If I have a lot of soap bars) lasts forever, and I use the food processor to grate the soap!

By Linda

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 22, 20070 found this helpful

I was told by an authority that it is not really the soap that washes - it is the water. Water is a good solvent. So any soap you add is extra and powers up the water. If you are desperate, plain water is good. In many countries, laundry is done right at the river bank with a rock and water.

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 22, 20070 found this helpful

Is Fels Naptha soap, Zote soap, and Washing Soda sold in dept. stores such as Walmart? Would these items be found in the household cleansing items aisle or with the laundry detergent products? Can it be found in common dept. stores like Walmart, etc? Thanks in advance.

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 23, 20070 found this helpful

I use the cheapo stuff for most clothes, and use 1/2 of what is recommended. If clothes are particularly grimey, I add a bit of white vinegar to the wash water. It seems to cut through body oils better. I only use a name-brand bleach alternative for whites, which I soak for at least a few hours.

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June 23, 20070 found this helpful

I happen to know walmart does not carry the washing soda which I ended up buying at kroger's. I believe it is arm & hammer brand. also the krogers store carries the fels naptha soap. only place i've ever noticed it. does wonders on stains. had a sloppy mcdonald burger get me with catsup, etc and i didn't try working on the spot until the next day. i took the spot, wet it and rubbed the fels naptha soap on it and couldn't believe it , it all came out! great stuff.

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 24, 20070 found this helpful

The Wonder Ball is the best moneysaver. Use no detergent, chemical-free, lasts about 2 years/2000 washes. Check it out on Been using mine for the past year & its still working fine.

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June 24, 20070 found this helpful

I just made the homemade detergent yesterday. I used 1/4 plus 1/8 bar of pink Zote, 3/4 cup borax and 3/4 cup washing soda. It made two gallons. It gelled up great, is light pink, smells good.....AND IT WORKS!!!!!

I soaked my husband's jeans overnight in the washer with the detergent, then finished washing them this morning and they came out CLEAN. No more stains, etc....They've been horribly stained from grease, oil, dirt, etc...for quite a while--store bought detergent didn't even take all the stains out--THIS DID!!!!

I'm incredibly impressed, and boy is this cheap to make!!! The washing soda wasn't that easy to find, but somewhere else on another thread here is the phone number for Arm and Hammer--just call them and give them what you want and your zip code, and they'll tell ya' where to get it.

Try this stuff!!!!

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 25, 20070 found this helpful

To save on liquid soap I mix half soap & half water.
My clothes are still clean. It' true they do tell you to use to much. Hope this helps.
Christine L.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 3, 20070 found this helpful

When I can't pour anymore out of the liquid laundry detergent bottle, I put it into the washer by moving it sideways into the flow of the washer as it is filling up, by putting the open bottle into the flow of washer water, and then I swish it around and I usually get another wash or two out of it. It is a variation on a theme as my dad used to turn the ketchup bottle upside down first to get most of it out, and then when a recipe called for ketchup and water, he'd put the water into the ketcup bottle and swish it around and get every last bit out of the bottle. Same for when you have to use a can of tomato sauce or jarred spaghetti sauce, I put a little water in the mostly emptied bottle, put the top back on and swish vigorously, and you'd be surprised how much extra you get out of bottle, by rinsing it and getting most of your ingredients out of the container. The little bit of water you add is not that significant.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 9, 20070 found this helpful

Use only half the amount of detergent recommended by the manufacturer. It works for me.

Consider buying brands that sell those small concentrated containers of laundry detergent. The only different between those and others is the larger bottles have more water in the detergent. Why buy water?

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By guest (Guest Post)
August 20, 20070 found this helpful

Where can you purchase WASHING SODA? I have never heard of it before. Thank you

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By guest (Guest Post)
May 9, 20080 found this helpful

if you buy the sears buckets on sale, it's only 5 cents a load

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November 17, 20080 found this helpful

To: Leanna (Guest Post) (08/20/2007) ;
You can find Washing Soda on the same shelf, or very close, as you find the borax on.

I make the liquid Fels Naptha version of the laundry soap and my whole family loves it! You only need about a half cup for a full load. I night add another quarter cup for my husband's work jeans if they're particularly greasy or full of graphite powder (gross stuff from a machine shop.) I've never been sorry I switched. It also makes the house smell fantastic when I make it! very fresh and clean! I'd definately reccomend it.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 17, 20080 found this helpful

What is Zote and where does one purchase it?

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 17, 20080 found this helpful

I use only liquid laundry soap (The cheapest I can find) as opposed to the powder...I discovered that the powder (that was not dissolving) was caking up inside the agitator.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 17, 20080 found this helpful

First, I never shop at WalMart and won't. Second, I have a new washer, a front-loading Energy Star washer that I swear washes better than the conventional top-loader. Third, I have always preferred liquid detergent as the powdered ones do not always dissolve, even if you do put water in the machine, stop it to add detergent, add more water and finally the clothes. While some friends swear by Shaklee, I always found it the most difficult to dissolve. Fourth, I have used Borax for years. It makes a huge difference as far as removing odors and grease. I use baking soda or washing soda when the store is out of Borax. Try adding some Borax to whatever you use to wash floors and you will see the difference. Fifth, I never use detergents with a scent. We visited my brother and his wife several years ago and washed clothes at her house. It took three subsequent washings to remove the detergent smell. In fact, we had to segregate the clothes washed at her house from the rest of the clothes to prevent the smell from transferring.

Sixth, that said, I now live alone as the kids are grown. I use the cap of the detergent container to measure. While the mfg of my washer says to use half a capful with my washer, I use a quarter capful. I don't always use Borax, just for kitchen linens and bath towels. My clothes are very clean -- cleaner than they were when I had a top-loader. And I always wash in cold water, except when my mechanic son brings his wash "home" to me.

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November 17, 20080 found this helpful

I have used Amway powder laundry cleaner for over 31 years. I found this to be the best return of any detergent on the market. 2nd would be the Sears powdered laundry cleaner. I would keep a ledger and then average out each box cost per laundry load. It would be just pennies.
Of course, I have a water softner which inhances the cleaning of any product, but I feel these costs are minimal when the clothing is not washed to pieces, looks as nice as the day they were purchased.
My husband works in an industrial manufacturing job and on his work clothes and the rugs I buy ERA or WISK to take out or at least work on the industrial dirt. The AMYWAY SA8 would do it, just sometimes I need to add the bleach to his and it works. I don't look at the cost for his laundry.
I find that using the AMWAY has eliminated allergy reactions amongst the family, my children and my grandchildren have/had the most sensitive skin and allergies, as I do too. My laundry never comes into question of setting off problems. D-i-l buys dreft for the children's clothing at her house.

Laundry detergent, no matter which is used, should not be used to MAKE SOAP SUDS in the washer. That is not the point of cleaning. The washing machine as well as the detergent manufacturer's will stress LOW SUDS are better for cleaning. As stated above and I have done this to refresh clothes--using just plain water will work. DO NOT OVERLOAD the washer, which is the biggest mistake ever done.
Presoak or pretreat what you need to. Sometimes simply proxide on a stain, esp a protein stain will remove it. Or an oxygen bleach, rather than clorine bleach.
Finally, my biggest cost is NOT the detergent as most of you have stated. It is the water. Energy conservation and water conservation is very important. I have a sud saver washing machine that is now no longer manufactured. You would think in times of conservation this would be on a high selling level. I manage my laundry (like our grandmothers did with the OLD FASHIONED RINGER WASHERS) and get 4 washes from 1 washer load of water. Not a big deal as my mother went from a ringer to the sudsaver washer in the 50's and I am now 54, still doing laundry with the sudsaver. The machine cost me plenty to get, Maytag was the last to make them--but since we pay double for water use--what you use is prorated for sewer use--so minimal monthly water in and out cost is about $50. Doesn't matter if I water the garden, or if someone wastes the water by doing their yard or washing their car, we all pay the same.

Those who added using borax, etc in their wash--that is what the foremothers used too. Naptha soap, I have some of that in the cupboard, a century ago that was a staple for laundry. Can still be purchased at grocery or hardware stores. (I am not talking BIG BOX stores.)

Hope this added to the conversation! GrandmaJ

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July 27, 20120 found this helpful

What is zote - washing soda? I live in Alberta, Canada.. I've never heard of the stuff. Please help

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June 8, 20150 found this helpful

Making your own laundry detergent can be VERY bad if you have a cesspool or septic system. First of all there is a difference between SOAP and Detergent. Soap is fat based and will clog the drainage in the cesspools/septic system. So using Naptha and sample soaps may end up costing you more money than its worth. I know this because my father was an excavator specializing in installing cesspools and drainage. He forbad my mom to use Ivory flakes on the baby clothes for this very reason. He dug up too many blocked pools and after inquiring what they used for washing clothes, he had his answer. If you have sewers, no problem.

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