Savings and Self-Sufficiency with Homemade Laundry Detergent, by Carla

What would make someone want to make their own laundry detergent? It is so convenient to go to the store and get a ready made, nicely package, conveniently mixed, nice smelling, make your clothes fresher and your life better if you use me, laundry detergent. My husband and I have always had a preparedness mentality-we live 10 miles from a grocery store and 20 miles from a Wal-Mart. You don’t just run up the street to buy a roll of toilet paper. We prepared for Y2K and have always thought “what if.” We don’t worry, for we know God is in control and is truly the provider, but feel he leaves it up to us to do the leg work.

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Not only am I preparing for my family, but I have neighbors that will ultimately need some help, extended family members that are not in the position financially to be able to stock up and hopefully enough to barter if necessary. So as I buy, it is on my mind “How far will this go to feed possibly 10-to-15 people?” Soup ingredients, meat extenders, et cetera are some of the things that will help to feed a lot on a little. Not wasting the money we have and are trying to save up, making sure I spend wisely for the money is of utmost importance.

I started looking for ways to “substitute” my own homemade items for those that we normally buy. Homemade mixes for Bisquick, brownies, rice mixes, etc., anything that saves money is on my lists. One of the most expensive-even though I would lean to the least expensive side-was laundry detergent. It is an item where you are literally throwing your money down the drain. I began to look on the web for ways to make my own, and lo and behold I came across a lot of formulas. I started making my own and have passed the recipe to many friends. They can’t thank me enough! It is as good and in my humble opinion, better than the most expensive store-bought laundry detergent. When you figure the costs savings, it is outstanding! Even if you are not “into” preparedness, it is just a great way to save money in these harder times. I find my ingredients at the local Kroger’s [grocery] store and one of the items can be bought at Wal-Mart, but for the few cents savings, unless I am going there for many more items, the time factor and extra mileage, it is just not worth it. Trying to buy laundry detergent in bulk, the storage problem and costs factor, is really diminished by making your own. I have tweaked the use part of this recipe to suit me, but will give you the total information and then let each decide on their own.

Homemade Laundry Detergent — Makes Enough for About 180 Loads

1 Bar – Fels Naptha soap ($1.29 for a 5-1/2 ounce bar)
1 cup – Washing soda $3.99 55 ounce box (do not confuse this with baking soda)
1/2 cup – Borax ($3.49 for a 76 ounce box on sale price, regular price is $3.99) This is the old 20 Mule Team brand, and this can be found at Wal-Mart.)
1 – 5 gal. HDPE plastic utility bucket with lid. These are often available free from bakeries, or approximately $4-tio $5 at [Sam’s Club or] Wal-Mart, or your local paint store)

Grate the Fels Naptha soap into small pieces. You can chop it with a knife, cheese grater, or food processor. Heat four quarts of water in a large, heavy saucepan on top of stove and add soap, stirring constantly till melted. This will take a while depending on the size of your grated pieces. Meanwhile, fill the five gallon bucket half full with warm water. Add the 1 cup of washing soda and the 1/2 cup of Borax and stir well. When soap is melted pour into bucket, then continue to fill bucket with warm water until full. Stir well and let sit overnight until cool. This “concentrate” will thicken as it sits. Stir before using. Now, I use this concentrate straight out of the bucket and use 1/3 cup per large load. The original instructions said to save an old laundry detergent container, fill half full with concentrate then add water to top. Shake and use 5/8ths cup per large load. Repeat till your concentrate is gone. This will give you 10 gallons of laundry detergent. That just seemed more trouble than necessary. So I use the concentrate as-is. No need to have to make room for another container. You will have enough leftover soda and Borax to make approximately five more buckets of detergent. You will have to buy more soap. The costs for one 5-gallon bucket (not including the bucket) is approximately $2.40. If you compared that to the expensive brand of concentrate @ $20.00 per container, just think of the savings and that is if your store bought container makes 180 loads! Since I don’t buy the twenty dollar Tide brand, I’m not sure if that is for 180 loads, so the savings could be a lot more. $14.40 for a total of six 5-gallon buckets compared to $120 for six containers of Tide 2X concentrate. In a small space, enough to hold 1 box of Borax, 1 box of washing soda and 6 bars of Fels Naptha you can have better cleaning power than six containers of store bought laundry detergent. This will also save more than $100!

I have a niece that uses Ivory bar soap, which is cheaper than the Fels Naptha and is totally pleased with her product. The Borax and washing soda have many other household uses also, as the detergent would not. Making my own has gotten me hooked on doing many other things for myself. Why pay someone to do the mixing? It would be nice to put the savings into a jar, but there are too many other things that we need to get ready for when TEOTWAWKI comes along. It is good to look at my pantry that God has provided and know that my family will not go hungry. We can stay clean, one of the most important factors in hard times, thanks to many of the good articles that you have on the blog.

I just read today about using a 5 gallon bucket and making a washing “machine.” We have many things that we still need, but are working on acquiring and every time there is a new entry marked off the list, it gives us a sense of security knowing that is one thing we won’t have to worry about. We have encouraged others that we know are capable to do likewise. Not necessarily because they believe [in disaster preparedness] as we do, but to just be good stewards of what the Lord has given us. Whether it is an ice storm, which we have made it through several times comfortably, or tornado damage and electricity out for 4-to-5 days, we can survive easily. I’m thankful for all you folks who are teaching me what to do and how to do it. Saving money in small ways makes it easier to acquire more of the needful things. – Carla