There's a few reasons, but the main one really is that I don't like liquid laundry detergent, and don't feel like it's working as well as powdered detergent.
However, I've tried making powdered laundry detergent in the past, grating the soap, etc... but I ended up taking the wash out and finding little bits of bar soap stuck onto the clothes, so that made me not want to do it...
On top of that, my husband likes scented laundry detergent. I prefer fragrance free, but he doesn't feel clothes smell "clean" if they don't actually smell like perfume....
But I decided I wanted to try giving homemade powdered laundry detergent another try, especially now that I brought back the Downy Unstoppables- a laundry perfuming thing- from my trip to the US.
The clincher was keeping track of my groceries bill to the last detail, and trying to keep it lower and seeing that we were nearly out of laundry detergent. I didn't want to add the large sum of a big thing of laundry detergent to the monthly total, so decided to experiment with making my own.
There are many similar recipes for homemade laundry detergent, using a lot of the same basic ingredients- bar soap, washing soda, and borax, in varying quantities. They don't sell borax locally (at least not easy to find), so I bought mine via Amazon using my Swagbucks a while back, so had the box sitting at home.
I didn't want to use Fels Naptha or Zote soaps, also because they're not available locally, and I don't know what the ingredients in there are, and I prefer as few chemicals as possible touching my stuff... (Yes, I know that the Downy Unstoppables have chemicals in them, but at least its just one thing with those icky chemicals, and not extra ingredients...) So I just used my homemade bar soap, which lowers the price even more for my detergent.
Washing soda isn't either really available locally, but you can turn baking soda into washing soda just by baking it in the oven until it changes texture, etc... So I just took the baking soda that I bought in bulk VERY cheaply a while back and turned it into washing soda for this recipe.
To ensure that the bar soap will dissolve and I won't end up with chunks on my laundry like I did in the past, I didn't follow the standard instructions to grate the soap- I used my food processor, and success! No clumps of soap left behind.
Result- the laundry detergent works very well, gets the clothing all the way clean, even things that I thought wouldn't come out in the wash. I see no difference in effectiveness between this home, made detergent and store bought laundry detergent. And, Mike is pleased- the clothing "smell clean". (I didn't use an overpowering amount of the Downy Unstoppables, so its fragrant enough to please Mike, but not too strongly smelling so that it bothers me.)
Feel free to leave out the Downy Unstoppables in your detergent to keep yours chemical free and/or cheaper.
This detergent recipe works fine for cloth diapers.
Cost breakdown to follow after the recipe.
Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent RecipeIngredients:
3 bars homemade soap or store bought natural bar soap (or 2 bars of Fels Naptha or Zote)
2 cups washing soda (homemade)
2 cups borax
1/4 cup Downy Unstoppables (optional)
1. Cut up your soap into small pieces. In a food processor, blend until you have small-ish chunks and you see they aren't really becoming any smaller.
2. Add a little bit of your washing soda- I added half a cup- and blend up until it is becoming more powdery than chunky.
3. Add more washing soda, and then the borax, half a cup at a time, blending for a few minutes in between each addition.
4. Add the Downy Unstoppables and blend a little more.
5. Use 1-3 tablespoons per load. 1 tablespoon for a regular wash, 2 for a more dirty than usual wash, and 3 for filthy washes. Since our clothes here tend to get dirty, etc... I use a standard 2 tablespoons per load.
6. Store in a closed container- I use a covered tupperware type container that we rescued from the trash.
So, how does this compare price wise?
My 3 bars homemade soap cost me a total of $0.81 to make.
I bought my baking soda in bulk, dirt cheap, and then made them into washing soda, so my 2 cups washing soda cost me only $0.39.
2 cups borax cost me $2.13.
1/4 cup Downy Unstoppables was $1.10, but, as I said, these can be left out to make it cheaper.
Assuming you wash like I do, and use 2 tablespoons per load, for $4.43 you have enough detergent for 48 loads of laundry. That works out to 9 cents per load. If I'd left out the Downy Unstoppables, it would have cost 7 cents per load.
If you actually gauge the laundry, and use more or less detergent per load depending on how dirty it is, the loads that just use a tablespoon of detergent would cost 3.5-4.5 cents a load.
In comparison, local prices for laundry detergent work out to be 13-16 cents per load.
So, homemade laundry detergent is either a quarter or half the price of the store bought stuff, when you figure it out per load.
Definitely a worthwhile deal!
Of course, you'll have to figure this out based on the prices in your location to figure out if its worth it for you... but for me, it definitely is. It cleans well, it's cheap, it means not needing to run to the store to get more detergent. Winner for me, for sure.
Have you ever made your own homemade laundry detergent? Liquid or powdered? What did you think of it? Were you happy with the results? How does it compare costwise to your local laundry detergent prices? What did you put in yours?