So now that I’m revelling in the luxury of our new place (albeit on that we’ve had to caulk grouting ourselves and have to put in our own curtains at some point), I decided to make my own laundry detergent.
Why on earth would you do this, hippy?
Firstly, our new place is $45 per week more expensive, and I wrote in previous posts that I’ve actually accepted four days a week work this year. It’s important that Ben and I make savings wherever possible, and things like eating out and unnecessary costs have been cut down. In addition to this, we’ve also re-jigged our budget to suit this so we can still save, pay of the credit card (nearly there, no thanks to all the work I had to get done on my car near the end of last year!) and buy our own washing machine (a super perk of a bathroom with a laundry space. Our Laundromat days are nearly over). More on these things later. Mostly, it was because we were nearly out of laundry detergent, and that shit is expensive.
I’d been wanting to do this for a while. The recipe for this was one I’d seen on Rhonda Hetzel’s super duper amazing Down to Earth blog and was also published in her recent Penguin book of the same name (I love that book SO MUCH). I’d found some Borax ($8-10) at Bunnings as it’s hard to find at supermarkets these days. Even at Bunnings, there was lots of varieties that had other things added to it. I found washing soda ($4) (not baking or bi-carb) and pure soap ($2 for 4 bars) in the laundry aisle of the supermarket. You might have to have a slow mosey to find these, as these are often generic brands or poorly placed on the shelf. My total cost for ingredients was about $16 and I found them over a couple of months.
If you use pure soap flakes (like Lux), you simply dump a cup into 1.5 litres of water in a saucepan on the stove. If you want to make this even cheaper and get pure soap bars, grate it yourself, or better yet, chop/bash it up roughly then put it in the food processor until it’s dust. It melts even faster this way.
Next, heat your saucepan on medium, stirring, until the soap completely melts (it took me about 10 minutes). There should be no trace of granules, it should look like a clear soup (and yellow, if you use pure soap).
Add ½ cup of washing soda and ½ a cup of borax. Rhonda recommends leaving out the borax if you use your laundry water on the garden, especially vegetables. Stir until thickened then remove from heat. All of the utensils I used were my regular kitchen items, you just have to make sure you don’t leave soap traces in your saucepan/ food processor when you wash it.
Pour this into a bucket then fill up the rest of the bucket (you’ll probably add 9L of water, my bucket here is a little bigger, which suits a klutz like me perfectly). Stir a lot. It thickens as it cools. The more you stir, the less it will separate and the smoother it will be.
Separate into storage containers. As you can see, I cashed in on Ben’s soft drink addiction. I labelled the containers not because it goes off, but because I’m curious to see how long it lasts us.
You will need to shake this for a couple of minutes before use as it does separate again in storage. The soap will clump together and you’ll get a clear section at the bottom of your bottle. This is fine. You can add essential oils to the bucket or individual containers if you wish.
Use ¼ to ½ cup per load. Use as a stain remover directly on clothes. Use as a floor cleaner added to a bucket of hot water. Remember that this does not have detergents in it like commercial products, so it foams less even though it’s still doing a good job.
Total cost for 10 Litres of laundry liquid= $2- $2.50 and lots of ingredients left over to make more.
Compare this with 1L of Cold Power Advance Liquid Ultra Concentrate which is $10.24 at Coles, or Coles Laundry Liquid Top Loader Ultra Concentrate 875mL at $5.59 (or $6.39/ litre). That would be $102.40 and $63.90 respectively for 10 litres.
Totally worth that trip to Bunnings.