A Penny a Load – Homemade Laundry Detergent

Posted by Liz McCoy Monday, January 12, 2009
Recently a fellow member of an coupon email group posted that she’d followed a recipe and made her own laundry detergent. I thought that was intriguing and decided I would try it also.  It took me a few weeks to put things together and really make an effort to get the ingredients and make the detergent.

Items Needed:
1/3 of a Pink Zote Soap Bar
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
3 qt Sauce Pan
Cheese Grater
2 empty gallon size (or larger) milk jug or liquid laundry soap bottle
I found the Pink Zote (.97) and the Borax (2.98) at Walmart. The washing soda (2.29) I found at Publix (a chain grocery store).
Now let’s begin the process of making the detergent.
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil.  As that boils cut and grate 1/3 of the zote soap.
Note: the soap is soft and easy to cut and grates very easily.
The grated soap will look like this:
(sooo pretty)
So now the water should be boiling. Pour in the shredded soap and stir until it is dissolved. Now I was using a  3 quart sauce pan and I kept it on the heat as I stirred in the soap. The mixture bubbled over and spilled. I removed it from the heat for the rest of the process and it was fine.  So learning from my experience I would say once it comes to a rapid boil remove from the heat and stir in the grated soap.
Now pour in the 1/2 cup of washing soda and stir until dissolved.
Now pour in the 1/2 cup of Borax and stir until dissolved.
Now you're finished with the hard part.  This mixture yields two gallons of laundry detergent.  So if you have a 2+ gallon laundry soap container like I had you can just pour in the whole mixture into the empty container.  If you have a 1 gallon size container you need to half the mixture (approx 3 1/2 cups). 
The next step is to fill the container up with water, to equal 1 gallon or 2 gallons depending on the size of your container.
Now SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE the container(s) to combine the mixture and the water thoroughly.
Now you’re set to wash some laundry…use 1/2 cup per load of laundry.

Let me share with you a few things I learned or observed:
1. The final product is not a fluid liquid it is more of a jelly consistency not quite solid and not quite liquid. That’s okay that’s how it is supposed to be. 
2. The Zote soap doesn’t have a sweet smell it has alitle bit of a strong smell similar to bug spray.  However your laundry does NOT smell like that when it is finished.
3. I read that this is fine with HE washing machines. You would use 1/4 cup of detergent per load.
4. You can also use Ivory soap but you will need to use the whole bar.
5. It took less than 15 minutes from start to finish with taking pictures.
6. There isn’t really a scent to the laundry after it is washed you can add essential oils to the mix to scent it, that is personal choice and it may add a bit to the final cost.
Over all I am really pleased.  I wanted to do this to save money and I will save money even over getting detergent for free with coupon (I can get Tide in the travel size = 1 load for .06 per load).  Let me explain the math.  This post is titled a penny a load and that is exactly how the numbers work out.
2 gallons = 256 ounces / 4 ounces per load = 64 loads
price tax ounces ounces used price per ounce cost of ounces used
Borax 2.98 0.18 76 4 $ 0.04 $ 0.17
A&H 2.29 0.14 55 4 $ 0.03 $ 0.13
Zote 0.97 0.06 $ 0.33
Total Cost: $ 0.62
So give or take a few tenths of a cent I think it is safe to say I can now wash my clothes for one penny a load.  What’s great is that I now can use all the ingredients multiple times. I have 2 more batches of the Zote left and TONS of the powered ingredients.
What do you think?  Are you considering making your own laundry detergent too?  I’d love to hear your experience.  Also let me know if you have any questions and if I left anything out of the post.

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