Monday, August 27, 2012

DIY Laundry Detergent & Dishwasher Detergent

Late August/early September is the real new year for teachers. For me, it's a time of announcing resolutions and setting goals. With the impending doom of work/school starting back up (tomorrow!), I've been thinking of ways to better utilize our time and money. One thing I've decided to do to save money is to DIY a (much) more inexpensive and more natural version of laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent.

The process is super easy and you only need a few ingredients to get started. At the grocery store, I picked up:
I even used my DIY reuseable shopping bags to lug it all home!

To make the laundry detergent, using a hand grater, grate 2 bars of soap into a bowl.

Then, add 2 cups of Borax...

and 2 cups of washing soda.

Then, mix well.

Finally, add the soap to the container of your choice. I opted to purchase a couple plastic containers for a couple dollars a piece. I felt a little bad about the plastic (since this is somewhat of a greener and healthier alternative to regular detergent), but I figured since I'd use the containers over and over, it wasn't so bad. I also picked up a couple measuring spoons that I'll store inside the soap container. This will make it easy to measure the right amount of soap (1-2 tablespoons, depending on the size of your load and how soiled your garments are).

For the dishwasher detergent, mix 2 cups of Borax, 2 cups of washing soda, and 2 packagees of unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid.

I did a bit of research before diving in. Some people are concerned whether Borax safe. According to my research, people get Borax confused with boric acid. Borax is a mineral that is mined directly from the ground. Boric acid is produced when borax is reacted with another acid (like sulfuric or hydrochloric acid). Borax is safe for and is not readily absorbed by the skin. Crunchy Betty does a pretty good job of explaining the product in more detail. For me, it boils down to the fact that using these three natural ingredients has to be a healthier option than what we were using before (whatever name brand was on sale). As for the dishwasher detergent, I might eliminate the Kool-Aid in future batches, but I chose to stick to the recipe I found.
As for the cost? You'll save a ton. Tide 2x Ultra will run you $17.99 at Target and will get you through 90 loads of laundry. It ends up costing you about 20 cents per load. A batch of homemade detergent will run you about $5.96 and will get you through about the 90 loads. It ends up costing you about 6 cents per load. All things considered, you'll end up saving about $12.50 for each batch of detergent! What's even better, the ingredients I bought will get me through at least one more batch of detergent. I still have 6 bars of soap and a few cups of both borax and washing soda left over.
While $12.50 doesn't seem like a whole lot, when added up over the course of a year, it's a ton! Plus, think about how much you could save by DIYing other household supplies on top of these ones. I'm considering trying out others, but I have to decide if it's more about saving money or making healthier alternatives. (There are lots of tutorials out there that use ingredients that are cheap but aren't natural.) I'm thinking the healthier alternatives route is the best. I'm hoping to find a way to balance the two.


  1. I'd love to know what you think of the homemade stuff after using it. I've been thinking about making detergent to savee money, but my husband is skeptical about how well it'll clean our clothes.

  2. My husband is a bit skeptical too. Quite honestly, I am too. When I don't see crazy amounts of suds in the machine, I think something's wrong. The truth is, more suds don't mean more clean!

    So far, so good. I have done 2 loads with the stuff, and they came out of the washer smelling fresh and clean. The smell was hard to pick up (the stuff is almost scentless), but I smelled each item and they all had the same hint of cleanliness! :) If you're skeptical but want to try something, try the dishwasher detergent. You really can't go wrong there!

    Have your kiddos started back at school yet? Our teachers started today and the kids come back next Tuesday. Hope you get off to a fabulous start! :)


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