29 August 2010

Homemade laundry liquid revisited

I continue to receive emails asking how to cut down on spending and if there is one good way to do it. Well, no, there isn't, it's always small things, done consistently, and never thinking anything is too small be included in our savings plans. The trick to saving grocery money is to keep those small savings coming because over the course of a year, they add up to large amounts. Laundry liquid and laundry powder are good examples of this so I did a price comparison to illustrate that point. BTW, I know that many of you already make your own laundry and cleaning products but there are new comers here and those who are yet to be convinced.

Next week and the week after, I'm doing a soap making workshop at my local Centre. Yesterday, I started preparing for the workshop by making laundry liquid and writing some notes. I haven't made laundry liquid for a couple of years because I usually use laundry powder - it's easier and quicker to make but I know it doesn't work in everyone's washing machine, so I'll be showing everyone how to make both the liquid and the powder, as well as bar soap.

The recipe I used for this is the one that's freely available on the net.
  • 1 cup soap - grated or flaked (I used Lux Flakes),
  • ½ cup washing soda (the powder not the crystals)
  • ½ cup borax.
I bought my supplies from IGA but have checked that they're also available at Woolworths. If you're in another country and can't find washing soda or borax, try your supermarket, hardware store or brewing suppliers. If you have no luck, look on the web.

My products cost:
  • Lux Flakes 700 grams $6.65.
  • Washing Soda 1 kg $3.40
  • Borax 500 grams $3.48
I weighed everything on my electronic scale to get accurate costings.
  • 700 grams of Lux is 9.3 cups | 1 cup Lux 75 grams
  • 1kg of washing soda is 3.9 cups | 1 cup washing soda 255 grams
  • 500 grams of borax is 2.6 cups | 1 cup borax 190 grams
  • 1 cup Lux Flakes = 72 cents
  • ½ cup washing soda = 44 cents
  • ½ cup borax = 59 cents

To make a comparison, Dynamo, one of the leading laundry liquids here, costs (at Woolworths) $8.27 for a one litre refill pouch. So 10 litres of Dynamo would cost $82.70 Making your own saves you $80.95! I would imagine that 10 litre of laundry detergent would be enough for the average family for a year. So on this one product, over the course of a year, you'll save over $80 if you make it yourself. AND! you'll have enough of your ingredients to make it several times.

Some people notice their whites getting a little greyish after using the homemade powder or liquid for a while. I think that variation is the result of having either soft or hard water. I use a scoop of Napisan - an oxygen bleach - every so often and that fixes the greying problem. You can add Napisan (or the Aldi equivalent) to your liquid or powder if you want to. Even adding that won't alter the excellent value for money you get. The cheapest Napisan I found was $11.70 for 2 kg, you could add a scoop to any load you needed it for. Dynamo with Sard (an oxy bleach) costs $10.64 a litre. I use homemade laundry products in my front loader, have never had any problems with it and always get a good result.

If you use your grey water on your garden, leave the borax out. Borax is a whitener and deodoriser, so add the oxy-bleach instead. If borax builds up in your garden, it will damage your plants. If you can't use oxy-bleach either, make sure you hang your clothes in the sun to dry. That has a slight bleaching effect.

When you finish making the liquid and have mopped up with your rag, put the rag in the washing machine. It will probably contain a fair bit of liquid and you won't need to use as much laundry liquid in that next wash.

So, how do you make it? Take 1 cup soap - either flakes or grated, ½ cup washing soda, ½ cup borax and add it to 1 ½ litres/quarts of water in a saucepan. Put the saucepan on the stove and heat the mixture. Stir until all the ingredients are completely dissolved and remove it from the heat. I do all that in the kitchen, then take the saucepan to the laundry.

Get a large container - a bucket or tub that holds at least 10 litres/quarts, and measure in about 8 litres/quarts of cold water. Add the hot soapy mixture and stir. That's it! As it cools, the mixture will turn to gel. You can add fragrance at this point if you want to but I prefer to keep things as free from additives as I can. Gather some containers and pour it in. Please note: the gel gets quite thick, so make sure you use a wide mouthed container or leave enough room in the container to allow you to shake it well before you use it.

Add about ¼ cup of this liquid to your machine for a good wash. It's fine in a cold water wash.

This is the mixture after it's been mixed with the water. Both here and in the following photo, you can see that it's starting to gel up.

You will notice that the container with the red top has plenty of room in it to shake the contents well before use.

I'm going to make a small test batch of washing liquid using my homemade liquid soap instead of Lux. I doubt there will be much of a difference, but I want to be sure. BTW, when I get the time, I'm going to make another batch of liquid soap that I want to be a bit thicker. The liquid soap I have now is as thin as water and when I use it in a soap dispenser, I waste a lot.

Making your own laundry liquid or powder at home is just one of the many ways you can save money. Add this to the savings from stockpiling, shopping for bargains, making your own green cleaners, jams, cordials and baked goods, cooking from scratch, and being as thrifty as possible with everything you use, and you'll see the savings come in. I am sure that once you've worked out ways to modify the way you shop and use your products, you'll notice the difference. And isn't it better to have those dollars in your pocket, or paying off your debt, than in the hands of big business? All it takes is a deisre to do it, some organisation on your part and the work to make the products. You've got the information, now it's over to you.

ADDIT: If anyone has accurate costings for laundry liquid in other countries, please send them to me so I can add them to the post. Thanks!

This is a costing for our Canadian friends from Melissa at empress of dirt blog. Thanks Melissa.

I have done the calculations for making laundry liquid in Ontario, Canada. Our prices here are pretty close to yours.

I use chopped up pure bar soap (6 bars/$7.00), washing soda (3kg/$8.99), and borax (2kg/$6.59).
Based on these prices in Canadian dollars,

1 cup soap = $1.16
1/2 cup soda = 38 cents
1/2 cup borax = 33 cents
Total = $1.87 for ten litres.


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