There’s a reason why Pinterest is so widely successful – moms love DIY projects. What else are you supposed to do with leftover tee-shirts other than make a rug? There’s nothing I like more than crafting something that is both functional and fashionable.
So naturally when I came across a pin for homemade laundry detergent my interest as a mom and a laundress was peaked. I’ve heard that it can save you $100s every year and that it is as easy as ramen noodles, but is it all its cracked up to be? Sure it can save you money but can it clean your clothes as good as the commercial stuff? And exactly how much money do you really save? I took this DIY challenge and cooked up a batch of rustic Tide to find out the truth behind homemade detergent.
The recipe I found had 3 core ingredients:
- Borax ($4.99)
- Washing Soda ($3.69)
- FelsNaptha laundry soap ($1.50)
Each can be found in almost every grocery store. Mix these 3 ingredients together, add some Purex Crystals (optional) and viola! You now have a six month supply of detergent (127 loads). Not bad, huh. (Above) is what it looks like.
On with the testing….
I took a load of clothes comprised of each family member’s garments – my husband’s dress shirts, son’s soccer clothes and daughter’s play clothes. I threw the load in the washer, added the detergent (¼ cup) and set the cycle on “normal” wash in warm water.
Thirty minutes later the wash cycle was complete. I opened the door to my front loader and was greeted with a soft, fresh soap scent. It was not nearly as strong as Tide but I prefer a light scent over a heavy perfume anyway. I pulled out a few garments and inspected them for brightness, softness and stain-removal. The clothes were the same degree of softness as the store brand and about the same brightness – no more, no less. I did notice a slight discoloration on my hand towels (from my nightly face cleansing routine) was still present. Whether or not Tide could have removed the discoloration, I don’t know. After quickly doing a one-over on the rest of the clothes I concluded that my homemade concoction was on par with the store brand. There was no discernable difference in the level of cleanliness, only a difference in prevalence of scent on the clothing.
So its cleans about the same but is it worth the effort of grinding the bar soap, vigorously shaking the container and cleaning up the mess afterwards? In my opinion, yes and no. Here’s why no: I’m a pretty savvy shopper and I only purchase detergent if it is on sale or I have a coupon. I recently hit the detergent lottery when my local grocery store had Purex for 50% off. I paid $2.70 for a 72 oz container that cleans about 48 loads. That’s $.05/load. The total I spent for my homemade detergent was $10.18 for a container that cleans 127 loads. That’s $.08/load. Now I realize that my Purex jackpot was a one-time event but even regular priced Purex is $.11/load. If the average family of four washes 8 loads of laundry a week that’s only an annual savings of $33.00. Not anything to be brag about. Here’s why yes: I’m not a “crunchy, granola-type” mom but I do make efforts to be green when feasible. This method of laundry is definitely the eco-friendly option. There’s less ingredients involved which means less manufacturing, less transportation and less waste created. This is a concentrated recipe so again you are using far less product than the store brand and do not have to make trips to the grocery store for as often. For this reason alone I think I will keep my homemade batch and continue to use it.