I love to find a bargain, but finding deals on our go-to laundry detergent, Tide, has gotten harder and harder over the last few years. A local drug store manager told me that Tide is the thing that gets stolen the most out of his store.
“Our Tide inventory just disappears. It’s like gold to some people,” he said.
When the small size jumped up to $7.99 a bottle at my favorite store (for around 34 loads if you are very frugal with it), I knew I had to find another detergent that didn’t break out my husband’s sensitive skin and that worked.
Trying Different Laundry Soap Recipes
I started by trying some of the recipes readily available on the Internet. Each required similar ingredients:
- Some type of bar soap
- Washing powder
- Boosting Agent
Experiment # 1: Fels-Naptha
The first recipe I tried required grating soap. Fels-Naptha was suggested for those with allergic reactions to some soaps (everyone in my family but me). Other sites said you could use Ivory or any type of bar soap. I chose Fels-Naptha because it was cheap and would hopefully work for my husband and daughters’ sensitive skin.
The first step was to grate the soap. I bought a cheap grater and went to work. And worked, and worked and worked and worked. Let me just say that after grating the soap once, I knew I would never do it again, even if I had to pay $7.99 a bottle for detergent.
The detergent wasn’t that great. The recipe said it would gel up, but it didn’t. I’m sure it was partly me and there may be a better way to grate soap, but I’m over it.
Experiment # 2: No-Grate Recipe with Dawn
Next, I stumbled upon a site called One Good Thing by Jillee. She has a recipe on her site for no-grate laundry soap made with some of the same ingredients, but using Dawn dish washing liquid instead of bar soap (no grating) and no cooking.
This recipe was much easier to put together, but we didn’t feel it cleaned as well as our Tide. It was “okay”, but not great. It didn’t have much of a scent, which some people might appreciate, but I didn’t like. I love the mountain spring scent and have used it for about 23 years now.
Experiment # 3: My Own Recipe
Since the other recipes weren’t working, I decided to experiment on my own. The result is a recipe that smells great, works great, is easy to put together and costs me about .60 per gallon to make (I get about 20 loads out of that). This is a HUGE savings for us as we were going through about that much per week or more, so we are saving $7.00 or so a week, 52 weeks a year, which equals $364 a year. I can use that to buy fabric softener now. Except that I just saw a recipe for homemade fabric softener, but that’s an experiment for another day.
Lori’s Spring Fresh Scent, No-Grate, Do It Yourself Laundry Soap
You will need:
- 1-gallon container (I used an empty vinegar jug, but you could also use a milk jug, etc.)
- Dawn dishwashing liquid in a scent you like. I chose one called “mountain spring”
- Downy in-wash scent booster beads. Again, I chose “Fresh”, which has a similar smell to mountain spring, but there were two others. Choose the one you like.
- Oxygen booster (I get mine at the dollar store and it works great)
- Borax (I buy the brand called 20 Mule Team)
- Washing Soda (I buy Arm & Hammer brand)
- Measuring spoon in Tablespoon size
- Small funnel
- Hot Water
Mix it Up!
Place the funnel into the top of the gallon jug and measure the following amounts/ingredients into the jug:
- 4 Tablespoons Borax
- 4 Tablespoons Washing Soda
- 2 Tablespoons Oxygen booster
- 4 Tablespoons scent beads
- 3 Tablespoons Dawn dishwashing soap
- 1/2 Gallon hot water (no need to measure, just fill the container about half way)
Put the lid on and give it a good shake. Let it settle down and then fill to the top with water. It doesn’t matter if this water is hot or cold as the ingredients should already be dissolved. Don’t worry when the suds bubble over. Keep filling until you see the liquid reach the top. Tighten the lid, give the jug a rinse to get the suds off and this is ready to use.
How to Use It
Whether you have an HE or regular washer, this stuff works. Mine is HE. You will need to use more of it than normal. I have an old Tide jug that I fill with the solution. I use the lid of that, fill it twice, throw the mixture inside the drum (not the dispenser) and wash as normal. You could also use a measuring cup and pour right out of your gallon jug. Just do a full cup or maybe even two. Don’t worry about using more. You’re still going to save a ton of money.
If your clothes are particularly dirty, add a couple scoops of the oxygen booster and/or scent beads to the wash cycle to give it more of a boost.
If you don’t like scent, use unscented Dawn and leave out the scent beads. The detergent will have barely any scent.
The mixture will be runny, almost like water. This is fine and it will still work. You’re just used to gloppy gels. Trust me they don’t necessarily clean any better.
Even though the mixture uses Dawn, it will not get overly sudsy even in your HE washer.
Now, I am experimenting with carpet cleaner solution ($19.99 a bottle is way too pricey for me) and fabric softener, so stay tuned. You can sign up for our newsletter and get updates regularly.