One of the things I have always disliked about laundry is the expense and the waste of time. I'm fortunate to have a washer and dryer in my current apartment -- though the dryer is electric and I only use it as a last resort in the winter to dry sheets and blankets (everything else is hung on hangers around the apartment). Most of the year, I hang my clothing to dry on the line.
Detergent is always expensive - liquid detergent is a waste because you're basically buying water - powdered detergent comes with its own issues. I read about making your own laundry detergent several months ago and have been planning for the day when I finally used up my box of Biokleen powdered detergent.
While the ingredients are all basically the same - bar soap, borax and washing soda -- proportions vary widely as do the amounts you use. One powdered recipe recommends using only 1T or 2T, and the liquid detergent recipes vary between from 1/8 to 1 cup. One of the biggest variables in the liquid detergents seems to be the amount of water added -- recipes calling for 2 gallons are around 1/4-1/2 cup soap for a load, and recipes calling for a 5 or 10 gallon bucket have you putting up to 1 cup in the wash. I live in a small apartment - the idea of using a small 2 gallon bucket (with lid) that fits under the sink appeals to me.
Since I am cutting down on driving (like to 200 miles per month average since December), I like to link trips as much as possible. Yesterday I drove into San Francisco and left my car for an oil change (prematurely - at 6K miles, I'll wait until 10K or next June), then I went and did errants. I picked up Borax ($5.29 for 76 oz) and washing soda ($0.60 per lb) at Rainbow Grocery. They no longer carry Fels Naptha, so I picked up a couple bars of Kirk's Coco Castille (saponified coconut oil) "just in case." My brother helpfully checked around and informed me that the Pastime Ace on San Pablo (where I planned to find a bucket) carries Fels Naptha -- so I picked up James and we went back to the East Bay to the hardware store.
So, I invested in a bucket with a lid -- buying more plastic was not part of the general idea of making my own laundry detergent but my last bucket only lasted 12 years and died a month ago. I ended up buying a second bucket for floor cleaning and watering the garden. This morning I realized I need some kind of container to store my fertilizer ingredients per Crunchy Chicken's gardening challenge (and watering the garden is going to be another experiment - I have to visit my friend Dave about the 55 gal drum/spigot gravity drip hose with a battery powered timer system he uses).
Costs (including tax):
Bucket & Lid
Ingredients (per batch)
- Borax ($5.73 for 76 oz box = $0.07 per oz) 1/2 c weighs 2 7/8 oz - $0.20
- Fels Naptha ($1.40 for 4 oz bar) 1/3 bar - $0.47
- Washing Soda ($0.65/lb = $.04 per oz) - 1/2 c weighs 5 1/8 oz - $0.205
Total Cost for 2-Gallon batch of laundry detergent: $0.875
64 loads at 1/2 c. soap per load
$0.014 per load
If I include the cost of the bucket, my first batch comes to $0.11 per wash (or less if I use 1/4 per load).
The powdered soap I was using costs something like $0.11 and liquid soap costs a bit more.
- Dissolve 1/3 bar grated Fels Naptha soap in hot water.
- Add 1/2 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup Borax to hot water.
- Pour hot tap water and soap mixure into bucket and stir. Let sit overnight before using.
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