Saturday, January 22, 2011

Doing everything in a big way (because bigger is always better, of course)

It's been years since I made and used "homemade" laundry soap, which is basically a concoction of dilute basic soap with laundry boosters. I was thrilled with the cost, but less thrilled with the fact that, over time, my whites got dingey. Besides, I really love Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day laundry detergent in the lavender scent.  At $11.50 a bottle, it should come out to about 18 cents load, as a bottle is supposed to do 64 loads. But my family does not understand the meaning of "concentrate," and just won't use the capful per load that is suggested (and I don't want to complain, because I LIKE that the family helps with the laundry), so the price goes up to 40 or 50 cents a load really quickly.

Anyway, I was in Waukon today and stopped by Fareway Foods, which is a great little chain of groceries. Great service, good prices, an awesome meat department. And they had all the ingredients to make homemade laundry soap. So I decided to give it another try.

I had to do it my own way, of course. I grated up 4 bars of Fels Naphtha soap (99 cents each, plus tax, equals $4.24), melted it in a gallon of hot water, and meanwhile I filled 4 of my nifty tall rectangular 4-1/2-gallon buckets about 2/3 full of hot tap water. I divided one box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda ($2.59 plus tax = $2.77) between the 4 buckets, about 1-1/2 cups each. Then I added a cup of 20 Mule Team Borax powder (about $6 a box, only I used less than a quarter of the box, so let's say $1.50) to each bucket. And then here's the kicker: I divided one full bottle of Mrs. Meyer's detergent between the 4 buckets. And then once the fels naphtha was melted, I divided that solution between the four buckets. And topped each one off with more hot tap water. They are not completely full, so let's call it 4 gallons of laundry soap per bucket, times 4 buckets, equals 16 gallons. And they smell like lavender! Only not so strong and overwhelming. Just a gentle scent. And they have a little bit of the detergents in the Mrs. Meyer's, too, which I am hoping will help with the not-whitening-my-whites problem. A half cup should wash a load of laundry.

So, as a wrapup, I spent a total of $20.01 on all the ingredients. At half a cup per load, or 512 total loads, that's a year's worth of laundry for about twenty bucks. My per load cost is about 4 cents. And, as I said, it smells like lavender!

I'll let you know how I feel about it in a few weeks, after I get a chance to see how it handles my whites.


Carol Reese said...

I'd just have diluted the Mrs. Meyers at about 1 part to 3 parts water. Much less work! You could occasionally use Mrs. Meyers straight up to deal with the dinginess. Or rinse occasionally with a cup of vinegar added to the water.

Maria Stahl said...

Well, it wasn't very much work, really. Start to finish, it only took about half an hour, and that was with about 4 interruptions.

Mrs. Mac said...

I don't have many whites .. since we stopped using bleach and make our own powder laundry soap. The only gray we have is just the bottoms of socks .. towels and sheets are white .. but like I say .. I don't buy white any longer. I like the fact that the clothes have no residue .. nor the washer. Are you using fabric softener? That can cause the dingies. Try that bluing stuff for whites.

Maria Stahl said...

Mrs Mac, no, I don't use fabric softener. Things improve during the summer when I can dry things in the sunshine, but over the winter, yuk.

Catherine said...

Great post! I`m going to mix some up myself. Thank you, Maria.