You know that feeling you get when you realize you’ve been paying a little bit too much for something? That feeling is even worse when you realize you’ve been overpaying for something that you’ve used every week of your adult life. Yes, I’m talking about laundry detergent. Sure, many store-brand detergents aren’t that pricey, but natural brands tend to be. A combination of natural ingredients and a “green” or “natural” label tends to inflate the price a bit. So I decided to try my hand at homemade laundry detergent. I’m happy with the result, even after testing it on our post-vacation, sweaty, sunscreen-soaked clothes. I made a big batch after I tested a smaller batch. I’ll give you the recipe for a smaller batch, and then I’ll give you my best estimation at a price breakdown.
Here’s what you’ll need to make homemade, natural laundry detergent: (I’m linking to these on Amazon, but you’ll almost certainly find the washing soda and borax for less in a grocery or big-box store. Also, you don’t actually use real oranges! :))
- 1.5-2 cups washing soda (here–I got mine at Giant).
- 1.5-2 cups borax (here–I got mine at Target).
- 8 ounces (1 cup) of natural bar soap (Toms is a good option and is reasonably priced on Amazon).
- Cheese grater and bowl.
- Optional: Essential oils for fragrance. (You shouldn’t need this if you use a naturally scented soap. I used a bar of orange and a bar of lavender. You can easily mimic this blend with orange/lavender oils.)
Step #1: Using your cheese grater, grate your entire bar of soap. It should look like Parmesan cheese. The lavender and orange smell amazing together!
Step #2: Dump your cheese-looking soap, borax, and washing soda into your bowl. Mix with a spoon.
Step #3: If desired, add essential oils for scent and mix. Seal detergent in an air-tight container. You’ll use between 1/8 and 1/4 of a cup, depending on the size of your load. I used 1/8 of a cup for the three loads I’ve washed so far.
Here’s the fun part. The math. Mea culpa if it’s wrong. I made a big batch (4 cups washing soda, 4 cups borax, 12 ounces/1.5 cups grated soap) that totaled 9.5 cups. I’m not a mathlete, but I’ve calculated the price per load to be .11 cents. Now, bear with me as I muddle through explaining my math.
- 4 cups washing soda, which totaled $2.33 (total purchase was $4.00 for 55 ounces/6.875 cups).
- 4 cups borax, which totaled $1.84 (total purchase was $4.19 for 72 ounces/9 cups).
- 1.5 cups (12 ounces) soap (total purchase was $4.00, and I used all of the soap).
That’s a total of $8.16 for 9.5 cups of laundry detergent. I used 1/8 of a cup per load to calculate 76 loads at .11 cents per load. You’ll probably use 1/4 of a cup on some loads, meaning you’ll raise your total cost for each load to a bank-breaking .15 and .16 cents. I’ll take it!