I recently decided to try making my own laundry detergent, but not before doing a little bit of math to make sure the task would be worth my time and effort. You see, I am not the homesteading type. I don’t seek out extra household chores unless they have a pretty high benefit to cost ratio. I wouldn’t say I’m lazy, I’m just selective about where I invest my time. So before I rushed out to buy the ingredients to make my own laundry soap, I took out my pen and paper to do some preliminary calculations.
Choosing a recipe
There are many recipes for homemade laundry detergent online. After a bit of research, I decided to use the liquid detergent recipe posted by the Duggar family. I chose this recipe because I prefer liquid detergents and because it is supposed to be safe for high efficiency, front loader machines. It also looked very simple to make, using just four ingredients: 20 Mule Team borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, a bar of Fels-Naptha soap, and water.
Running the numbers
I have used original scent Tide detergent for years, partly because I am sensitive to the fragrances in many other brands and partly because I just love the way it cleans. The 100 ounce bottle of HE Tide detergent usually costs me about $15.00 without a coupon. According to the bottle, 100 ounces will wash about 50 large loads, and let’s be serious, as a mom of three large loads are almost all I ever run. So, that’s a cost of $15 for 50 loads of laundry.
How much is homemade?
The cost of my homemade laundry detergent was a little trickier to calculate. Because the borax and super washing soda are sold in quantities much larger than what I needed to make just one batch, I decided to see how much detergent I could make for the same $15 I would spend on one bottle of Tide.
For $15, I was able to buy one box of borax, one box of super washing soda, and five bars of Fels-Naptha soap. That’s enough for five batches of laundry detergent using the Duggar family recipe. But each batch makes 10 whole gallons of detergent! So, for $15, I could make 50 gallons of detergent for my family, or 6,400 ounces.
Comparing the final cost
For $15, I have everything I need to make 50 gallons, or 6,400 ounces of homemade laundry detergent, although I will need to make it 10 gallons at a time, because I don’t have any place to store 50 gallons all at once.
The cost of 6,400 ounces of Tide for my HE front loader machine would cost about $960. That’s a savings of $945 for my family. And the time it takes to make each batch is less than an hour.
Based on my calculations, it was easy to see that this was one household chore that was easily worth the time and effort. So, I grabbed my five gallon bucket and I went to work. I’m looking forward to comparing the new homemade laundry detergent with Tide after I have washed a few loads. The true value, after all, will be determined by how well it works.
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