Three weeks ago, I got an email from my husband at work that said "We should do this..." Knowing him as I do, I was a bit nervous to open it and see what it is he thought we should do. Turns out it was a pretty neat idea.
He sent me an email with a link to an article from the Wall Street Journal about laundry detergents. The email and accompanying article basically said this: 1) You're probably using too much detergent per load which causes harm to both the environment and your wallet, and 2) big brand laundry detergent is mostly water. It also said that you could probably get away with washing your clothes without any soap at all, but that struck me as kinda gross.
The article gave a recipe for making your own laundry detergent. It claimed the recipe worked as well as, if not better than, store bought soaps, and would be a whole heckuva lot cheaper. Like, 90% cheaper.
So, we followed the instructions and made our own home-brew:
• 4 cups of water.
• 1/3 bar of cheap soap, grated. (we grated up an entire bar of Dial Antibacterial Pomagranate Somethingorother, and it smells delish!) (also, it's easier to use a potato peeler or knife than a grater)
• 1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda).
The Bunny supervised her daddy's efforts
I was a skeptic, but it turned out pretty awesomely. I would reccomend waiting 36-48 hours before using it, and stir it a few times each day. The fist day we used it, the detergent was gloppy, and it kinda grossed me out. But after several stirs, it is nearly identical to store-bought soap (with less irritating dyes, too!), it really does smell heavenly.
Oh yeah, and it cleans clothes better than I thought it would.
I use about half a cup per load, unless it's full of particulary nasty clothes, and I've yet to find something that didn't come out perfectly clean.
It was $6 total, and we formulated that we are spending about 2 cents per load... as compared to over 20 cents with Detergent That Shall Not Be Named.
We may not always stick with the home brew, and I still use store-bough softener pretty regularly, but it is a great way to save a little money and a small way to go a little green.
ps- I forgot to mention how much the kids got a kick out of this. There are no pictures of the two eldest Bees because, true to their nature, they hovered and then flew away. But, they enjoyed helping when they could, especially the stirring part. This would be a great family activity to try out!