Way Too Domestic

Three days ago I ran out of dishwasher detergent. And laundry detergent. And multi-purpose cleaner. At the time I sighed and thought to myself, “If we use so many cleaning products, why does my house still look like a tornado hit it…with mud?”*

And then I nearly had a heart attack at the thought of the cost of replacing all those cleaners. Sheesh, a bottle of Tide will run me about $22 (if not more if the oil prices didn’t rise and the moon is in the right phase).

So, I turned to Captain Google and asked him, “How in the world can I make my own __________ detergent?” And he gave forth several answers all of which are easy to prepare and, surprisingly, work.

Dishwasher Detergent

  • 1 cup washing soda (not baking soda)
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup citric acid (either Fruit Fresh in the canning aisle or 15 packs of unsweetened Kool Aid Lemonade)

Place all ingredients into a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake to mix.

Use 1 TBSP per load. Trust me, you only need 1 TBSP. Any more than that and you’ll get a white powdery residue on your dishes.

NOTE: Place white vinegar into rinse aid compartment. This will keep your plastics from looking cloudy.

Laundry Detergent

  • 1 cup grated soap (about 1 bar of Fels Naptha, Ivory, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda)
  • 1/2 cup borax

Chop soap up roughly and grind in a Magic Bullet or food processor until broken up. It will be fairly lumpy; that’s okay because the next step is to put the grated soap on a cookie sheet and let it dry out for a bit. Overnight is best but at least a few hours in a nice warm spot.

Once the soap is a bit drier, place it back in the Magic Bullet or food processor and grind as fine as you can make it. Place finely ground soap into a container with a tight fitting lid. Mix in washing soda and borax. Close with lid and shake to mix.

Use 1 TBSP per load, even in cold water. Use white vinegar in the softener compartment. Using vinegar will help rinse away the remaining soap and residue left on your clothes (which make the clothes stiff and why you need softener in the first place).

Multi-Purpose Cleaner

  • 2 TBSP white vinegar
  • 1 tsp borax
  • hot water
  • few drops (or squirts) of a mild dish detergent
  • 10 drops of essential oil, optional

In a 16 oz spray bottle, mix vinegar, borax, and 8 oz or so of hot water. Swish around until the borax dissolves. Add detergent and fill with the remaining hot water. Don’t shake the bottle too much otherwise you’ll end up with suds.

And there you have it. Three recipes to clean your house cheaply. Oh, you want to know how cheaply? Well, let’s take a look at the price:

(Prices are as marked at WalMart in my town so your costs may vary)

  • 55 oz Washing Soda (or 5.5 cups) 3.24
  • White vinegar $1.82
  • 5 oz Fruit Fresh (about 12 TBSP) $0.30
  • 16 oz Kosher Salt (about 32 TBSP) $1.68
  • 1 bar of Fels Naptha  $0.97
  • 76 oz Borax (or 10 cups) $3.36

So, the recipe for dishwasher detergent makes roughly 3 cups or 48 TBSP. The price break out is as follows:

  • 1 cup washing soda (not baking soda) = $0.59
  • 1 cup borax = $0.34
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt = $0.42
  • 1/2 cup citric acid = $2.40

48 loads of dishes costs roughly $3.75. Not too bad but I can bring that price down by using the Kool Aid lemonade. If I do that, then the cost becomes about $.08 per load. To compare, Cascade Complete comes out at about $0.22 per load. But, Great Value dishwasher detergent is about $0.10 per load. So, I’m still saving a bit there.

The laundry detergent also is a savings win. Ultratide costs $13.94 for 68 loads (about $0.21 per load).

  • 1 bar Fels Naptha = $0.97
  • 1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda) = $0.30
  • 1/2 cup borax = $0.17

My homemade laundry detergent costs $0.05 per load. Yeah, that’s a definite win.

I wonder if there’s anything else I can make to save money? Hmmmm…..

*Note that I have three active boys, 2 young dogs, and 1 husband who likes to tinker around the property.
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