Sunday, November 7, 2010

Frugal, nerdy, and proud.

I love being a cheapskate, really, I do. I also love to make things, not just crafts and sewing but food and other stuff too, so it was only a matter of time before I had to have a go at making homemade laundry liquid.
There are about a zillion recipes for homemade laundry detergent on the world wide interweb. Here's 10 right here, and more here. For my first batch, I used this recipe on recommendation from my friend Nicola. Here is how I made it.

1/2 bar of sunlight soap, grated
3 T borax
1/2 c washing soda
1.5 L boiling water (i.e. one kettle full).

Put the grated soap into the bucket, add the very hot water and stir until the soap melts (almost straight away in my experience). Let the mixture cool a little, then add in the borax and washing soda. Top up to 7 L with warm water and give it a good stir, then add in essential oils if you are so inclined (I used eucalptus oil because that's what I have). Pour into bottles and let it gel overnight. Give it a good shake before you use it, and use 1/2 c per load (being a natural cheapskate I tried using less, but 1/2 c made the best job of the washing). I've been using it for a week and I can tell you that the clothes are clean and they smell nice.

For my next batch, I looked into using just washing soda and soap, and leaving out the borax altogether. This is not only because borax is the most expensive ingredient, but also, I'm a little suspect about discharging so much borax into the drainage system. I just don't think that lots of boron is a good thing in the environment, whereas washing soda, well that's just sodium and carbon and oxygen and those things are pretty harmless. So...reformulated recipe follows:

1 bar sunlight soap, grated
1 c washing soda

Dissolve the grated soap in about 2 L boiling water. Let it cool a little, then add in the washing soda and another 5 L of warm water. Let it cool, then add essential oils if you like (about 1 t eucalyptus oil). Pour into bottles (I use old 2 L milk bottles) and let it gel overnight. The gel on this batch was quite firm, so you might want to add some more water if you find it difficult to get it out. I left some shaking room in each bottle, so I could get it pourable by giving it a good shake. Like the other batch, use 1/2 c per load. It seems to work just as well.
And...because I am both frugal and nerdy I also worked out the exact costs to compare the price per load with commercial washing powder:

Sunlight soap ($2.79 per 500 g: supermarket): 62.5 g per recipe = 35 c
Washing soda ($4.08 per kg: supermarket) 125 g per recipe = 51 c
Borax ($9.99 per kg: Bin Inn) 45 g per recipe = 45 c
Eucalyptus oil ($5.50 per 50 ml: supermarket) 5 ml per recipe = 55 c
Electricity to boil the kettle = 2 c per recipe
TOTAL: $1.88 per 7 L. At 1/2 c per load that's 3.4 c per load.

Sunlight soap, 1 bar =70 c
Washing soda: 250 g = $1.02
Essential oil = 55 c
Electricity to boil the kettle = 2 c
TOTAL: $2.29 per 7 L. At 1/2 c per load that's 4.08 c per load.
Comparison: 1 kg frontloader powder (Ecostore) 9.19 used in 64 washes = 14.3 c per load
Okay that's enough nerdiness from me. Have a great week!

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  1. Awesome, I purchased my ingredients this week to make some. I will be blogging about the spray cleaner I started using this week.

    Will be interested to hear how you find it.


  2. I am definately going to give this a go (and your deoderant from a previous post)!

  3. oooh cool. I have some sunlight soap lying around. I didn't want to throw it out, but I didn't want to use it either. Thanks! Can't wait to try this!

    I've been using Lush's sodium bicarb solid deoderant, a lot like what you made, and it's great. When I run out I want to try your recipe.

  4. Oh how wonderful! I love it when my ranting and raving about frugal, nerdy stuff inspires someone else to extend their frugal and nerdy skills too!

    I make mine in a double batch now and it lasts for months. Just today I looked at the bottles all lined up, waiting to be used, and sighed with smug satisfaction at my own frugal nerdiness.

  5. I think it's a great way to do things. We'll all have to learn to live that way once the zombie apocalypse comes.

    We're growing a huge patch of tomatoes to be turned into hundreds of jars of salsa and chopped tomatoes and my husband's spaghetti sauce. Same kind of thing, right?

  6. Another great nod to nerdy frugality. Great stuff!

  7. Frugal, nerdy and AWESOME. I'm feeling inspired.

  8. From one frugal proud nerd to another: I love what you are doing. I will be an armchair admirer however, being too lazy to emulate.

  9. You're inspiring me Miss Smith! After the xmas rush of sewing and crafting is over I'm definitely going to try to make deodorant & laundry powder.

  10. I love your nerdy frugality too, however I am also too lazy to emulate and may just continue being smelly and dirty. Love Vic.

  11. Awesome. Nurture that inner nerd!! I will have to give that one a try. My Dearest isn't as keen as yours on the deodorant (yet to make it), but maybe the washing liquid will convince him. Also saw you got a big mention in Tiny Happy. Well done you!! If anyone can convince the world to go homemade I think you could do it.

  12. you are awesome.
    thanks for the recipe- i'm going to give it a go!

  13. Miss Smith you are smarter than a smart thing. I'm bringing my washing around to your house. Lindy x

  14. How nerdy! How frugal! How delightful!

    My initial thought was "how will it go in a front loader?", but then i noticed that you had made your comparison with a detergent for front loaders, so this is good. I have, in the past, accidentally used the wrong detergent/too much detergent in my front loader, and had suds oozing out around the looked as if the appliance was about to explode (it didn't), and it was really quite unnerving......

    I think the only problem will be that I have to stock up on large bottles to put the detergent in (empty plastic 2 litre vinegar bottles might be the go). Most of mine go in the recycling bin pretty quickly. Unlike glass jars with good lids, that accummulate in my pantry at a faster rate than I can refill......

    Yours in frugality!


  15. Ooh I really want to give this a go, but what is borax and where can I get it? Sorry probably a silly question but I havnt seen it anywhere :) thanks, tulsi

  16. Hi Tulsi,
    Borax can be a little hard to track down, so it's not a silly question at all. In NZ you can get it at Binn Inn or I've also seen it on Trademe. I've read that people find it in hardware stores in the USA, and in Australia, I've read that it's available at Safeway and Bunnings Warehouse. Hope that helps.