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Shop-bought laundry detergent is becoming a luxury item!
It may not seem much at the time, but laundry detergent is becoming somewhat of a luxury for many frugalers. Naturally, we were all very keen to get out of having to pay pounds at the supermarkets for glossy boxes of powder, tablets, capsules and plastic containers filled with chemically enhanced liquid. That was how we all discovered the marvelous 'LAUNDRY GLOOP'. It had been discussed often on the Moneysavingexpert website, so it had to be worth a try, adapting the 'recipe' to suit our water type.
I'm not sure if it's because of our soft water, here in Scotland, but I get almost 50% more out of one bar of soap than was originally recommended. Please keep this in mind if you decide to make your own, homemade laundry detergent. If it sets too thick, just reheat it slightly then dilute it or else dilute a tablespoonful at a time in some hot water as and when needed.
I made my first batch in 2009 after having used *soapnuts for the previous year or so.
I haven't bought any laundry detergent in a long time! It now amounts to a saving of around £1 per week for this household, an extra £50+ into the savings pot for other things - anything except spending it on laundry detergent.
Frugal Laundry Detergent
1 Bar of soap, grated (or 8 tblsp soap flakes)
1 cup of washing soda
2 litres water
few drops of essential oil
I'm a little bit extravagant with my recipes, as I prefer to use Natural Extracts soap, which is already infused with tea tree and lavender. I keep a small stock of it - it's available from Sainsbury's at around 38p per bar - and it's also great for adding into gift baskets. Sheer luxury for the frugal living!
Boil the water in a big stock pot or similar, dissolve the soda crystals and soap in it, add the essential oil and then dilute to at least 5 litres. (I make mine up to 7 litres.) It takes a bit of time to fully dissolve the soap, but make sure it's all gone before you dilute, cool and decant the liquid. I store mine in 7 litre lidded buckets, after finding out it was too thick to pour from a 5 litre container. I use a ladel to fill a plastic laundry ball and then that goes in the machine.
As with all washing machines, you'll still need to give your machine a boil wash cycle every few months to ensure all the hoses stay clear of soap residue.
This homemade laundry cleaner works equally well as a hand wash for you ultra frugalites who live without the modern convenience of an automatic washing machine or a twin tub. I have used it often in my Ventus 'Twister' foot operated washer.
I make 2 lots of detergent at a time, one has a few drops of blue dye in it to help 'whiten' whites. I also now make it for another friend, who is always happy to return a favour by way of some freshly picked strawberries or the odd bunch of carrots.
Frugal Washing Up Liquid
Heaped tbsp grated soap or soap flakes (Natural, not heavily scented)
Heaped tbsp soda crystals
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 litres water
few drops essential oil (tea tree & lavender)
Exactly the same as for laundry gloop but please note that this will NOT lather up like ordinary washing up liquid. The mass produced liquid is chemically enhanced in the commercial product to make those soapy bubbles. Again, I tried this using 'Natural Soap with lavender & teatree'. One bar grates down to produce 8 heaped tablespoonsful of flakes and it saves on the expense of buying essential oils.
You can use ordinary white vinegar as a fabric softener without it leaving your laundry smelling like the local chippy.
I use the same quantities of the above as I would if using their shop-bought equivalents.
*Another moneysaving option is to use natural soapnuts instead of laundry detergent. These can also be used to make washing up liquid. See http://www.inasoapnutshell.com/ for more information and a FREE SAMPLE (just pay postage). I was very pleased with these, especially as £4 bought enough to last a full year for us. But even that's a bit expensive when comparing it to the homemade liquid. You can make a year's supply of that for around £2 if you stick to store's own basic soap, as the washing soda is under £1 per bag and is enough to make gallons of the stuff. I have to admit, though, I do get beguiled into buying washing up liquid when it's on special offer. I think I've been subliminally programmed to expect bubbles in my washing bowl.
Frugal hint - Always keep a good stock of soap, vinegar, lemon juice, washing soda and baking soda - with that little lot, you probably have enough to keep the whole house spick and span, all the washing kept up to date and the daily dishes done without the need to buy anything else. Away from the rural communities, I'm led to believe you can buy basic soap for less than 5p per bar! We don't get bargains like that in our local stores, that's for sure.