The Dirty Secret to Keeping Your Cost Low and Your Home Clean with DIY Products

by Tracy · 11 comments


Add up the total cost of keeping your home clean and you might be surprised at how much you spend in a year’s time on laundry and cleaning products. One way to save money is to stop spending more on commercial cleaning products and pay less for products you create at home from your own recipes.

In this installment, you’ll learn how to save money by making your own laundry care products for far less than what you’re paying now for commercially prepared laundry soap and fabric softeners.

Making Your Own Laundry Soap to Save Money

Replace your regular laundry soap with your own recipe. Instead of paying $15 to $20 for Tide, Gain, or Purex, why not spend much less (as little as $8) in creating your own laundry soap? These laundry soap recipes use common ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, Borax powder, and bar soaps. (The best bar soaps to use are Fels Naptha or Ivory.) Washing soda is a specially formulated baking soda for use in the laundry and can be obtained in many grocery and department stores. ACE hardware carries Fels Naptha, as does many smaller grocery store chains. You can also order these ingredients online If you can’t find them locally.

Powdered Laundry Soap

12 cups Borax
8 cups Baking Soda
8 cups Washing Soda
8 cups Bar Soap (grated)

Mix ingredients and store in an airtight container to avoid drawing moisture. Use 1/8 of a cup of the powdered mixture with each load of laundry. For hard water, add a capful of your favorite liquid fabric softener directly to the wash as well as a second capful in the fabric softener dispenser. You can also run an extra rinse cycle to help combat the effects of hard water on your cleaning efforts.

Liquid Laundry Soap

1 quart Water (boiling)
2 cups Bar Soap (grated)
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda

Add 2 cups finely grated bar soap, like Fels Naptha, to the boiling water and stir well until soap is melted over low heat. Transfer melted soap mixture to a clean 3 gallon container, such as a scrub bucket or a large pail. Add Borax and Washing Soda, stir until dissolved. Add 2 gallons of water. Stir. Cover pail, or transfer the liquid to recycled liquid laundry soap bottles. Shake well or stir before each use. Dispense ¼ cup of the mixture for each washing load.

Extra Cleansing Laundry Soap

1 cup Washing Soda

1 cup Distilled White Vinegar

1 cup Baking Soda

Fill washer with water, add above ingredients, add clothes, and wash as usual. You can also add 2 Tablespoons of a grated bar soap as well or pretreat spots with Fels Naptha before washing. (This recipe is great for spring cleaning drapes and pillows, and works well for greasy stains and smelly work clothes when used as a laundry booster with your usual detergent.)

Laundry Tip

*If you have a favorite laundry soap that you purchase for the fresh scent, you can often find concentrated scents online for a few dollars that can be added to your own recipes to recreate that name brand smell.

Fabric Softener

1 cup Baking Soda

1 1/4 cups Warm Water

8 cups White Vinegar

Essential Oils

Mix together warm water and vinegar in a large pail or bucket. Add baking soda (mixture will fizz). When finished fizzing, transfer the liquid to a gallon-sized container with a lid (like a clean milk jug), and add 1/3 cup essential oils or fragrance of your choice. Popular options are tea tree oil, eucalyptus, lavender, or citrus. You can also purchase fragrances that imitate your favorite name brand fragrances. When determining how to adjust your fragrance oils, it’s best to err on the side of too little fragrance rather than too much. You can always add a few drops more later on. Shake the mixture well before use and dispense ½ cup with each load (use up to 1 cup for hard water).

For homemade dryer sheets, apply the liquid mixture to a dry washcloth and let dry thoroughly before using. Toss into the dryer before starting. If available, strips of flannel cloth (from old sheets or PJs) work best. Your homemade dryer sheet should be good for 10-15 uses before resoaking.

On the Spot Fabric Softener

1 part Baking Soda

1 part White Vinegar

2 parts Hot Water

Mix together baking soda and water in a large container, add baking soda and stir. Add fragrance if desired and store in sealed containers or use right away. (This recipe works well and is useful for mixing up small batches or amounts specific to your storage containers.)

Making your own laundry care products may seem like a dubious way to save money, but the savings really add up over time. In fact, by the end of the year, you may save enough to pay for a new washer or dryer by ditching those overpriced laundry products. That’s one dirty truth that can motivate you to change the way you think about your favorite laundry soap.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Everyone loves it whenever people come together and share thoughts.
    Great website, continue the good work!

  • Kitty says:

    Since vinegar is an acid and baking soda is a base that is used to neutralize Acid, WHY would anyone put it in the same solution? How can it help? It boggles my mind wondering about this. We all took the same science classes in Jr High, so I’m SOOO Puzzled about this.

    For a suggestion, when I was a child, people used a tablespoon or two of vinegar or lemon juice in a cup of water for a hair rinse to cut the shampoo residue and make the hair shine. Why not use the soap and baking soda in the soap mix and the vinegar in the rinse solution? This makes much more sense than trying to mix them in your solutions.

    FWIW, Kitty

  • Queen Mother says:

    I’ve been using homemade laundry detergent for several months, experimenting with both the powdered and the liquid…they both work well so that is a matter of preference. Not only is it less expensive, but it is better for the environment and the products used to make the detergent are products you can use for other household chores. I also make an an all purpose liquid cleaner with a recipe I found on line: http://www.mrscleanusa.com/en/cleaning-tips/cleaning-products/tips-all-purpose-cleaner.html
    As you can tell from these recipes, in stores, we have been paying mostly for water.

  • Brad says:

    White vinegar is one of the most powerful cleaning products you can buy. A small amount of vinegar with warm water is great for mopping floors.

    • Starshard0 says:

      I’ve never heard of vinegar being used to clean stuff before, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever actually purchased vinegar. Is it expensive compared to other cleaning products?

      • lhamo55 says:

        Over 50 years ago we used it instead of Windex for non streak window and mirror cleaning. We also used it in southern cooking and making pickles so bought by the half gallon. If you do a search for household uses for vinegar you may discover interesting info.

  • lhamo55 says:

    Thanks so much for this post. Plan to try them all although will be using citric acid instead of vinegar. Food grade c.a. has much less odor and as many if not more kitchen and household uses as vinegar; carpet cleaner, removes hard water deposits, adds citrus flavor, removes stains, polishes metals, etc. Can be bought in bulk. Also arm & hammer baking soda is sold in 13 lb bags by coastal scents and perhaps others?

  • Starshard0 says:

    I’ve found the best way to save money on cleaning supplies is to do it less often. That’s not always an option though, so money saving tips are always appreciated. I think of the most important things is making sure you use all of the product you buy. If you throw it out before it’s empty, you’re just wasting money.

    I haven’t ever made my own detergent or anything, but I might give it a try in the future.

  • Steve Jobs says:

    Hmnnn, these recipes are good and can actually be used for a small business. I think just a little research to make the recipe more effective and gentle on your hands will be a very viable business. Thanks for sharing these recipes.

  • Jenna says:

    Would be nice to see the price comparison between making these products (ingredients) and the cost at say Costco. I think they would be pretty close in price.

    • MoneyNing says:

      I think one idea is to use the left overs to make the soaps or the softeners. I often find that Costco sizes are WAY TOO BIG for my needs, but if I can combine the uses, say buy a big jar of white vinegar and use it for food and soap, then I could actually use it all and not waste any.

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