Dealbusters: Homemade laundry detergent

This Monday series checks out whether something that sounds like a good deal — or takes a bit of extra work — is a good deal. We’ll look at cost and benefit — with everything filtered through my individual experience. Please chime in with your take.

A while back, I came across a recipe for homemade soap on The Simple Dollar blog.

Finally, last month I got around to trying it. I made about one-twelfth of a batch to fit in my little re-purposed Wisk detergent bottle. It worked just fine in my front-loading machine, and I made my second batch last weekend.

The cost breakdown:
The cost comparison is based on buying a sale bottle of Wisk for about $3 with coupons. That is about $3 for 32 loads, or $0.09 per load.

Cost breakdown of homemade laundry soap:

  • Pink Zote soap (1/12 bar) $0.12
  • Borax (1/24 cup) $0.06
  • Washing soda (1/12 cup) $0.03
  • 4 cups water $0.00
  • Natural gas stove burner $0.03

TOTAL = $0.24 for enough laundry soap for at least 16 loads of laundry

Savings = 77 percent. My homemade soap costs less than $0.02 per load.

The winner: Homemade.

The priceless factors:

  • Simple ingredients. They’re all listed above, and while they are potentially hazardous, they are all biodegradable and better for the environment than many purchased soaps.
  • Reused and recyclable containers. I reuse the detergent bottle, use the boxes of washing soda and borax for many purposes and can recycle the boxes when they’re empty.

The drawbacks:
The soap does gel after you make it. Because I am cutting the recipe down and putting it in a bottle (instead of a scoopable container), I’ve been having to add water and shake it like crazy for the first load to make it pourable. Next time I’ll follow the suggestion on the site’s comments to let it gel in the pan, then stir in water and then pour it into the old bottle.

The verdict:
Even though I don’t find this project to be as much fun as Trent does at The Simple Dollar, it’s worth spending a little time once a month or so to save money and resources.

Grade: B+


4 thoughts on “Dealbusters: Homemade laundry detergent

  1. d'lineh says:


    Can you elaborate on this? Are you throwing them away (I hope), or washing, which would negate any saving, or what?

    “Use cloth toilet “paper” ”

    Thanks. D’lineh

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