Home Made Laundry Detergent One Year Later

| July 21, 2008

It’s been a little over a year that I’ve been using homemade laundry detergent. I’ve got to say that overall I found it to be a positive experiment. There are a few tweaks here and there and a little bit of intervention required but all in all I will continue to use the homemade laundry detergent. Here are my general observations:

This is the more economical of the two options (here’s the recipe). It makes a much larger batch and can go a lot further than the powdered option. However, I found that modifying the ingredients a little bit gave me varying results.

Variation 1: Ivory soap.

I believe the best batches of homemade laundry detergent were those made with Ivory soap. For a little extra cleaning power I tried a combination of Ivory and Fels Naptha soap. The only problem was that the Fels Naptha caused the solution to be more gloopy and difficult to stir. It required more stirring and chopping every time I used it (A small price to pay for clean clothes).

Variation 2: Lever Soap

One day while making homemade laundry detergent I realized that I and didn’t have Ivory soap and I wasLaundry in a pinch so I used Lever instead. Although I liked the smell of Lever, I found that it didn’t quite get rid of some of the odors.

When the clothes came out of the washer and dryer, they smelled good and fresh, but once the clothes came into contact with human sweat, they generated an unpleasant smell. The smell was not overpowering but just enough to realize that your clothes shouldn’t smell like that. I found that the neckline of the t-shirts seemed to smell the worst, probably because it’s closer to the nose than other areas.

Let’s face it, no one smells like a daisy after a workout, but this smell was a different smell and one that I’d rather not have in my clothes.

Powdered laundry detergent
I found the powdered laundry detergent to work best. It’s not only quicker and easier to make, but it seemed to get rid of odors and clean the clothes very well. It costs slightly more than the homemade liquid laundry detergent, but it’s worth the extra couple of cents per load. It’s still much less expensive than store bought laundry detergent.

Downside:

I did find one downside is that there seems to be in accumulating dinginess that occurs with white clothes. It took me a little while to realize the change, but after looking at the white clothes over a period of time, they seemed to lose their brightness. When I first noticed it, I added additional bleach to the wash, but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference. I noticed this more with the liquid than the powdered detergent.

Conclusion:

I will continue to use the homemade laundry detergent using the powdered version more so than the liquid. The liquid one I found to be a great pre-treatment for hard to get rid of stains. I poured the liquid detergent directly on the stain, rubbed it in a little and laundered as usual.

LaundryHomemade laundry detergent has gotten us through a year of ground in grass, dirt, mud and geese poop stains on white football uniforms. It also got us through various and assorted construction projects, cheer leading uniforms, gym workout clothes and normal every day wear and tear (not to mention Fido’s bedding).

So far, the homemade laundry detergent has been able to handle 98 to 99% of all the stains. I would recommend purchasing one box of your favorite store-bought detergent to periodically use on white clothes to maintain their bright whiteness.

As far as the cost savings…

I average about 2 – 3 loads of laundry a day six days a week. At two per day, over a period of a year that equals 624 loads for the year (an underestimation).

If half of the loads were washed with homemade liquid detergent and the other half with homemade powdered detergent, the calculations would be as follows:

624 divided by 2 = 312 liquid and 312 powderedSavings

312 times 1 cent per liquid load = $3.12
312 times 3.5 cents per powdered load = $10.92

Total cost to wash 624 loads = $14.04

Do you think the store-bought detergent will get you 624 loads of laundry for $14.04?

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Category: Cleaning, Featured, laundry, Natural Products

About the Author ()

Felicia is a bit of a tree hugger and likes to share ways to lighten the toxic burden on the environment.

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  1. petalfuzz says:

    Your whites are getting dingier because you are using a soap that contains glycerin. Glycerin is sticky and eventually builds up on your clothing fibers, actually attracting dirt. Read soap ingredients carefully, and avoid all that include glycerin.

  2. Darlene says:

    Judy – http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2009/03/quick-stick-deodorant.html is where I got the recipe. The 10-15 drops of TTEO is just for the anti-microbial properties. I’ve also heard SAGE EO is effective in reducing sweat by up to 50%.

    I’ve converted my hubby – we’ll never go back to commercial deo! On a side note – I do keep mine in the fridge b/c the coconut oil will liquify at 76-77 degrees.

  3. Judy says:

    Love your site! My son-in-law is allergic to most laundry detergents. I’m going to make this and give my daughter some to try. Also going to use the dishwasher detergent recipe.
    Question about the deoderant, is this for personal use??? I used tea tree oil on a fungal infection I had on my foot, it worked pretty good, but it burned like the dickens! Does it not bother your underarms???

  4. Darlene says:

    Felicia – love your site!

    Deoderant: baking soda, corn starch, coconut oil, and tea tree oil. I found the recipe online, stuff it into an old deo container. I keep mine in the fridge, but it’s awesome and even my husband will wear it.

    Liquid Laundry Detergent: I have a 9mo old and try to avoid fragrance at all costs. Is Ivory mild enough to use on his clothes? Also, where is the best place to find Castile soap and glycerin soap bars? I’ve had to turn the world upside down to find basic A&H washing soda. Going to try and make this today!

    • Felicia says:

      Darlene, Ivory should be mild enough for your little one, but the only way to truly know is to try it out and keep a close eye for any reactions.

      As far as finding Castile and glycerin soap, try your local health store. In my area I can find it in the grocery store, but I’m not sure if all stores carry it.

      As a last resort, try Amazon. They sell just about everything.

      Thanks for the deodorant recipe.

  5. JReference says:

    Will be trying the home-made liquid laundry detergent… found all ingredients at my local supermarket within 1/2 hr. of reading the above posts!
    Wanted to offer a heads-up on using baking-soda as a personal deoderant – shake a little (a little!) into the palm of your hand and then ‘toss’ it up into your armpit. Be sure to brush-off any excess (anything that doesn’t stick or fall into your skin-pores) and if you use too much you’ll find it a skin-irritant. A little experimenting will get you the “right” amount for you. Lots cheaper than store-bought stuff, and it works great! You can also use baking-sode as a no-water shampoo, just work it into your scalp and brush, shake, and comb it out.

  6. Courtney says:

    Great posts and info! My sister and I are making our 1st batch of this today. Lots of great tips. It’s a bummer though that some people get too inflammatory with their comments. We all lead very different lives and it’s rather snarky to blast someone elses laundry water usage. What if Somebody had an invalid or unwell person that you were a caretaker for? The special beddings and cleaning cloths necessary to provide quality care would make more laundry. As a mother of two very busy and messy toddlers and a hard working husband we have ALOT of laundry. Never less than 10+ a week. We use an HE machine and reuse towels and clothing, but we need clean clothes for clean bodies. We have many towel/hankie/cloth loads since we don’t use much in the way of paper towels or Kleenex.

    Thanks again for the info!!!

    • Felicia says:

      I hear ya, Courtney.

      I’ve tried diligently to reduce the number of laundry loads each week, but I just can’t seem to do it. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

  7. Jess says:

    I just took another look at the powder recipe and realized that I’ve been getting my ratios wrong. Oh well! I haven’t noticed anything wrong with the detergent. It’s good to know that this process is a bit forgiving.

    I’ve been making my own (powdered) laundry detergent for a few months now and I couldn’t be happier. I snicker to myself every time I see laundry detergent “on sale” for $6.99 per small-sized bottle.

    I used to buy only liquid detergent because I wear a lot of black and found I would get powder stains from washing with powdered detergent, but that hasn’t been a problem at all since I started making my own powdered detergent. I wash only in cold water, at it works great.

    • Felicia says:

      Jess you point out something very important. The recipe is forgiving. It’s a great start, but it is modifiable. You know you have the recipe right when you have clean clothes and you save money. 😀

      I too have found that it dissolves very well with cold washes. Maybe its because we use so much less of it per wash than we would have used with the commercial brands.

      Good to hear that it’s working well for you.

  8. mike says:

    hi felicia
    on the powdered soap receipe can you use 2/3 bar grated ivory soap instead of the fells napa or 1 cup ivory snow flakes?
    what are your thoughts on this?
    im going to make up a big batch for my brother.he has a front loading machine and 4 kids ages from 6 to 15 and he washes everyday.full loads.

    not sure about the liquid detergent.i was thinking of using old laundry det.bottles and giving them a good shake before using to get rid of any clumps.
    3 of the kids are girls.if adding the frangrant oils to the batch,what oils would you recommend and how many drops to add?
    what oils would be pleasing to everyone? thanks, mike

    • Felicia says:

      Hi Mike,
      The only advice I can offer with regard to ivory snow flakes is to try making a small batch to see how it works.

      As far as the fragrant oils, I’m partial to lavender. Keep in mind, however, that the fragrance seems to benefit the person washing the clothes, but not so much the person wearing them. Although I put lavender into the recipe, it doesn’t seem to transfer to the clothes. Maybe I’m not putting enough fragrance into the liquid laundry detergent batch to make the clothes smell like lavender (I use about 8 – 10 drops), but since my husband and son aren’t too crazy about smelling like lavender, it works well for me. The lavender is my aroma therapy while I wash clothes.

  9. Meme says:

    please note that the fals soap you buy now is not the original soap from a 100 years ago- in 1943 they began making it with petrochemicals and 3 years ago they changed one of those chemicals again – it was a stoddard chemical which had more danger to health so they changed it to terpentin which is what turpentine is made from- you can find the safety sheet on the web and look at the industrial one- I email Dial and they do not recommend that you make any kind of soap with fals…….plus mixing with other chemicals- even though borax is a nature chemical – it is still a chemical- and the dust and fumes from fals can make you sick with out even know it- if you must use it- use a mask-
    I now use ordinary ivory soap as being green means we need to know what we are doing- I thought fals was just a natural green soap also until I did the homework– so please be careful what you are making and using for your health- The Dial company only recommends that you use this soap as per instructions on the package- you can google for the safety data sheet for almost any soap or detergent- some laundry detergents are safer to use than making up soap with fals-

    • Felicia says:

      Thank you for the valuable information Meme. I’ll modify the recipe to notify my readers.

  10. Wanda says:

    WOW this is so exciting.,…my sister and husband just visited me this weekend and they shred with me the recipe I can’t wait to try it…. we REALLY want to live more “green” and frugally if that can happen! Bought my Fels Naphta and Super Washing soda at Mast General… I am gonna try the dish washing recipe too!

    • Felicia says:

      Congrats on your decision to live more green.

      I think you’ll be happy with the laundry detergent recipe. Once you make up your mind to try to live more green, it’s amazing how much you can do to help the environment and your budget. Come back and let us know how it’s working for you.

  11. maggie says:

    Thankyou.

  12. maggie says:

    Hi all, I live in Glasgow Scotland and I just want to say that I have longed for a site like this for years I am just learning to get around a computer and stumbled across this one by accident, I have been on here all day learning and been totally facinated by all this knowledge “Thank You” to all those postings that I have read through and I will be a regular reader from to-day onwards. I also used a tip to get black oil out of my husbands light coloured pants (bought over 1 year ago and stained on the first day I am glad I kept hold of them as they are now perfect and he will get his wear out of them now.Once again thankyou.

    • Felicia says:

      Welcome Maggie!

      This is what I LOVE about the internet. It allows us to connect with people all over the world! Thanks for visiting!

      I’ve found that my readers have been better contributors to this blog than I have. Glad the tips here have been able to help you.

  13. Natalie says:

    Your soap recipes are nearly identical to Molly Green’s at http://www.econobusters.com . The main difference I find is that after the liquid mix sets overnight to gel, she fills empty detergent containers half-in-half with the gel mix and water. Her directions say to use about 1/2 cup of the final mix per load. I wonder if this gives a major cleaning difference? Have you tried a more diluted liquid? If so, how were the results?
    Thanks!

    • Felicia says:

      Hi Natalie,

      I haven’t changed much of the recipe since I started using it. There are several homemade laundry detergents on the internet and I believe most of them work pretty well.

      Since this one works fine for me, I decided not to fix what wasn’t broken. However, feel free to make any of the laundry detergent recipes your own by experimenting to see which works best for you.

      If you do decide to experiment, please share your final results with us.

  14. Stacy says:

    I had to order the Fels Naptha online. But I did get an excellent price on it. I had a difficult time finding the washing soda; ordered 2 cases online. I had checked all the Wal-Marts, Targets, etc.; and none of them carried the washing soda. Ironically I looked at a grocery store I frequent from time to time, and it was there. Cheaper than what I had paid online including the shipping. Never thought I’d see it there.

    The next batch I make I’ll use the Fels Naptha and see what happens. The recipe for this detergent has set me on an entirely different course in our lives. I am now seeking out doing everything natural and try and remove as many chemicals as I can from our home. We’ve even switched to crystal deodorant. And shockingly, that also works. I think so many of us have all been conditioned to believe that commercialized products are how we’re supposed to live our lives. There was a time before those products, and I’m loving reverting to the way our predecessors did things.

    Thanks so much Felicia.

  15. Felicia says:

    Good for you Stacy!

    I’ve actually used the recipe using soaps other than Fels Naptha. When I first started, I used what ever soap I had in the house so I’ve used Dial, Lever and Ivory. They all work. I think, however, that Fels Naptha works better in the long haul.

    As far as the fabric softener, I bounce back and forth. I’ve used vinegar from time to time, but I miss the smell of my fabric softener. I dilute my fabric softener so I use 1 part water and 1 part fabric softener in an attempt to wean myself from it, but I seem to keep coming back to it.

    Good for you that you’re sticking with the vinegar. Going natural is the best way to go!

  16. Stacy says:

    I tried the powdered recipe using the grated Ivory, Borax and washing soda; and I have to say, I was shocked at how well it worked. Additionally I’ve started using vinegar instead of fabric softener, and it works quite well. I’m weaning myself off of all commercialized cleaning products. Going at it the natural way.

    Thanks.

  17. Debra says:

    clarification: use lemon in the liquid detergent recipe. Total prep time, using a grater for the soap: 10 minutes.

  18. Debra says:

    I used lemon essential oil in this recipe, with castille soap–great!

  19. Anne Marie says:

    Thanks for answering so quickly! I have used the powdered detergent recipe in my book which calls for baking soda and washing soda, and requires a 1/2 cup per load, and I’m pleased with all 3 loads I’ve done so far. My baby gets lots of grime on the knees of his sleepers and suits (from crawling) and my regular detergent never really affects these besides fading them slightly. Well, the homemade detergent seems to have almost virtually removed these ground in stains, so you can imagine my happiness!

    I may try your recipe, too, though, since it requires less detergent per load, and I could stretch it further that way.

    Does anyone have any ideas to share about how to add a light fragrance to the dry detergent recipes? Can you buy fragrance in dry form (i.e. powder or crystals)?

  20. Felicia says:

    Hi Anne Marie,

    Here’s my attempt to answer your questions:

    1. I don’t think the essential oils will mix well with the powdered detergent. Essential oils work well in the liquid detergent, however.

    2 & 3. There are several recipes for homemade laundry detergent. I can’t speculate to say whether or not the book has made a mistake. I would guess they chose those ingredients and the amount of each because they interact in such a fashion to clean the clothes.

    You could try an experiment by using the recipe in the book and the one I use here and select the one that works best for you, your clothes and your pocketbook.

    If you do the experiment, please let me know how it comes out.

    Best of luck.

  21. Anne Marie says:

    Hi Felicia,

    My sister recently gave me a Readers Digest book that’s all about making things at home to save money. I found your website today and already like what I’m reading! And now I have 3 quick questions for you:

    1. Can you add essential oils to the (dry) powered laundry detergent? Will they mix ok?
    2. My book has a similar powdered detergent recipe (1/2 cup soap, 1/4 cup borax, 1/4 cup washing soda and 1/2 cup BAKING soda) but it says to use a 1/2 cup for each load. Your recipe (and others I’ve seen) call for a tablespoon or two. Do you think that might have been a typo in the book?
    3. Is baking soda even useful in a laundry detergent recipe? I’ve only seen it in my book. Is it a redundant ingredient when washing soda is already being used?

    Thanks!

  22. Stacy says:

    Just found your page. I can’t wait to dig further into what you have here. I am going to give this a try and will let you know how it works for us.

  23. Mary says:

    Laura,
    This happened to my mom the first time she made the detergent. I discovered that she hadn’t let the pieces of soap completely melt in the hot/boiling water and it was bits of the bar soap left on the clothes. So, make sure you’re melting the soap completely.
    Mary

  24. Felicia says:

    Hi Laura,

    Are you using too much laundry detergent? I’ve used this both with my old washing machine which was a top loader an the new one, the front loader, and I haven’t run across that problem.

    When you say you see it being left behind, what does it look like? If the liquid laundry soap is too gloopy when you put it in the washer, you might have to stir it up to break up the clumps. I find that I either shake it real well, or I use a spoon to mix it well and break up the clumps. Once the clumps are broken down the laundry detergent should dissolve in the wash.

    Give it a try to see if that works.

  25. Laura says:

    Hi Felicia-
    I am new to making my own laundry soap. I actually had a question. Since using the laudry soap I have noticed some of it being left behind on the clothes. I make my own liquid detergent and after it coming out of the dryer, I have seen where it has now been left behind on the clothes. Is there something I can try to help adjust this so it won’t keep happening? I do not have a HE washer. I have a top load washer.

  26. Felicia says:

    Bootzey, you have a point.

    I guess I went about it all wrong. I should have thrown out the white stuff and then I would have been 100% satisfied with the detergent.

    It just goes to show, there’s more than one way of skinning a cat (my daughter hates it when I use that expression).

    Thanks for your insight!

  27. Bootzey says:

    You can always fade white out clothes from your wardrobe. Then there will be no dinginess problem.

  28. Brandi says:

    I made liquid laundry soap out of a natural glycerin soap and it worked very well, I got the recipe off of an environmental website and have been using it on all my laundry since…

  29. Felicia says:

    Hi Lissa,
    Thanks for the tip for the tip on getting rid of ink stains.

    As far as selecting a soap to use, I don’t see why the homemade or organic soap wouldn’t work just as well.

    Please let us know how it works out.

  30. Lissa says:

    Oh, and one last thing. Question: Instead of Ivory or whatever bar of soap would homemade or organic soap work just as well? I got a bar of organic (in fair trade) with lavender scent. Do you think that would work?

  31. Lissa says:

    I just googled homemade laundry detergent this morning and checked out a few sites before coming here. But with the comments and all the trials and advice I found here, I had to leave my thoughts as well. I found this very informative and great especially now that many are strapped for cash.

    I ran right out and picked up the ingredients after an appt. in town. I am so looking forward now to trying it out. And great tip on the peroxide. Don’t cha just love the internet!

    Another tip I just learned yesterday was how to get pen ink out. Rubbing alcohol. Keep at it and keep rinsing fabrics and clothes and it will come out. Safe to put the clothes in the washing machine after almost all is out and if need be alternate washing machine to alcohol. My friend Melissa swears by it. I watched as she took out a fresh ink blot from her couch. About 10 minutes of dropping the alcohol and rubbing with paper towels, it was gone!! No kidding!

  32. Felicia says:

    Hi Cecile,

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Yep, shaking the bottle helps break up the lumps, but I also keep a large spoon on top of my washing machine to stir up the mixture to further break up the lumps.

    And you’re right about peroxide. It doesn’t last long in my house, however. My son discovered how well it works for disinfecting his football helmet and equpment so he uses the bottles as quickly as I can buy them.

  33. Cecile says:

    I have really enjoyed the information on homemade laundry detergent. I first saw it made on the TV show about the family with 17 kids. Talk about a lot of dirty clothes….makes mine look small! I have a HE washer and dryer. I am enjoying the lower water and electric bills. I am going to try the homemade detergent as soon as I run out of my supply. If I were to save my detergent bottles and filled them up with the soap as soon as it is made, do you think shaking the bottle would break up the lumps enough for my HE?

    By the way, peroxide is a great cleaner also. I put it directly on stains on whites and it removes stains from light colored carpet. Even old stains.

    Keep up the good info….Thanks

  34. Jill says:

    Hi Felicia,
    My sister alerted me to the sure cure for smelly rag syndrome! She was re-reading Anne of Green Gables, and Marilla told Anne to ‘scald the rags’. Sure enough, dipping a rag in boiling water keeps it sweet – this is a great thing for the kitchen rag. So she has switched away from paper towels and now scalds her rag every evening. She pours boiling water over it, but I just boil the rag in a pot for a minute and dump it out.
    We re-wear our clothes (well, I do anyway) if I did not get them dirty. For the record, I hardly sweat at all, and we live in a colder climate. I am usually not successful at keeping my shirt clean, as I am constantly dropping food on my ‘shelf’, or splashing something I am cooking on my shirt, but pants, I often wear for several days. I just hang them back up. This not only saves on laundry, it also helps the clothes last longer.
    My husband works in a dirty environment, so it’s pretty rare that he can reuse a pair of pants, and my son is a 14 year old boy, who is just plain too lazy to re-hang his clothes. He’s not lazy about other things, just laundry.
    Try not to let the guilt-trippers get to you. The earth has survived a very long time, and has a habit of being self-cleaning. I think God planned it that way.

  35. Katie says:

    Why on earth are you using bleach? As a green home, you are practically reversing all of your efforts to help the environment! Try lemon juice or vinegar for you whites, you won’t be disappointed. Also, putting them out to dry in the sun after washing will enhance the effects of the lemon juice/vinegar.

  36. Felicia says:

    Thanks for the tip.

    I’m going to try the Mrs. Stewarts Bluing because as I mentioned in my post, my whites got a bit dingy. I’ll see if it helps.

    Felicia

  37. Tracy says:

    Hi Felicia,

    I stopped in to comment on another post (the solar oven post) and got sucked in. I have now bookmarked your post on laundry detergent because we have started a similar process for our laundry.

    We do not make our own detergent (yet), but we have cut in half the amount we use. We also have an HE machine, and along with the detergent, we use a half cup baking soda (which is supposed to help remove dirt and break down the soap) and between a quarter cup and a half cup white vinegar, which is supposed to help with smell as well as removing soap.

    Just this past month or so we also started using Mrs. Stewarts Bluing which is supposed to help brighten colors and whiten whites.

    After all that, we also line dry (about 3 months now) to reduce energy use and heat in our home.

    Now, when we need to replace our laundry soap I will give your homemade system a try.

    Thanks for the great information.

    Tracy

  38. Felicia says:

    Thanks Natalie and Dee Dee. Great advice and encouragement.

    As far as homemade detergent in the HE machine, I’ve been using it for a year and it’s all fine. You’re right Natalie, HE machines require low sudsing soap which makes homemade soap perfect for them.

    I scared the pants off of my kids by telling them that I’m only doing 4 to 6 loads a week. My son is afraid that it will put a damper on his social life :). My daughter couldn’t care less at this point as long as she has a bathing suit and a dry towel when she needs one.

    I realize that making green choices sometimes require sacrifices. I’m willing to sacrifice a few loads of laundry each week!

    Thanks guys for the words of encouragement.

  39. Natalie says:

    Hi Felicia,

    Just wanted to comment to say Good Job on your efforts on making your own laundry soap. I don’t understand why some of these people that are commenting are blasting you for your water usage and for trying something new. It’s not kind, nor is it fair. We can all try in our own way to be as environmentally conscious as possible with out knocking others down in the process.

    I, too, make my own laundry soap. We just bought a new HE front loader, and I have been using my homemade soap, though I am concerned because the directions say to use the HE detergent. The machine was expensive and I don’t want to ruin it by using something else. However, their reasoning is that the HE detergent has less suds, which my homemade detergent has none of. What do you think? Can you reassure me?

    Anyway, I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work and don’t let critical people get you down.

  40. deedee says:

    aaah yes, smelly towel syndrome. one thing that helps both kitchen and bath towels is to make sure they’re hung up to dry when wet – that way you can stave off the musty smell for a few more days. same thing goes for kitchen sponges, which i toss into the bleach load when they start to stink. and i have a dozen very inexpensive washcloths that i use for cleaning counters and wiping things up instead of using paper towels or larger towels – they are a breeze to wash and that saves the dish towels for drying dishes and hands. i haven’t quite broken my husband of the habit of mopping up spilled tomato sauce with the pot holder or my favorite linen glass cloth, though.

    another thing that gets things smelling good is vinegar. i have a giant bottle of white vinegar and i pour some into smelly loads – workout clothes, musty towels, etc – things come out smelling great. oxi-clean seems to help on lights and whites, too.

    we only have 3 beds to change sheets on, so that helps. and i bug everybody to hang up bath towels so we only have to wash them every week or so. other than that, everybody probably goes through an average of 1 change of clothes a day, with wearing pants >1 time and using extra tshirts and running clothes. i have convinced the kids that cleaning up their rooms does not consist of dumping everything on the floor (including clean clothes) into the hamper. that has helped a lot.

    anyhow, all that usually gives me about 5 loads (in our big old dinosaur of a top load washer, which i will replace with a front loader the second it finally dies) – one bleach load, one whites no bleach, one lights, one darks, one blacks and synthetic running clothes. it generally takes 2 days to get through all the laundry because of the air drying, and then we’re good for the rest of the week. maybe your kids are younger – they do get less grubby as they get older. but you can always give a pep talk about saving water by only putting their dirty clothes in the wash.

    but it’s a gradual process that takes buy in from the family. you do what you can, right?

    good luck!
    dd

  41. Jon says:

    Hey, just wanted to pop in with a possible explanation for the dingyness of the whites, I believe many commercial detergents have chemicals in them the fluoresce under UV light, thus making whites appear whiter, home made detergent probably doesn’t have this

  42. Felicia says:

    Hi Dee Dee

    I look back at my weekly laundry and although I don’t wash every day, it still averages to quite a few loads each week.

    Today, for instance, I did about 4 loads. That will buy me a little time so that tomorrow I won’t wash, but you can bet by the next day I’ll have to wash again.

    I’ve found that since giving up on paper towels, I use more cloth towels that begin to smell if they’re not washed at least every other day. I do my best to ensure that each load is filled to capacity.

    I see that you wash 4 to 6 loads a week. I don’t know how you do it. I must be doing something wrong. Between work clothes, play clothes, workout clothes, towels, sheets, etc, I just haven’t figured out how to reduce the number of loads.

    I’m going to track each load over the next couple of weeks more diligently to see if there’s anyway to cut back. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  43. deedee says:

    as they are in our household, which for the record consists of 2 adults (both runners) and 2 teenagers (one runner and one fashion maven) plus a dog, 2 cats, 2 snakes, a zillion fish and kids’ assorted friends who come over and forget items of clothing that are then washed and returned. i do between 4 and 6 full loads of laundry a week – including all clothes, linens, and the occasional running shoe/dog bed/throw rug. we have enough clothes so that everybody can go a week and not run out, and we generally wear shorts/pants/jeans 2 days, but other than that it’s once on and then into the wash. i make sure i have everybody’s clothes before i do laundry so we have full loads most of the time, and i’m pretty vigilant about water levels when i’m doing a partial load, but i really only do a few loads a couple of times a week. what are you washing so much of?

    btw, i bought a giant jug of purportedly all natural detergent at costco for $12 – it is good for 210 loads, does a fine job and comes out to .06 per load. not the bargain you’re talking about but no tracking down washing soda and borax, so the time and gas i save is probably worth the $7 extra i spend.

    also, i also have taken to doing my laundry on sunny days so that i can dry things outside. we have a courtyard and i’ve strung up a clothesline and hang things on the back of patio chairs to dry – works very nicely. i run things through the dryer to get rid of wrinkles and soften up the towels, but i usually run the dryer for maybe an hour a week now instead of 6+. and things do have that nice line dried feel and smell, which is good.

  44. Felicia says:

    I appreciate your desire to conserve water, but I feel I have to correct you on one of your assumptions. According to your comment, you assume that I’m using the usual top-loading machine, which uses approximately 50 gallons of water per wash.

    I’m using a high efficiency front-loading machine which not only uses about half the amount of water as it’s top loading counterpart, it also uses less energy and soap powder. According to my calculations instead of using 51,480 gallons of water as you point out, it’s more like 23,400 gallons.

    In spite of your rather harsh criticism of my water consumption, I do hope that you were able to benefit from my year’s worth of experience with homemade laundry detergent. If you can come up with a way to reduce the number of required wash loads, please share them with me. In my household, clean clothes are truly a necessity.

    My best to you, Mark.

  45. Mark says:

    MY God, people wonder why we are running out of water?

    I’m sorry but for a blog that talks about living green in it’s title, and that living green is a way of life, shouldn’t you be more concerned with you mass water usage?

    The average washing machine uses 55 gallons of water per load.

    3 loads per day x 55 gallons =165 gallons of water
    165 x 6 days a week = 990 gallons of water
    990 x 52 weeks = 51480 gallons of water per year you use to wash your clothes….

    I hope at least you are collecting rain water to wash your clothes with.

    Does anybody else find this repulsive?