Saving time by saving money – Laundry Soap

IMG_1094Previously I posted my homemade laundry soap but I revamped it and have started thinking about spending a little differently.  I have regularly been asked if homemade soap is worth the time and energy and if it works.

I recently purchased 2 containers of Tide and was shocked by the cost!  I ended up returning it because the gift I was putting it in was already packed full and the basket couldn’t hold another thing.  But this purchase prompted me to look at the actual cost of my soap vs. the commercially prepared soaps on the market.

Here is what I learned:

1.) The median income in America right now is $16.87 per hour gross.  That isn’t even enough money in an hour to buy 5 gallons of laundry detergent using gross income, for sure not enough after taxes and everything else comes out of that check.

2.) The leading name brand soap will cost you about 16.36 minutes per gallon (gross pay) if you are making the median wage in the US.  For the same 1 gallon of homemade soap you are spending 3.46 minutes after figuring cost of supplies and the time spent (about 15 minutes).

So what do you need for laundry soap DIY?

  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup Oxiclean
  • 1 cup Super Washing Soda
  • 1 bar of soap (I have seen soap such as fels naphtha, ivory, and zote but I like to use a bar of Dr. Bronner’s)
  • A 5 gallon pail with lid
  • Soap container for dispensing
  • Stove top
  • Grater
  • Pan
  • Water

Each batch of soap will work out to approximately $5.49, this gets approximately 10 gallons of soap.  The cost can be decreased greatly by using one of the less expensive bars of soap and taking advantage of discounts, sales, and clearance.  Even though it costs just a little more I like the Dr. Bronner’s bar because it is a little more eco friendly than the average bar and comes in different scents.

The first time you make the soap you can expect to put in an initial investment of about $20 depending on the container you choose to use for dispensing and the soap you choose to use.  The good news is that the boxes of Borax, Washing Soda, and Oxiclean will last through several loads.  I was able to find everything at Wal-Mart minus the Dr. Bronner’s brand soap but they had every other brand listed.

The longest part of the process is the first step and after that it is pretty straight forward:

Step One:

Grate the bar of soap – a hand held cheese grater works just fine.  I have also used a food processor in the past.


Step Two:

Add water to the pan and heat until melted.


Step Three:

Dissolve each powered in hot water and add to the 5 gallon pail – if you don’t do this the powders will clump together and leave chunks in your soap.


Step Four:

Pour the melted soap and water mixture into the bucket with the dissolved powders.

Step Five:

Add the remaining hot water.


Step Six:

Mix and cover for the night.  In the morning your soap is ready to be used.  Mix well before transferring into the dispensing container.  The soap will form a sort of separation of gel and water, just make sure to mix it.  In the dispensing container mix 1/2 soap solution with 1/2 water.  The 5 gallon pail that was made will yield 10 gallons of soap.


I picked up this cute container from Wal-Mart for $8.96 and it holds 1 gallon.  I use the soap just like I would commercial soap and I use a measuring cup from an old commercial container.  The soap can separate in the container so give it a good stir or shake now and then if needed.

I haven’t bought commercial soap for my family for probably two years now – the time (and money) saved is worth the 15 minutes every 7 or so months.  One thing I have noticed?  I can smell commercial laundry soap on individuals clothing, the scent is almost too strong and drives me crazy if my daughter’s clothes are washed at a family members house.

*for a review on using Zote instead of Bronner’s, see this more recent post*


3 thoughts on “Saving time by saving money – Laundry Soap

  1. Pingback: Laundry soap update #2 | Becoming Supermom

  2. Pingback: Potty training baby (toddler) A – DIY training pants | Becoming Supermom

  3. I was recently reminded that there is some debate about the safety of Borax. Everything I have found leads me to feel okay with its use for cleaning and laundry. It is natural and it is non carcinogenic. My two biggest concerns after some internet searching are the potential for skin irritation (has not been an issue for our family) and the carbon foot print of it being transported from California … not too much can be done about that.

    If you have more significant concerns the borax can be replaced with an additional 1/2 cup of washing soda or 1/2 to 1 bar of soap.

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