HAPPY HAUSFRAU: Detergent Solutions

Happy Hausfrau that I am, I’m always looking for ways to cut corners with my budget.  One of my pet peeves is spending loads of cash on things that are literally gonna go down the drain – namely soap, detergents, and household cleaners.  One of my go-to solutions for this is using grapefruit and salt to replace my ordinary countertop and bathtub cleaners.  Today we’re gonna take a look at ways to revamp our use of laundry and dishwasher detergents.

Before we get started, though, let’s look at some simple math.  Numbers sometimes have a magical way of motivating us.

According to Soap.com, a bottle of Tide 2X Concentrated Liquid (64 loads) costs just shy of $17.  For our family of five, we average five loads of laundry every two days.  That comes out to about 913 loads of laundry a year.  That means I’m buying 15 (rounded up) bottles of Tide a year at a cost of $243.

Also according to Soap.com, a box of Cascade ActionPacs (60 count) costs about $16.  For our family of five, we average about 9 loads of dishes every week.  That comes out to 468 loads a year.  That means I’m buying about 8 boxes of detergent a year at a cost of $125.

Every year I’m spending around $370 on soap.  A product that is literally going to wash down the drain.  Blarg.  But here’s the thing – it’s so much easier to do better!

I’m talking about making your own.  The time investment is minimal.  The cash investment is minimal.  And the results are great!

I got the recipes for both these detergents from this website.  Here is the direct link to the dishwasher detergent recipe.  Here is the direct link to the laundry detergent recipe.  The writer of this blog does such a great job of laying out how to make the soap, I’m not going to bother with a repeat.  I’m just going to tell you about my experience, and tantalize you with numbers.  If you decide it’s something you want to try, follow those links!

Dishwasher detergent and Lemi-Shine peacefully co-habitating under the sink.

Dishwasher Detergent

This one takes me less than five mintes to make, and costs around $13.  The LemiShine (a rinsing agent that’s added separately) costs around $4.

We use 1 Tablespoon of detergent per load (plus 1 Tablespoon of LemiShine).  One batch of dishwasher detergent will last our family about six months (approximately; it should last longer); one container of LemiShine lasts about three.

That brings my total yearly cost down to $34.  A difference (from the Cascade) of $91.  In Happy Hausfrau terms, that’s three pedicures.  In Hubster terms, that’s four vinyl albums.  In 7 and 9 year old terms, that’s a boat-load of Legos, and in 3 year old SweetZ terms…well, that’s a lot of TinkerBell Lip Gloss.

Ingredients for laundry detergent.

Laundry Detergent

This one takes me about twenty minutes to make (mostly because I’m grating the Fels-Naptha by hand), and costs about $17.

We use 1 Tablespoon of detergent per load (it’s super concentrated!).  One batch will generally last us about six months (again, this approximate – it should last longer, barring any epic bouts of the flu that have us washing bedding fifteen times a week).

That brings my total yearly cost down to $34 – a difference (from Tide) of $209.  Seven pedicures.  Or ten albums.  Or an obscene amount of Legos.  Or enough lip gloss to fill a bathtub.

So, whaddya think?  Gonna give making your own detergents a try?  Or are you shaking your head at my tight-wadded-über-nerdiness?  Well, let me give you a little more to laugh at.

When I first decided to do this, I knew I was going to need to keep a measuring spoon in each container.  While I can eye-ball what a Tablespoon looks like pretty well, my boys (who are thrilled that their chores involve helping with laundry and the dishes.  Ahem.  *sarcasm*) would almost always be guaranteed to go overboard.  But the idea of buying two sets of measuring spoons just to use one Tablespoon of each made me itchy.  Itchy in a surely-I’ve-already-got-something-that-will-work sort of way.

And I did.

Each = One TablespoonLet me introduce you to the juice container lid.  Apple juice, pear juice, orange juice, prune juice, whatever.  It is almost a perfect Tablespoon.  Who knew?

The Happy Hausfrau did.

Go ahead.  Giggle at my expense.  I’m too busy picking out a color for my next manicure to hear you.  I think I-Clawed-My-Way-Into-His-Heart-And-He-Has-The-Scars-To-Prove-It-Red will contrast nicely with my alabaster skin.

Dear friendlies, whether you buy your detergents, make your own, or wander around the planet wearing stinky clothes and eating off paper plates, this Hausfrau wishes you the happiest of days!