Laundry Loot: Tips and Money-Savers

No, I’m not talking about loose change, though that would be nice. I’m talking about smart ways to stretch your laundry dollar, plus some tips I’ve appreciated along the way.Necessity is a good teacher. In our self-employment years, times were lean. I picked the brains of frugal friends and devoured books like The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyzyn. So here are some tips, mostly frugal, for you and please feel free to add more in comments!

Washing savers:

  • unless you have coupons, powdered detergent is much cheaper than liquid per load
  • if you do use liquid detergent, be sure to get the last few ounces out when the bottle is empty by adding some water and shaking the bottle then dumping. You have enough for another load in there!
  • wash clothes using cold water in all cycles, except in the case of dishcloths, washcloths and cloth diapers/underwear which need washed separately in hot/with bleach to kill germs
  • if your water is soft, you can get away with using half the amount of detergent per load (same rule applies to dishwashing detergent in dishwashers…if you have soft water you can use 1 TB with success!)
  • vinegar added during the rinse cycle acts as a fabric softener

Drying savers:

  • Clothes lines are great if you have them…not only for the obvious, but to air out your comforters, curtains and quilts. It keeps them from fading (hang backward side up), plus other wear and tear.(Of course if they’ve been stained, or exposed to sickness, go ahead and wash them but dry them on the line backward side up so the sun doesn’t fade them)
  • Save electricity and put moisture in the air during winter: Get some clothing racks and hang your wet clothes in the bedrooms at night…
  • I halve my dryer sheets getting twice the bang for my buck; it does the job, believe me. I also reuse them twice more with fresh halves before throwing out.
  • Never use both fabric softener and dryer sheets, they do the same jobs. Sometimes though, I forget to add fabric softener to the wash so I’ve been known in a pinch to splash a clean rag or sock with fabric softener and use it for a substitute dryer sheet…ahh the clothes smell good!
  • Clean out your lint trap regularly for maximum efficiency. And once in a while, take it to the sink and clean it with dishwashing soap. You’ll be surprised at how much cleaner it becomes.

Recipe for Home-made Laundry detergent

I got this from The Raising Godly Tomatoes forum and have been keeping it tucked away for a rainy day.

  • 1 cup grated bar soap, Ivory or Zote soap
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1/2 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda, not baking soda

Grate the soap with the smallest grating holes. Add borax and washing soda. Shake and store in tightly sealed container. May have to shake occasionally. Use 3 TB per load, 1 TB if you have soft water.

Zote soap comes highly recommended, you can find it in the hispanic section of the laundry detergent area. A 14 oz bar is under a dollar!

The nicest thing about using a recipe like the above one, is that you’re eliminating all the chemicals of most of the detergents out there. If anyone in your family has sensitive skin, this might be the ticket. The downside is, depending on who you talk to, *using this homemade detergent day in day out can leave your nice clothes a bit dingy. I’d think it would be great used alternately with store-bought, or to have on hand for lean financial times, or to use exclusively with all your loads of sheets and towels.

How many loads of laundry do you do each week?

*this could be due to hard water issues and not the detergent

UPDATED ON DECEMBER 13, 2007: Wanted to share this wonderful site with you guys…a home made laundry soap recipe similar to the one I shared here, but with a picture tutorial and a money breakdown that shows how much money you save…basically, with this recipe, each load costs you about 1 penny!

15 thoughts on “Laundry Loot: Tips and Money-Savers”

  1. I have no idea. We cloth diaper. My husband is a farmer, (which means a lot of dirty clothes every day). We use Quixtar’s laundry stuff and love it. It saves a ton since it is concentrated. We used the same box for 11 months! Another plus is there is hardly any stain it can’t get out.

  2. I never thought about cutting my dryer sheets in half. Great tip! We average 10–yes, TEN–loads per week. Sheesh. Some weeks are less now that the babies are a bit older (not as much spit-up) but I still do a ton. Oh well, we are blessed with many clothes–at least that’s what I tell myself!

  3. Jessica, never heard of Quixtar! Where do you get that? It sounds great…my dh is also hard on his clothes (farm/cowboying)…and good for you for cloth diapering. I was going to mention in this post how much I loved borax to keep the smells away when I did cloth diapers!

    Georgiana, I’ll have to count, but I bet we’re near 10 loads a week also. My dh has around 4 pair of work jeans and I’m always washing his clothes to keep him in clean jeans…yes, we too are blessed with many clothes, except for wranglers! Did I mention dh always has one pair on the “mend” as well? Boy does he go through jeans and wranglers are pretty tough. Stiff as a board when brand new!

  4. This is all wonderful info! The dryer sheet halving is a good idea…I reuse them sometimes, but haven’t tried halving them.

  5. I can’t believe how well halving them works…it’s like getting twice the dryer sheets for the money…

    Back when I had a dishwasher, I found that half the detergent worked just as well also. When I ran out, I’d substitute for it by shaking some baking soda in the detergent cup and then sprinkling some vinegar over it…it worked great till I could buy more detergent. I never did that for over a few days at a time though, because my dishes would eventually start getting cloudy.

    So nice to have you ladies drop by!

  6. I have been making my own laundry soap for maore than a year now.
    My recipe is almost the same as yours but I make liquid soap.
    1/2 a bar of Fels Naptha soap grated
    1/2 cup Borax
    1/2 cup Super washing soda
    Put 1/2 a gallon of water in a sauce pan on the stove and add the grated Fels Naptha.( You want the water hot but not boiling)
    Stir till soap is dissolved.
    Add the Borax and Super washing soda and stir till dissolved.
    Pour this into a bucket and add 1 and 1/2 gallons of hot water and stir.
    Let this sit over night. It gets really thick ( kind of like finger jello with liquid on the bottem) so I use my stick blender and whirl it smooth but I have also used my hands to mix it. The stick blender gives it a creamy consistancy and using your hands makes it kind of like egg drop soup
    Use 1/2 cup per load.
    I have not had any problem with dingy clothes but I do have a water softener.
    The best part is that this cost less than a penny per load and works as good as the Tide I used to buy.

  7. Hi Becky!
    I’ve heard of making liquid laundry soap, but haven’t tried…is the Fels Naptha in the laundry aisle? Less than a penny per load…that would be a lifesaver! I’m so glad you stopped by and shared this info…

    Do you have a homemade stain treatment?
    Mary

  8. The Fels Naptha is usually only at smaller grocery stores. For me that is Piggly Wiggly or Pick & Save. It is usually with the bar soap.
    I have read where people will use any bar soap including Ivory. Irish Spring seems to be a real favorite because of the scent.
    I like the FN because it is made specificaly for laundry use.( A little side note: it also will keep you from getting swimmers itch if you lather up with it when you get out of the water.)
    I get it for less than a dollar a bar usually 95 cents. The Borax is $3.25 for 76 oz. and the Super Washing Soda is $2.05 for 55 oz.
    I get tickled every time I make it because you use so little of the ingredients and get 2 gallons of laundry soap.
    The original recipe calls for 1/3 of a bar but it’s easier for me to just do 1/2 a bar.
    I don’t have a homemade stain remover I just use Shout or I use Cascade dish detergent.It will get out anything. Make a paste with the powder and some water and scrub it into the stain. You could also try the Fels Naptha because that is what it is is a laundry stain remover.

  9. Well, I’m definitely going to be on the look-out for the Fels Naptha, thank you for sharing about it. I am currently using Spray and Wash…love that stuff…but go through a lot of it due to dh’s job. Would love to find an equal substitute!

    Thanks so much, Becky!

  10. The reason the type of bar soap doesn’t matter that much, is because it’s mainly to give the finished soap a certain consistency, not to actually clean. The borax and washing soda do the cleaning.
    Cena

  11. To those that said they cloth diaper-did this work okay for you guys on the diapers? Right now I have to order my laundry detergent online (expensive!!) to CD and I would love to be able to make my own instead!!

  12. Geri and Cena, I haven’t tried it w/cloth diapers either, but at the original site where I got mine (raisinggodlytomatoes.com on their forums) a mom shared it who, if I remember right, had used it with everything and just raved about how wonderfully it worked! So I’d go ahead and try it!

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