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As a mom of little ones (Roman is 3 and River is 8 months), much of my daily routine involves doing laundry. My kids cannot keep anything clean for more than a day, and sometimes making it through a whole day in only one outfit is a challenge. We CANNOT get away with using the bargain laundry detergent. It does not remove the stains from sweet potatoes, carrots, and peas. So, for the past few years, I had a reliable system in place that involved Tide liquid detergent, Oxyclean, the occasional cup of white vinegar, and Downy fabric softener.
Between our clothes, the kids’ clothes, and cloth diapers, we do a lot of laundry in this house. Three loads, at least twice, sometimes three times a week. My routine was getting expensive. I started buying my laundry supplies in bulk from Amazon and that helped lower the cost a bit, but not enough. We were still spending upwards of $40 dollars ever 4-6 weeks on laundry! I don’t know about you, but I can think of so many things I would rather do with that $400~ a year.
So, I did a little research, spoke to a few friends and found a solution that has allowed me to save HUNDREDS of dollars.
Step 1 – Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
My recipe is pretty simple. I use the Duggar Family recipe. I was skeptical at first, but since it is so inexpensive to make, I thought, “Why not? If it doesn’t work, I am not out by much.” But it DOES work! It passed the toddler and baby test.
1/2 cup Borax
1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap, grated
10-20 drops of essential oil (optional)
- Combine the grated soap and about 4 cups of hot water in a pot and heat on the stove on LOW. Stir occasionally until the soap is melted.
- Add the soap mixture to a five gallon bucket with the borax and washing soda, and fill the bucket half way with hot water. Mix it all together until the powders are dissolved and the mixture looks homogeneous.
- Fill the bucket the rest of the way with warm water and stir again.
- Allow the mixture to cool at least 12 hours, and then add your essential oils if you’d like.
- This is a 2X concentrated detergent. I keep a small store bought detergent container in the cabinet above my washer. When I fill it, I fill it half way with the detergent I made and dilute it with water, shaking to combine.
Step 2 – Make Your Own Cloth Diaper Detergent
Because of the soap, you cannot use the above laundry detergent recipe for your cloth diapers. It may prove to be irritating on your baby’s skin. This cloth diaper wash uses no soap and rinses completely clean every time. Actually I recommend using this on your regular laundry once in a while as well. Here is the recipe.
Equal parts oxygen cleaner, washing soda, and baking soda. THAT’S IT! Combine these ingredients in a jar and shake. Use 1-2 tablespoons of the detergent per load of cloth diapers.
The washing soda softens your water and removes buildup on diapers, the baking soda absorbs odors, and the oxygen cleaner treats the stains.
Step 3 – Trade in Dryer Sheets for Dryer Balls
Wool dryer balls are the newest addition to my laundry routine and so far, I am very please with them. They are 3-4 inch balls of sheep’s wool, that help to separate your laundry in the dryer and absorb moisture, allowing your clothes to dry faster and reduce static cling. They can also be scented with essential oils if you prefer a little fragrance.
Step 4 – Sub Out White Vinegar for Fabric Softener
Vinegar is a magical substance. It has so many uses, including that of a kick butt fabric softener! It softens fabric when added to a rinse cycle, and rinses clean. Most commercial fabric softeners are not meant to be used every wash, as they will eventually leave a buildup of residue. Vinegar will never do that. In fact, it will help to make sure your laundry detergent is completely rinsed clean! Add one cup to your final rinse cycle.
As an added bonus, vinegar will help to deodorize fabrics and lift stains, and reduces static cling.
It’s in your grocery store’s baking aisle and costs about $1 a gallon!