This conversation happened over google chat yesterday…
Venessa: please buy laundry detergent on your way home
Joe: no need, I’ll just make some
So I was officially on the hook for making laundry detergent myself, lest the dirty laundry start to pile up. And we’re potty training Lillia these days, so we’re talking major laundry.
I found this recipe by Trent at The Simple Dollar, which I planned on doubling*. Seems simple enough, and we already have all but one ingredient: washing soda.
Luckily, I found out from Penniless Parenting that you can make washing soda from baking soda. It’s as simple as 2NaHCO3 —> Na2CO3 + CO2 + H2O. Or “bake it for a while at 400” for the non-nerds.
But how long to bake it? The blogger at Penniless Parenting is strangely mum never timed it, so I don’t know how long it takes to turn baking soda into washing soda. I timed it while mine was cooking and I found that it takes a little over an hour to turn 2 cups of baking soda into washing soda at 400 degrees. I put it in an oven-safe pie plate and stirred it every 15 minutes or so.
While that was baking, I’d like to tell you that I was grating the soap since that would have been a sensible thing to do. But that would be a lie, because I was actually hanging out with Venessa.
I grated the soap later, and put all the ingredients together. This was actually the worst part, unless you enjoy borax and washing soda in your nose, throat, and lungs. Personally I don’t. I guess this is how cocaine addicts feel, with all the dripping and the white powder.
Trent claims that making laundry detergent saves him $37 a year vs. generic powder. We use Trader Joe’s powder which is $10 for 64 loads, or $0.16 per load. I estimate the batch I made took about 30 minutes to make, and made about 48 loads at a cost of about $0.05 per load.
We do about 200 loads of laundry a year, so I’m saving about $22 a year for 2 hours worth of work (4 batches), or $11 an hour and 4 facefulls of borax.
In conclusion: not worth it.
PS: The lady with 19 kids has a recipe for liquid laundry detergent that looks like it’s worth trying.
Update: I tried the liquid recipe mentioned above, and it’s pretty good!
* Instead of using two bars of soap, I used one large bar of Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil soap. Pros: it only contains olive oil, water and salt. Cons: it’s really sticky and gooey. (Additional con that I just discovered while making this recipe and blogging about it: Venessa thinks it smells like baby crap. And now our laundry is going to smell like it for 48 loads. Oops!)