Friday, May 2, 2014

Frugal Friday Episode I: Laundry Bombs

Welcome to the first Frugal Friday post! I am so excited to share this series with you!

If you've not read my previous post, then I'll quickly share that I am on a mission to cut every extra expense possible. Cable is already gone, as are the frequent trips to Starbucks and few other minor frivolities. With the addition of the skyrocketing price of gas (it's over $4 here in CA!), this mission to find ways to save every penny becomes even more pressing.

So, what's my first frugal finding?!

I recently took a poll on the facebook page and found that the average amount of loads of laundry greatly vary between households. Some families only do around 8 to 10 loads, while some larger families have to do 20 or more! Per week! Lord have! While our family "only" hovers around the 8 load mark, I was still curious to see if we could somehow find a way to save some money in this area. Now that the weather is warmer, we can hang dry much more laundry, so we'll be able to save a little on dryer costs, but, what could we do to save even more?

Then I thought about making my own detergent. Several of my large family friends have been doing this for years, but I've always wondered if it was worth the "effort". (You know, as if it took hours on end to make. Ha!) Turns out it's not only worth it, but it's as easy as making a batch of cookies!

Lemme break down the cost for you.  

Here's what I've found, based on prices at Target.

Tide liquid is $11.99 for 64 loads making each load $0.19. Sounds great right? Keep reading.

Gain will run you $9.99 for the same amount of loads making each load $0.15. Even better!

Target's Up&Up brand is only $7.99 for the same as above making it an awesome deal at only $0.12 per load. Fantastic! And one of the reasons we switched to Up&Up so long ago. Same quality for so much less!

But, could I save even more? I mean, really?

Enough to summon the prairie housewife in me and actually make it?!

See how happy she is?! lol! 

Um, yes.

After doing the math (with a bit of help from the Hubbs, of course.) I found that I could get 64 loads for $3.98 making each load $0.06. In case you didn't catch that, it's only SIX CENTS per load.

Whyyyyyyy did I not do this earlier?!?!!?

The savings are undeniable. Especially when you look at annual cost. If you wash 10 loads per week, plus bedding and random extra loads you could easily be washing 550 (or more!) loads a year.

So, what does the cost look like per year?

550 loads will cost you:

Tide = $104.50

Gain = $82.50

Up&Up - $66.00

DIY = $33.00

Seriously, stop paying retail.

Now that you know the hard facts, here's the DIY that will save you so much money!

Laundry Bombs

(I found the "recipe" for this here via Pinterest.)

Oh! Wanna know the best part of this? There is NO need to buy a fabric softener - these soften while they clean! How cool is that?! That's even MORE savings!

Here's what ingredients you'll need:

*1/2 cup bar of Fels-Naptha - It costs $1 or less and I only used 1/4 of the bar. It can be used for 4 batches!
*1 1/2 cup Washing Soda - This runs around $2.50 and you can also get 4 batches from one box.
*2Tbs Epsom Salts - Most of us have this in our cupboards, but if you have to buy it, a 6lb bag will cost around $5. You could get a bazillion loads with that bag. Give or take. lol
*3Tbs Hydrogen Peroxide. Again, a very common household item, but if you need to buy some, it's about $.50 for 16 oz..
*1/4 cup of Vinegar. I always have this on hand, but snagged a gallon for $2.80.

You'll also need:

A grater, a bowl, some parchment paper, a tablespoon and a cookie sheet.

What to do!

1. Grate the bar of Fels-Naptha.

If I'm going to keep doing this, I should get a big girl grater. Doh!

It smells SO good!!!!  The original recipe calls for essential oils for fragrance, but we didn't add any.
We love the "clean" smell. Feel free to add your favorite scent! 
2. Add all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly. It should be sorta "wet" but still crumbly.

3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (wax paper would work, too.)

4. Scoop out the mix using your tablespoon. You'll need to press it firmly into the sides of the bowl and then lightly tap out the disc onto the cookie sheet.

I found that using a rounded tablespoon was easier. For some reason, the mix held together better and came out in a clean disc.

5. Spray them with equal parts water and vinegar. There's no picture for this step because I totally forgot to do it. Woops! I guess it helps hold the puck together. Mine have held up fine without.

6. Let dry. It shouldn't take too long.

7. Store in a container with a lid.

I was able to get 26 laundry bombs out of this recipe! The original post says to use 1 or 2 per load, but we have found for most loads 1 works really well. The only load we used 2 in was a load of bedding. Even a full load of towels came out clean, soft and smelling great with just 1!

I know that this isn't exactly the savings jackpot, or the DIY for growing a money tree.

But, when you are already living on a super tight budget and need to find ways to save even more, making your own detergent can really help stretch that dollar!

Still not convinced? By making your own...

There is no waste.
There are no funky chemicals, dyes or perfumes.
You can add certain essential oils to make it anti bacterial, good for your skin, or whatever your desire. The list of essential oil benefits goes on for miles.
Run out? Head to the cupboard and make more.
Need a last minute bridal shower gift? Make a batch, put in a mason jar, attach the recipe and a tablespoon to a pretty ribbon and wrap it around the jar. Super cute and she will thank you forever!
Buy the products in bulk and save even more per load.

Thank you so much for stopping by today!

Please come back next Friday for a neat trick that will save you even more!


  1. Very cool! I've heard mixed reviews on making your own laundry detergent-people missing the clean scent of detergent and such. This sounds like it works really well and it's a great deal! Great post!

    1. Thank you! When you make your own you can actually add whatever scent you want! Essential oils are fantastic. We actually just enjoy the smell of the Fels Naptha. I may add tea tree oil to make them anti-bacterial.

  2. That looks really spiffy, and such a GREAT post!

    I'd never seen the laundry cookies before your post - only a liquid variety. After really messing up our first front loader by not using HE detergent, I'm real careful now. Have you heard any reviews about using them in HE machines. How is it as far as allergies go?

    We use the cheapest "Free and Clear" we can find, and have cut the amount of liquid detergent we use each load in half - so there is no soap residue on our clothing, and this has cut the cost, but probably not as low as yours. Marjie - at

    1. These get our clothes REALLY clean. I was very surprised. Even with only 1! You probably have most of these ingredients already. It won't cost too much to give it a try! The worst that can happen is you don't like them. =D Let me know what you decide!

  3. I've done the homemade liquid laundry soap before and although I felt it cleaned just as good as the store bought laundry soap my husband didn't like it because it didn't have a smell and he loves the fresh laundry smell. I wonder if there is something I can add to make it have a clean scent.

    1. We really really enjoy the smell of the Fels Naptha! But, if you want a certain scent, you can find an essential oil that would work for you. The original recipe calls for 20 drops. We find our laundry actually smells more clean with these, but we typically don't like fragrances in our detergent.

    2. You could also add essential oil to wool dryer balls! They replace dryer sheets, speed up drying time, and can be reused for years. I've seen them pre-made for about $20, but they're REALLY easy to make with just 1 skein of 100% wool yarn.

    3. Yes! The next post talks about those and something else that works. I'd say, but I don't want to give it away. lol!

  4. I made a batch of these yesterday and used a couple later last night and loved them! But I went to use them today and they are ROCK HARD. I tried dissolving them in warm water and even grinding them up in my processor and neither worked. Any ideas on what I need to change to make them more easily dissolved?

    1. Oh no!! I have no idea how that happened, or even what could be done about it. I've made this batch at least a dozen times and it's worked out perfectly fine. I'm so sorry!