Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Laundry Soap - What Works for Me

Many moons ago, when I was first getting started on being even more frugal in an effort to save Daniel's hard-earned moo-lah, I switched from "cheap but good" store-bought laundry soap to making my own. It is very, very inexpensive to make and 1/2 a recipe lasted us quite a long time.

I think I used homemade for about a year and a half. Many people that I know IRL (In Real Life) and through the blogging world use the same recipe for homemade laundry soap and it works great for them. I figured it would do the same for me :) I was tickled pink to be able to save money in this area of our lives, especially since it kinda is a necessity :P

Towards the end of summer last year (2009) I started seriously paying attention to our clean laundry. I was beginning to notice things that I didn't really like. Two things that stood out to me the most: First was that Daniel's clothing that he wears for work (jeans, company shirt, etc.) was not smelling so nice after a good washing, even with line-drying on a nice, sunny day. Especially the clothes from the days that he would get so hot and sweaty, the clothes would still smell sweaty and stinky when I'd get them in off the wash-line. The second thing I was really noticing was that the towels and washcloths were getting the same way. Smelling very stagnant and stale, and the lighter colored washcloths were becoming very dingy and gray in color. For some of the washcloths, it was very obvious exactly where my body-wash had been, either because there was a large gray area, or the color from the body-wash (which was pink Oil of Olay at that time) was staying in the cloth. I didn't care for any of it.

I decided to "experiment" with a jug of Tide laundry detergent.

Photo from Tide's website.

The next time Tide was on sale and I had coupons, I bought some. It was a 64 load bottle. I wanted to try two things: First and foremost, I wanted to see if it made an obvious difference in the cleanliness of the clothes. Second, I often hear people say that the number of loads that is listed on the bottle is a bunch of hooey because they never get that many loads, so I wanted to see exactly how many loads I got out of this bottle.

The results from the first would be that almost immediately I noticed a big difference. Within 2 washings (2 weeks), the towels and washcloths lost almost all of their dinginess. The one white washcloth that had the pink area from the body wash was white again (and it had been pink for some time!). Daniel's clothes were smelling clean and not just like rinsed sweat. Yes, I'm sure that the fragrance of the detergent had some effect on that, but when I line dry the clothes I don't really notice the detergent smell so much as the laundry just smells like clean fresh air :)

The second experiment proved the bottle to be correct. The fine print stated that the 64 loads was based on the 1st line (smallest amount) in the bottle cap. I eye-balled it and determined that line 2 was equal to 1 1/2 "loads" and line 3 was equal to 2 "loads" worth of detergent. Based on this, I kept a marker with the bottle and each time I did laundry, I marked on the bottle how many "loads" worth of detergent I used. In the end? I had gotten just a few more than 64 "loads" of laundry out of that bottle!!

So, for now, what works for me is Tide. So far I have been able to get it fairly cheaply (as far as Tide goes) and I'm hoping for another good sale to come around before I run out again :) I have not been brave enough to try the "less expensive than Tide" brands again. I may, or I may not. Right now I'm very happy with Tide!!

This post is linked to this week's Works for Me Wednesday.


Sally said... [Reply to comment]

Yes! Hooray for Tide! I use it and I love it. I'm glad you're liking it too.

Cate said... [Reply to comment]

Right about the time I was considering making our own laundry detergent, I read your posts last summer about your problems with it. Now I'm glad I didn't bother! We used to use Tide and I liked it quite well, but now we use a (probably more expensive, but I haven't done a cost comparison) more eco-friendly detergent that I buy online from a WAHM. She also makes a diaper detergent that's really handy for our daughter's diapers, as traditional detergents can cause buildup.

Emily said... [Reply to comment]

I made mine for a long time and I agree with whites were brighter using store bought, and frankly, my laundry room more sloppy mess. :) lol.

Katie said... [Reply to comment]

I had the same problem as you with my towels and as soon as I started washing them with ALL laundry soap they started smelling much better. I'm so sad that the homemade stuff doesn't work a little better because I was in love with it's price :(

Mama Laundry said... [Reply to comment]

I have never been brave enough to try making my own laundry detergent!

But I am a die-hard Tide fan. I only wish they would pay me to love them so much! Ha!

In my experience, Tide is the best laundry detergent there is. And you're right - you definitely only need to go to the first fill line on the cap to have good, fresh, clean clothes.

Love your header pic, btw. I wish that was the view from my kitchen window. ;)


Together We Save said... [Reply to comment]

Thanks for pointing out about how much to use. I always use to much and waste detg.

Candi said... [Reply to comment]

My cousin just started making her own laundry detergent to save money. I'm going to tell her about your experience and see if she is running into the same problem. Thanks for sharing!

Jolanthe said... [Reply to comment]

Hmmm...I haven't noticed any difference at this point, so I'll have to keep an eye out. I've been using it for about six months now and had been using Tide prior to that.

I usually use a liquid fabric softener along with the wash but haven't noticed any smell. Our kids clothes don't always get the stains out, but Tide didn't either, so I'm going to go back to soaking yuck stuff in a bucket of oxi since I use to add that to our laundry too with the whites.

Guess I'll pay attention a little more and see how it goes. :)