Simple Savings: Laundry Soap

When I was first laid off, I scoured the internet for weeks looking for ways to save a buck.  I figured if I didn’t have much power over what money was coming in, then I had to control what was going out.  Many sites spoke of cancelling magazine subscriptions, giving up lattes, and forgoing mani/pedis.  But we were already there.  So, how do you save money when you are already on a shoestring budget?

The answer: do it yourself.  But how much is your time worth?  If you can save $8 for 15 minutes of your time, do you do it?  Now, I’m not advocating that you start making your own ketchup or weave your own fabric.  But there are lots of household products that can be easily made at home with significant cost savings (and higher quality).  And especially if it’s an item that you use a lot of…  The savings could be great.  So, I guess if we ate a lot of ketchup, I might consider making that at home, too.  But I do more laundry than I eat ketchup.  And that’s how I came to make my own laundry soap.


  • large bucket that will hold approximately 5 gallons (I use a plastic Tidy Cats Litter Container)
  • saucepan
  • box grater
  • spoon
  • measuring cups


  • 1 bar of neutral soap (I use Ivory)
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 4 cups of water

Start by heating the water to near boiling in the saucepan.  Grate up your soap and add it to the hot water to melt.  Measure out the washing soda and borax and add it to your bucket.  When your soap is melted, stir it into the party.  Then fill up the bucket with hot water.  Approximately 3 gallons, but I don’t actually measure.  Now, all the tutorials out there will tell you to allow the soap to cool overnight.  Personally, I don’t like how chunky it is that way, so I just give it a quick stir every 15-30 minutes until it appears to be setting up.  And if you forget about it for longer, it’s not a big deal.  You’ll just have bigger chunks of soap to contend with.  Here’s a link to a great tutorial, for you visual people.

The bottom line:  For about 15 minutes of my time, I have a huge bucket of laundry soap that’ll last me about 8 weeks (doing approximately 8 loads/week) for $0.99.  That’s $0.01/load. (Using 1/2 cup of soap per load.)  That’s drastically cheaper than the Arm & Hammer detergent I was previously using ($0.12/load) or the industry leader, Tide ($0.23/load).  But beyond being cheap, it’s really effective.  You can apply it as a pre-treater/stain remover…  It’s even removed formula stains, which are near impossible to wash out.  And I never have to run out for detergent to make sure the hubs has a work shirt in the morning. 

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3 Responses to Simple Savings: Laundry Soap

  1. […] buy what you can make.  For example, I began making our own laundry soap.  And with the amount of laundry that I do (including using cloth diapers), I believe it saves a […]

  2. […] How many times do I have to tell you to do this?!  15 minutes of my time to save myself running to the store, lugging jugs of detergent, and money?  Sold.  A typical batch lasts me nearly 3 months and costs me $0.01 per load.  And it cleans just as well as the name brand. […]

  3. […] making laundry soap only takes about 10 active minutes and it saves me at least $5 per month.  That’s a $2.50 […]