Living With Less…Homemade Costs Less

At the beginning of the year I shared with you the ministry transition that Mark and I felt God leading us to make.  Mark resigned from his pastoral ministry and we are now speaking, writing, and encouraging families through Hearts at Home full-time….with a part-time income.  It was a very scary step of faith, yet God has taken care of our needs every step of the way.  (Eventually Hearts at Home will be able to have full-time staff.  That won’t happen, however, until we can substantially increase the donor side of the ministry…if you’d like to be a part of our $5/month Every Piece Counts to help us do that you can find more info here.)

Little did we know how real the words “living with less” would become when we were writing the book last year!  While it’s been challenging many times over the past few months, it’s also forced us to get creative and to think outside the box.  

When someone shared with us a recipe for Homemade Laundry Detergent, we decided to give it a try.  And we LOVE it!  The mom who shared the recipe with us says that the recipe lasts 6 months (and she had a house full of kids!)  We haven’t been using it that long so we can’t vouch for how long it will last but we can vouch for how easy it was to make and how well it cleans clothes!

Here’s the best part…it cost less than $8.00 to make.  Seriously.  $8.45 purchased all of the ingredients AND I have enough Borax and Washing Soda for several more recipes.  I’m guessing that we’re getting six months worth of laundry detergent for about $2.50! 

If you’re interested in trying it out…here are the details:

You need:

  • 5 gallon bucket w/lid
  • 1 bar Fels Naptha Soap
  • 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1 c. Arm and Hammer Washing Soda

Note: I couldn’t find the ingredients at Walmart, but I did find them at Cub Foods and Kroger.

Grate and melt bar of soap in 4 cups water on stove.  Add to other ingredients in bucket.  Fill bucket w/hot water and stir.  Cover and let sit overnight. Stir and then pour your homemade detergent into left over laundry detergent bottles only until 1/2 full. Add water to fill to top.  Shake before using each time.  (FYI–This detergent does not create suds in the washer, but it cleans just the same.)

This is the best detergent we’ve ever had.  It removes stains extremely well and our clothes look and smell great!

What about you?  What homemade recipes do you use to help cut expenses at your house?


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21 thoughts on “Living With Less…Homemade Costs Less

  1. I may try this. We do so. much. laundry.

    Where do you keep the bucket of concentrated goop? I'm guessing it doesn't all fit into your laundry soap jugs at once? I'm just imagining my boys finding that bucket and having a field day…

  2. Jill we use this recipe too! Love it!! You can even add some aromatherapy oils if you miss the smells you can get with the name brands. We have 3 very young children, so we keep an extra bar of the Fels Naptha around for stains. It's great for poopy and grass stains! Just rub it on the stain and throw it in the wash! And for only $.99 who can argue!

  3. Since this doesn't create suds, Am I correct in assuming that you can use it in the new front loading machines?

  4. I use a homemade solution for washing floors and it also works great on walls too. I use 1/2 cup of ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup washing soda in a gallon of hot water. It works great cleaning floors – even our WHITE kitchen floor after we had painted the ceiling and walls! I use a handful of baking soda and a 1/4 cup vinegar to clean drains – put the solution down the drain, cover with a cup or bowl, let sit for 30 minutes and rinse with cold water. I also like to clean the tub with baking soda – it's cheap and does a great job. Microfiber towels are also worth the money – they clean well and you just toss them in the washer and wash them so they are always clean – unlike a traditional sponge! Thanks for the great recipe for laundry detergent – I might just try that!

  5. We have been using the laundry soap since August. Our recipe is a little different-only making 3 gallons at a time. So far we've made several batches and still haven't run out of our original purchased items! All told we paid around $10 and that was 9 months ago. I normally spent that EACH month for laundry soap!
    I have been looking into using more "homemade" cleaners as 1. they are cheaper, 2. they don't contain all of those nasty chemicals that are not good for my family or the environment. I am in love with baking soda! The wonder cleaner! And cheap too 🙂

  6. I've been using tea to clean my hardwood floors. Hot water in a large bucket with 5-10 tea bags and seep. The tea has tannic acid which helps breakdown the gunk left by my 3 preschoolers. No build-up, great shine, looks amazing!

    My other favorite is leather cleaner – fill a spray bottle or jar 1/3 full with olive oil, and 2/3 with white or malt vinegar. Shake well before use. My recipe said to spray wipe with a clean cotton rag and then 'dry' with a second rag, but I really don't have much to dry. The oil nourishes and conditions the leather. My chairs look great, more kid gunk removed. It's been better than any other leather cleaner I'v ever used.

    I'm trying the detergent!

  7. Llama Momma, We keep the 5 gallon bucket with a lid on it in the laundry area. We fill the containers in the bathtub so it contains any spillover that might happen.

    These are all great homemade ideas, all! Thank you for sharing!

  8. The best window cleaner is a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of Dawn dish soap. Easily cleans windows and is streak free.

  9. that is the 'recipe' I use to make my detergent. been doing it for a while now and don't miss buying the stuff at the store!

  10. Jalyne's mom,

    I still use my old ERA detergent measuring cup and I fill it up to the top line.

  11. I use vinegar and water in a spray bottle to clean countertops and other random things. Also baking soda for the kitchen sink!

  12. To clean my floors, I bought a Shark steam mop. It cost $60 at Wal-Mart, but the cloths are washable and all you use is water from the sink. No build up of chemicals on the floor, and my floors have never been cleaner! Though this isn't a "homemade recie" and the initial investment is a little costly on a budget, it is totally worth it! Saves lots of $$ in the long run.

  13. I found a recipe for a natural wood polish:

    1/4 Cup Linseed oil
    3 Drops Rosemary Essential Oil

    Has anyone tried this?

  14. Our (factory finished) hardwood floor installer just said to wipe up spills and occasionally wipe the boards with a water dampened cloth. That's it.

    I use peroxide to remove tea stain from pot and china cups.

    I use baking soda to clean many things that are not harmed by the mild abrasion: sink, tub, dishes, pots/pans. Add a Cup of baking soda to the wash if you don't have soft water.

    My '99 front-load washer calls for powder only & my husband is allergic to many kinds – but Tide… thankfully, I just kept using less & less and found that 1/4 C is all it takes… so a box lasts a l o n g time.

    Rubbing alchohol cleans/shines glass light fixtures. Susan T

  15. Just made a batch of this and am so excited to try it! I went in with two of my friends to start, since it makes so much and we all wanted to see how it worked. So, I am getting my first batch for about $3!

    Jill, I have a front loader, HE–and so do both of my friends. How much of the detergent should we use?

    Thanks so much for posting this! 🙂

  16. Devin, I use a cup of the detergent for each load—which is actually a full ERA detergent cup I have left over from when I was buying detergent.

  17. Hi Jill,

    We make our own all-purpose cleaner, too.

    Mix into one gallon jug:
    1 pint rubbing alcohol
    1 cup ammonia
    1 tablespoon dish soap

    Fill remaining portion of the gallon jug with water.

    We put it into a multi-purpose spray bottle and it is what we use to clean our home.


  18. I also make my own detergent. We've been using it for about a year and will never go back. We also do somethings others wouldn't consider. But when your hubby loses his job of 15 yrs without any severance pay, you look for ways to save that you never would have thought to before.
    Ex: Homemade Baby Wipes
    Homemade cleaning wipes
    homemade wrinkle releaser
    Homemade hand and body lotion
    Home sewn washable cotton menstrual pads
    Cloth diapers
    All purpose cleaners
    Some of these we thought we would try and not like very well, however, we found that it was an easy transition. With very little money we found that we could not only survive but also thrive. When the money wasn't there we still had the necessities that we needed. I feel like we've been good stewards with what God has given us and that He led me to the info when we needed it. He is amazing. : )

  19. Love your blog…I am new to this whole blogging thing…(3 DAYS NEW!) But I would love to make it a part time job some day…I also use cloth diapers on the weekends and in the evenings AND LOVE BORAX, but have yet to make my own detergent…I do make my own WRINKLE RELEASER though…I am an art teacher and a mom of a toddler and preschooler.

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