A Bossy reader and frequent commenter, Brava97, sent Bossy a tip about purchasing Sears‘ high efficiency laundry detergent. Apparently it is super concentrated and low-sudsing, which makes it ideal for front-loading washers, but approved for all washers.
We interrupt this Bossy already in progress for the following announcement: Bossy has never used this detergent, especially not in the front-loading washer she doesn’t have, and especially not in the old washer she does have, sitting in the recesses of the cluttered basement which makes Bossy so depressed she designated her husband Chief Laundry Doer because he rather enjoys clutter and anyone know a good marriage counselor?
Our commenting superhero known as Brava97 says she buys the 11.5 pound box, which is supposed to contain 120 washes, but Brava97 knows you only need a fraction of the recommended measuring scoop — as a matter of fact, a washing machine repairman once told her you don’t need more than a tablespoon of the high-efficiency stuff.
So. For instance. Brava97 purchased a box of this detergent on sale at Sears for $9.99 (regularly $19.99), on March 1, 2008. Eight. This means she is one year into her ten dollar box. She recommends watching for a similar sale.
Meanwhile, another Bossy reader suggested the idea of making your own laundry detergent. This particular reader found her detergent recipe on the Duggar Family website, and then she quickly went on to type that, no, she is not a crazy fundamentalist baby-making person herself, but she did make ten gallons of detergent for $5.
Anyone else care to weigh-in with detergent concerns?
floreksa saysMarch 4, 2009 at 8:33 am
I make my own. Google it and you’ll find tons of “recipes” for it. Total materials cost me $10 and is enough to make 3 batches. I would say each batch lasts me about 4-6 months. We do quite a bit of laundry.
MariaV saysMarch 4, 2009 at 8:52 am
I favor going to National Liquidators. I clean them out of the HE detergent.
jen saysMarch 4, 2009 at 10:08 am
I will handcraft my own tampons before I give up my Downy Ultra with Lavender and Vanilla Essence.
Betsey saysMarch 4, 2009 at 10:13 am
I’ve tried the cheapo brands and they don’t get my clothes clean. It’s Method or Tide all the way for me…
MidLifeMama saysMarch 4, 2009 at 10:31 am
We use the Sears HE detergent too, but since my husband also does all of the laundry, I am not sure if he uses the recommended measurement or not. But I will find out!
Kristine saysMarch 4, 2009 at 10:39 am
We use whatever is cheapest liquid in the store. When i do laundry I use half the recommended amount. And a tiny bit of oxyclean (1/4 the recommended amount). husband uses much more than I do. In fact he uses so much softener that when I do laundry I don’t use any and he doesn’t even notice because it’s still soft from when he did it. I can’t complain, I don’t want to do all the laundry all the time.
David saysMarch 4, 2009 at 11:22 am
OK, Jen wins for comment of the month, if not possibly the year.
I send my laundry out because I would rather eat ramen for a solid week than drag a 13lb bag of laundry through ice-cold NYC streets.
And since I put all my spare change in containers and cash it in monthly ($43 last time!) I don’t have to eat the ramen.
Grandma J saysMarch 4, 2009 at 11:24 am
I use Tide liquid, and I rotate between their 32 different varieties. One of my favorite things is laundry, and I iron most everything. I’ll seek counseling as soon as my laundry is done.
Amy in NJ saysMarch 4, 2009 at 11:41 am
I use borax in my laundry every time (cheap laundry soap booster/water softener), about half of the Tide i used to use, and I use white vinegar as a fabric softener (about a cup for a full load-and you can get a gallon for $1.29). My clothes have never been so clean or soft. And that’s saying a lot since I have 3 messy children.
I will also soak the whites in the wash water with a splash bleach for up to half an hour to get all of the pencil dust out of my son’s white uniform shirt sleeves. Works like a champ.
Jackie Whitley saysMarch 4, 2009 at 12:26 pm
Hadn’t purchased laundry soap in a while & had sticker shock. The bottles were smaller & I guess the price had gone up with the gas prices of last year. I prefer liquid.
Don’t like scented ANYTHING.
rebekah saysMarch 4, 2009 at 12:29 pm
My son has eczema. As in “omyfreakinghellwhatisthat”? flaring red scaly eczema when left to the toxins of this world. Subsequently, and with a LARGE test-and-giveaway pile of detergent experiments behind us, I can say that for THIS family, only Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin UnSCENTED liquid detergent keeps his poor baby skin unscaled and unred and unrashed.
Lynn in Tucson saysMarch 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm
Oh, Bossy. The Duggar family slideshow left me dizzy.
That said, I only go fragrance-free on my soaps. (Costco’s gone and ruined everything recently btw, by replacing their perfectly good dish & laundry soaps with “Eco-friendly” varieties that smell like a hooker’s perfume. But I digress.) I have tried the Fels-Naptha thing and it’s fine for the laundry but very smelly.
reen saysMarch 4, 2009 at 12:56 pm
(no, I do not have Tourette’s)
Kris saysMarch 4, 2009 at 1:07 pm
I make my own and I love it. My husband farms and is always dirty and greasy and this soap works great. My washing machine repairman said that soap is soap. All soap does is make water wetter. The key to clean clothes is not over stuffing the machine to let the clothes agitate against each other. He said people use WAY too much soap in their washers. Plus, he told me that once a month I need to fill the empty washer with the hottest water possible (no clothes or soap) with 2 or 3 cups of vinegar and let it run through a cycle. He told me this helps get a lot of the extra gunk out of the bottom of the washer.
Brava97 saysMarch 4, 2009 at 1:21 pm
Thank you, Bossy!!!
For those concerned about fragrance and skin sensitivity, I see on the website that they do now carry a fragrance- and dye-free version.
Renee in Seattle saysMarch 4, 2009 at 1:24 pm
I found that reducing my detergent to using about 1/4 cup is definitely helping in the money department, and as a benefit I’m noticing the family’s clothes aren’t getting so beat up so quickly, requiring replacement, which requires money.
Naomi saysMarch 4, 2009 at 1:30 pm
I am with Jen. My yummy smelling and softening detergent is one of the things I refuse to give up – either for the environment or for my pocketbook. Lame and ignorant, maybe … BUT it is one of my great pleasures, crawling into bed with my favorite smelling sheets, or cuddling up with yummo smelling kids because of our laundry detergent.
Debs saysMarch 4, 2009 at 2:12 pm
One word: Biodegradable.
Acher saysMarch 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm
Funny that you should post this today- I just ordered a gallon of Charlie’s Soap (www.charliesoap.com), and it should be here today!
It claims to do 128 loads, I think, in a regular size washer- 1 tablespoon at a time. Since I have a very small stackable washer/dryer combo in my condo, I figure I can get double that. The gallon was $24, but they claim that you no longer need laundry boosters, bleach, fabric softener, etc. The detergent alone is more than my Arm&Hammer, but when you add in my Snuggle and Clorox obsessions, it is actually cheaper. AND its natural and biodegradable. AND they make an all purpose cleaner that claims to clean everything from a mechanic’s greasy hands to dentures to your dog. Got some of that coming too.
I will report back tomorrow when I have re-laundered half my wardrobe and cleaned my condo from top to bottom…
bobbie saysMarch 4, 2009 at 6:06 pm
As former Tide users (and owners of a front loading washer), we switched to Sam’s Club’s version of Tide (at almost half the price) and have not noticed any difference. We also use much less than the recommended amount. I do use Fels-Naptha to pre-treat stains.
Well Read Hostess saysMarch 4, 2009 at 6:17 pm
Oh the agony of the laundry detergent dilemma.
1) You’ve got to consider the SMELL, which leaves you with only two choices, Tide or Gain – both original scent, none of this Hawaiian Breeze or Tropical Bird Fart scents.
2) You’ve got to consider how much it costs and HOLY Shizznit?!!! Really? That’s how much Tide and Gain cost.
3) You’ve got to consider whether or not it works, which leaves you with only Tide, because I can’t quit you Tide. Believe me, I’ve attempted to give it up many times, but it’s the only thing that gets my whites white and my brights bright.
This is by far the most I have ever written about laundry detergent. Let’s hope that’s that.
Cactus Petunia saysMarch 4, 2009 at 6:53 pm
I’m with Well Read Hostess. And I might add, Tide is the only one that takes out the dog smell.
I wrote more about it here:
The Cheap Chick saysMarch 4, 2009 at 7:02 pm
I live alone, so my laundry concerns are probably 1/100th of everyone elses. However, I still buy the cheapest unscented detergent I can find at Target, because my money is better spent on other things. Like wine.
habanerogal saysMarch 4, 2009 at 7:10 pm
Amway SA-8 seems to last me forever and always gets the stains out, the only creapy part is that none of the people who sell it actually want to “sell stuff” its always “the opportunity for a business” ya right just gimme my soap weirdo.
Emily saysMarch 4, 2009 at 7:30 pm
Seeing as all of us are allergic to Tide, I’ve been going to Sam’s to get fragrance-free All. It seems to last for about 6 months for our small family of 3 so I’m not dissatisfied. Tide and its ilk are way too strong for us sensitive skin types.
Rebekah saysMarch 4, 2009 at 8:31 pm
I don’t mind doing laundry but since we moved into our house 4 years ago, I no longer do the laundry b/c I don’t like my basement either – it is dark and creepy and the floor is some kind of bumpy, earthy, concrete-y lunar-lookin’ mess…I look forward to the day when we have a set of those fancy shmancy front-loading w/d sets that are so lovely people put them in their kitchens as decoration.
Frugalmaven saysMarch 4, 2009 at 9:55 pm
Husband is allergic to fabric softener so once prices jacked up again went the diy route. Love it! We have 2 dogs, two cats, do renovation work and it gets everything clean. And doesn’t smell like anything but clean. No bird fart or hooker perfume. I blogged about it here: http://www.hipandstingy.com/search/label/homemade%20laundry%20detergent
Vanessa saysMarch 5, 2009 at 2:25 am
I’ve always used Tide liquid, but recently tried this recipe for homemade detergent
It works well and I have sensitive skin and have thus far been reaction free.
I wasn’t able to find the Fels Naptha so I used a bar soap called Zote and it works well – also, the bar of Zote is larger, for the same price, so I’m able to get larger batches for cheaper. I’d estimate that my homemade powdered detergent costs me approximately 3 cents per load as opposed to the 30 cents per load that Tide averages.
One thing – this powdered version does work best in a hot wash. If I need to do a load in a cold wash, I run the hot water for the first 20-30 seconds so that it will dissolve the detergent, then switch over to cold.
I’ve also read a lot of reviews where people used the Dr Bronners Castile soap bar rather than the Fels Naptha with good results – you can get a mildly scented version and theres even less petrochemicals so its greener.
I only did the powdered version because I didn’t want to invest the time in having “cooked” a 5 gallon bucket of liquid detergent in case I ended up having some sort of allergic reaction. Next time, I probably will try the liquid version – easier to use in a cold or warm water wash.
corrie saysMarch 5, 2009 at 10:19 am
Once again Bossy has her finger on the pulse of what’s really on people’s minds!!
I was very interested to read ALL the comments and now will investigate the ‘making’ of laundry detergent… who knew?
Dana Lynne saysMarch 5, 2009 at 10:59 am
I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for about a year now (except for a brief hiatus when I was ill; with four kids six and under I just let anyone willing to do laundry choose whatever they liked!) and I love the saving money factor. That wasn’t a surprise – the surprise was how much cleaner my clothes get now – especially the whites. I used to use inexpensive detergent (not Tide), but this is even less expensive and it works better!
Judy saysMarch 5, 2009 at 11:02 am
Also believe Jen gets the comment of the year award.
Love the idea of making my own, but wonder how environmentally safe it is? Like the low or no ph stuff as it’s better for the water supply, etc – have to do more research on “homemade” and the impact on the environment.
Bee saysMarch 5, 2009 at 7:49 pm
Jen and her comment really ought to look into using the Diva Cup instead. Far more ecologically respectful and internal health friendly than storebought fem.hygiene bleached wonders out there. No need to roll your own Jen.
Meanwhile #14 is right on. I have been a professional launderess for over a decade. Why the freak does detergent have to be BLUE? BLUE? That’s not right. And the reason Tide has a loyal following is the optical enhancer chemicals they add to the mix. Gee, gotta love more freaky chemicals infiltrating our skin via “clean” clothes.
And all those fragrances people love? Industrial perfumes, oooh slather that stuff all over your skin with your “Clean” clothes. Blech. I won’t touch the stuff, its toxic. Love it if you must, but now you know.
Anyone know about Ecoquest Laundry pure? Enzyme power! And no chemicals, no detergents, no ground up glass surfactant to give you fast bubbles you wrongly think your laundry needs. All washes in cold water. Have I said No detergent EVER? A super frugal friend has it and loves it. I want one. Meanwhile make my own with Dr Bronners castille soap. Professionally we use the Arm & Hammer stuff in small amounts per load. Great discussion post!
Elsewhere saysMarch 6, 2009 at 5:52 am
OT: Did you checkout the names of the 18 children of the Duggar-family?! They scare me. Big time.
g saysMarch 7, 2009 at 12:15 am
I’m also an Arm & Hammer Unscented gal – both my son and I have bad reactions to the other stuff.
I went to the Duggar Family site, and – Man!! the tater-tot recipe made me gag!
That woman must buy pallet-loads of canned cream soup. Gah.
g saysMarch 7, 2009 at 12:19 am
And my laundry room was moved from a daylight office to a dark corner in the basement after we remodeled and made a “bachelor pad” for young adult son. The laundry space is filthy and dingy, but for some odd reason I am resisting the urge to clean it up and make it nice – I wonder why, really I do?
Sara saysApril 13, 2009 at 9:34 pm
Late to the game, but here’s an idea. I really like 7th Generation lavender and eucalyptus scented detergent. But it’s…not cheap, even though I have to use less with my eco washer. I started refilling my bottles with bulk, scent free detergent and scenting it myself with essential oils. The initial pay out is a bit much, but the oils will last a long time, I can use them for other things, and (as a bonus), I’m not constantly recycling plastic containers — I’m reusing them.
Holly saysJune 20, 2009 at 2:42 am
I’m even later to the game. I was a faithful Tide user for a long time. But when the hubby lost his job of 15 yrs, we had to look for ways to cut cost everywhere. I saw a blog, no not the Duggars, about making your own and tried it. I thought that if I didn’t like it that at least I could continue to use the ingredients as laundry boosters and stain pretreaters so I wouldn’t be out anything, right? Well I won’t be going back to Tide, Ever! By the way, you can make this stuff with eco friendly Dr.Bonner’s liquid soap that happens to come in a variety of scents if that’s what you like. I make mine with fels naptha, washing soda, borax, and because I have 2 teenagers who, lets face it with all the changes they go through, stink added baking soda as a natural deodorizer. I also happen to have skin allergies and horrible eczema that has almost completely cleared up. I used to use Tide Free because it’s supposed to be better that the regular or so I thought. Free or Free and Clear just means that it doesn’t contain dye or perfumes. It still contains the same chemical that the regular does. The Free version kept me from breaking out in hives but did nothing for the eczema. By the way now that I use 1/4C of dish soap in the bottom of a spray bottle then fill it up the rest of the way with vinegar to clean my bathroom as well as my kitchen I haven’t had to use my asthma inhaler. Laugh if you will, I know I did when I saw the recipe, but it worked great. Who would have thought this stuff could work but it does. As one who was very addicted to my cleaners. There is another way if you need one. Happy washing to all.
Holly saysJune 20, 2009 at 3:06 am
Just a side note. If you go to thesimpledollar.com the gentleman also makes his own soap did a comparison using a similar recipe to mine and Tide with bleach alternative. He used 2 white t-shirts and mustard. Go and see for yourself. He also has his sales slip from the store where the items use was purchased.