frugal friday: laundry

so, i used to make my own laundry detergent, but have kind of fallen out of the habit recently since store bought is a (tiny) bit easier. also, since i wash all of our clothes together - including atticus' - i decided to use store-bought rather than homemade, since homemade is soap-based and they don't recommend that for use on baby clothes (i guess it messes with the flame-retardant stuff on kiddo pjs). however, i think if done a certain way, storebought can come pretty close to homemade in terms of price.

(the only thing that creeps me out about it is that it has a ton of unrecognizable chemicals in it, and thinking about having residue of that stuff on our baby clothes or my underwear is kind of gross.)

anyway, here's the best cost analysis i could come up with. i'm not the greatest at math, but i dedicate myself in the name of saving money, so i think this is right:

homemade detergent:
ivory soap: 3.79 for 10 bars (.02 per load)
borax: 2.89 for 76 oz (.01 per load)
washing soda: 2.38 for 55 oz (.01 per load)

homemade rinse (fabric softener/residue remover):
vinegar: 1.99 for 2 gallons (.02 per load)

total cost of one load: .06 (+ the cost of water and energy, obviously, but that will be true regardless of the type of detergent you use.)

here's the clincher for store-bought: only use half of what they tell you. i was talking to our appliance guy, and he said that it's better for your washer and your clothes to only use half the recommended amount, unless your clothes are really dirty. the only reason they recommend using as much as they do is because it makes you use more and therefore buy more.

storebought detergent options:
xtra liquid: 5.86 for 96 loads/192 half-soap loads (.03 per half-soap load)
arm and hammer liquid: 8.49 for 96 loads/192 half-soap loads (.05 per half-soap load)
arm and hammer powder: 11.86 for 145 loads/290 half-soap loads (.04 per half-soap load)

so, for the actual cleaning product, arm and hammer powder costs the same as homemade, and xtra actually costs less, as long as you only use half the amount of detergent. not to mention, both are (only a tiny bit) more convenient than having to make your own.

storebought softener options:
target brand fabric softener liquid: 3.29 for 60 loads (i don't know if you can halve this or not) (.06 per load)
target brand softener sheets: 6.49 for 240 sheets (you can use each sheet twice) (.01 per load)

so, for softener options, vinegar is less expensive than storebought, but if you want to buy softener, sheets are way less expensive than liquid.

so there you have it. i've decided to use arm and hammer powder detergent and vinegar, so my total cost-per-load is about 6 cents. i do 3-4 loads per week (avg: 3.5), which means i'll spend about 11 bucks a year to wash our clothes.

if i didn't halve our detergent, and used both liquid and sheet softeners, i'd be spending around 15 cents per load, or about 27 bucks a year. and that's only using the cheapest-of-cheap products. other products could make it WAY more expensive than that even.

so i save 16 bucks a year, which doesn't sound like much, but it's like getting nearly a year and a half of laundry for FREE, if you think about it.

not to shabby. and hopefully not too boring.


LisaGrace said...

oh my gosh! SO not boring! i feel so blessed that you want to help me be a smart wife. you are amazing!

tivo vovo said...

you are an awesome wife my love.

Alana said...

You are some kind of frugal genius, old friend. I'll admit that I sort of stalk you just to learn how to save money better. Your grocery lesson saved me about $15 last week!