Homemade Laundry Detergent Not For Us

Over the years I’ve won a few battles on the frugal front, but I have lost nearly as many as I’ve won.  One idea that I can’t sell my wife (or myself) on is making our own homemade laundry detergent. According to various recipes out there for homemade laundry detergent I can probably get the costs down below what we spend for the family size containers of Tide at Sam’s Club. But is it really worth the few dollars saved?

Middle-of-the-Road Frugalist

Like anything else, frugality has opposite extremes.  There are those that rinse Ziploc bags, reuse aluminum foil, make their own homemade laundry detergent, and only buy things for which they have a coupon.  I’ve done a few of these things at some point, but none of them with any real consistency.  I applaud those who do, but it just isn’t for us.

In the past I’ve written about people who will live on Ramen noodles for weeks and then buy something completely unnecessary like a new GPS unit or an iPhone.  There’s nothing wrong with these particular items if you enjoy that sort of thing, but if those who covet them simply ate regular meals and passed on a few goodies they could live a much more balanced life.  That balance is really at the heart of this entire discussion about money.

A Balancing Act

While we do collect a few coupons, we are not obsessive.  We prefer to wash our clothes in store-bought detergent.  We will never buy cheap paper products–paper towels, toilet paper, etc. (Yes, I know the 1-ply stuff is cheaper, but seriously, you have to use twice as much and…okay, this is getting a little too personal!).  As I was saying, there are a few things we simply are not willing to give up, or scale back on, and we are blessed to be able to make those choices.

Over the last few days I’ve spent a good deal of time reflecting on past purchase decisions that I have regretted, or lamented about the trapped feeling brought on by debt, but I don’t want to give the impression that I am miserable.  To the contrary, I am quite happy.  The last thing I want to do is create a complete anti-consumer attitude here at Frugal Dad.  I don’t advocate becoming a hermit and only coming out of your cave when there’s a sale on your favorite brand of toothpaste.  After all, life is to be enjoyed.

I wonder how many people out there use frugality as a front for a perpetual poor attitude.  It is true that some people are simply afraid of success, so they consciously make bad decisions to purposefully repel success.  At least some of those people probably call themselves frugal as justification for never having any money to spend.  I don’t want that to be you.  Don’t be afraid of success.  Be frugal, but enjoy this life we’ve been blessed with.  Be frugal to build wealth so you can use it to brighten the lives of others.

If you are like me and refuse to make your own homemade laundry detergent, perhaps you can hang a clothesline to dry your clothes as another way to save money doing laundry.  Maybe your hang up is health food–you simply refuse to purchase cheap, processed junk from the supermarket.  That’s perfectly fine, and not a bad idea, but give up soft drinks or alcohol or some other culinary indulgence to balance out the costs of food.  Life is about making choices, and finding the right balance for you and yours.

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  1. I don’t skimp on milk – it sounds weird, but the best milk I’ve had from the grocery store has been “Organic Valley”. It’s about $8/gallon (I buy half gallons for $3.99), but it really is the best milk I’ve had. I could save $2 and get the store brand regular milk, but its really not as good.

    And TP – for all the reasons you didn’t really mention but don’t need to.

  2. Great article I read them everyday, they seem to inspire my writing.

    Some of the things I will not scrimp on include coffee, I have to have my Folgers, I guess you could say I am brand loyal to it, the other stuff just doesn’t taste right in my opinion. Another item is toothpaste, I must have Crest. I have used it all my life, nothing else compares to it.

  3. Every time I go to my parents, I lament the transparent toilet paper they use. Mr. would go through a roll every time if we bought that.

    I refuse to skimp on transportation. Yes, driving our old 15-year-old Explorer was cheaper, but our ‘new’ (2006) Matrix saved my life. Not to mention we got back the same amount we paid for it originally from our insurance, so we had a healthy down payment for it’s replacement.

    Speaking of which, I refuse to skimp on insurance. We have full coverage on our health, dental, eye, house, and car. Because when you need it, you need it.

  4. we don’t scrimp on most things. i do consider myself frugal, but my understanding of frugality is: considering your purchases carefully, balancing your desires with your long-term financial goals, making sure that what you own brings is useful or cherished, and knowing where your money is going every month. I do some DIY things, mainly because I think they are fun (we make our own soap, we bake our own bread, and I clean with vinegar & essential oils to eliminate chemicals) . I admire those who get a kick out of couponing until they get a hundred bucks of stuff for free at walgreens, but I’m just not part of that tribe. And I’m with you on the toilet paper thing.

  5. I tried to comment in stumble it…oops. I’m a new reader and loving your blog.

    This post made me laugh though because the inauguration of my frugal year included making homemade laundry detergent. I got the recipe from tipnut.com. .04 cents a load compared to .27 cents for Tide(thought the price I used was some online store I’ll have to check out the grocery store price.)
    But I will not give up my whole bean french roast gourmet coffee, and a few other things. You are right it is a balancing act.
    I am not a coupon person I can’t get my brain around the system of tracking prices to use the coupon at the best time for the biggest return. I don’t have time for that…
    anyway have been very blessed by your articles.

  6. To state the obvious. Health care.

    My wife is a state employee and each year more and more doctors drop out of her health care plan. We pay out of pocket (often at a negotiated reduced rate) for many of her doctors since we know they are good and she’s comfortable with them. My insurance plan (covering me and our kids) is excellent but only because I own my own business so my wife and I decided to get the best coverage we can get, even though it is far more expensive than other coverages available.

  7. My wife was making her own laundry detergent for a while. I’m not sure if she is right now or not. She makes her own cleaner with vinegar, and makes our own toothpaste.

    I’ve had it with being frugal for the sake of saving money on nickle and dime expenses. I try to assess my needs and buy the best valued product to meet those needs, rather than the cheapest thing I can find.

  8. I’m not allowed to buy toilet paper anymore because my wife doesn’t want to scrimp on that.

    But back to the detergent: I was just talking to a coworker about this the other day after showing him Trent’s post. Both of us agreed that, for us, that’s “too much.” Too much time, too much work for such a small payoff. The convenience and time factors win any kind of $60 savings over the course of a year.

    That’s where I draw the line.

  9. I’m with you on the detergent and rinsing plastic bags, etc. I can only do so much. The thing about living a balanced frugal life is deciding what frugal exchanges are worth your time. It’s not about adding hours of work every week to save $5, that’s not worth my time. It’s also not about starving yourself of everything you love (soft toilet paper 😉 ).

  10. I go for good toilet paper, natural toothpaste, which is much more expensive, high end cheese. But I am working through my first batch of homemade laundry soap (actually kind of fun and I like not putting another box/carton in landfill), wash laundry in cold, hang out my laundry when I can, and reuse ziplocks. Part of it is environmental. Part of it is to see if I can do it!
    However, I don’t really clip and use coupons. The choices aren’t really what I use. I prefer fresh fruits and non-processed food

  11. We don’t scrimp on food. I’ll work to save $10 on other areas so we can eat as many whole, organic foods as possible. To each their own.

    However, I too think Trent’s recipe is very time-intensive for the money saved. So I use Rhonda Jean’s powdered recipe from down—to—earth (in her list of recipes for green cleaning). It takes approximately 60 seconds to run the bar soap through the food processor, another 60 seconds to measure out the borax and washing soda and mix it all up. This lasts us about a month.

    One upside I’ve found to making my own soap is that the clothes stay cleaner and stains come out easier than with commercial detergent. It can even cope with a toddler and outdoorsy husband.

  12. When my children were in diapers, I refused to scrimp on diapers. I used a diaper service so they could wear 100% cotton cloth diapers. Good for them and good for the environment. Now I refuse to scrimp on food, I choose to eat as much organic as I can. Again, good for me and good for the environment. I am frugal in other ways in order afford these luxury/necessities.

  13. Did the homemade detergent thing. Nah. DH didn’t like the clothes not smelling good. QWe also don’t scrimp on cat litter and paper towels. But everything else is fair game. We eat off the clearance racks, daay-old bread stores, and box programs (angel food, great food for all). We eat out from time to time, but only with combined coupons and discounts. Our thermostat is set to 55 degrees, and we love the Salvation Army thrift store.

    Probably not the best arena to discuss this (sorry, dad!), but my latest endeavor is homemade sanitary pads. We’re saving buku bux with that, and saving the environment, too.

  14. The whole trying to be frugal can sometimes be compared to the diet roller coaster. Squeezing tight sometimes and being a spendthrift the next. It’s better to have a healthy balance consistently. Most things I am frugal on without much effort are passive activities like using cloth napkins, not buying so many clothes and actually just being simpler in my choices.

    I’m not a huge coupon user. I have been though. Gas prices(before drop)/time have made me reconsider what is important and worth my time and effort. If I lived where it was convenient, then I would check into it again.

    We have to pay expensive garbage collection fees in the country, so something we have to consider is waste. My motivation for making my own laundry detergent is just that, plus being miles from a store, it’s just one less thing I have worry about. The supplies to make homemade detergent take up little space (another consideration) for months and months worth of it.

    Now I am able to raise chickens and have a garden which saves money, but not everyone is able to that. Bloom where you’re planted. 🙂

    That is the beauty of all of it. It’s about weighing out what matters and works for you.

  15. You’re right – it is all about balance. I do make my own laundry detergent but do not dry my clothes on the line. I start making the soap to be frugal and because of sensitivities to the colors, scent, and additivites in the commercially available soaps. For me, it takes 15 minutes to produce a batch of soap that lasts for 3 months of laundry. Maybe the novelty will wear off (I’m on my third batch) but for now its like baking bread, sewing a curtain, or planting a garden. None of which is necessary since we could purchase the end result at the store, all of which could be frugal since the supplies are usually less than the commercial product, and depending on the person, each of which could be personally fulfilling or enjoyable.

    Carolyn in #9 – I would be interested in the recipe you are using as well. Could you post a link.

  16. I do not scrimp on food. I try very hard to buy as much locally grown or produced, natural or organic foods as possible. This especially includes meats and produce.

    Though this is generally slightly more expensive that buying commercially-grown products…its along-term thing. The long-term health of my family is worth it.

    Additionally, the long-term health of our local economies is worth the expense to me. I would rather put money into the hands of local farmers and merchants the the executives of Wal-Mart and other major national chains and manufacturers.

    Oh, and we buy non-polluting laundry detergent in bulk at our local Co-Op Market. Don’t think I could handle the challenge of making it! >;->


  17. Cleaning Service.
    I’m embarressed even to say it because it sounds so ridiculous. We’ve really frugal in other parts of our lives but I consider my twice a month house cleaning to be one of the last things we’d get rid of. The amount of fighting it has eliminated from my marriage makes it worth it alone….

  18. Amen FrugalDad! You are preaching to the choir over here.

    I absolutely will not scrimp on certain things in my life. I also will usually not cheap out on other things just for the sake of saving a few cents. We will only use Hellman’s Mayo as the other brands just don’t taste right. I buy quality cat food and the clumping cat litter as I don’t cherish trying to clean a huge litter box (for 6 cats) without it. Good TP is a must as well. 😉 I don’t really use coupons as I ALWAYS forget even when I put them in my pocket or wallet. I don’t know why, so I just gave up after a while.

    On the other hand, I do get the inexpensive store brand milk as I find it actually tastes better and has less calories in it than the major brand milks (probably more water or whey) and is significantly less expensive. I usually purchase whatever detergent is on sale that week as long as it works in our water-efficient washer. I also have no problem buying clothes that are on sale as long as they look and feel decent on me.

    I also agree with your comment FrugalDad, “I wonder how many people out there use frugality as a front for a perpetual poor attitude.” I see many people (especially here in Louisiana) saying the same things that frugal-minded people do, but they really don’t have a choice. Their income limits what they can and can’t buy anyway, so they are not so much living frugally by choice but more by the limits of what they have achieved. Of course, those same people have a list of excuses ready to roll when I ask them why they don’t leave their “crappy job” (their quote) and get a better one or at least get training for a better skill set. It’s too bad so many people live in the “perpetually poor” mindset. I used to be one of them myself until I grew up and decided that the only one who could change my attitude was me.

  19. “All things in moderation… including moderation.” I reuse ziplocks, tin foil and even saran wrap, though I try to only use containers. But that is as much about being environmentally conscious as it is being frugal. I don’t make my own soap, but I do only wash big loads and all in cold. Other things I do because I enjoy them – like making my own bread, hummus and other food staples. Like most folks here I will not scrimp on TP. Did that once and swore I would never do that again. I do try to use a coupon though!

  20. WOOHOO! Such a great post, I had to share my weird ones, too.

    My family’s pretty cheap – and we’re proud of it. Cheap and frugal. But a couple things won’t make the cut for us:
    – Expensive, organic, direct/fair trade, locally roasted coffee. It tastes better and it makes me feel better to drink it.
    – Soy milk or rice milk for my boyfriend, who’s lactose-intolerant. But we do only buy it when it’s bogo, and then we stock up!
    – Handmade soaps. I tend to buy them in bulk, on etsy or at craft fairs, but I think of it as frugal because it’s my “Molly fun” budget money, and I’m supporting small businesses. And it’s better soap, usually!

    And, to Emily – homemade sanitary pads ROCK!


  21. My line is that I refuse to buy a cheaper product that I know cheats the producer simply so I can have some extra spending cash.

    Most people don’t realize that North American “staples” like cane sugar and coffee are grown on third world plantations with working conditions akin to US cotton slavery. So I buy only Fair Trade coffee, even if it does cost me $12 (Canadian) a pound. The cheaper food is simply not worth making myself a slave owner.

  22. I’m with you on the detergent, the toilet paper, etc…

    But paper towels? I’ve got a damp rag to wipe up and a dish towel to dry and I haven’t had to buy paper towels in years.

  23. I buy only organic dairy products even though I don’t usually buy organic in other areas. All the hormones make me nervous for my children, especially the girls. Obviously, I should be equally concerned about the pesticides, but after spending $6 a gallon on the organic milk, my grocery budget needs a break elsewhere!

  24. I don’t know how Trent does his soap, but mine took me 13.5 minutes to prepare and I had to pose for some pictures! It gets my clothes clean and I just love the way it gels up. (Must be from my brief stint as a chemistry teacher.) Here’s the link for my tutorial: http://copperwyre.com/2009/01/07/MakingYourOwnLaundrySoap.aspx

    However, there are some things that I won’t compromise on as far as frugality. I will not buy from two very huge retail stores known for low, low prices because I don’t agree with their business practices. Most people think I’m crazy because I am so frugal, but won’t shop there even though they have the lowest prices.
    I buy heirloom seeds from SeedSaversExchange, despite the fact I could purchase seeds for 10/$1 at my local dollar store.
    Oh, and ditto on the tp!

  25. Adam-

    Interesting that you mentioned Crest toothpaste as a must have no matter how frugal the rest of your lifestyle.

    My earliest recollection of having any sort of consumer awareness goes back decades when I was a preteen and read a newspaper interview with the CEO of the parent corporation that owns Crest ( I think it was/is Proctor and Gamble). The reporter asked him what was the difference between Crest and Colgate (it’s only significant competition) His answer was essentially (and I’m paraphrasing many years later) “There is none. It’s all about marketing.”

    I don’t mean this as a criticism (I’m sure I have loyalty to dozens of brands that are no better or possibly worse than other brands I won’t use). It’s just interesting to me that you are so loyal to the same brand that was the inspiration for my first tentative steps towards any level of consumer awareness.

  26. The thing I love about frugality is that there is no one size fits all answer. I don’t mind making my own laundry detergent, especially since the homemade version doesn’t have a strong scent. But I’m with you on the toilet paper. I won’t buy the cheap stuff!

    Thanks for the link!

  27. I clip coupons for medicines, household products like laundry detergent and ziplock bags, and for bath and body products like shampoo and toothpaste. It’s a good deal for me, because I do save a lot of money on products we need and use anyways. It also frees up more money for the things I refuse to skimp on – food!

    I refuse to skimp on food. We eat a lot of organic meats and dairy and whole foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans. It would be a lot cheaper to eat processed junk food, but for us it’s not worth it. It tastes so bad, and it’s so horrible for your body. I wouldn’t sacrifice my health and my happiness and my youth to save $20 a week!

    One other area I refuse to skimp: good jeans. I know it sounds ridiculous to spend $100 on a pair of jeans from J. Crew, but I would rather have one well-made, high quality, $100 pair of jeans that fit perfectly and will last me a couple of years, than five pairs of low-quality, poorly made, poorly fitting jeans for $20 that will fall apart within a couple of months. We make up for our expensive jeans taste by buying a lot of the rest of our clothes at thrift stores.

  28. My mom always taught me to never skimp on bread. Cheap bread makes your life miserable she taught me. I still follow that to this day.

    My wife saves aluminum foil and reuses ziploc bags when possible; something she got from her mom. I scoffed at it at first but it does make sense if the material isn’t so dirty it needs washing. I don’t think I would ever try to make my own detergent though.

    I also won’t skimp on meat, milk, fruits or veggies. I don’t want my kid drinking milk with hormones in it and having her period when she’s 8!!

  29. @Adrienne (17): I hear you on the cleaning service. I also prefer to splurge on a single pair of jeans that fit me well each year.

    I reuse some ziplocs, but more for ecological reasons than frugality, and I don’t wash them. I try to use more rags than paper towels, again more for ecological reasons.

    I do clip coupons and plan my menus based on what’s on sale. We don’t eat out often, but when we do, it’s planned. I’ve found that it’s become much more of enjoyable when we can look forward to it and it’s infrequent enough to be a treat.

  30. Part of what Froogirl said made me think. The wife and I don’t eat out a whole lot either as a rule. Lately, her work-from-home online business has taken off and so we have let ourselves have a few more dining out “treats”. As it turns out though, we usually leave disappointed because what we ate in the restaurant doesn’t taste as good as what we can make at home. She is a great cook and we have spoiled ourselves in our own kitchen. After the last time we dined out, we basically said that we will eat out when traveling and when treating a friend/family member but otherwise, we’ll just eat at home.

  31. I won’t scrimp on things for my animals. Decent cat litter (though that is a big perk for me and my husband too), the cat food they like, good dog food, decent dog bones/chews (though we only buy on sale). Pretty much anything else is fair game. Some of the things it has taken us some getting used to:
    1. using a “military” style shower head (turn on to get wet, push a button to turn off water, soap up, and turn back on to rinse) – has cut our water bill by 1/3
    2. keeping the heat turned down (55 at night and 63 during the day – his parents raised him with it around 70 or higher in the winter)
    3. using powdered milk (use this for cooking only and for me on cereal – i still have to buy regular milk for him for drinking and eating cereal)

    I don’t really coupon, b/c I have found that 1) i’m not good at keeping track of them and 2) that generics at the stores around here are almost always cheaper than anything even with coupons.

  32. Delurking here b/c this one caught my eye.

    Isn’t it funny what we consider the extremes in being frugal, being green, etc.?

    For me, making my own laundry detergent is so simple and not a nuisance so its one of the few things I do that I consider REALLY frugal and also its one of the first things I recommend to people when they ask me about being frugal or being green. Maybe I’m scaring people away!?!?

    Things I don’t scrimp on?? I’m terrible at couponing b/c I live in a small town and dont’ get a lot of coupons and don’t have a lot of grocery stores to chose from. But THANK GOD I have Aldi’s. My husband would say Ketchup. He flips if I buy anything besides Heinz.

  33. I sell cleaning supplies and toilet paper for a living. One can get a tub of laundry detergent that dissolves in cold water and cost per load way less than buying Proctor Gamble products at Cosco or Sams Club. Vinegar is a light acid however some items require cleaners on the other side of the PH scale. A gallon of concentrate that mixes at 2oz per gallon goes a long way. Unless you need it because of a septic system I avoid the 1 ply also. We refer to it as John Wayne paper.”Rough Rider” You will save money and do a better job if you start cleaning with microfiber cloths rather than a throw away.

  34. I am a 15-year fan of The Complete Tightwad Gazette, have a very worn copy and have given several as wedding gifts. I don’t use a lot of coupons partly because I don’t have a great source and largely because my husband has many food allergies which dictates which brands/products we can buy. I do use coupons when available for products we use, and do buy store brand whenever possible. We’ve used powdered milk for years, reuse baggies (unless used for meat products), frequent the day-old bread store, etc. We do some gardening but are limited by a small yard and we do compost including some help from our pet bunnies to enrich the compost. We also haven’t paid for cable TV for 10 years and love the time that freed up for us to do other things. We have a woodstove for heat. We DON’T scrimp on TP, health care, or the length of our showers. 😉

  35. Hi! I do make my own laundry soap as it is so easy to make. Also my son & I have sensitive skin, so it is good for us. I spend about $7 and make about 300 ounces. This last our family of 3 about 3 months.

    I just posted my recipe on my blog if anyone wants to check it out.

    I also do not buy any cloth (paper towels, tp, sanitary napkins, tissues.) We use cloth (except my mom occasionally buys us paper goods as she thinks we are insane.) But honestly I love using all cloth. It feels better on my skin and is better for the environment. It is especially better on my wallet. We use old t-shirts and socks that are missing a mate or have a hole to clean with, dish towels instead of paper towels, cloth fleece for tp, and cloth sanitary pads from a work at hoem Christian mom (www.primmnproperbaby@yahoo.com-email her for custom mama pads and cloth diapers.)

    I am a single mom and these things have been so helpful financially, but honestly if I had more money I would not go back.

    I love your blog, it has been so helpful to me over the past year!

    Happy New Year!

  36. I refuse to scrimp on air conditioning! I know this is an expense that most people don’t think is necessary, but I demand a cool house in the summer and warm one in the winter. My parents froze us during the winter. Seriously I would be wearing all my clothes and holed up in my room next to my tiny space heater. It was ridiculous! My home is a place for comfort!

  37. @Katrina: I’m with you on this one. I have a hard time turning up that thermostat in the summer, particularly at night. I simply cannot sleep in a hot house, and ceiling fans blowing around hot air just don’t help.

    @Rebecca: Well, when you put it that way…seriously, that is very economical!

  38. I don’t scrimp on good detergent – I buy Charlie’s soap online. They give free delivery and I get it shipped to my door. And it’s natural, and irritant free for my son, plus it lasts forever. I love that.

    Also, this may sound silly, but I don’t scrimp on cheap sodas. They taste cheap and I don’t like them. They’re a treat, so get what you like. I also want to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It’s miserable freezing and sweating. Home is a priority to me, so whether it’s AC/heat or comfortable furnishings (bought at a good price, but I still pay for them), I’m willing to pay it so we are comfortable staying home and not wanting to leave all the time.

  39. I scrimp on a great many things, because I find I don’t mind it, and it’s getting us to our goal of paying off our mortgage very quickly. I was plastic bags and aluminum foil, hang laundry, make laundry detergent (I wouldn’t know what to do with all the hotel soap my husband brings home otherwise), bake all our own bread, drink three-buck chuck, and grow a lot of our own food.

    As you mentioned, I can’t bring myself to buy cheap processed foods or industrial meats and dairy products. This is as much an issue of food quality as it is about ethics for me; the ethics of inhumane treatment of animals, as well as buying locally. I eat plenty of animal products, and I know that someone actually gave a damn about the animal and the resulting food.

    I think it’s fine that you don’t choose to do certain frugal things. It’s refreshing to hear someone so honest about it, rather than saying you’d like to but you just don’t have the time. Or whining about how you never have any money and there’s no way you can get out of debt. Good for you for being so clear about your motivations and priorities.

  40. While I do make my own laundry detergent, there are things I won’t scrimp on. I have to have thick toilet paper, & paper towels, lean cuts of meat, and only home made goodies for my kids. It is all about balance. I don’t want my kids to eat junk food, so their snacks come from our oven. If that takes a little more time once a month to bake & freeze a hundred cookies so be it. I’d rather know my kids are eating something healthy:)

  41. Okay, first I laughed at your issues with homemade laundry detergent, although I realize you were using it as a symbol. I just made my first batch and it was fun. The best thing about this post though, is your comments, which are fabulous. It’s great to see what everyone’s “homemade laundry detergent factor” is. Funny how we all have our things we just won’t do. Mine – I won’t give up my long hot showers!

  42. Sorry… but I will never buy laundry soap again. I can’t begin to tell you how much I save. The best part – my clothes are cleaner! I will NEVER buy laundry soap again.

    I will not cheap out on cheap cheese. I support our local dairies here in Green Bay and you can taste the difference.

  43. I refuse to scrimp on food. I cook from scratch, and buy the best ingredients I can get. In most cases, this is still much cheaper than the convenience stuff, and tastes much better. I also splurge on coffee beans and (occasionally) on chocolate.
    For my laundry, I use soap nuts: One Kilogramm will last us for a year, and it costs about 12€ (9$).

  44. It is funny that this post came right after the one about would you give everything away. I started to post (I just didn’t manage to finish)in that one that there are just some things that I like and want and won’t give up to live a frugal life.

    I do coupon and try to stockpile our basics when they are on sale (and really, will never pay more than pennies for our favorite cosmetics, health and beauty purchases–it is too easy to make a good deal from coupons and sales) but as long as I am staying within budget, I don’t fret about every penny. My totally un-frugal splurge every day is diet coke. I just enjoy drinking it and even if I spend more than I should on it, I just plain old don’t want to give it up.

  45. I may be frugal, but that’s just so I CAN spend my money where I want to!

    Two things I am NOT frugal on:
    1.Lots of TIME spent with family and friends, even tho that means I lose a day of work a week to make the time.

    2. My cheese and Ice Cream… Must be Tillamook Cheese and Tillamook Ice Cream ! One is the taste, (double YUM!) and two is supporting our local economy 🙂

  46. Saving a little $ is the last reason I make my own detergent. It only takes me about 15 minutes to make enough to last for about 3 months. The real positives are I’m not cluttering up landfills with huge empty bottles or driving 20 minutes to the closest recycling place. And, I don’t have to lug those big bottle in with bags of groceries and try to keep up with a toddler. My son has pretty sensitive skin, so we do save quite a bit over the gentler detergents we’d have to buy and my clothes smell great.

    On the other hand, I will not carry laundry up from the basement then down the back steps out to a line. I line dry inside when convenient, but its one of those things I’m not willing to inconvenience myself to do. You’re right, it’s about finding what works for you and your family. Also, just trying new things a time or two to see if they work for you rather than dismissing them right off (as I almost did with the detergent) means a lot.

  47. Peanut Butter! Jif and Skippy brands are a must (with a coupon, of course). Tried the generics to save a buck – will never go back!

  48. We’ve had good success with homemade laundry detergent and using vinegar for just about any cleaning we need, but I can’t scrimp on dishwashing detergent. I tried a homemade recipe and the dishes came out dingy with water spots. I also can’t cut out the heated dry cycle because our silverware would rust when the water spots stayed on there too long. Not worth ruining the silverware to save a few pennies on the heated dry cycle!

  49. I have a question for all you homemade laundry soap enthusiasts….is there a liquid version? I can’t use powdered laundry detergents due to sensitive skin. I do use the cheapest liquid that works for me (cleans well, smells good, etc.) which is not the cheapest liquid made. PS~~I did order a trial package of the soap nuts, can’t wait to see how we like that!

  50. Hi! Check out my blog, I just posted how I make liquid laundry soap.

    I also tried soap nuts, but the box was $10 plus shipping, to do 20 loads of laundry, that is .50 cents a load, way too expensive for us. -Becky in NJ

  51. Frugality is about making choices, you skimp on somethings in order to be able to spend on others. On the other hand being cheap is about not spending money period!

    Unfortunately we can’t get the ingredients to make it here.

  52. You know, it’s a similar thing to the issue of trying to be as green as possible. It’s important not to be pennywise and pound foolish on that front too. It’s great to make positive changes on the environmental front and by way of financial healthy, but the changes you make have to be things you can live with, otherwise, you end up making a bigger mess of things for yourself.

    Our big expense is healthy food, but I do think it’s worth it. Still, the grocery receipt always makes me squirm a bit.

  53. I don’t really scrimp on anything. Instead, I only buy what I need when I need it and I settle for the middle ground price and quality wise. Having said that, before my financial epiphany a year ago, I used to buy high end everything and lots of it. The monetary waste was something about which I still feel shame today. I did, therefore, make a lot of changes to my attitude about grocery shopping, eating out and household utilities to name a few things. For example, I line dry all laundry because my gas bill is much lower than it used to be but I don’t see the point behind trying to make my own laundry soap – that’s a little too frugal for me.

  54. I’m curious about people using the homemade detergent in High Efficiency washers… is it low sudsing (as is required in these machines)?

  55. @Ligia, having purchased an HE washer recently, I found out that you can use regular washing liquid in an HE unit. You just have to use less of it as the high-speed agitate cycle will foam it more than usual. I use regular Tide in mine.

    I would imagine that since the homemade detergent doesn’t foam up as much, you should be able to use it just fine in an HE washer. It may take a little trial and error to figure out the right amount to use though.

  56. Cup of borax, cup of washing soda, grind a bar of soap in the food processor. Takes no time at all to make, saves on packaging/waste, and I use a locally-made bar of soap, usually with a fragrance. Not sure why someone else said the homemade stuff didn’t make their clothes smell good, unless they mean that artificial Tide fragrance, which breaks my skin out in rashes. Yuck.

    I don’t rewash baggies, but I avoid using them in favor of Pyrex or other reusables. There should be a distinction in this post about frugal, cheap, and environmentally friendly.

    I buy quality in almost all areas–clothes, food, tools, etc.–but they are well-researched purchases and I make darn sure I’m getting the best price I can find and that it is a NEED…that’s frugal. Cheap would be going to Wal-Mart and buying something that will fall apart in a month. I make laundry detergent because it is environmentally friendly, and since the soap is made locally, I’m supporting a local business, instead of Proctor and Gamble. I’m not counting the pennies I’m saving with the detergent. I don’t care. It’s not the point.

  57. “We will never buy cheap paper products–paper towels, toilet paper, etc. (Yes, I know the 1-ply stuff is cheaper, but seriously, you have to use twice as much and…okay, this is getting a little too personal!).”

    You are doing it wrong! You pair a sale (preferably Extra Care Bucks at CVS) with a coupon to get your 2-ply paper products for better than free. Then you carefully tear each piece into two other pieces. I guarantee you will use 75% or less of what you would have used before!


  58. I think of myself as very frugal *within my standards.* I am blessed enough to be able to honor what is more important to me, animal welfare and environmental impact, and then I shop frugally in those areas. My soaps/detergents will not be tested on animals nor harm the earth. I’ll find the least packaging and cheapest price then, buy in bulk if at all possible, and shop different stores to maintain the lowest cost. Meanwhile my health is too important–I’m not going to eat white bread/pasta nor most processed foods.

    When looking at my spending, I identify where we spend the most and focus on making that cheaper. For us that’s wine and eating out. Now we cook at home more and I found some boxed brands of wine which save us money and packaging.

    I actually splurge on paying for curbside recycling even though my city allows free dropoff. It became too much of a hassle and I can justify that the truck coming by every other week to get our 95-gallon cartful is worth me not driving multiple times weekly to the dropoff site only to find it too full to leave my recyclables.

  59. I’m intrigued by the homemade detergent, especially getting rid of all that packaging, the thing that I’m paranoid about is using it in our he washer. The person who installed it warned us against non-he detergent and said it could clog the pipes and cause long term damage, so we only use he detergent. I’m not sure the savings in cost would outweigh my worrying of the potential harm to a several hundred dollar appliance.
    I use the seventh generation 2 ply. It’s perfectly fine. Personally I don’t feel comfortable wiping my a** with paper which was once recently virgin forest even if it is softer, but that’s just me. Using cloth napkins and rags work better, and there is less waste, so it is the best of both worlds. Haven’t tried the sanitary napkins though, maybe that would be my line I can’t cross.

  60. We don’t scrimp on food or supplements (we buy organic when we can) or good shoes (we’d rather have a few good pairs) and I hang our clothes to dry mostly because I don’t have to be a slave to the dryer timer and the clothes have few wrinkles. I do machine dry towels because they dried too slowly to avoid developing a mildew smell over time.

    I’m keen to try the homemade laundry detergent recipe as a means of using up the soap bar ends that would otherwise break apart and clog up my shower drain or be thrown out (my husband lives with the illusion that they will melt in the shower water and be washed away so he doesn’t pick up the broken pieces; I do). I hate to waste these smaller pieces of soap and they’d be easy to grate or shave and melt.

  61. DavidK- I am with you on the eating out. I used to love eating out but now I find that my food, prepared at home, tastes better than the restaurants. Maybe it’s also because eating out is so expensive and I can get the same ingredients to make the same dish for so much less. I also plant a food garden every year and have fruit trees and bushes that I pick to can and freeze for the upcoming year. I love finding other people who have produce growing in their back yards that they don’t use and are more than happy to share.

    What I won’t scrimp on are quality products for our home. We research appliances before we buy them to make sure we did’t just spend a ton of money on something only to have to replace it in the near future. We’ve been there done that.

    And, of course, we don’t scrimp on TP either!

  62. One more thing, I have done the homemade laundry detergent and recommended it to others. However, I found that my clothes (particularly underarm odor) did not come out smelling clean—the people that I recommended it to also had the same comment. I’m interested in hearing about using any old soap in the recipe. We used Fels Naptha because that is the recipe I got. We also have an HE washer.

  63. Not only do I use the homemade detergent, but I prefer it for cleaning. I would use it even if it was more expensive. Also, the felds-napta as a bar is a great stain remover. I unwrap a few bars of felds and let it dry for a few weeks. Then, I can use the medium coarse on my grader to turn it to dust in 5 minutes watching TV. There are always a few large pieces in the detergent, so I place it in hot water and run it through a nylon so I don’t end up with a few soap granuals on dark clothes. As a science teacher I ran test loads and found it to be a superior detergent and even better if I use vinegar as a fabric softener. Therer is never a vinegar smell no matter how much vinegar is used. So, don’t poo and idean until you try it and follow directions. I just got back from the dentist and he told me that all Listerine mouth wash is the same and it just contains different flavors. By the way, Sure for men and Secrete deodorant for women contain the same ingredients in the same proportions. Often the box for cereal costs more than the cereal. So many things are marketing including the lay out of the store.

  64. I enjoyed all the comments; came by because of the detergent recipe, and knowing that my grand-mother made her detergent all her life, I was curious.

    Talk about grandma’s labor; she saved the ‘fat’ from beef and pork; kept all the fat that accumulated on the top of her chicken stock, and used a spare ICE BOX to keep it fresh in.

    She saved the large kitchen match boxes to use as molds for the bar soaps.

    Of course she had to stock up on lye. Then big boxes of kosher salt….

    Now came the baking soda (it’s pretty much the same as washing soda and back then she could buy it locally, at a ridiculous cost). Along with that, she had to ‘cook’ all of this in big vats; let it cool down – lay out her ‘bars’, and make the molds that were stacked on shelves in the ‘back-room’ on the farm-house.

    Then she got out her meat-grinder; ran her soap molds/bars through the grinder, to get her laundry soap; the few bars she kept were on the sink in the ‘garden-shed’ where she used it to wash up after working in the garden.

    Simplifying all of that, one can remember that the kosher salt and washing/baking soda, are the two key elements because they soften the water; disinfect, and ‘lift’ out soil/body oil, etc. When one adds lye, it’s to grab up that really greasy bad dirt, and if you ask yourself how many times you really have clothes that are this dirty, you can skip the entire ingredient; just keep a bottle of pine oil in the house that you treat the really bad grease-stains with prior to washing.

    If you use white vinegar as a rinsing agent, you simply mix up salt and washing soda (Borax isn’t much more than this anyway) – about 8 cups of ‘soda’ to one cup of kosher salt works great.

    After the clothes spin out, put in 1/2 cup of white vinegary instead of a softener, and you’ll rinse out the remaining residue; soften the clothes, and this means you’ll save money on softeners as well as having white vinegar to use in a myriad of other ways that you can’t use the softener.

    For hand-washables, get a low-cost hair shampoo from the dollar store; soak, and then rinse with 1/4 cup of white vinegar……

    Use low-cost hair shampoo for bubble bath; I get mine for 69 cents, and it’s pretty hard to beat that price.

    I buy a large 1/2 gallon of ammonia for $1.54; this is also an effective laundry agent because it will tackle the heavy-dirt and grease. After you’ve used 1 cup for that ‘heavy dirty’; use cold water (I always use cold water), then use 1 cup of white vinegar in the rinse water – clean as can be, and not expensive.

    If you use bar soap; save the small bits that are left, and put through a meat grinder, you can use this with an equal amount of washing soda and 3T of kosher salt, to make a more mild detergent.

    I think more effective savings is done by rotating clothes; obviously trying not to soil them any more than necessary, and be sure you don’t let the dirty laundry sit for days before washing. I have low, medium, and high settings on the machine; I wash every day because I can use the ‘low load’ – a small amount of cleaner, and the soil doesn’t have time to ‘set’ in the clothing.

    Remember that the expensive detergents like Tide, Cheer, are diluted with 40% water (I worked for P&G); the optical brighteners they use only make you ‘see whiter’ (or cleaner) clothes, but not necessarily are they that much cleaner.

    With their high cost of bottling; labeling, and advertising – having to pay their employees, etc., they’ve got to build in the price to cover all of this.

    I can buy one small box of baking soda for 47 cents; one container of salt for 99 cents. With these 2 ingredients, I do laundry for a week. This translates to about $6/month. I use up about 2/3 of my white vinegar as a rinse; that’s about $1.20 = $7.20/month. I have my pine oil cleaner ‘handy’ – it’s used maybe twice a month; about 2T to ‘spot-treat’….hardly worth adding in the cost since I buy it for $1.19 at the Dollar Tree.

    By now allowing clothes to mildew; remain in the hamper for ‘days’, it means the soil; odor, and oils never get much of a time to ‘set’ – the washer does the work for you; start it before you start your dinner, or while you’re surfing on the I-net. If you don’t want to dry the clothes until the next morning/day, they’re fine in the washer over-night. Be sure when you do dry the clothes, you use the least amount of heat; be ‘ready and willing’ to pull them from the dryer so they don’t wrinkle and once quickly hung up, they smell ever so much more fresh.

    I’ve added the luxury of dryer sheets recently; I save the used sheets, and use them as dusting cloths or ‘tiny spill cloths’ – even handy little ‘napkins’ when I’m having a cup of coffee.

    I also use those same sheets that smell so lovely, to line my shoes that I rarely wear; keeps them odor-free (I used to put baking soda into the shoes before). You can use them to whisk your lampshades with; leaves a tiny bit of odor and the light-bulb will make the lamp-shade smell ‘nice’. Then you can still put them into the dryer after ‘treating the shades’ (unless your shades are too dusty), so you get more ‘mileage’ from those.

    I also wrap the dryer sheets around a ruler; secure with a rubber band, and dust the blinds; hit the crevices that are hard to clean, and don’t mind tossing after they’ve already softened my clothes and cleaned between the stove and counter.

    To me, frugal it fun; it requires ‘thinking’, and every time I note the savings, I simply put that away toward something we might want to ‘splurge’ on at a later time. It’s good not to ‘waste’; you feel great knowing you’re making every effort to help your household budget and your planet at the same time.

  65. Two years ago I became intrigued with the idea of homemade lye soap. It was seriously a pain in the keester. After several batches I had garnered all I could from the experience. I had given a few bars to a woman who sells at the local farmer’s market. She made her own soaps for sell.

    The difference between her soaps and mine is that she just bought her ingredients. I made mine completely from scratch. With my experiment ended I found myself with quite a bit of extra lye left over. For the past year I have been supplying the market woman with homemade lye. There is a clique of marketers who stick together and trade things between themselves.

    In exchange for my lye I have gotten cartons of all kinds of berries, home baked bread, all sorts of wonderful stuff. The best part of all is that you make lye with wood ashes from the fireplace and water from the rain gutter ! I look forward to Spring when the farmer’s market reopens. I’ll have a ton of ashes to be put to work by then !

  66. I totally agree with James Beran! I also use and make homemade laundry det. and the Little time it takes me to make it is worth it in the long run.

    FYI- I have yet to have clothes come out stinky in the arm pit area and I do use Naptha Soap

  67. Socks!
    I love the feeling of putting on a brand new pair of nice socks. My current favorite are the wool/lycra blend ankle socks by Smartwool. After you wear a pair of cotton socks a half a dozen times, they just don’t feel the same, but the smartwools last about four times as long. I probably go through more socks than anyone I know. They are one of my favorite gifts to receive. For Christmas, I got 18 pairs! That will keep my feet happy for a while.

  68. There are plenty of things I won’t skimp on:

    *Underwear – getting good ones will pay for themselves, factoring in the cost/frequency of replacement. Good doesn’t mean “expensive,” but I ignore small price differences.

    *Toilet Paper – No “john wayne” 1-ply malarkey for me! I save by buying at warehouse stores.

    *Chicken – always breast-meat, never leg or thigh.

    Meanwhile, I do think that making your own detergent CAN be a good idea, especially if you are sensitive to regular detergent. Organic, fragrance-free, no preservative detergent can blow your budget straight out of the water. I compromise by just using vinegar instead of tide for 99% of my loads. The savings are amazing, and the health benefits ain’t too shabby!

    (I got here via Trent’s site)

  69. @Griffin: Thanks to you, and all the visitors from The Simple Dollar for sharing your thoughts on the subject. I’m a big fan of Trent’s site, and we’ve shared a few guest posts and links over the last year. I’ve enjoyed following the discussion today and appreciate all of the great comments. I hope you will stick around and follow my site as well.

  70. I thought I would never skimp on my shampoo, hair conditioner, facial products, deodorants or body lotions. If it made me look and smell good, it was worth a couple extra dollars. THEN I moved into a little house that recycles all the water from the shower onto the garden, so everything that came off of me had to be biodegradable. It was really hard to find products that compared, but after 6 months, I’m pretty happy with most of what I’ve found. The biggest lesson is that the cheap/homemade versions are better in most cases. Olive oil for hair conditioner, diluted sesame for body, mineral makeup and deo, and castile soap for pretty much everything else.

    And because the toilet is a composting model, I MUST get the recycled (cheap) paper as is the only stuff that degrades fast enough not to have paper wads gumming up the crank. sorry for the tmi. The sanitary cup beats the reuseable pads, but I admit I’d prefer disposables. But having the neighborhood dogs scatter my used disposable pads out of my trash all over the street was a one time only humiliation.

    I skimp on health, dental and vision coverage. I just put the premiums into my savings account instead(except emergency and catastophe health coverage). As a single person, the math works for me. It would be different if I had or expected kids.

    what I don’t skimp on now is going out with friends every few weeks. We all have tiny apartments that don’t let more than 3 of get together at a time, so getting 6 or 8 out and about together is fun. I dont mind spending that money on food, drinks, movies and other entertainment. We’re all young and kinda broke, so most months it’s only about 1% of my income.

  71. Gosh…I tend to think I’m frugal but I’m really not. I will not scrimp on a lot of things.

    Organic Milk – for about six months I’ve managed to get coupons for $1/1 half gallon so that keeps it down to a little over $4 a gallon. Still expensive but I can’t stand the other kind anymore.

    Cable Internet – LOVE it!

    Dog food – our dogs are so spoiled but good food for them is more important to me than good food for me. One bag costs more than $50 and with four large dogs we go through a lot. The benefit comes in lower vet bills. They are very healthy dogs.

    I try to make up for it with extreme couponing. I saved over $40 at Albertsons on one of my last trips. It really doesn’t take *that* much work once you get the hang of it.

  72. I tend to think frugality has less to do with saving money and more to do with being willing to take the time. I use liquid castille with some borax and some washing soda, spending enough to buy two jugs of tide and making me several gallons of soap. It takes ten minutes. How busy can one person’s life be that they can’t spend ten minutes to mix some stuff. It’s the same feeling I have with processed food. Making a healthy meal takes twenty minutes. What do you need to do that you can’t wait twenty minutes to keep your family healthy. It’s the same problem I have with the idea that you must calculate your true hourly wage and compare it to the time spent on a DIY project to see if it is worth it. What about the pride in doing it? What about not spending your time watching television or reading hundreds of blogs, and instead finding an activity? My grandparents, like Diane’s above, spent their time making things and doing things to survive. Poor people do the same. As an intern and graduate student, I am not poor because I “choose to be” but because I am sacrificing money now in order to have a future career that I want, so every penny of saved laundry soap money not only counts, but makes me feel proud and reminds me that I am taking control of my life and my future. Don’t knock it until you try it.

  73. I admit…I did not read anymore than three of these posts. Almost anything here I already learned from my grandmother, all I had to do was listen to what she was saying, and that I did. There is nothing new here…

  74. I love making my own detergent and use it in powdered form (easier to store) and successfully in my HE washer. To get an added “fragrance”, I use a few drops of essential oils when I’m doing the final blending in the food processor. It takes maybe 5 minutes to make a batch.

    My new favorite thing to make is yogurt. I eat a LOT of it, love to marinate chicken in it and got tired of paying nearly what I’d pay for a gallon of milk for a quart of yogurt. I also challenged myself to use what I had in the house instead of buying some handy-dandy kitchen appliance that I didn’t need or want.

    There are tons of recipes out there for making your own but I cobbled together one from many, using my microwave to heat the milk, (about 10 minutes), letting it cool down in the fridge (about 30 minutes) and then letting it incubate4-7 hours before popping it into the fridge. My total actual “working time” is just the time it takes to mix the milk/powdered milk together, check the temps with a candy thermometer and then mixing it up in a quart jar for the incubation. While it it heating and cooling back down, I’m usually on the computer checking email/banking/blog surfing….or cleaning up in ithe kitchen so I can be hear the timer going off.

  75. Well, all the comments changed my thinking: my initial response was to say thanks for confirming my feeling that Trent’s recipe looks like more trouble than it’s worth. Then a number of people described easy-to-make concoctions and said the stuff gets their clothes cleaner than commercial products…and I have to allow that the liquid detergents available on the market now don’t do the greatest job at cleaning. Mind changed: I’m gunna try one of these recipes.

    I hang my sheets and some of my clothes, not for frugality but because I like the sheets to smell clean and outdoorsy.

    For the same reason, I make my own bread (and save a bunch of dough [heh heh] on a premium product), because it tastes better than anything I can get in the store.

  76. There should be balance in all things, I believe.
    On one hand, is it worth it to purchase things at rock-bottom prices if the true cost means an eleven-year-old is making $0.05 an hour to make it in a third world country? Choosing cheap groceries is good for your purse but may be bad for your health. White, refined sugar, white flour, white bread and white rice are all less expensive than the brown alternatives, but are all terrible for your health. Meaning later in life, your medical bills may be higher.

    And yes, I come from a lower-income family, so my income does sort of dictate many of my choices. However, most Americans of all income levels waste money. I know people who make $10 an hour and buy take-out everyday. I know someone who says she doesn’t have money to contribute to her children’s savings accounts for college, but she spends $50 a week in the thrift store, “treating herself” to bargains . . . and trust me, she’s not loaded. I know someone else who is a high-end organic product toiletry-junkie but is on unemployment. Not judging, just observing because many of us have been there.

    My family members will have TV sets running in every room of the house and the radio, but use space heaters because they don’t want to pay the gas bill. Hello! Isn’t the former running up the electric bill?

    All of us, need to let go to some degree of inflated egos and our sense of entitlement in the name of financial health.

  77. Even though this post is a little old, I had to add my own comment (which will probably be read by no one!) Don’t forget the environmental component. I get teased by roommate that hanging my clothes to dry only save a few bucks, but what’s more important to me is all the energy I’m saving by not using an electric dryer. Same thing with detergent. It’s off better for the environment to make your own detergent and cleanin gproducts than buy store brands.

  78. @Lauren: I think about that as well, and there are some ways that I am making biodegradeable cleaners. I hate hate hate the smell of bleach and most cleaners, so I just make my own.

    I usually use a vinegar mix (or straight) with some essential oils mixed in. It’s a good anti-fungal, mold-killer, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, metal polisher, and it even removes grime from my stove. I just soak a rag (dripping-wet) with water or vinegar and let it sit on the stove for 15-30 mins and even the most stuck-on stuff comes up.

    Works great. 🙂 AND it’s cheaper than 409 AND it smells better!

  79. While making your own laundry detergent can take time its worth it not because of the dollars you save but because most store bought detergents are filled with really bad chemicals, phthalates, and allergens.

  80. I have been making my own Laundry Soap and Fabric Softener and I love them! I wish I would have started years ago. I also make most all of my cleaning products, candles, linen spray and Pleasures Perfume! Check out my recipes~you might just find you like them! I like being able to make everything from my well stocked pantry. I do not like relying on Walmart!

    I refuse to go cheap on my Diet Coke~gotta have the real deal.

  81. I don’t understand your reason for not using homemade detergent. Is it laziness? I coupon,hang dry,etc.I even make my own tortillas. Now I do only use toilet paper thats name brand but thats because it ends up being the same price as the cheap that you have to use twice as much. But i will use anything if its the cheapiest overall.

  82. I find that homemade detergent doesn’t properly dissolve in cold water so I usually have to end up dissolving it into hot water first before I put it into the washer. It washes clean but doesn’t get rid of bad work stains,baby food/formula stains well. I still buy a box of laundry detergent( 1 bottle of tide free) and then add it to the bucket of homemade stuff. Lasts me 6-8 months and cleans great!

  83. I make powdered laundry detergent and it gets even the dirtist workout clothes clean in cold water. How well the homemade stuff seems to depend a lot upon the water in your area – if you have hard water it doesn’t seem to work as well as it does for someone like me w/o a lot of extra minerals and stuff in my water.

    I use the homemade stuff because I didn’t have much of a choice. I saved my pennies for a new HE washer and needed to switch to powdered HE detergent – pricey, doesn’t go on sale, nor has store brands. I figured it’d be worth it anyway but the brands I tried made me itch or didn’t clean my clothes well. I made a powdered version of the HE stuff and it worked – no itching either. And super cheap. I like it when the better option (for me) is the cheaper option!

  84. Just a few things: Adam, post 19: consumer reports rated FOLGERS very low. I have found that it’s the COFFEE MAKER, not the coffee, that make the difference. I have a coffee maker that I got free by trying Gevalia coffee. Its a great coffee maker, and the coffee was good too. But I brewed a pot of store brand in it, and it tasted almost as good. Needless to say, I stopped my automatic $25 shipments right away! the secret to good coffee is to use a good maker, with a cone filter, good COLD water.

  85. okay, i am a stay at home mom, far from being rich. i clip coupons, i upcycle just about everything possible, make my clothes, my kids’ clothes, my own glass cleaner, furniture polish, dish soap, cosmetics, and laundry detergent. i decided to make my own detergent when buying tide was becoming too expensive and i needed a good cleaning detergent for cleaning my two young kids clothes. i first tried store brand, it didn’t clean well and it made my son’s skin break out….. i threw my hands up and said that’s it i’m making it. it was INCREDIBLY easy and works better than tide without the dyes and perfumes. the payoff is great, it takes about 30 minutes to make about 7 gallons of detergent and it costs me about 15 dollars! if you say it doesn’t clean well use more soap, if you say it doesn’t make your clothes smell good use essential oils in the solution. there is no reason why anyone HAS to pay a fortune for good laundry soap.

  86. Detergents did not exist until petroleum processing hit in the 1920s and 1930s. The choice for many people who make their own laundry SOAP (when you make your own, it is not detergent) is to use a pure and natural product with no harsh ingredients, no chemical colors or scents, and something that is mild enough for sensitive skin. Homemade laundry SOAP has no environmental issues. In fact your wash and rinse water can be used on your garden or lawn. For me, the extreme cost savings is an added bonus.

    As to toilet paper, Scott 1000 has the fastest breakdown of any. The thick or quilted stuff stops up sewer and septic lines and is slower to break down. Chemicals are added to make the paper fibers cling together in the thick papers. Just one more reason to boycott them. Never use the thick papers on a baby’s bottom, because they leave behind fuzz and fibers that can be irritating, especially on baby girls. Scott 1000 begins to break down before the flush. After 27 years in this house using nothing but Scott, the septic system works 100 percent with never a problem. (And this is hardpan clay soil.) Ask the guy who pumps tanks or replaces septic field lines, and if he’s honest, he’ll tell you that those thick papers are a good part of what keeps him in business. With new water-saver toilets, it is very important to use paper that disintegrates rapidly in the smaller amount of water.

  87. The reason the homemade laundry detergent recipes save money is that they’re all heavy (some very heavy) on alkali, which are cheap. But they’re inferior formulas that way, degrading fabrics faster, so they’re not saving money when all costs are taken into acc’t. A high quality formula of the type they’re based on would be mostly soap, but then the ingredients cost advantage would diminish, and they’d be more work too, since the hardest part is grating and/or dissolving the soap.