Sunday, February 6, 2011

Soapy fun!

Okay, maybe keeping clothes and kids and bodies and toilets and the rest of the house isn't really fun, but a great deal sure is!  Today, I had a chance to buy a gallon of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap in a scent I actually like (lavender) for only $47.49.  I did a happy dance right in the store.  Really, I did.  You can ask the employees...or my kids for that matter.  I'm sure everyone saw me, but I don't care.  You see, I use Dr. Bronner's soap a lot, but I usually can only find it in the scents I like in the pint or quart sizes.  I've only ever seen the peppermint (retch!) and tea tree oil (double retch!) in the gallon sizes before today, and those really aren't acceptable smells for everything I use it for! 

The purpose I'm most excited about getting this soap for is laundry detergent.  My family has very sensitive skin, plus most artificial fragrances cause me to have asthma attacks, so I'm very limited on my options for what I can buy to do my family's laundry, plus I care a great deal for the planet's health, especially considering the number of descendants I already have and the length of time I plan on them inhabiting it.  Given that list of concerns with laundry products, I was basically having to buy the super expensive stuff, like Seventh Generation or Ecos--both great products, but I don't really want to be spending $20-30 at a time, or $0.20-0.30 (or more depending on what store it was at and what size bottle or box it was) a load.  I do at least one or two loads of laundry a day, so that adds up pretty quickly!  With all these factors stacked against me, I decided to start making my own.  I wanted a pretty simple recipe, since I'm usually mixing it up with little ones under foot, I wanted something that was made from easily obtainable ingredients, I wanted something that worked reasonably well, and I wanted a recipe that would save me a ton of money.  I found all four.  I've found my recipe to be fairly equivalent to most commercial products on getting stains out (it is fantastic at getting out blood, far superior to commercial products on that front!), although since it doesn't contain any optical brighteners, the clothes will start to get a bit dingy eventually.  However, since optical brighteners often are derived from the highly toxic compound benzene, I find that a small price to pay.

A Thrifty Laundry Detergent

1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda                                        
1/2 cup Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap
14 1/2 cups nearly boiling water

In a large bucket (some ice cream buckets work well for this purpose), mix together all ingredients and stir until powders are dissolved.  Allow to cool, then transfer to a study jug for storage.  Shake well before each use and use approximately 1/2 cup per load.

Now, here's why I'm so excited about my gallon of Dr. Bronner's for this soap: the borax and washing soda each cost about $3 a box (easily found in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores), so if I buy the pint size, my detergent costs $2.50 for 32 loads; if I buy the quart size, I'm down to $2.13 for 32 loads; but, with the gallon size at that price, I'm only paying $1.87 for 32 loads.  That's less than 6 cents a load, about a quarter of what I was paying when I was still buying the commercial stuff!

My excitement over Dr. Bronner's doesn't end there, either.  I find it makes a great body wash as well.  My husband and kids use the stuff for shampoo, as well as body wash.  I put an ounce of it in a foaming soap dispenser and fill it the rest of the way to the fill line of water, and I have 7 oz of foaming hand soap for $0.37 ($0.53 at a pint size Dr. Bronner's or $0.44 with a quart size).

It also makes a great household cleaner.  The best household use I've found for it is as a toilet soap.  Why is it so fantastic there?  Because I've figured out how to get my kids to fight over who gets to scrub the toilet.  You read that right.  The kids beg to scrub the toilet.  It is a privilege and great fun for them!  MUHAHAHA!  Oh, THE POWER!!  I simply sprinkle baking soda into the toilet bowl, let it sit for a while, then summon a child.  The child then gets to squirt a little Dr. Bronner's into the toilet, then pour a little vinegar.  Then, as the bubbles erupt, the scrubbing begins.  It takes a little more elbow grease than a harsher, chemical toilet bowl cleaner, but I don't care.  It isn't my elbow grease.  Plus, again, it is better for the environment and a lot cheaper than a commercial cleaner.


  1. love it... "Oh, THE POWER!!" heck forget the kids I would totally fall for scrubbing the bubbles!

  2. Something to try next time your toilet needs scrubbing then!

  3. Dr Bronner's rocks! I love that stuff...and yes, you can use it for just about anything you want to wash. I personally like the peppermint (sorry!), and we have found a whole foods store where you can buy it in bulk.

    Actually, I make laundry soap too which is very much like yours but uses any bar soap (or Fels Naptha if you want). It is super-duper cheapo to make and works like a charm.

  4. I had just recently figured out the foaming soap dispenser use for Dr. Bronners. Awesome. I'll have to try the toilet bowl uses for it

  5. I absolutely LOVE all the ingredients. I too have very sensitive skin, and allergies. I also love that I can use most of these ingredients to clean my body, hair, and house.

  6. I love the laundry soap. I had never bought a gallon of Dr. B's soap before and that was fun too. I've also taught a few of my friends this recipe and gave laundry soap to a broke neighbor. Thanks!!

  7. i have read that vinegar and dr. bronzers when used together cancel each other out. I learned that while trying to find a liquid recipe for dishwashing soap and everyone hated it cause it left a white film on the dishes. I cannot remember the chemistry science part of it….but as I researched more than pinterest and blogs, I learned it to be true. I am sure you do not care if there is a film inside your toilet….but you are not getting the full germ killing power of the vinegar when combining the dr. bronners at the same time. Maybe you can do the baking soda and vinegar fizzy scrub, flush…then add the bronners for extra kiddy fun and scent? Hey, the kids will get double the pleasure when they can scrub twice and flush twice….MUAAAHAHAHAHAHA!

  8. I just made this detergent, and it didn't turn out at all like any other liquid detergent I've made. After hours of it cooling, it still as runny and clear as water. Any others I've made before have gelled. Any thoughts?