Is Homemade Laundry Detergent as effective as Store-Bought?

Everyone is looking for efficient ways to cut costs. From stay-at-home parents to busy business executives, people are willing to put forth a little extra effort to get the products they really need. One of the latest trends is homemade laundry detergent, and it’s everywhere. From natural living pages to budget websites, variations on the homemade laundry detergent recipe abound. The question many people are asking, however, is, “Does it really work?”

The Ingredients

Homemade laundry detergent typically contains three key ingredients: borax, washing soda, and bar soap. Usually, that bar soap is bar laundry soap, but occasionally, Ivory or another brand is recommended. All of these ingredients are frequently used to boost existing wash routines. Borax is known to get whites whiter and help remove stubborn stains, and bar soap will certainly help pull the stains out of clothes. The ingredients, therefore, would seem to get clothes as clean as necessary. However, for families with tough stain removal needs–for example, families in which one or more members works in a job that creates more “mess” than usual, a family that cloth diapers, or a family with kids involved in a lot of dirty sports–the ingredients in homemade laundry detergent might not be enough to get out tough stains and stink. The chemicals available in commercially available laundry detergents are often stronger and will do a better job of scrubbing the clothes.

The Process

Making homemade laundry detergent doesn’t take long. Depending on whether you’re looking for a powder recipe or a liquid recipe, your time spent putting together the mixture may vary. However, in general, it takes less than half an hour to put together a huge batch of homemade laundry detergent that will last months for the average family.

The Cost

Is it really cost-effective? The short answer? Yes. Homemade laundry detergent comes out to about four to five cents per load, versus around twelve cents per load for store-bought detergents. Homemade laundry detergent is definitely less expensive than laundry detergent purchased in stores.

Allergies and Sensitivities

For families who have to use a sensitive detergent or who have issues with certain soaps and other substances, homemade laundry detergent might not be the way to go. In many cases, the harsh chemicals contained in the detergent can cause itching, rashes, and other symptoms. These symptoms might not be obvious immediately, but over time, they can become very uncomfortable–and it takes a long time to remove all of the homemade detergent from the clothes and bedding. In cases of sensitive skin and other issues, it’s better to stick with known detergents.

If you’re considering homemade laundry detergent for your family, consider trying out a small batch to start. Go in on the ingredients with a friend and try a load or two. Wash a couple of items of clothing for each family member–perhaps a load of socks–and wear them for a few days before washing every article of clothing in that detergent. It will help you decide for yourself whether or not homemade laundry detergent is right for your family.