Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Laundry Detergent - What's the Deal?

One money-saving tactic that's often brought up in the most frugal of circles is making your own laundry detergent. It's true that name brand laundry detergents can make a sizable dent in your cleaning supply budget...but, do you gain enough savings by making your own to warrant such drastic measures?

The Simple Dollar is a blog that I truly enjoy, and recently, while browsing though the 2008 archives, I came across this post: Making Your Own Laundry Detergent. Trent provides a visual, step-by-step guide to making your own laundry detergent with little more than a few cups of powder, a bar of soap, and a couple gallons of water. The resulting "sludge" works just as well at cleaning your laundry as the name brand Tide with Bleach Alternative.

I have to admit, it did sound like a fun experiment, but, after thinking about the work involved, and the idea of where to store it all, I thought twice about trying it myself. That got me thinking about the cost of buying vs. making laundry detergent. Was the juice truly worth the squeeze?

Using Trent's calculations, homemade laundry detergent would cost just over 2 cents per load. In comparison, Trent mentions that Tide costs about 20 cents per load (based on his pricing). Now, if you have a large family and are doing several loads a day, an 18 cents savings per load could be substantial over the course of the year. However, in the Diva household, we do an average amount of laundry per week - let's say 4 loads - which equates to 208 loads a year. At 2 cents per load, homemade detergent would cost us $4.16 a year. Wow, that's cheap! And, at 20 cents per load, name brand detergent would cost us $41.60 a year...still, not bad.

My Conclusion: For a savings of $37 a year, it's really not worth my time to make the homemade detergent.

But wait...let's take this a step further. Being the Deal Diva that I am, I never pay full price for laundry detergent. In fact, unless I have a high-value coupon for name brand detergent, I often opt for store brand detergent. Just this week, I paid $3.94 for 56-load Purex detergent at Target. That equates to $0.07 a load - only a nickel higher than homemade detergent. In comparison, Costco's Kirkland brand laundry detergent comes to 12 cents a load...still cheaper than regular priced name brand soap. Finally, if you're vigilant in scoping out a laundry detergent deal, you'll wait to take advantage of the regular sales cycle...like this week's sale at Walgreens...50-load Xcel for $2.50...which is only 5 cents a load.

Your Turn: How do you save money on laundry soap? Do you notice any difference between name brand and store brand laundry detergents? Share your input!


Simply Being Mommy said...

Great post!

I always buy my laundry soap when it's on sale and always combine a sale with a coupon for maximum savings.

Suz said...

Great post! I always wondered about the real savings when your a deal finder like us. Why put all the work into it and have to find the storage space when you can do almost as well with sales and coupons and not have to put the time into it ... and in most cases time = money too!

Krys said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog lately!! You've inspired me to actually start clipping coupons and using them and It's been quite fun!! I'm definitely with you on this one...By the time we factor in the storage, effort and the mess I'll make (I'm certain to spill something while mixing) Odds are I will not have saved enough money to make up for the time. Did you like that Purex? saw that on mega clearance at our target but wasn't sure if it was decent.

CJ said...

I love Xcel and Sun detergents. I always stock up on them when they are on sale at Walgreens. I just cant see paying the high prices for name brand detergent when these brands work just as well for me.

Sandi said...

I've been making my own detergent for a while now, and it's not that hard. (Making bread is harder.) Of course, the first time I made it took a little longer because I was figuring things out, but now I whip it up in a few minutes. It truly does work very well. It works better than the cheap brands I used to always buy (Sun, Purex). Maybe it works as well as Tide and the expensive brands, but I don't know because I never could afford them. All in all, I'm glad I started making my own detergent. It is effective, inexpensive, and easy.