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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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Household Cleaning Supplies: Homemade vs. Couponing

With the dawn of the modern age came prepackaged, perfumed household cleaners modeled by a skinny woman in an apron with perfectly manicured nails (you’ve seen the commercials). Some say that it is more economical to make your own, but as we all know, using coupons and searching for freebies can result in some killer deals on these oh so convenient products. Even so, there are some who stick to their guns and mix up huge batches of homemade cleaners.

Well, we’ve done the leg work for you. Here is a cost comparison of some recent sale prices (taken from our Best Prices List) and some simple home recipes for basic products. However, it is difficult to tell you which system will be best for you and your family. Really only you can make that decision. First take a moment to assess your situation, and then check out the price comparison.

A few things to consider

  • Are you buying because you need the product right now or are you just trying to stock up because you found a great sale?
  • Are you trying to avoid harsh chemicals due to sensitive skin?
  • Are you looking to “go green?”
  • Are you more comfortable knowing the exact ingredients in your products?
  • Are you looking to save time, or do you have time to spare?
  • Are you going to use extra gas running around for the deal, or could you just as easily use something you already have stocked in your pantry?
  • Do you have coupons in your stash for the component ingredients?
  • Consider that most of these recipes make large quantities, as opposed to small bottles of cleaner in the store.

Basic ingredients

The comparisons below are assuming you bought the product at regular price, but don’t forget that you can use couponing to get even better deals on the components of homemade cleaners, making them even cheaper! Keep this list handy so you can stock up.

  • vinegar – $2 for 1 gallon
  • baking soda – $0.75 per box
  • washing soda – $3.79 for 55 oz. box
  • rubbing alcohol – $0.97 for 32 oz.
  • hydrogen peroxide – $0.67 for 16 oz.
  • gentle soaps (Ivory, pure castile) – $1-$3
  • borax – $4.65 for 76 oz.
  • plastic spray bottles

Laundry Detergent

Example Sale Prices:
Bi-Lo – Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent, 50 oz., $1.49 ($.05/load)
Bloom – All Liquid Detergent, 50 oz., $1.99 ($.06/load)
Kroger – Surf Powder 40 ld 9
9¢ ($.02/load)
Winn Dixie – Xtra Laundry Detergent, 35-44 load liquid, $1.99 ($.05/load)


Homemade Recipe 1:
Mix 1 cup Ivory soap,
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads = $0.05-0.10/load

Homemade Recipe 2:
1 cup castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or Mountain Rose Herbs are good choices)
2 cups water
1/3 cup salt
1 cup, baking soda or washing soda
1 cup vinegar
Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads = $0.05-0.10/load

Additional Considerations: may be gentler on sensitive skin, environmentally friendly; if you can’t make it out to the store or can’t find a sale, you can mix this up for a comparable price at home

Fabric Softeners

Example Sale Prices:
Bi-Lo – Arm and Hammer Dryer Sheets, 100ct., $1.50 ($.015/load)
Harris Teeter – Arm & Hammer 100 ct. Dryer Sheets 99¢ (4/22) ($.01/load)

Homemade Recipe:
1 cup baking soda
6 cups distilled white vinegar
8 cups water
10-15 drops orange essential oils (optional) or lemon essential oils (optional)
Use 1 cup per load in final rinse cycle.


Cost for Homemade:
$0.06/load

Additional Considerations:
no fragrances or harsh chemicals, if you can’t make it out to the store or can’t find a sale, you can use this as a substitute

All Purpose Cleaning Solution/Wipes

Example Sale Prices:
Publix – Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, 56 or 80 ct., $1.74

Winn Dixie – Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner, 24 oz., 80¢
Ingles – Seventh Generation household cleaners, 32 oz., $1.98

Trends: regularly found for 50¢ or less, occasionally FREE

Homemade Recipe
Mix into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water:
1/2 cup vinegar and
1/4 cup baking soda

Cost for Homemade: $0.12-0.19/half gallon

Additional Considerations:
environmentally friendly, no harsh chemicals, great alternative to the new bottles of “green” cleaners which are expensive even on sale, most bottles of cleaner are much less than a half gallon

Glass Cleaner

Example Sale Prices:
Publix – Glass Plus Glass & Multi-Surface Cleaner, 32 oz., 24¢
Walgreens – Windex Glass or Mutli-Surface Cleaner, 26 oz. bottle, 75¢

Homemade Recipe:
1 cup Rubbing Alcohol,
1 cup water
1 tbsp vinegar

Cost for Homemade: ~$0.50/32 oz. of cleaner

Additional Considerations: environmentally friendly, no harsh chemicals

Paper Products

Example Sale Prices:
Bi-Lo – Scott Paper Towels, 6-8 rolls, $3.98
CVS – Bounty Basic Paper Towels, 8 rolls, $4.50
Bi-Lo – Bounty Basic, 1 roll, 50¢

Trends: Paper products are always expensive even when they’re on sale. $5 is a typical sale price for a 6-8 pack.  Buying this in the drugstore system though can result in making them FREE.

Alternatives:
microfiber cloths
old cloth diapers (the oldschool kind) – Prefolds fit perfectly on the end of a Swiffer sweeper and work great wet or dry!
old towels, t-shirts, etc.


Cost: FREE
to $0.55 each

Additional Considerations:
re-purposes fabrics that you might throw away, keeps a lot of paper out of landfills, saves tons of money; can be washed and reused, but if it really gets so dirty that you don’t want to use it again, just chuck it like a paper towel

Our Conclusions

  • Homemade laundry products are basically the same price.
  • Homemade all purpose cleaner is a savings, especially when you consider the batch size to the size of the store bought bottle.
  • If you are comparing prices for the new natural/organic products (even on sale), you are definitely saving a few dollars by making it at home.
  • Of course if you can get it for free and not waste too much time or effort doing so, you should probably take advantage of the deal!
  • Some of the best savings are on specialty products, for example oven cleaner, mildew/shower cleaners, carpet stain removers, metal cleaner or polish, mineral deposit removers, furniture or floor polish, drain cleaners, and even air fresheners. These items are harder to find at rock bottom prices and are typically expensive. You also have the added bonus of removing potentially harmful chemicals from your house. (See the resources below for recipes.)

Join the Discussion!

What do you use in your home? What are your favorite “recipes?” Do you think homemade is worth it? What cleaning secrets have you discovered over the years?

Join us next week for a comparison of prepackaged convenience foods and making staple recipes from scratch.

    • LoriGrissom

      Under “Glass Cleaner” Can you get a gallon of alcohol for 8-11 cents?

      • LoriGrissom

        Sorry, meant 1/2 gallon.

        • It's about $2 for a half gallon. I just fixed some math.

          • I think what’s important is the point you made at the end. If you’re comparing prices with non-chemical/organic cleaners, you’re definitely saving money by making your own. And, I would venture to say that most people who are making their own cleaners are doing so because they are wanting to be chemical free.
            I don’t save a ton using vinegar to soften my clothes, but I’m so much happier using something that does not use chemicals.

    • Jenni

      What a fantastic article! Thanks again for a great “comparison” article!

      I prefer store bought right now, just because it's easier for me to coupon than the time to collect all of the separate ingredients to mix up batches. And often just as cheap, if not cheaper.

    • Lisa

      Here's some cleaning tips I've learned. I've cleaned houses as a side job since I was 13: About 2 times a year, wax your fiberglass shower or tub with carwax. This makes for super easy cleanup every week. 2nd tip, use vinegar water to clean your hardwood floors. This is cheaper than the specialty cleaners and doesn't leave a film.

      • DonnaChas

        What's the ratio of vinegar to water? Does this also work on laminate floors?
        Thanks so much.

        Great article, Jenny!

        • rydergal

          We use 1/3 cup vinegar to 1 gal warm water for cleaning the floors. Should work well for just about anything.

        • Lisa

          The ratio I use is about 1/3-1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gal. of water. I would say yes, you could use it on laminate, but I would only use a damp rag. And I have never tried it on laminate, so maybe just test it somewhere unnoticeable. You don't want to get laminate or hardwoods very wet.

        • Sarah

          We’ve been using a 25% vinear (with water) solution on our laminate floors for a few weeks now. I attach an old dish cloth to a swiffer sweeper and spray the solution on the floor. As long as the water doesn’t puddle it should be safe for laminate. If you really rub until near dry, you’ll avoid streaks. We were having a problem with other cleaners leaving streaks and residues (like the Swiffer WetJet solution).

      • Jenni

        I've heard that vinegar solution will damage the finish on hardwoods. I do use it on my ceramic tile though. And for countertops. The recipe I got off a TV show is 1part vinegar to 3 parts water…..so a 25% vinegar solution.

        • Lj

          Ive never heard that but I won't say it isn't true. I've never had any problems with it and I've been using this a long time. It might not work on some finishes though.

      • carmarm

        I am interested in the idea of the carwax. Does it make the shower more slippery? Do you apply to the whole shower? Just not the floor? Please tell us more. This sounds like a splendid idea.

        • Lisa

          Apply it to the entire shower/tub. You apply it the same way you would wax the car, following instructions on the bottle. Yes it will make it slippery, but just put those little non slip sticky things or a mat on the floor. But it would probably work too if you want to skip the floor. Just make sure you go down the sides enough to cover where the soap scum likes to gather. (where the side and floor meet) It makes scum cleanup a breeze.

    • Ashlea

      Awesome info! :)

    • Lana

      I quit using fabric softeners when I found out that the active ingredient was formaldehyde. After our fabrics had been washed enough to remove the softeners we found that our fabrics are incredibly soft and we almost never have static problems. So my conclusion is that fabric softeners are just not needed at all.

      • kcreviews

        Wow, my laundry always has static if I don't use a fabric softener sheet. I wonder why.

        • MamaMia

          From the research I've done on detergents, most commercial detergents don't fully wash out during rinse cycles. This is especially try if you have really hard or really soft water. Fabric softeners were invented to mask the detergents left in clothes. A 1/4 cup of white vinegar as your liquid fabric softener will remove all the detergents in your clothes, down to the threads. Plus, it will remove any stubborn smells left hanging in your clothes. I've been using vinegar for 2 years as my fabric softener with my soft water and have never smelled it on my clothes when I transfer them to the dryer or laundry line.

          • Dianne

            Do you put the vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser? I have a top loading washer with the dispenser on the agitator.

            • MamaMia

              I do. Since it's a slightly thinner liquid than standard fabric softener, it can go in the same dispenser. Also, it helps to clean your machine during every use.

        • valerie

          if you are drying items together that are made of different fabrics, this could cause static.

    • rydergal

      Love the tips Jenny! I've been making my own laundry soap for a couple of years now, and will never go back as long as I am able to tote that 5 gal bucket around (I make a LOT at a time…so I only have to make it twice a year or so)! But I wanted to chime in on the fabric softener recipe you have above. First, don't expect to be able to use it in a Downy ball or other in-wash dispenser…the baking soda settles out and throws the ball off balance, so it doesn't open properly most of the time. Second, don't expect to use it in the dispenser in your machine either. Mine is a front loading machine, and the baking soda settled out again, and clogged the dispenser. It took 6 or 8 loads for it all to finally rinse out. Top loading machines may be different (and other front loaders too…mine is Kenmore), but this stuff is not compatible with my front loader at all.

      I just use straight vinegar now. Kills odor and bacteria, and your clothes don't come out smelling vinegary at all, I promise. You'll smell vinegar as you pull stuff out of the washer, but when dry, the smell is gone. I only use half a dryer sheet as well (for those things that go in the dryer instead of on the drying rack). Clothes still come out smelling as nice as they would with a full dryer sheet, and they are just as static free. Plus it makes my stash of Bounce (which I found on clearance at Target a year or so ago, for a mere song!) last twice as long.

      • Do you use your own detergent with an HE washer? I would love your recipe. I also use vinegar instead of fabric softener and it really softens well. HE detergent is so dang expensive, has chemicals I don’t like and I would love a homemade recipe. You can email me if you can…
        barefootfarm@catt.com
        thanks,
        sam:-)

        • RobinB78

          Here's what I make and use for my HE washer. Keep in mind, it's powder form though, as I don't want to bother with the time to boil water and make liquid soap! 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda and 2 cups grated laundry bar soap. The laundry specific bar soaps (which are actually only about 70c each) are low sudsing, so you can safely use it in HE machines!

        • rydergal

          I do use homemade laundry soap in my front loader. Here's my recipe:

          2 bar soap (I use Ivory…any basic bath soap will do)
          2 cup washing soda (can substitute baking soda, but washing soda is a bit better)
          1 cup borax
          1 cup water softener (Calgon, etc. I find it in the laundry aisle)

          Grate the soap, and melt it on the stove in 4 cups of water. Keep heat med-low or so…it will bubble over if too hot. Pour it into a 5 gal bucket, and add 4 gallons hot water. Add Borax, Calgon, and washing soda. Mix. Let cool. Ta da.
          When it cools, you will have a thick, goopy soap layer on top which you'll have to break up. I use a paint mixer attached to the drill, but a stick blender (or just a long wooden spoon, piece of PVC pipe, whatever you have handy to stir it with) will do the trick too. You only have to break up the soap layer once. This stuff will separate back into layers as it sits, but the bar soap stays broken up once you break it. I simply fill an old milk jug about 3/4 full and keep it right by the washer. Each time I use it, I give the jug a quick shake to remix the soap, and pour it into my cup for the washer. I make a batch of this every 9-12 months, with an average of 7-8 loads per week. This stuff will last forever!
          When doing whites, I'll add bleach to the wash, as well as an extra bit of Borax and an extra bit of Calgon. Whites turn yellowish and dingy because bleach rusts out the minerals in your water…so extra water softener to counter that certainly can't hurt.
          The only time I use Tide is when washing my shower curtain liner. The homemade soap doesn't seem to touch hard water stains one bit. And I do occasionally pretreat something with Shout (oil stains or red clay mainly). But all in all, I've saved hundreds by not buying commercial laundry products in a good long while, and I never have that emergency trip to the store to get more, since each batch lasts up to a year, and I have plenty of time to plan ahead if any of my supplies is getting low :)

    • Julie

      I make my own laundry detergent and will not go back either. Based on my local prices I end up paying $0.01 per load of laundry…even with coupons I couldn't get detergent that cheap. I no longer use softener either. Our clothes are super soft even wihtout it :-)

    • Michelle

      I just had to chime in here. We have 5 little boys, and you can imagine what my walls look like, even shortly after they've been washed. The best thing I've ever came across is cheap to make, works wonderfully and doesn't streak on painted sheetrock, and doesn't need to be rinsed. Best of all, it's super, super quick!!

      Mix:

      A few drops of any dish detergent into a spray bottle that has 1 part white vinegar to 5 parts water.

      Here's the best part: Mist your walls in a 4' wide by the height of the wall section and use a Mr. Clean microfiber mop (one of the big ones) to “wash” your wall. Then mist another section, and so on until you're done. (Make sure your baseboards are clean so you don't pick dust and put it back on your wall with the mop).

      Works like a dream, you can have the walls washed in no time, and it doesn't break your back. This works on handprints, smears, pretty much anything a little boy can put on your wall….except dried boogers. You've got to get those by hand.

      The walls don't streak, don't need rinsing, and when the vinegar solution has dried, the smell is gone too.

      It's absolutely amazing!! I have 2 of the microfiber mop heads. One is marked “floor”, the other “walls”, when I'm done, I just wash them in the machine with water and let them air dry. They have lasted for a couple years and still work like new. I wouldn't spring clean, or even just clean a high-traffic wall any other way. Hope this helps!!

      • fullhouse

        Thanks for the tip! We have 5 kiddos too, 2boys, 3 girls, and the walls in our home are painted with flat paint, so everything shows. I am definitly going to try this, and I love that you found a way to minimize the scrubbing by using the mop! what a huge timesaver! THANKS!!!

        • Michelle

          So very glad you liked it!! It really does work, I just couldn't believe how well. One note: our walls are the satin finish. I would test an out of the way area first, just in case!! Hope it works for you, you'll never go back. (PS: if you have one microfiber mop, just wash it and use it on your walls, it won't hurt a thing!!)

    • liz

      Can the homemade laundry detergent recipe be used with front-loading washers? And would we use the same amounts recommended? Thanks!

      • MamaMia

        Yes to both. It works great in my extra large front loader with 2 tbsp.

    • fullhouse

      Love the article Jenny, and the other comments as well. My reicpe for all purpose cleaner is in a spray bottle, vinegar(2-4 Tbsp), borax(1 Tbsp), few drops of dish soap, few drops of essential oil.(I use lavender) Fill with water. Works great for most things. I use a little Olive Oil to shine my stainless steel fridge, and for jobs that require a little scrubbing power, I use Borax or baking soda, sprinkle on and scrub with a damp cloth. I do this for my tubs, showers, sinks, glass stove top etc. I pay about 2.50-3.00 for a box of borax.

      • RobinB78

        I like that recipe for AP cleaner! I'm going to have to try that one!!! Thanks!

    • Meme

      I am really looking forward to your next post – comparing prepackaged foods versus “home made recipes”. I remember when Hamburger Helper came out. We thought it was delicious, but costly. Several recipes came out for mixing your own “quick-fix” dinners using basic ingredients. So I got away from buying Hamburger Helper mixes.

      When I started using coupons again about seven or eight months ago, Hamburger Helper was one of the first deals I did. We used Hamburger Helper, Chicken Helper, and Tuna Helper. All I can say is, “YUCK!!” Why did we ever think this was good tasting? I still have a shelf full of boxes. I am hesitant to even give it away.

      So, Jenny, I am really looking forward to the comparisons on these products, and hopefully some new recipes for “quick-mix” dinners.

      • Anna

        Your post made me smile. I remember Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper being the only meals I could make when I was first married almost 12 years ago. I agree – they are horrible tasting. I am so glad that I have taken on cooking without fear now and can venture out and try new things. I LOVE CROCKPOT MEALS!!!!

        • VanessaCook

          You guys are so funny…I have never been a big “Helper” fan, but as a child I grew up on it. My mom thought that was all she could afford. She is not a couponer and never has been. Since I coupon shop, I can afford so much better.

          • 3monkeysmom

            I grew up on it, too :-) In our house it was either spaghetti or Hamburger Helper.
            I remember looooving the stroganoff and the cheeseburger mac, but I can't stomach it now!

    • Excellent Post Jenny! I love it. This is definitely something that is close to my heart, and I really wish more people would go green and make their own cleaners.

    • Jennie

      I've been making household cleaners and laundry soap for a couple of years. I love that we are not using all those chemicals. I don't ever use fabric softner either. We have a tiny bit of static in the winter but I just give the clothes a good shake as I'm folding them and that takes care of the static. I think once you get the harsh chemicals all washed out of your clothes they are pretty soft. Ours are anyway.

    • Freedom

      I have been making my own laundry detergent for 1.5 years now. There are 3 of us. One 5 gallon bucket of homemade liquid detergent last us over 1 year. I just made my 2nd batch this past weekend. Love it. I do use the occasional bottle detergent but not very often. Maybe 1 bottle in 1.5 years.

      • Beth

        What is your recipe for homemade laundry detergent?

    • savysaver

      I use vinegar water on everything from my counter tops to the hardwood floors (sparingly, of course). The smell goes away within minutes, it is inexpensive and safe with a newborn around. Haven't tried the homemade laundry detergent yet. Borax is pretty toxic to newborns and is on the EWG top hazards list. Anyone have a great recipe for soap scum removal, the organic products just don't cut it.

      • Lj

        Its not a homemade cleaner, but it works wonders. Mr Clean magic eraser

        • 3monkeysmom

          That thing really is *magic*!!! I use it to clean the showers/tubs. It gets pen, crayons and markers off walls. It also took black crayon off our light brown suede(ish) sofa :-)
          Removes scuff marks….the list goes on and on…..

        • Michele

          I absolutely agree!!! We are 'going green' but this is one area where I will probably never be able to switch. You don't even need the bathroom one, the original works just fine!!

    • deborahelaine

      I just can't get over using vinegar….There's no way that smell goes away! I too would like to know if you can use the laundry soap in front loaders.

      • MamaMia

        Yes, you can use the homemade laundry soap for front loaders. It's low sudsing and won't leave residue.

      • Ln

        The smell totally goes away within minutes. In fact, I have always used a bowl of vinegar sitting on the counter to soak up an unpleasant smell in the house. Really, there's no lasting vinegar smell. Just fresh and clean.

      • RobinB78

        The vinegar smell really does go away quite fast! My husband still isn't a believer even though I've been cleaning with it for years, so if he's home and I'm cleaning I crack a few windows or add a couple of drops of essential oils to mask the smell!

    • CoachKaterina

      I use vinegar and water with 10 drops of essential peppermint oil. The peppermint oil keeps away bugs, a must here in Florida and takes away the vinegar smell. Vinegar kills 98% of all viruses, 96% of all mold spores, most all bacteria and much more. And it is non toxic. Your babies won't drink much of it and if they do, they won't get poisoned. The lasting effect and half lives of toxins in your home cleaners are not worth the savings. You save now to pay later from all the toxic havoc they do to your lungs and house. Remember, your home is full of toxic air that is why we have an air purifier also.

      I love couponing and saving money and getting all the free products but I will never take that over better health of my family. Vinegar and baking soda, clean, pure, safe, cheap.

    • Laura

      I make my own laundry and dishwasher soap most of the time, and I use coupons for the components of those recipes. Call Dial (they make Borax) and they will send you coupons. I wait until a Harris Teeter triple coupon week and load up then. My clothes and dishes are every bit as clean when I use homemade supplies.

      I also use triple or super double coupons for Seventh Generation and Method products if I can get those items for close to a dollar. So much cheaper and healthier this way, and I don't have a thousand cleaning supplies cluttering up my laundry room shelves.

      • RobinB78

        PS Peeps: I believe if you sign up on the Borax part of the Dial website, you can print out a coupon!

        • Ashley

          I did and it let me print of a $.35/1 coupon. It only asked for my Name and Email address

    • Taylor

      Thank you for this post, Jenny! I've recently been reconsidering all the chemicals I use in my house and this post came as perfect timing for me!

    • Erin

      I use mostly water with a little vinegar in a squirt bottle. It cuts grease, and is safe to use on any surface. It even shines up mirrors and glass windows! I also buy microfiber cloths from the dollar tree. Talk about cheap! And they are great- they even have a kind with nylon or something on the back to scrub off those dried on messes! I use this cleaner because I don't have to worry if one of my kids wants to help or leaves a bottle out where one of the smaller kids can grab it! And it works so great and is soooo inexpensive, I won't go back.
      I thought it was funny when I saw windex now has a vinegar based cleaner.

    • irmolees

      Dawn liquid dish detergent is the best product for SO many issues! Newly learned – use it on poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac – the agents in the chemicals DRY out the oils causing the spread of the rash!!! What an eye opener! Wash the infected area AND clothes in Dawn – treat the rash with clear caladryl .. voila! Dawn liquid diluted in warm water can clean spots on carpet, ring around the collar, and on and on!!! The BEST product! My sister and I clean new construction houses some times and homemade cleaning supplies are the best for the massive work loads we have with windows, bathrooms and wiping down doors, walls, baseboards, mouldings,etc!

      • RobinB78

        And don't forget, Dawn is being used once again to clean up the poor animals affected by the oil spill in the Gulf! That stuff really is amazing!

      • ckb5

        Does it have to be Dawn detergent, or will any liquid detergent work?

    • tracy

      I just made up my first batch of auto dishwasher detergent for my maytag. I found a recipe online that calls for 2 cups borax, 2 cups baking soda and 1 cup or less of Cascade. It helps stretch the store bought stuff. It also said use white vinager to fill rinse cycle instead of the jet dry. My dishes are cleaner than ever and the machine itself sparkles! I love it. Now I am considering making laundry detergent too. I just prefer the liquid and so far I have found the powder recipies.

      • Melissa

        how much do you put in your dishwasher for a typical load?? I am very intrested in trying this…I LOVE to stretch a $$$$ :o)

        • tracy

          I am in FL and it said 1-2 tablespoons. I use 2tbsp since I have hard water. I was so suprised at how well it worked!!

          • Melissa

            hummm…I think I will give this a shot!!! anything to stretch a $!!! Thanks!!! :o)

    • Robin3girls

      I love this post! I have made my own liquid laundry detergent 2 times now…it lasts about 6 mths for my family of 5. It works great. I have read a lot of the comments here and no one has mentioned that making your own laundry detergent saves many, many plastic bottles from going into a landfill or having to be recycled! This is definitely a bonus!

    • Beth

      Wow! I could not be happier to see this article. My husband and I have been going green for many years now… a little here and a little there we've moved away from chemicals in our food, our cleaning products, our yard/garden. We have 2 small children and have done it for ourselves and especially for the 2 of them. I haven't recently started couponing and was torn between being able to coupon successfully with so many “restrictions” on what we would buy. I look forward to trying some of these recipes in addition to the ones that I have already. Laundry recipes especially! And to finding coupone deals on my homemade ingredients!!

    • motherof3nc

      The BEST home made cleaner for wooden cutting boards baking soda and vinegar. dust the cutting board with baking soda and then spray with vinegar and watch it fizz.

    • Stephanie

      I have been making homemade liquid laundry detergent for a year and a half now- it's great! See the Duggar family's website for a few recipes- I tried pasting the link in but it won't come thru. Google “duggar family recipes” and you will find it

    • Hope

      Thank you for this interesting post! Really gets you thinking about different ways to do things. One question on the all-purpose wipes–once I followed a recipe to make my own baby wipes. However, after a short time (a couple weeks) the wipes started to mold! I don't know what caused this but I was just wondering if the same thing happens with this recipe for the all purpose wipes.

      • kendra

        Huh i have been making my own wipes for 18 months and have never had them mold on me. I cut a paper towel roll in half pull out the tube and put in a container that is air tight. I mix 1 cup hot water 2 Tbs baby oil and 1 Tbs baby bath mix and poor over paper towles.

      • Lynette

        I used to have the same problem. I found that boiling the water helped.

    • Kazzy

      Wonderful Post!

    • camp

      love this! kudos!

    • Karen

      reusable “paper” products: take old cloth diapers and apply snaps to the corners. Snap together and roll up on an old paper towel roll. When you need one unsnap, use, and throw it in the wash.

    • Kimberly

      I have been making my own laundry detergent for about 6 months now (ok, so I have only made one batch and am still using it). I followed the Duggar Family website's recipe and it's about a penny a load or less (minus the cost of the initial 5 gallon bucket). I like it because I have baby #4 on the way (all 5 and under) and I never have to worry about running out and having to make a last minute trip to the store.

      Also, I make my own dish soap for the dishwasher, but I have been finding it to clump. It's 1 cup borax, 1 cup Super Washing Soda, 6-8 packets citric acid (I use lemon koolaid), 1/2 cup Kosher salt. I like using it because it uses some of the same ingredients as my laundry soap, so I almost always have the supplies on hand.

      • StephanieP

        Yeah, I've read some horror stories about making your own dishwasher detergent (I say in reply to your clumping issue). Some folks it works great for and others get a film so bad that they literally have to replace their dishes.

    • Mysterious_Mentalist

      A Question: Why does anyone need to wash clothes just after a single wear in the first place?

      • nikki

        Gross, yes they need to be washed. The only exception for me is dry clean only items.

      • kimana517

        I agree. It depends on the person (some people sweat more than others), but I definitely do not need to wash my clothes after they're worn just once or twice. And I only shower every other day. Gasp!

      • RobinB78

        Really? When you have a 5 year old and a 2 year old and 31 year old Marine- the laundry NEVER stops! Between all the dirt, sweat and Lord only knows what else those three get into, they're changing out of dirty clothes two or three times a day on the weekends!!!

      • I used to think the same thing…and then I had a baby. I still try to only wash clothes when I really need to, for example, I'll just wear the same shirt around the house since I know it will get boogers and food wiped all over it, and I save my nice shirts for when I go out. Also, the more you wash your clothes, the faster they fade and wear out. It is best to only wash them when they are truly dirty, and it saves you from having to buy new clothes so soon.

        • ivegotcutekids

          Haha! I can relate. I have 2 kids in diapers, and it seems like I'm never without some sort of crusty substance on the shoulders of my t-shirts.

    • Melissa

      Awesome article and awesome comments. I feel inspired. Jenny, maybe you could occasionally do a special “match up” for the ingredients of these homemade products!

    • Karsten

      I'm not really sure where she's getting the prices for some of these products, but they are much higher than what I find down here in the Lowvountry!! I go to Sams and stock up on plain, white vinegar (2 gallons for around $2) and get my Borax at Walmart..no where near the price mentioned above. I go to Food Lion for my bar soap (around .88 a bar and it's good for the dishwasher and other cleansers as well). I get my peroxide and rubbing alcohol at Sams too. My basix laundry soap (which I like better because it's dry and doesn't goop up) is.. 4 bars (12 cups) laundry soap, 6 c of Borax (almost 1 box), 6 c of washing powder (almost 1 box). THis stuff cleans so much better than Tide w/ bleach w/o the harsh chemicals and just a really clean smell afterwords. We love it! My all purpose cleaner is just 1/2 c of white vinegar, 1tsp of Dawn and fill the spray bottle up with water. It will clean windows too! I love the vinegar smell and cannot get used to using the strong comemrcial chemicals anymore!!

      • Melissa

        Could you tell me what brand of bar laundry soap you use, and how you grind it up for your mix? Thanks!

        • RobinB78

          I personally use “Octagon” all purpose bar soap (found in the laundry section) In my Food Lion it's around 75c per bar. Use the small side of a standard kitchen box grater. I wear a mask or bandana around my mouth and nose though, as the dust can fly. I like the Octagon brand because the bar is more solid than others, and easier to grate in my opinion! And it leaves your hands so soft when you're done!! One bar grates into about 2 cups!

        • Karsten

          I forgot to put that I use Octagon, too. You can get the Fels Naptha at Publix, but I haven't noticed that it cleans any better and it's more expensive. You can use the Octagon to make dishwashing detergent, too. I just recently found out about the toxicity of dishwashing powder/cleanser and I plan on making my own from now on. I grate mine on my Kitchen Aid fodd processor. I will usually grate it with that and then grind it on the processor since it will grate into larger flakes that I don't care for in the detergent.

        • Stephanie P

          I actually use Dr. Bronner's bar soap for mine and just the plain white vinegar for fabric softener. I too agree about the cost discrepancy with how full you're filling the cap on store detergents. This kinds lasts me forever and since I'm not going to be buying the toxic stuff I'm totally saving money :-)

          3 cups borax
          2 cups baking soda
          2 cups washing sosad
          2 cups grated Dr. Bronner's bar soap (I like the peppermint)

          • Stephanie P

            Oops, and I grate mine with an old, seperate from food, cheap cheese grater.

      • RobinB78

        I was totally thinking the same thing!!! I'm pretty sure I paid less than $3 for a box of Borax at Walmart and the Octagon brand soap that I use is only 75c a bar at my FL. I also agree with the cleaning power of the homemade soap! I use the same mix you do, but on a smaller scale, as I don't have the room to store a huge tub of soap right now. I actually did my own stain test when I first made it. I let my 2 year old daughter have chocolate ice cream. I put her in a basic white cotton tee shirt, and changed it halfway into an identical shirt. Put one in with commercial detergent, fabric softener and stain remover product in hot water. The other I used my homemade detergent, vinegar in a downy ball for softener and no stain remover product, also in hot water. The homemade detergent made the shirt look brand new! The commercial stuff didn't get it out. I rewashed it in my homemade stuff again and now they're both good as new! I'll never go back!

      • Sarah

        I was going to comment and say the opposite! In Tallahassee, FL these prices would be rather low. I love all these recipes, but probably will never go back to the laundry detergent. Others have had such great luck with it, but with my kids and their insane stains and messes, nothing works but super toxic stuff. Bummer!

    • bt10

      No need to buy a 5 gallon bucket–your local grocery store bakery will probably give you one if you ask.

    • Jennifer Morrid

      Thanks for posting this. I always use vinegar to clean everything. Maybe this will let people see how dangerous chemicals are. I’m totally green in my house, as much as I can be. I try ! Check out http://www.safecosmetics.org to see all the bad chemicals that are in everything.

    • ckb5

      Thank you so much, Jenny, for addressing this. I've often wondered how the prices compare between store-bought and homemade cleaning products!

    • RobinB78

      Not sure I agree with any of the pricing structures here. You've got to keep in mind, that even though a commercial laundry detergent may cost you $2 for a bottle, and be $.06 a load, that's under the assumption that the person using it is using the least amount of detergent per load, or only filling the cap up to the #1 line on most brands. From my experience, most people don't do that. Most people fill up the cap at least halfway, and more often than not, most of us fill it all the way up. Which just doubles or triples your cost per load on your detergent. It's the same way with liquid fabric softener. Our typical mindset is more is better, so we pour more than the recommended amount in the dispenser, thereby doubling the cost per load of that. I know when I used commercial branded laundry products I did just that. Now that I use my own homemade detergent and softener, I'm more aware of how much I'm using. I have a specific scoop in my detergent that only allows me to use the correct amount per load, and I measure my vinegar before putting it in a downy ball for my softening needs. With my own personal calculations, I have been saving about $.30 per load.

      • Karsten

        So true! I read the Tightwad Gazette trilogy a few years back and it opened my eyes to laundry and dish detergent waste!! It can be just as effective with alot less!

      • carissa528

        I'd say that's a more accurate price, especially those of us with such hard water!

    • Diane

      I've been using that window cleaner recipe for about 6 months now, and I love it.! I also make my own “anywhere bleach” spray…1 1/2 tsp bleach and 22 oz. water. I finally got smart and wrote the recipes on the bottles in Sharpie, so that I don't have to search for them each timeI I doubt I'll ever do the laundry soap recipes…I'm a Tide junkie!

      • camp

        i used to be a tide junkie, until i found out what they do to little bunnies when testing the tide. darn the internet! sometimes ignorants is bliss. totally ruined jello for me too!

      • vicki

        I've been wondering about a good homemade window cleaner. I will have to give this one a try. I have, however, made laundry detergent. It wasn't all that difficult and seemed to be cost efficient. I did begin to notice though, that my colored clothing seemed to be fading after a few washings. More noticable than with “normal” washing! I do still make my FABRIC SOFTNER at least a little more affordable and it works great. The original “recipe” called for equals parts liquid softner, vinegar and water. Since vinegar is such a great softner on it's own, I mix one (1) part softner, one (1) part water and two (2) parts vinegar. I still get a fresh scent AND softness. I use about 1/4 cup per load. By the way, vinegar DOES soften by cutting the soap residue left in your laundry.

        • Jessica

          I love that you use vinegar as a fabric softener! I'll have to try it.

          Though one advantage of buying fabric softener is that you can mix it with water to make an exact replication of WRINKLE RELEASER spray.

          1 part fabric softener
          10 parts water

          I'm not sure I would try this with vinegar considering the smell…

    • Amanda

      I have been using the “Recipe #2” for laundry detergent since October; I only put vinegar into the rinse cycle for softening, not into the detergent. I have spent $30 on Dr. Bronner's soap since October 1: it has provided me with laundry detergent, stain pre-treatment, and hand-wash dish detergent since Oct.1 and will last through June. I also use it for house-cleaning (specifically floors). My husband is in the Army, and my son is almost 10 months old, so we do a LOT of laundry and a lot of floor scrubbing. I LOVE THIS STUFF. It is very gentle and very effective on diaper blowouts, which we seem to have lots of. It's also an incredible stain remover and took red wine out of my “dry clean only” duvet cover….having that sucker dry cleaned would have been over $35 bucks, which would more than pay for my soap. I buy Dr. Bronner's cheap on Amazon.

      • KArsten

        I found Dr Bronners' at our local health food store about 2 months ago and we love it too! It's is a great alternative to Dawn and I make it dilute it for a cleaner when I'm out of vinegar….great stuff!

    • Amanda

      Also worth mentioning: using fabric softener is VERY hard on your clothing and gums up your towels…you're basically just depositing junk on your clean clothes. My husband was addicted for years, and was appalled that I used vinegar (just 1-2 tablespoons in the rinse cycle). He was certain we would smell like pickles! We've had NO issues with smell, and if he takes a fabric-softened garment out of the bottom of a drawer or cabinet he says it smells/feels gummy and insists we re-wash it.

    • Meredith

      Homemade furniture polish is the best – no more awful and expensive cans! Mix 1/2 tsp of olive oil and 1/2 c vinegar in a spray bottle, shake and spray onto microfiber cloth. I taped the recipe cut from Woman's Day onto a bottle so I don't forget!

      Consider this for those that use store bought detergents..you only need a minimal amount. I found this out after years of filling up that little cup and the lines in my washer got clogged. Look inside the cup and most often you'll see that even line 3 is only half the cup! Thanks everyone for the great homemade detergent recipes!

    • carissa528

      I've been using the homemade laundry detergent for about a month now, and I really like it. Especially since I got all the ingredients for FREE at Publix by using my overage items to pay for it! And the batch I made is a 5gallon batch and will last for many months. So, my price per load is $0.00!

      I'm sure you can score free detergent, but not everyone does the drug store deals, and this is great for those that don't get a chance to get those deals. Even if you are a “Tide-Girl” it is nice to know you have something to fall back on if there isn't a FREE deal going on when you need one!

      So, I say, be smart! Use both systems! Coupon for the great deals when you can, and use your homemade batch when you need or want to, when the deals are scarce.

      • anita

        what is your landuray recipe? I have one, but it is not easy to make and not really that cheap considering the essiential oils that goes in it..

    • carissa528

      Anyone have any recipe ideas for an alternative to Dreft? My boys have eczema and I haven't been able to use anything else, and I'm not sure what the borax and washing soda might do to their skin. I could sub. the felz naptha with Baby Aveeno, I'm sure, but I don't know about the other ingredients.

    • sarah

      i make mostly homemade products because i don't want to be contributing to the consumerism and extra waste that comes with buying cleaning products in the store. i recently read the book “The Story of Stuff” which puts into perspective the true cost of stuff that we buy. sure that laundry detergent may be a good deal for you, but consider the environmental cost of making it, shipping it, and then throwing away the bottle and the cost increases.
      homemade works great, is good for the environment & saves me money. win-win-win

    • tapp

      Thanks for this post Jenny. I've used homemade cleaners using vinegar etc for years now. Just started making my own laundry detergent– I was intimidated until a friend who makes it all the time showed me her method — now my family's skin doesn't itch anymore! I actually hang most of our clothes to dry in the basement — tshirts, jeans, dress shirts, shorts– to save on the a/c & dryer bill, & started using vinegar to rinse when I learned that it rinses out the substances that make the clothes stiff when hung to dry. I use a dehumidifier in the basement in the summer, which helps make the air cooler & dry the clothes faster, and Bonus– I water the garden with the water it pulls out of the air.

    • Stephanie P

      Just thought I'd throw this out there…I've been going “make your own and save” for quite some time and love it!

      Love making my own powder laundry detergent and using straight white vinegar in the downy ball for fabric softener (and I promise, we never stink!).

      We use all cloth in the kitchen – napkins and towels. What really helped me with this one is to have a system for our towels: pretty ones that hang on the stove (drying hands and the occasional dish), white and colored bar mops (so the towels don't get stained when cleaning a “staining” spill PLUS the bar mops fit on the swiffer!), and dish rags. I stocked up when I got tons of Bed Bath and Beyond coupons and then went to their towels clearance sections.

      This one might be TMI – switching to cloth in the bathroom! Use hankies for TP (I only use cloth for #1, not #2) and am looking to invest in some cloth pads for that time of the month. I've bought a wetbag (like you'd use with cloth diapers) which zips and I just hang it where the tp roll goes. Honestly, I find that cloth does a much more thorough job of cleaning ;-) My DH has decided not to follow me on this one, but that's ok.

      I'm hoping to be able to switch to cloth hankies and replace those dreaded tissue boxes with cute baskets of hankies around the house :-)

      Motivation for it all: I hated how much money was constantly running through my house with all these darn consumable goods. I make my own detergent so that's a huge savings since laundy has increased a little (I promise, I maybe do 1 extra load a week now, even with all this cloth) plus we rent and water is included in our rent :-D Happy saving!

    • Great breakdown and loving the recipes! Stumbled this post. Very useful.

    • Joy

      So what are the directions for the second laundry soap recipe? Do you add additional water to fill a bucket, do you heat it or just mix that together and you have got it?
      Could you please give me the instructions on making it?
      thanks
      I have tried the first one with fels naptha soap and we don't like it, it really doesn't clean farm clothes. It leaves our whites dingy as well! :(

      • joy

        Ok sorry I just seen where to find directions..sorry and thanks for posting these!~

    • Joy

      So what are the directions for the second laundry soap recipe? Do you add additional water to fill a bucket, do you heat it or just mix that together and you have got it?
      Could you please give me the instructions on making it?
      thanks
      I have tried the first one with fels naptha soap and we don't like it, it really doesn't clean farm clothes. It leaves our whites dingy as well! :(

    • joy

      Ok sorry I just seen where to find directions..sorry and thanks for posting these!~