Friday, 20 February 2015

Homemade Laundry Gel

There is something really satisfying about making your own laundry gel. To me, it is reminiscent of a simpler life in times gone by, when household products were made from scratch. These recipes would be passed down through each generation, helping to keep family traditions and memories alive. I get vivid images of colonial times whenever I make this, and that makes my heart happy.

It is much cheaper to grate your own soap than buy soap flakes

I have been making my own laundry gel for a few years now and will never go back to buying store bought because making my own is pretty easy and I really enjoy doing it. Plus it is eco friendly, but the biggest draw card is how cheap it is to make. Each batch of  this homemade laundry gel costs $1.90 and makes a massive 10 litres. Working out only a meager 19c per litre! Because this recipe makes so much, you will need at least a 12 litre bucket for mixing and empty bottles for storing the gel once it is done. Glass or plastic both work well, I save our empty 1.25 litre soft drink bottles for this reason. Yay for repurposing!

Now, to be fair, you do need to buy all the ingredients at once, which in Perth costs me $15.27. However I see this as a frugal investment that will save me heaps of money later on as it will make several batches of gel and I only need to make it about once every 6 months. Yep, 6 months. Well... you must hardly have any laundry, I hear you proclaim! 

Unfortunately not. I wash my family of five's clothes 3 times a week and will do 2-3 loads each time. The trick is with this stuff you only need to use a quarter of a cup for each wash. I also use a tablespoon of vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of  a fabric softener. Vinegar is a great natural anti microbial and natural softener and despite my initial doubts it doesn't leave my washing smelling like a fish and chip shop either. Winning!

The recipe for the laundry gel I originally found on the Down To Earth website, which if you haven't checked out yet, please do. Rhonda's simple living journey is truly inspirational. for anyone who is looking to live well with less. I have modified this recipe slightly over the years, sorry for the lack of pictures I forgot to take some of the actual process. 

Only 3 ingredients are needed

You will need:

1 cup of soap flakes or grated laundry soap

1/2 C washing soda

1/2 C borax

1 and a half litres of water

Measure all of the above ingredients into a large pot and place on a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the soap has completely dissolved.

Let it cool down and then add this mixture to your 12 litre bucket, along with 8 litres of warm water. Give it all a big stir and leave it to sit overnight. 

In the morning the gel will appear slightly separated, so use a stick blender to break up any solid soap chunks and blend it all into a nice gel. 

I now use a ladle and a funnel to pour the laundry gel into each bottle, leaving a bit of room at the top. Because this mixture tends to separate, leaving extra room in each bottle allows you to give it a good shake before using. Any you are done!

Seven bottles filled and one given to a friend

With the laundry soap, you can buy Lux soap flakes and I have so so in the past, but have found the most cost effective way of making this is with laundry soap grated by hand. I will sit down and grate all 4 bars at one and store it in a container for ease of use later. I also add 10ml of Eucalyptus oil to each bottle of laundry gel for fragrance and it's anti bacterial properties. You could add any essential oil you wish as long as it is water soluble, or leave it as is. Adding the eucalyptus oil, does bump the price up by 28c, making a 1 litre bottle cost 38c which is still very economical. The cheapest brand of laundry liquid on the market is Earth Choice which costs $2.64 for 1 litre. You could make more than 10 times of your own for that price! Some people have reported that this recipe leaves their whites dull, but I have never had that problem.

Here are the price breakdowns for this recipe and the brand of each product I buy. I do mention Coles in this post but am not sponsored by this company in any way. I shop at a few supermarkets and choose the brands mentioned, simply because they are the cheapest in my area I have found. The washing soda was purchased at Coles and the borax from Bunnings purely because I heard that supermarkets no longer stocked it. I later found this to be false and all of these items can be purchased in the supermarket cleaning aisle.

Coles Smart Buy Laundry Soap 4 pack    $2.63
1/2 c per mix- 65c

Glitz Green Borax 1kg                               $8.40
100g per mix- 84c

Washing Soda 1kg                                      $4.24 
100g per mix- 42c

Would you ever consider making your own laundry gel?

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