I’ll admit to being a laundry nerd. Removing tough stains gives me joy and a sense of accomplishment. Caring for my family’s clothing allows it to last as long as possible while ensuring they’re clean and presentable and I find that strangely fulfilling. I’ve even been known to wash other people’s clothes (coats, blankies, kids car seat covers…) when they come to my house because I have have uptight perfectionist issues. It drives me nuts when my husband does a load because he doesn’t do it the way I would. I have to bite my tongue and thank him for his help though I’m dying to just rewash it all. What can I say? I’m a weirdo.
Perhaps the isolation of being a stay at home mom has made me a bit odd and I don’t have much else to keep me busy other than housework. At any rate, laundry is my thing. Also vacuuming- I look forward to getting our carpets clean and fluffy each day. Ah, the thrilling life of the homemaker! Anyhoo…
I’ve been using plain white vinegar as a fabric softener for the past 5 years and can vouch for the fact that it does work. It’s undoubtedly better than using nothing at all, which we did for several months before discovering the vinegar trick. White vinegar is cheap and eliminates static cling as well as build-up in your washer, but it isn’t the same as having luxuriously soft garments and towels like you’d get from Downy or Snuggle.
When I found that there were other alternatives to buying traditional fabric softener I had to try them out. Since this recipe (originally found on Wikihow) has been a success I’m excited to share it with you. This is a cheap and effective alternative to store bought softeners.
- 6 Cups (1500 ml) hot water
- 3 Cups (750 ml) white vinegar
- 2 Cups (500 ml) hair conditioner
In a large pitcher, combine the hot water and conditioner then mix until smooth. I like to use a whisk for this step. Once the conditioner is completely mixed in, add the white vinegar and stir to combine. Transfer to your container (I reuse old vinegar bottles for this) and allow to cool completely before use. I like to let it sit overnight. Measure out 1/4 to 1/2 C of softener for each load of laundry. Administer as you would any other fabric softener, either via Downy ball, by adding before the rinse cycle or placing in your machine’s built-in dispenser. This amount makes about 3/4 of a gallon or 44 loads at a 1/4 cup each.
Your own cost will vary but here is what I spent:
- 2 gal. of white vinegar for $4.83 (2 gal. makes 10 batches at about 48 cents a piece)
- 2 12 oz. bottles of hair conditioner at 88 cents each (I used 1 and a half for this recipe, so we’ll say $1.32)
Total for about 88 oz. or 44 loads = $1.80
For the sake of comparison, in the first quarter of 2015, a 50 oz bottle of Snuggle costs about $4 and a 96 oz. bottle is about $7.
I recently gave up on a long standing money saver- homemade laundry soap. For a couple years, I’ve been increasingly less satisfied with the state of my laundry and kind of wishing for better (store bought) detergents. This discontentment helped me (slowly, I was a die-hard) warm up to the idea of spending money on laundry soap again. My husband really fought it though; he just loves when I spend less money. The real clincher was the state of our towels. They just never smelled really clean, especially the kitchen towels. All of our household towels had stopped being absorbent though we never used fabric softener -usually the culprit- on them. As a result I was always washing things on hot, and heavy duty as well as going through a box of borax each week. This was not saving us money!
My husband & I knew that our washing machine wasn’t great and to some degree thought it was responsible for our dingy laundry. Being in very tight financial circumstances we didn’t attempt to replace it, though. My husband limped it along with repairs and replacement parts for years before we gave in and bought a newer, better model. For a while I told myself that we were saving a lot of money by not buying laundry soap so the lackluster results were acceptable.
After several years of washing with the homemade stuff, I made one last attempt to improve my formula. Thus trying a different amount of borax, washing soda, brand of bar soap, and even adding a little real laundry soap to my mix before finally quitting altogether. When nothing we tried improved the state of our laundry I finally had to admit that my detergent making days were done.
So, resigned to start buying laundry soap again, and longing for good smelling really clean clothes my husband turned to the professionals for detergent advice. Which was the best bang for our buck? What was best for our machine? Because my new washer needed to be treated well and last us at least another decade. He works for a company that services appliances and asked the technicians what laundry soap they recommended. The answer was to chose between, Tide, Whisk, and Kirkland Signature. These were, in their opinion, the best performers and recommended by the manufacturers for best performance in our HD machines.
We chose the Kirkland Signature (Costco brand) which was surprisingly affordable at about $15 a jug. There’s some buzz that the Costco brand is made by Tide. I’m inclined to believe it but can’t confirm it. Since we use much less than previously needed with the DIY stuff the giant jug lasts about 2 months. Not bad. We also don’t have to wash on heavy duty/hot anymore. Our clothes are clean on the “normal” setting without any added boosters or stain-fighters. Also the towels smell nice and fresh and are absorbent again. And so I’ve have fallen off the DIY laundry soap bandwagon and our laundry is better off for it.