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Monday, December 17, 2012

Laundry Detergent

When we first had Claire, I was diligent about using seventh generation fragrance free laundry detergent.  I washed all new things in it before using them and felt good about it, except for the price.  With all the additional laundry that I was doing I went through so much detergent and one day I needed to do laundry and we were out of detergent.  We had a bunch of target generic up and up detergent so I used it, and have been using it for a while because it seems wasteful to not use it and we have a lot of it.  It is also hard to go out and spend another $26- $30 on laundry detergent just to wash it down the drain.

All was well until I started to notice tiny red spots on Claire's chest and occasionally on her neck and face.  Her pediatrician told me that it looks like she has sensitive skin, and I am inclined to think that it might have to do with the laundry detergent.  I looked up recipes for homemade detergents online and found a few good recipes, like the one from wellness mamas, but most of them called for grating up a bar of soap and many called for baking soda and/or washing powder.  I wanted to try the washing powder but was having a hard time finding it at the store.

One day, as I was about to do laundry again, I decided that I was just going to use a little bit of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, the baby sensitive kind.  We have an HE washer so I just added about a tablespoon to the detergent compartment.  I am a strong proponent of the less is more approach and feel that the majority of the cleaning power of the washer comes from the WATER.  So, I have been doing this and so far it is working fine.  The clothes smell and look clean.  I have not tried it with any tough stains or really dirty clothes.  My husbands basketball clothes should be arriving in the hamper shortly, however...

I have also read that adding vinegar to the rinse cycle can help to remove any buildup on the laundry and improve absorbancy of things like towels and diapers.  I have not tried that yet, but will shortly as I just got a huge bottle of white vinegar at Costco. 

Below is a table comparing the prices for laundry products.  I found these prices on Amazon unless otherwise noted.  If you know of a better price for one of these products, please let me know and I will update the chart. 

150 oz
40 oz
32 oz
4 gallons
Price/ Load

From this price analysis it is clear that you can save a bit of money using the Dr. Bronner's liquid soap when compared to the seventh generation free and clear, but it is not a huge savings.  When it comes to fabric softener, I calculated this with the assumption that a half cup of vinegar would be used in each load and the savings are considerable.  I should probably do a price compare when using the grated solid Dr. Bronner's soap.  Perhaps that would motivate me to put in the effort required to make it.

The other clear conclusion is that there are many less expensive detergents out there.  I compared this to seventh generation as seventh generation is gentler on the environment than your run of the mill tide or gain detergent.  When it comes to saving money, they would be less expensive than either of the above detergents.  Perhaps less Dr. Bronner's would be necessary.  If I used a teaspoon, that would triple the loads per bottle, dropping the price significantly.  I will have to experiment with the amounts. 

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