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Monday, August 22, 2011

DIY Laundry Detergent: Costs compared

One of my major reasons for making your own laundry detergent was cost; but how does it really compare?  Prices vary so I've looked around and taken a rough average (eg. Ecostore was around $9 at PacN'Save but around $12 at Countdown so my average is $11). Hopefully the calculations are pretty accurate, if you spot any mistakes let us know in the comments.

The Competition:
Ecostore Laundry Liquid Ultra Concentrate: 28 washes per litre (35.7ml), $11 per litre. = $0.39 per 35.7ml wash

Earthwise Ultra Laundry Liquid: 37 washes per 750mL  (49.5 washes per litre), $7 per 750mL ($9.33 per litre).= $0.18 per 20.2ml wash

Persil Small & Mighty Cold Water: 14 washes per 475mL (29.5 washes per litre), $7 per 475mL ($14.74 per litre). 14.74/29.5= $0.50 per 33.9ml wash

Budget Laundry Detergent: 1/4 cup (60ml) per wash (16 washes per litre), $4.45 per 2 litres ($2.23 per litre). 2.23/16= $0.14c per 62.5ml wash

I would have loved to do some other brands (such as Dynamo as we used to use it) but they didn't have number of loads or usage in mls on the bottle. I would have had to buy and measure out to find out the necessary data (which I wasn't prepared to do, sorry folks!). Anyway out of the products I surveyed, Budget was the cheapest, followed by Earthwise, with Ecostore coming in third. But how did the homemade stuff stack up?

Homemade laundry detergent
50 g Borax - $0.80 (500g: $8 Soapcraft)
½ cup washing soda (130g weighed on our kitchen scales) - $0.54 (1kg washing soda: $4.19 at Foodtown)
7.5litres of water - Free*
20 drops essential oil - $0.41** (12ml eucalyptus oil: $5 Soapcraft)
½ bar grated sunlight soap - $0.39 (500G (pack of 4) $3.14 at Foodtown ($0.78/bar)
½ bar grated dr bronners castille soap = $5 (140g bar $9.99 at greengoddess)

½ cup of laundry detergent per wash = 125ml per wash.
7500ml / 125ml = 60 washes

Total cost to make: $1.73 no essential oil, $2.14 with essential oil, $6.34 with castille soap and no essential oil, $6.75 with castille soap and essential oil

$0.02 per wash without the essential oil and $0.03 per wash with essential oil. $0.10 per wash with castille soap but no essential oil, and $0.11 with castille soap and essential oil. 

So ridiculously cheap with sunlight soap and merely very cheap with fair trade castille soap. I suppose we haven't factored in the 'labour cost' but in reality, it doesn't take us much time to make anyway. And we use recycled milk bottles to put it in, so no cost there. We used sunlight soap the first time because $10 seemed like a stupid price for one bar of soap and we weren't sure the recipe would be as good as shop bought products, but after doing the calculations we will definitely use the good stuff next time!

So even ignoring the ecological benefits (which I'm not sure how I would even start to calculate) making your own laundry detergent definitely makes sense.

*Well, not actually free unless you collect rainwater but we don't know how to calculate the cost of this!
**We have gone with the general rule of thumb (and found on various places on the net) as 20drop/ml. Though technically this rule is for water, it gives us an approximate costing of the oil.
***obviously these numbers had to be viscously rounded to get numbers that makes sense in $ terms. 


  1. I love that you took the time to work out allm the variables for costings as I am mathematically challenged! I currently use Earthwise but am looking into making my own. Have you done similar costing for homemade dishwashing ( machine) powder?

  2. Thanks! I have to admit it did take us a while...
    It was great for us to see that it actually was saving us quite a bit of money to make our own.
    We don't own a dishwasher so hadn't considered it, but maybe we should anyway!