20 September 2017

How and Why I Started Making Washing Powder

How I Started Making Washing Powder click through for the famous Cheapskates Club Washing Powder Recipe on Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
How I stared making Cheapskates washing powder for clean clothes that don't itch
Almost 27 years ago we were blessed with a beautiful baby boy. He was just gorgeous (and still is!), but after a few days he developed a rash, that turned into blisters. His little arms and legs were red, scaly and sore. He cried when we put him in the bath, and he squirmed and wriggled when he had clothes on.

Thankfully he was a summer baby and a singlet and nappy at home was plenty, but dressing him to go out was awful and I'd be crying with him. Our doctor diagnosed eczema and recommended changing our laundry detergent. Unfortunately the detergent he suggested cost almost a week's grocery money - just not viable for us.

And so began my search for a laundry detergent that would clean clothes without irritating.

It took a while, but finally I stumbled upon a recipe for a laundry goop (in the meantime AJ's clothes were washed separately, in just hot water, no detergents or soaps at all). It was a bit of a process to make, but it was cheap and it didn't irritate our skin. I was so happy.

By this time we had two mischievous little boys who loved to play outside. At the time the laundry was outside too, we hadn't renovated yet.

One day I could hear giggles and laughing and the sounds of fun - lots and lots of fun - so you can imagine my joy (not) when I found those two little boys covered from head to toe in laundry goop, as was the washing machine, the laundry door and walls, the floor - even the back verandah had a layer of goop on it. I cleaned it up and made another batch.

And, like they were on a cycle, it was rinse and repeat - they loved the goop so much they played happily in the new bucketful a few days later.

This is why I started making my own washing powder. Cleaning up two large nappy buckets full of goop took ages, although the laundry had never been so clean.

I looked at the recipe, read the ingredients and decided it could be made in powder form. Easy!

Small, experimental batches were made to research effectiveness, cost, ease of making and using until I finally stumbled upon the one I am, along with thousands of other Cheapskates, still making and using in every wash load today.

I still use just 3 level teaspoons to a full load of washing and we are still itch and irritation free and the clothes are clean too.

If you haven't tried it, do. It takes less than 5 minutes to make a batch and costs just 3c a load to use.

This has to be the cheapest and best value laundry detergent around.

Cheapskates Washing Powder

Ingredients for Cheapskates Washing Powder Click through for the recipe and instructions

1 bar soap, grated
1 cup washing soda (Lectric Soda is the most common brand in the laundry aisle, or sodium carbonate if you want to buy in bulk)
1/2 cup borax

Mix together and store in a sealed container.

Use 3 scant teaspoons per load for a top-loader and 1 scant teaspoon per load for a front loader.

You can use up the small slivers of toilet soap you collect if you like, ordinary bath soap or laundry soap. This recipe is ideal for using up all the leftovers you collect in the family bathroom.

This detergent won’t produce masses of suds, but it will get your clothes clean.

Costings (as at 19/09/2017):
1 bar laundry soap - 50 cents
1 cup washing soda $1
1/2 cup borax 60 cents
Total $2.10 for up to 90 washes (3 cents a load - actually a little under, I round up, the fraction is too hard for my addled head).

These prices are based on what I found at Coles, using generic laundry soap, Lectric Soda and Bare Essentials borax. You can get the cost down by using soap slivers and buying the washing soda in bulk. I buy washing soda in 5 kilo buckets from Aurora Cleaning Supplies in Dandenong South

Give the washing powder an extra boost if you wash really dirty or greasy clothes by adding one small box of bi-carb soda to the mix.

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  1. Hi, I was just reading your post about the washing powder...I know when I have used commercial powders in the past that I end up with a white powder residue on my clothes as I wash in cold water...since making your own powder, have you experienced this as well?....Karen

    1. I Karen, no, my washing powder doesn't leave residue. Residue is often due to using too much, not enough water (a problem especially with front loaders and HE washing machines) to allow the washing to agitate freely, overloading or mixing loads (whites with colours and darks with towels or knits etc.) or not cleaning the filters and drum regularly. Have you tried dissolving your powder before you add it to the machine? Using cold water shouldn't affect the effectiveness of any washing powder these days, it has been the norm to wash in cold water for the last 45 years and all detergents are developed to cope with this. Hope this helps, Cath

    2. thanks Cath, yes perhaps I was using too much commercial powder?...I was making my own laundry liquid (goop) for a long while and loved it until I met (my now ex) husband who didn't trust anything homemade (one of the reasons he is now an ex)...so slowly returning to my old habits of home baked bread and home Meade cleaners. :)

  2. I'm an avid Omo fan but my eldest daughter is sensitive to soaps and detergents. This week I made a batch with goats milk soap so we will see how she goes. So far I've been very impressed with how the clothes and towels have washed. I love doing laundry so this has been such fun. Thanks for all your testing over the years!

    1. Have you had time to use the washing powder with the goat's milk soap? I'd love to hear how it worked for you.

  3. I have used your washing powder recipe for the past 2 or so months and really like how it washes. However, I have noticed a grey scum on the door seal of my front loader. (I haven't had this problem before; I don't use fabric softener; I leave the door open between washes, and I do a drum cycle occasionally). Have you noticed this problem at all, and do you have any suggestions to prevent its recurrence? Thanks!

    1. I've been making and using this washing powder exclusively for over 20 years and I can't say I've ever had grey scum anywhere in my washing machine. The washing powder has just three ingredients in it, and they are all cleansers so there is nothing in it, if you stick to my recipe, to cause a scum. I do clean it every month and I clean the lint filter between loads. Is the scum a build up of something - you could be using too much washing powder. Front loaders and HE machines only need 2 level teaspoons of powder to do the job. Is the soap in the powder grated to a fine dust (I use the zester side of the grater to make the soap into a powder). Are you using a different type of soap? Is your machine getting enough water (front loaders are notorious for not using enough water - that's why they have such long wash cycles).

    2. Thanks Cath, I will give it a good clean and keep an eye on the water levels, that's a good suggestion. I only use 1 teaspoon and I whiz the soap (Sunlight brand) in the Thermomix. A bit of extra elbow grease to keep it clean is a small price to pay!


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