Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 13, 2013

Making detergent at home and shopping for healthy food

Melinda Hester
The Independent

ASHLAND — Donna Malone taught us to make detergent at Monday’s Coupon Club meeting. She made about 5 gallons in 20 minutes. This is the newest craze, and I urge you to get in on it.

Many are making their own detergent, experimenting with recipes and scents. Girl Scouts would love making it, and unused product could be donated to local nonprofits. Sabra wants to teach the folks at Shelter of Hope to make the detergent. The cost: 1 cent per load.

I watched several YouTube videos, and the recipes are all basically the same, with some tweaking to make a personal best. Buying the scents is the really fun part. Essential oil in your favorite scent can be bought at Walmart (in the craft aisle) and at Hobby Lobby in the back left of the store. I bought sandlewood for mine, and a linen fragrance for the next time.

Here is Donna’s recipe:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Most items can be found in the laundry aisle of Walmart or Kroger.

5-gallon bucket with a lid (Walmart hardware section)


Arm and Hammer Washing Soda

1 bar of Fels Naptha laundry soap

Hot water

Essential oil of choice

Break bar of soap into three pieces; chop with sharp knife into the smallest pieces possible. Pulverize the pieces into a powder consistency in a food processor. Place powder in a pan with 6 cups of water; bring to a boil. Stir constantly because it will burn.

Add 1⁄2 cup of Borax and 1⁄2 cup of washing soda. Add laundry soup and continue stirring.

Put 4 cups of hot water into bucket. Add soap mixture from pan and mix. Add 1 gallon of hot water and 6 additional cups of hot water to the bucket. Continue stirring. Put lid on the bucket and let it sit for 24 hours. It should start to set up like gelatin.

Stir briskly before each use because this reliquefies the mixture. The product is low on suds and considered safe for high-efficiency machines. Add whatever scent you like.

Variations: You can add oxy to your mix, the powder form if making granulated detergent. You can also add Clorox 2 granulated to a powder formula. The recipe on YouTube, but we will learn how to make the granulated form at the next Coupon Club meeting.

Use 1⁄2 cup to 1 cup in a regular washer, or about 2 to 3 spoonfuls in an HE machine.

Homemade Fabric Softener

1 bottle of any brand of hair conditioner

6 cups hot water in a bucket

3 cups white vinegar

About 20 drops of essential oil in a fragrance of choice

Stir all ingredients briskly in the bucket.


Even with coupons and great sales, you can’t match the price of making your own detergent and fabric softener. They are really fun to make and something to be proud of. My Facebook page features many recipes, and stories from the people who have made their own products. There are so many making their own, it has almost become a competitive sport for performance, smell and color.

You can use any hard soap, including Irish Spring (for a green color), Caress (pink, with that great smell), Zest (blue, with a light mint smell) and Pure and Natural or Ivory (for those with sensitive skin). I told Debra I’m going to scent mine with Christian Dior perfume, and you sure can’t buy Christian Dior detergent or fabric softener at any store I know! You can see fun this can become.

As for performance, the detergent seems to do as well as name brands, and it’s ridiculously cheaper. Check the website Making Your Own Laundry Detergent — A Detailed Visual Guide. Trent shows the results of stain testing using Tide with Bleach and homemade detergent. The results are the same.

Healthier food


The USDA Economic Research Service states the average cost of fruits and vegetables will increase by 3.5 percent to 4 percent in 2013. Sugary sweets will not increase as much, and we know it is cheaper to eat the wrong foods.

Even though we are using coupons to save money, we should all eat healthier. Couponers get a lot of free food such as Yakisoba Noodles and similar foods, but those items are full of salt and perservatives.

Please consider adding fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet. We teach this in class. Using stores such as Aldi’s, and watching for manager specials, we can afford to include fresh items in our diets. Watch for manager markdowns at Kroger. Maybe a product is approaching out-date or is bruised, but it’s still perfectly safe. Wash produce in a vinegar and water solution and cut away the bad parts.

Buy whole foods because they are cheaper. If you buy diced carrots, you will pay more than if you slice them yourself. Invest in a food processor; it will pay for itself.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week. It contains Omega 3 fatty acids. Canned tuna and salmon are a good option if you can’t afford frozen or fresh fish. A tuna salad sandwich, with carrot sticks on the side, is a healthy and inexpensive lunch. Using a 55-cent coupon means you can make the meal for pennies.


Notice the price of Tide, Wisk and Bounce, even with the coupons and ExtraCare Bucks. You can’t touch the price of homemade! Have fun making your own detergent at least once. I used the homemade version on my Ralph Lauren jeans. They came out soft and clean, and smell of sandlewood.

Please share your detergent recipes with me on Facebook.

Dawn Dish Liquid: 99 cents; 50-cent coupon on Hand Renewal and 25 cents on other varieties.

Free $10 CVS Cash Card when you spend $30 on specially marked items. That is what it adds up to, not what you bring it down to with coupons.

Huggies: $9.49; $2 coupon in today’s Independent.

Scott Paper Towels: 18 pack for $9.99; $1 coupon in today’s Independent equals 49 cents a roll. And if you get the $30 worth of products, the towels could be considered free.

Milk: $2.79. This is a great deal because milk has been reported as high as $4 in Ashland.

Aquaphor lotion or cream: $2; $1 coupon.

Gillette Venus Embrace: No stated price; $5 ExtraCare Bucks; $3 coupon.

Crest 3-D White Rinse: Spend $10 and get $5 ExtraCare Bucks; buy two, use two $1.50 coupons.