Like many people, I just bought my liquid detergent at the store. I would buy whatever was least expensive, use coupons/bulk shop and call it. Then I started getting involved in the DIY realm and started making my own detergent and laundry soap.
What I discovered over time was that the laundry soap was a pain the butt as it created such a large amount and I’m only me. Maybe for someone going through more laundry than just a single person. Plus, it wasn’t strong enough to do the dog laundry (IE break down the oils from my labrador’s coat) so I had gallons of laundry soap for my 1-3 loads a week and I still had to buy soap for the dogs! The homemade soap also liked to separate and the texture turned rather snot like (honest, sometimes I gagged using it). The best part of using it was that I was able to make it unscented. I’m asthmatic and scents trigger me badly.
Eventually, I decided that I was over it and it had to go. I began buying commercial scent free soaps and it took a while to figure out what worked well for me, but I have been very happy with Persil: Sensitive Skin. It’s scent and dye free. I was fortunate enough to discover this and then run into an epic Target clearance sale and stocked up on 14 or so containers. HOARDER OF THE SOAPS. I saved future me all the money and it brings me joy to think of it every single time I open a new container. Side note: these containers are great for storing leftover paint / stain due to pour spout and cup.
As for dishwasher detergent, I didn’t last nearly as long on that as I did on laundry soap. I did laundry soap for 2-3 years, but dishwasher detergent only took 2 failed experiments for me to call it. It simply did a poor job. While I was wrestling with this I came across this timely blog post from a favorite blogger and author Erica Strauss. She has a great book out that touches on almost all aspects of a homemade DIY home.
In the post she discusses that she too struggled with homemade detergent and went back to commercially made detergent, but follows that up with an experiment where she found that using roughly 1/2 as much worked just as well. Of course, this will vary depending on the type of water you have, but she writes, “If there is a lesson here, it is to never make perfect the enemy of better. Perfect would be an environmentally neutral homemade detergent. Better is using 60% less of the commercial detergent than we previously did.” That resonated so strongly with me. It was just what I needed to read at just the right moment. I too experimented with my Cascade detergent (bought in bulk/large containers from Costco) and discovered I could use 1/3 – 1/2 as much as well – I rotate between 1/3 for less dirty dishes and 1/2 for a heavier load. One container lasts me approximately 8 months.
Her post resonated with me then because it was just what I was needing at the time, but this post I’m writing now resonates because I just finished The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and in it she talks about her goal being not to change her life to be happier, but to change her happiness while staying in her life. I feel like that’s what this is. Did we do anything drastic? No. Did we change our lives or shopping habits at all? Nope. We simple use less of what we already use. Minimal input, but a great deal of output. In effect, tripling or doubling our use per bottle. How great is that?!
Have you experimented in this manner? I also found I didn’t need a full amount of laundry soap either and have greatly extended how long a container lasts. Where else could we apply this?
PS: An aside. My dad worked for a municipality sewer department. He told me unequivocally to use liquid as he had found far too many balls of powdered detergent blocking lines. As the septic tank on my property is over 60 years old I take no risks with powdered detergents.