Keeping a Low Grocery Budget #4

Part 4 of my series on The Top 10 Things I Don’t Pay: Laundry Detergent.

I’ve been putting off this post…I always make things harder than they need to be! This post required a bit of research and thinking on my part, not that that’s much different from any of my other posts. But thinking makes my head hurt lately, so I’ve procrastinated! πŸ˜‰

Anyway, another way I save money on my grocery budget is to buy a less expensive laundry soap, over the more expensive laundry detergents. Over three years ago I bought an enormous bucket of laundry soap called Charlie’s Soap. I spent a little over $100 and am STILL using it! If I calculate 36 months worth of use for that soap (which is conservative, I think), it has cost me about $3 a month for laundry soap for the last 3 years . That’s not bad! I just checked today and the price has increased slightly to $129.99 (including shipping) for their powder for 1000 loads (13 cents a load). Even better – Rachel found the exact same soap, same size, free shipping on Amazon for $97.50 – that takes the price per load down to 10 cents – which is more in line with what I paid 3 years ago – THANKS, RACHEL!!!

And earlier today, I went over to my little local market and price checked their laundry detergent:

Tide Powder – 6.99 / 40 loads (17 cents a load – sale price), 9.89 (25 cents a load – regular price)
Tide Liquid – 16.97 / 64 loads (27 cents a load)
Purex Liquid – 6.07 / 32 loads (19 cents a load)
Era Liquid – 8.39 / 64 loads (13 cents a load)
All Free & Clear Liquid – 7.17 / 32 loads (22 cents a load)
Extra Liquid – 3.45 / 44 loads (8 cents a load)

My local grocery store tends to be more expensive on some items than Walmart and less expensive on others. I know you can get laundry detergent cheaper than the prices I listed above by using coupons and watching sales and shopping at drugstores like Walgreens and CVS.

However, most of those laundry detergents are full of enzymes, dyes, fragrances, and some of them include bleach. Those ingredients are not good for cloth diapers or adults with sensitive skin (or the environment) and that’s the reason I made the switch from All Free & Clear (my preferred laundry detergent 3 years ago) to Charlie’s Soap.

My friend Melanie says I am a “brand whore.” πŸ™‚ I think by that she means that I will take anything if it’s free. While there is an element of truth to that (the seasoned couponer can’t let a little thing like brands get in the way of savings)…I do have my limits! I know, for instance, that I could get laundry detergent cheaper. However, I don’t want detergent. I want soap. I want something that’s natural. I want something that’s safe for my babies. I want something that’s safe for me and better for the environment. I have lost way too many friends and acquaintances, young and old,Β  recently to cancer. I can’t say that the chemicals we eat, sleep under and on, put on our bodies, and breathe are the cause, but if I can find a product that is safer and, yes, cheaper (and at 13 cents a load, Charlie’s Soap isΒ  cheaper than most), you can bet I’ll take it! So, for all these reasons, I’m quite glad that I found Charlie’s Soap.

However, here’s the real reason I procrastinated writing this post. When I run out of my Charlie’s Soap (sometime in the next two months) I am MAKING my own laundry soap out of borax, washing soda, and a bar of soap. I got the idea from Hayley’s blog here. I have heard rave reviews from friends who’ve tried it, but I haven’t yet. I’ll blog about it when I do because I’m excited to give it a try!

Do you do anything to save money on laundry? Please share!!

Stay tuned for Part 5 next week: Bread.


  1. I see it on Amazon for the 4 gal. it is $100. Swagbucks? I'm curious to hear how it works in a front load washer and do you add it to the dispenser cup or put directly on the clothes. We are using Melaleuca given to us by family free is good in our case for as long as that arrangement lasts. :)
  2. Rachel, I have a front loader and think it works fine - added to the dispenser cup. I've never used Charlie's Soap in a top loader. I've read warnings about it burning some people? I personally did have not had the experience at all. You do have to run several loads of empty washer to clean out the built up residue left over from detergents before you use the soap. I never even thought to look for it on Amazon. You are a thinker!
  3. I just ordered some from amazon. Hello, did the math, and that bucket is going to last me 5 or 6 years? Much rather buy that than make my own.

    Hopefully my son won't be allergic to it! ugh... that's a scary thought... what if I have to sell it? :(
  4. Michele - I had those scary thoughts after I bought my bucket, too. I'd recommend going to their website and following their recommendations for cleaning your washer & clothes. If it doesn't work, let me know - I'm almost out! :-)
  5. We make our own using the Borax, Washing Soda and bar of soap (Zote, Fels Naptha or Ivory) recipe and love it. I also use 1/4c. vinegar in place of fabric softener. It leaves my clothing smelling fresh (no vinegar smell) and is said to remove any left over residue in the clothing. I have noticed a difference. GOOD LUCK
  6. Erin - I just ran out of my Charlie's soap...need to get busy making laundry soap for the first time. I'm excited!!

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