The poor Save/The Rich Invest - 55 Gal. Detergent - Let's do it

gardurnitAugust 1, 2009

It's a bit desperate - Money so tight needing an alternate solution for laundry detergent.

Yes - one step at a time.

I've wondered if it would be smart to buy a 55 gallon drum of liquid detergent. Perhaps from a

buddy who could throw it on an order to a hospital laundry. I'm getting to my wit's end.

The last load of laundry was sorted and washed without detergent if it didn't need it.

We can all benefit here a bit. I've got some good ideas. But let's first see if the economy of

buying in bulk is worth it.

I know enough, with my background as a chemist that a detergent is a detergent. I won't go into

details of why your laundry detergent might be slightly different than dish or car detergent. But

they all make dirt float into solution and rinse away. If we can agree on that maybe we can decide

a plan of action.

The dollar has dropped about 10% just this year in buying power. Sadly that's even for the junky Chinese

goods we buy to save money.

Do you own a car wash? What do you use for detergent? I want names and prices.

Do you run a laundry in a hotel or hospital? What do you use for detergent?

I 'll do the research for prices and FOB rates and such. IF anyone is into this I'll do some legwork. That means I'll

check back and leave links and names and prices and ways to make it happen for as many as I can.

Most of us are on R/R tracks into our city. That means that close by a shipment of a 55 gallon drum

can be dropped off for you. If you can get $200 worth of Tide or Purex for $180 you saved 10%

up front. If it takes you 2 years to use it you made at least 5% / year on the deal plus the lack of having

to truck / drive and haul each and every gallon you would have bought.

I can also give you some real life stories of how I've used the non-perfumed and non tinted detergents to

good use for

1. dog bath

2 dish wasging

3. hand washing

4. degreasing car parts

5. degreasing motors

6. hair washing -

Let'sstart with 6.

yep it's really not so bad I have no complants or dandruff. I wash my hair less than 2x / week unless it's

really dirty. I don't use much detergent. Just enough for a lather and I make a point of running a thick

(not soft) brush through the scalp to bring the oils out to the hair. My wife is OK with it but she doesn't

use it as far as know except it's missing more than 1/2 of what I use You figure it out. He hair is perfect.

5. motors. I did it 1x. I brushed it with stiff brush full strength and per out local law collected the waste. It really

just turned to a kind of black cream. It was easier on my nose and hands than the heavy duty gunk.

4. This one was from a buddy. He put it in his parts washer. It ran for 1/2 hour and degreased my entire rear

end on a 10 year old car. It looked like new and there was no heat or anything. Just the pump and some

detergent. Purex.

3. hand washing. I like this. I use left over water or any bottles that are thick. I put a hot paper clip thrugh

the cap. If the hole's too big I squirt a bit of 'goop' brand sealant on it to make it smaller. When I turn the bottle over

it drips out a couple drops and that's enough to wash my hands. The thick bottle keeps the kids from squeezing

it. I can't remmber which bottle is thick. It was a health drink for a dead man.

A medicine bottle would work. Anything that's hard where it can just drip a drop is going to work for ya.

2. dish washing. I soak my dishes and when it's time to actually wash them they're nearly clean. I avoid greasy foods

and if there's grease I try to capture it in a paper something before it greases up the plate. But then if there's grease I

wipe it with waste mail first then a drop of detergent and last some water. Don't dilute the detergent in water first. That's

stupid I think.

1. The only thing that I love about giving my dog a bath is that I figured out he loves warm baths. I first found

out that I could use an outdoor faucet where we had hot and cold. He was so happy and into it compared to how unhappy and scared he was when he got cold baths.. All I can say is .. he can have the bath of his dreams now that I figured out he

only wants what I'd want. A comfortable bath with warm water and some detergent. By the way. It does not sting

my eyes and I doubt that he minds it either 'cause if I can't feel it . I suppose he's OK with it.

Help me find the price of Purex or a non-perfumed / non-colored (dyed) detergent. 55 gal should be about $80. I'm a chemist and can do comparative cleaning ability measurments to determine what's a good deal and what's just a bunch of soapy water. I'll do the work. Make it worth my effort by helping with what you can find. You work in hospitals, car washes .. even fab shops where they wash their metal parts with detergents. Gets some names and sizes and fess up to your buyer and beg for help getting their price. I''ve been there. I know how to shop. But I need some facts to work. Product names, container sizes, upc # or part numbers. Then I can really go shopping. Wouldn't it be cool to get 100 drop shipments from NYC to SF, CAlif on the Burlinton northern and we all , together save $2000 just for working this out? I'm thinking $5000. At least let's go through the motions. It's good for your brain.

God Bless you.


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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Good Morning Andre,

Boy you have certainly given this a lot of thought...a good thing.

Something I came across recently was a thread at The Kitchen Table Forum, discussing making home made laundry detergent.

A member made 5 gallons at a cost of just about $1.70 Canadian prices. The link is below.

I think there have also been recent discussions about using home made soap for dishes as well as other general cleaning.

Maybe grainlady will weigh in here with something she makes too. IMHO she does it all, and usually knows the most economical ways to do things as well as being very kind to the environment.

Good luck in your quest to get the cost per laundry load down a good bit.

I'll be trying the home made liquid laundry detergent sometime soon, but still need to pick up the ingredients.... off to clean something.

Here is a link that might be useful: Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 9:24AM
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I believe it was Grainlady who put me onto Charlie's Soap. They don't put any fillers in their soap so a little more than a teaspoon does a full load of wash. It's fragrance free. They've got a good deal on shipping if you buy enough. I've been using it for a couple months and while I can't tell if it gets things cleaner, it certainly gets them AS clean as my previous product (anything on sale) did.

You also might try The Clean Team. It's a group of cleaners gone commercial, selling their favorite cleaning products through the web.

Both places have websites. *yes, just one 's') and Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 11:11AM
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I've done the homemade laundry mixtures, referenced by chemocurl, which certainly are inexpensive, but may not be as effective (depending on the hardness of water used and type of soiled laundry you have). I still keep the ingredients in my storage area "just in case"... The homemade laundry mixtures may not work in all washing machines either, or advised for use in all machines. It might void warranties in some new machines.

The problem with figuring the cost of homemade laundry detergent is all the different add-ins people use WITH them, that also adds to the price of each load, and how many loads do they REALLY get. For really hard water you may need to use a lot more of it than those with soft water. You'll probably use more in a top-loader (which typically use more water) than those with a front-loader. Do you use fabric softener? I don't. I used 1/4 c. of vinegar in the rinse, but that adds to the price of doing laundry.

As ilene in neok mentioned, I use Charlie's Soap now, and only add vinegar to the rinse of the kitchen towel load, and the bath towel load. Generally, no other add-ins. Occasionally I'll add some Cascade Dishwashing Detergent for the enzymes and phosphates on a really dirty load of laundry.

The first 5-gallon bucket of Charlie's Soap (1,280 loads) I started using November 14, 2007. At the time we figured it was 9-cents per load (cost divided by 1,280 loads) and would last us 3.5 years (6-7-loads per week), but I bet it's more like 4 years worth and even less per load.

When Charlie's sent out an e-mail a few months ago saying they were going to start charging for shipping, I ordered another 5-gallon bucket (free shipping). So I'm covered for laundry detergent for a l-o-n-g time now. Lots less wasted plastic over that length of time, as well.

I grew up in a family where poverty would have been a step up. We washed our hair with ZEST bath bar soap and it never killed anyone. We've just gotten advertised to death that a certain product for a certain purpose....

Another soap product that has a multitude of uses (including body/hair/teeth/laundry/all-purpose...) is Dr. Bronners Pure Castile Soap - I have 6 quarts of it in storage (I got rediculosly cheap on-line). Before I started using Charlie's Soap, I have used it to make a homemade laundry mixture that can also be used for an all-purpose household cleaning product.

Another great buy is a bar of ZOTE - which is a Mexican laundry bar. A BIG 14.1-ounce bar costs 80-cents. I slice a bar into 1/2-3/4-inch slices and use it for showering. You can also use ZOTE in the homemade laundry soap mixtures, either the liquid version or a dry version (using the same ingredients - ZOTE, borax and washing soda).

You're going to have to do the math on a 55-gallon drum of soap. My concern would be how long does it keep, and at what temperatures will it keep best?

But the BIG picture... Do you save a few pennies on laundry detergent, when you could be saving DOLLARS elsewhere? Like getting rid of expensive hobbies or unhealthy habits (smoking/drinking/gambling), getting rid of Cable TV, moving into a smaller home, getting rid of a vehicle.... Or the dreaded second job for additional income. Soap is just ONE area we spend money....


    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 3:50PM
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I love the idea of buying a drum of laundry detergent - with 5 in the house I am constantly buying laundry soap! Just the convenience factor is great!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 10:03PM
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Grainlady makes a good point in that you may get a bigger bang for your buck by looking at other areas where your savings might be more significant.

For me, as well as many others who contribute faithfully to this forum, frugality is a way of life. I have certain "friends" who laugh at my efforts, and my grown children accept them as part of my personality but they seem to be grateful that it is not part of theirs, for some reason. So be it. I'm the one who has no debts, and where my kids are concerned, the one they always turn to (sometimes successfully, but most of the time not) when they have gotten themselves in a financial mess. They don't want my advice and I keep waiting for them to get a clue. So far I wait in vain, although I'm seeing a glimmer of hope in my one daughter, finally.

There are so, so many ways to cut down on costs. Start by making a list of everything you spend your money on and examine each one for potential savings. Usually, when you are frugal about the things you buy and the way you live your life, you will find you are also decreasing what they are now calling "your footprint".

One nice thing about DD is that she buys a lot of the same things that I do. It is not uncommon for one of us to say to the other, "I'm making out an order to _____. Anything you need?" Then we share shipping.

When I first started visiting this forum, I went all the way back to the first post and read each one. It took several days, but it allowed me to get to know people and to see what they were all doing. I'd recommend that as a first step for anyone new to this forum. It is very educational.

My parents started out as farmers in Kansas. Because they did not have the financial expertise to run the farm at a profit, my dad started working as a driller on an oil rig. This set the wheels in motion, as my mother could not run the farm alone and he struggled to come home from a gruelling day's work on the rig and then work on the farm. Eventually the rig owner moved his operations to Oklahoma and we followed, selling the farm, moving into a small house with a good-sized yard in a small town. We were not poor but we were not well off, either. My mother was frugal in some ways, but in other ways not. For instance, every summer she would buy printed cotton fabric that was sold 4 yards for $1. (this was between the years of 1954 and 1965) From this, all her daughters would make their school clothes, and she would make dresses for herself and shirts for Dad. When double-knit was first marketed, my mother was in hog heaven. She bought so much double-knit that she wore it until she got too old to sew. And she recycled any plastic bag, whether it was a bread wrapper or a zip-lock bag that one of her "wasteful" daughters brought something in. BUT, my mother was not frugal when it came to buying a car. Because her father had been a horse-trader and she witnessed him haggling for the best possible price, feeling embarrassed about it, she would never, and would never allow Dad to, haggle over the price of the car. Car dealers loved to see Mom and Dad walking onto their lot. They always bought brand new and paid the price on the sticker. They usually kept the car for ten years so there was some recovery in that, at least. Mom loved to play the piano, and after she tried out her sister's electric organ, she had to have one. She went to the most expensive music store, and as usual, bought without haggling.

Clearly, my mother had issues with money. And it seems a lot of people do, as if their worth as a human being is measured in dollars. I have a lot more respect for someone who lives comfortably on very little than I do for someone who brings down a huge salary but lives from payday to payday. When the job is lost, who's homeless?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 9:40AM
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I have made two 5 gallon batches of the liquid laundry soap and I am well pleased with it. I also instead of using a fabric softener use the white vinegar which is cheaper than buying softener. I have given jugs of it to my 3 daughters and granddaughter and they all really like it too. It has a very nice clean smell to it. I used Fels Naptha laundry bar soap in mine. Very cheap to make, I am not in Canada.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 4:57PM
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We have saved a lot by purchasing a front loading washing machine when our last one died. (It was at the end of its lifespan, and would have cost $300 to fix.) They use a lot less water, a lot less detergent, less energy, fill our septic less often, clothes are more gently washed (and last longer) and payback was a lot shorter. The only negative is that the loads take longer. If anyone is needing to replace a washing machine, it is really, really worth the extra $200 - $300 dollars - I am sure that we saved that in the first year alone. We also use white vinegar in our rinse cycle.

We also reuse foam pumps - we purchase Suave Apple Shampoo (really like the smell) and add about an inch to the bottom of the pumps and fill the rest with water. Makes great foam soap - just make sure to clean the pump well every so often. One bottle of Suave on sale for $1.00 lasts a long time.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 12:29PM
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That's good to know about the front-loading washing machines. Long ago, there were problems with the seal and they were notorious for leaking. I guess they've probably solved that problem by now. I would think they would get clothes cleaner because there's all that "tumbling" going on as the tub rotates. I don't guess I'd be able to pump my bath water into it though. If I'm remembering correctly, when the front-loader fills, the water comes about a third of the way up the window. Is this still the case?

I buy my shampoo by the gallon at a beauty supply. It costs $9 and comes in lots of "flavors". We like the honey almond. But they have green apple, strawberry, and some others. I think it's thicker than Suave. I always used to use Suave though. I preferred the baby shampoo because it made our hair so shiny and healthy looking.

I like the foamers, too. My grandkids were already teenagers before they came available here, but I would think they would be great for little kids, who always squirt on 'way more than they need. I find that the foamers save a little water, because I don't need to wet my hands before I put the soap on, now. After I've rubbed the foam into my hands, then I turn on the water and rinse it off. It doesn't take so long to rinse off, either. If you're concerned about bacteria, you could buy antibacterial hand soap in the large refill size and thin it with distilled water.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 2:36PM
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I just Googled hotel supplies and priced 5 gal of Tide for $161.00. The only thing I could find in 55 gal drums was an all purpose cleaner for $1,120.00, with an extra $13.00 for the syphion and $95.00 for the caddy. It seems the industrial sizes are larger sizes but not drums.

About 10 years ago I tried the ceramic discs out for an elderly relative they were ok. I gave them back so she could use them and I don't know what happened from there. I haven't heard of them lately but would be willing to give them a go since we are on septic again.

I spend very little on detergent - "All Clear" since I'm allergic and very little on pre-treat,(1 spray bottle per year, the refills cost more per oz) and generally a gal of Clorox bleach per month for laundry and bathrooms. Adding a small amount of Borax Laundry Booster helps clean dirty clothes. I presoak and every load gets an extra rinse. I average 1 1/2 box dryer sheets per year. I stick the used ones in a box and grab a handful for things where static cling is not a problem and they still give the load a nice smell. I could throw the used ones in the final rinse but I'm not around.

I am not a "chemist" but I have to strongly disagree that "all detergents are the same". I found out a long time ago that cheaper detergent was mostly clogging suds and very little cleaning. I use a tiny bit of the 2x or 3x All Clear and the water has a soapy slick feel and never any suds. I guess you could actually dilute the detergent with water to get regular strength. I am convinced I spend less on more "expensive" detergents.

We are 4 adults and normally don't get very dirty but I can sympathize with those with active kids or dirty jobs. I'd say changing clothes directly after work or school and trying to wear something more than once saves $ and extends the life of the clothing.

My dishwasher uses just under 2 gallons water so the 1 tbs. Cascade is plenty. My favorite cycle runs only 38 min. and I generally only use the top drawer. All my appliances, cooling systems, and ceiling fans are Energy Star.

My hint to save soap costs would be the Borox and to dissolve detergent in washer before adding the clothing.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 3:57AM
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My dishwasher has two receptacles for soap. One's an open one and the other one has a lid that pops open during the longest wash cycle. I never put soap in the open receptacle because I think the pre-wash is too short and most of that soap basically runs down the drain. I always do a full load, and we don't rinse the dishes before we put them in the dishwasher. I do, though, run the water at the sink till it's hot right before I start the dishwasher. I think that makes more of a difference in cleaning than the pre-wash soap does.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 10:40AM
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