Cheaper Than Dirt

This is an interactive blog post.  Reading this is a non-binding agreement to submit your own tip.

I am cheap.  Some people would like to call me thrifty, but I’m really just cheap.  I’m also lazy.  Sometimes it’s hard to decide if I am more cheap or more lazy.  This blog post is an attempt to get you, my dear readers, to interact with one another and me and give us your frugal, thrifty or even plain cheap tricks to save money.  However, I request that you give easy suggestions, as I am too lazy to work very hard.

Here is my tip:  Homemade Laundry Soap
I found this recipe and love it.  It is easy and super cheap.  It costs about $2 for 10 gallons.  There is an initial outlay of a little more money as I will explain after the recipe, but it still is minimal cost.


4  Cups – hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 Cup – Washing Soda

½ Cup Borax
– Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads
Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – It must be sodium carbonate.
We have had good luck finding washing soda and Fels-Naptha at Kroger and Rural King. 

We got a FREE 5 gallon bucket from the Wal Mart bakery.  The first one would not give us any, but another one gave us several, so ask at different locations.  Bakeries get their frosting in 5 gallon buckets.  I bought a special ladle that stores in my bucket with my soap.  
The Borax and Washing Soda will cost you a few dollars each for initial outlay, but you will get many, many sets of this recipe out of one box of each.  I have started using Borax and Washing soda for lots of things since I have it around now.  
I put the undiluted stuff in a spray bottle to use as a pretreat for stains.  It works quite well.  I have an HE washer and I use it regularly.  I was tired of spending so much money for those little bottles of laundry soap. 
Now, it’s your turn.  Comment below and share your favorite cheap tip with us!

5 thoughts on “Cheaper Than Dirt

  1. So far as saving money goes, this is one of the best ways I can think of; and it's not even my own original idea anyway.When it comes to shopping, that social event in which money actually GOES OUT of your pocket to someone else's pocket, BE DELIBERATE and NOT IMPULSIVE.What I mean is, know what you are going out to buy before you go out to buy it. This suggests that you have a reason for guying it; a need. I COMPLETELY understand the human inclination to enjoy spontinaity, and to take opportunities as they "pop up"; like items on sale, and I understand how restraining it feels to shop from a list, BUT, the fact remains that this form of self imposed control can and will save money.The "brother" to this strategy is knowing what a good price is when you see it, and knowing where to go to find the best prices. This takes time and effort, and even still prices change … frequently. One needs to consider how much it costs in time and resources (gas, wear on the car, and your time) to travel across town just to buy bananas at 52 cents instead of 57 cents. It may actually be cheaper, overall, to buy everything at one store which is closer to home than to travel far from home and/or to a string of different stores all over town.Concerning sale items which one just happens upon. If you know a good price when you see it AND it is an item you buy regularly (anyway) AND you don't buy so much that it goes bad before you can use it all, then you may do well to buy it at the sale price right then. Butto buy something you don't normally use just because it's cheap and you end up throwing half of it away; that's not a bargain.One more thing. I think it's good to set aside some amount of money in order that you CAN go out and buy SOMETHING just for fun and on a whim. I think this makes us feel good, and there's some benefit to that as more thought on the shopping trip. Try to plan your route so you are able to go to all the stores on the right side of the road. Go out and when you reach the furthest point and start back,you can hit the shops that were on the left as they are on your right now. This way you don't have to cross traffic to turn in, AND you've thought carefully about your trip and are being more deliberate about it.

  2. My cheap trick is White Vinegar. At $2 to $3 a gallon it is considerably cheaper than the cleaners in the cleaner aisle,. It is also much safer, and in my experience it is as effective if not more so. I use it in the laundry to remove odors, and as fabric softener. A 1/4 cup for softener and 1/2 to 1 cup to get stubborn odors out. It is also an effective disinfectant. Put some in a spray bottle and spray down items to be cleaned; leave 10 minutes and then wipe and rinse. Vinegar is a great bathroom and kitchen cleaner. Spray it on mineral build up around the faucet before bed and it will be eaten up in the morning. It may take a few nights of this depending on how bad it was when you started. It also works on mineral build up in the coffee maker and in the bathtub and shower. Dilute it and it makes a great window and mirror cleaner. Look up white vinegar on the internet and you will find these and many other uses for it all around the house. You can even use it in the kitchen when making cole slaw!

  3. I make my own cleaning solutions which work just as great as the high price-take-your-breath-away-store brands. I especially like the all-purpose cleaner found in The Tightwad Gazette. I mix up 1 gallon of All Purpose Cleaning Solution at a time in an old milk jug (properly labeled and stored away from the kids of course) and then pour into a recycled spray bottle as needed. Recipe: 1/2 c Ammonia, 1/3 cup vinegar, 2 tbsp baking soda and 1 gallon waterCan't remember where I got the tip but I absolutely love a microwave cleaner recipe I picked up. I put approximately 1/8-1/4 c. baking soda in a microwave-safe bowl of water approx 1 cup. Heat the bowl with solution in the microwave for approx 3 minutes. Let sit in the microwave after the time's up with the door closed so the steam will loosen the food etc. When the solution has cooled a bit, use a scrubby dipped into the baking soda solution to easily wipe the inside of the microwave clean. Works great and makes cleaning the microwave a snap! I used to make baby wipes too until my kids grew out of diapers. Another good resource for cleaning and fix-it tips around the house isRodale's Vinegar, DuctTape, Milk Jugs & More has great receipes for all types of cleaners too.

  4. I made a big thing of laundry soap using borax and various other things, then decided to read up on what exactly what borax and fells naptha are. Well let's just say borax has been reported to cause reproductive issues. Well its no secret I need to COMPLETELY AVOID anything that does that. And I just didn't like things I read about fells naptha either (not that everything in the net is true, shocking I know…hahaha) STILL, I just don't want to take the chance. So now I have this hives tub of the stuff and I want to get rid of it and make new. I did replace the fells naptha with ivory soap…liked the smell way better.

  5. Mary, Thank you for sharing. I didn't look into any of the ingredients because honestly they have been around just about forever. I never even thought to ponder. I'll do some research of my own now! Thanks!

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