Laundry Detergent (or is it soap)
Let's keep this a clean conversation, but puns are welcome. Recently I had to switch to a high efficiency clothes washer requires high efficiency (HE) detergent. Our old washer broke and all you can find are HE washers. Even if the store or sales rep says it's not HE, take the model number to the mfg and they'll confirm it is HE. Which means, you're going to save the planet whether you like it or not. (Mostly, I spoke to some neighbors who don't feel the reduced water levels clean as well, so they run rinse cycle twice.)
I tried ALL and was disappointed. That was just handy at the store and cheap.
I didn't know much about HE detergents other than they have a lot less water to work with, did some research, and ended up on a parenting blog that tests all sorts of HE detergents on dirty diapers. We're past that stage by many years, but I figured we don't have anything worse than that. From the blog I've tried:
Tide pods: seem to work great, and they are about $0.34/wash without a coupon.
Dropps: seems to work as well as Tide for about $0.17/wash with free shipping if you sign up for subscription service/shipping (regular schedule). I ordered a sample box of 10. The samples costs $10. I thought it was better than signing up for their subscription service. https://www.dropps.com
Allan's Naturally: It didn't to as well as Tide or Dropps on heavily soiled items, but still did a lot better than ALL. It does not come in pods. You have to measure it out. There are a couple ways to buy Allen's. It comes in a quart and in a gallon. In a quart it's about $0.17/wash and in a gallon about $0.10/wash. You can buy Allen's from the maker, https://www.allensnaturally.com/laundry/ but they charge a lot for shipping. I found it better to buy from a retailer, like http://www.momandbabyshop.com/allens-naturally.html The higher price at the retailer is off set by the free shipping.
Dropps and Allan's claim to be septic safe and environmentally friendly and they both list all their ingredients. That's a big deal for my old septic.
I've not tried: "Tide Ultra Stain Release HE Turbo Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent", which is one of only two detergents consumer reports recommends for HE washers. It's not in pods. It comes to $0.25/wash buying from Walmart.
I've also not tried advice from my neighbor Sue. I'm just not that brave. Sue makes her own laundry soap. She says it costs less per load and she uses this recipe, but there are lots out there. http://beingcreativetokeepmysanity.blogspot.com/2010/11/homemade-laundry-soap.html (In my mind, what will this do to my washer, my septic, my warranty...)
That's all I have on laundry detergents right now. There were two others I'm waiting on samples to arrive before saying much about them, other than the cost. The two I'm waiting on are available in my local stores and are $0.24/load and $0.34/load. I'll still be leaning towards either Dropps or Allan's, but who can refuse free samples?
I have made my own laundry detergent before. It's basically just Fels naptha soap, borax, and maybe Oxyclean as a booster. Grating the soap was a pain. At the time I needed soap with no dyes or fragrances & we couldn't find anything locally (this was 8-10 years ago in a small town), so it was worth the effort, but now that I can find "free & clear" stuff in most stores (even if I do have to hold my breath as I walk down the detergent aisle) it's not worth making.
Thanks for the details on cost breakdown for different types of detergents! I had wondered if the pods were worth the cost, and for my needs they might not be. Dishwasher detergent pods, however, are absolutely worth avoiding the hassle even if they do cost more 😉
I landed on using the Tide Pods + Oxy Paks for our clothing, and Tide Pods alone for things like the towels, sheets, dog beds, etc. We went several years without doing the Affresh tabs monthly (even though the manual recommended it) and after five years with our LG washer started getting weird dark streaks on the clothes sometimes. Ran the recommended Affresh cycle and that went away.
I love our front loader, and I don't mind the HE. Times and machinery change, and just like any other machinery it requires maintenance and proper use. If you don't do the preventative maintenance on your car and use the recommended octane gas, you'll screw with the car's performance; your washer is the same.
When I had to replace my washer in 2015, I got a front loader. Went looking, and by that time every laundry detergent out there was labeled HE. I kept using the same stuff I had been using, and it works just as well as it always had.
As far as saving money . . . I looked at one of the common recipes for making your own detergent. Bottom line was, it said to use 1 to 2 tablespoons. My commercial detergent comes with a measuring cup that wants me to use something more than a quarter cup (8 tablespoons, if I were that patient with a smaller scoop). I had been ignoring the cup that comes with the detergent for years, ever since I noticed the cups got bigger with newer boxes of detergent. (Economic incentive, anyone?) I find that 1 to 2 tablespoons of my commercial powdered detergent does the trick just fine. I don't remember the cost per load I calculated, but I remember that it was less than the cost of the distilled white vinegar I use instead of fabric softener, something under a nickel a load. It would be much higher if I believed the manufacturer on how much I should use.
Perhaps I only have lightly soiled laundry, and that's what makes it cheap. But if I ever do have some seriously dirty clothes to wash . . . I can always add more detergent.
I guess at the end of the day it comes down to impact vs. effort. Personally, if I need to find $87 over the course of 12 months, I'm not going to waste time researching laundry detergent. I'll just cut out a couple or Starbucks trips, pack my lunch a few more times, or spend $5-10 less on average every time I buy a birthday gift... or some combination of the above.
FWIW - I use All Free & Clear detergent from Costco. It cost between $11-$15 for a big jug which seems to last me a long time - I say this because I literally just squeeze the button directly into the washer for usually a count of 3 and have not done any tracking ever. 🙂
And because I know it will come up... yes, I do think Costco is worth it for me. I've seen this topic blown up on other threads and I'm not trying to go there. I have never thrown away any food or other item from Costco I was unable to consume because I am very smart about what I purchase there. It works for me and my fiance and our lifestyle. My only exception to this is when I bring the fiance to Costco with me - because I will be off fetching items that are on the list and he will be wandering the aisles finding cool things that are a great deal that we did't need but how can we pass up that price 😐 I only go less than 1x a month and he is rarely invited 😂
I use Method products fairly exclusively, and their detergents are formulated for HE machines. From Target, I think the measure kind works out to less than $0.20 a load; the pump is super handy, but costs more at $0.28 (but the refills for that bring it down to$0 .21); and the pods (which I don't actually like - not for Method, and not for any brand, actually - I don't think they clean as well) are $0.30. Even less for all those with a Target Red Card (with the 5% discount).
I am a huge fan of Dropps. Dumped Tide over a year ago and haven't looked back. I usually order the subscription to save 20% then stack with a coupon. If anyone is on the fence about trying them, you can get 40% off using coupon BUDDY40 through may 10. That coupon will work on one time purchase and it will pair up with the subscription discount.
Here in Germany every grocery store chain has their own store brand dishwasher tabs and a box of 50 tabs costs about $1.70 or so. They do their job remarkably well, too. Our household has a full dishwasher each and every day, so I've become very particular about buying the cheap option.