How to Save Money on Laundry Detergent

Buying laundry detergent can be mind-boggling because there is such an array of products on the shelves these days! Did you know that the majority of products on UK supermarket shelves are all made by only 2 global brands? Shocking, I know. You wouldn’t believe it from their marketing.

At the end of the day, that is what you’re paying for when you buy from a market leader – their advertising and the branding of the product. Didn’t you notice how often they re-design their packaging? Or how often their TV adverts change? Essentially all laundry detergents are the same, no matter what their format – powder, liquid or capsule. But the way you use them can also be beyond confusing – should you put it in the drawer, the drum or a wash ball? Honestly, the main difference between them all is price and how much damage they can do to your washing machine – yes really!

Liquid detergent gunks up your machine over time and capsules are worse because they are made of plastic, it never fully dissolves and can also damage your machine as it builds up inside. Capsules make a mess in your machine, where they stick when they don’t dissolve. Both liquid and capsule detergent also blocks your pipes over time, take it from someone who knows! The drain ‘doctor’ strongly advised never to use anything by laundry powder. If it does that to your pipes, then goodness knows what it’s doing to the inside of your machine.

Remember that you will always pay for convenience, so by buying capsules – you are spending maximum money! As there is no option to change the capsule dose – a capsule is a capsule, it’s a pre-set dose) for each wash, you could easily be using far more detergent than you actually need, particularly if you soften your water (more on that below). Powders are by far the cheapest to produce (and also happen to be the most eco-friendly, if you purchase them in cardboard) and so, they are the cheapest for consumers to buy. All manufacturers will send you a dosing scoop for free, if you send away to the address on the side of the pack. So there is absolutely no reason why you can’t take a moment to measure the correct amount each time.

Now, back to the issue of softening the water. Any detergent needs to soften the water before it can get to work. This is an important issue in the UK, as most places suffer hard water. Save yourself some more money by softening your water with a cheaper product than your expensive laundry detergent! Don’t waste your money on an expensive limescale prevention product; brand name or supermarket own! All you need is a 60p bag of Soda Crystals from Dri-Pak purchased at Home Bargains. (They are available elsewhere, for  about 40p more, like Wilko and Sainsbury’s). Add about a tablespoon with your detergent at each wash, just put it into the drawer.

Use MySupermarket to find out when your preferred brand of laundry detergent is on offer, so you always pay the lowest possible price and buy the biggest pack available (buying in bulk=big savings) – usually 65 washes these days for £10. (Don’t get me started that a couple of years ago you used to get 85 washes for the same price!!!) Though personally, with the addition of Soda Crystals I can make my box last about twice as long as that.

Finally, stop using fabric softener – it’s completely unnecessary and actually decreases the absorbency of towels and can make other clothing more flammable! Use about 50ml of white vinegar instead. It doesn’t make your laundry smell, but it will soften it without the needs for artificial chemicals and fragrances. It’s also a lot kinder on your wallet too – I can pick up 5 litres for £2.00.

I hope this helps you to save money on your laundry.

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Solid toiletries, hard water & clogging pipes!

I’ve been a little quiet of late, as I’m renovating my home. But I wanted to come back to talk about the difficulties of solid toiletries and hard water. It’s resulting in our pipes clogging far too frequently. From my internet reading, apparently the fats in solid soaps react with hard water (hydrolysis of fats) to form soap scum (a precipitate of the calcium salt of a long chain of carboxylic acid).

The problem we are having is this soap scum solidifying into big chunks of white mass once it gets into the drain outside. Believe me, this is not a fun job to rectify! You need rubber gloves up to your elbows and the large part of our Zero Waste attempts in the bathroom are being ruined by the need to purchase bottles of commercial drain cleaner. Since soda crystals are not strong enough to tackle this problem! The only long-term solution I can see, is the installation of a water softener.

Like me, this may all come as quite a surprise to you – as I thought the soap obviously dissolved in water!!! But the calcium and magnesium in hard water reacts to form an insoluble curd which lodges in pipes (yes, it really is like curds and whey! Only it smells gross!!! Is that TMI?!)

So, we have a problem for the time being- until we can afford to install a water softener. I would also only want to do that if the tap water we drink can remain unaffected, since my aunt had one installed and I can’t stand the salty, soft water. Until then, I am left wondering whether you can wash with something other than soap. Or whether for the sake of our pockets which are not infinite, we shall have to return to our old methods of cleansing.

Can anyone share any tips?