How to save money on laundry and dish detergent

A dog licking plates clean that are inside an open dishwasher.

Yes, it's a cheap way to clean dishes, but far from efficient or sanitary. (Photo Credit: CC BY/Franca Piccione/Flickr)

Saving money at the grocery store is a concept that can extend to every item you regularly buy. This includes dishwasher and laundry detergent, notes Bankrate. Some consumers extol the virtues of single-use dishwasher and laundry detergent – aka pods or squares – but the truth is that standard dishwasher detergent or even homemade detergent is cheaper.

Convenience versus price

It seems so easy. Just pop in the dishwasher or laundry square with a load and start the machine. Yet Consumer Reports home and yard editor Bob Markovich claims that the high concentration of cleaning agent in dishwasher squares may not be good for modern machines.

“Because new HE (high efficiency) washing machines use less water, the biggest mistake you can make is to overdose on laundry detergent, which wastes money, leaves residue on clothes and can build up in your washer. It’s best to use a detergent specially formulated for HE washers because they (create) less suds,” he told Bankrate.

With laundry machines in particular, the amount of detergent used should correspond to the size of the load. The brand of detergent and its amount of concentration also plays a role. In general, erring on the side of using less detergent is more economical and safer for the washing machine. In some cases, a single-use laundry detergent pack actually won’t clean a heavily soiled load completely, forcing the consumer to use two packs, a far from economical solutions. The right amount of laundry detergent from a bottle costs less.

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Similarly, if a dishwasher detergent square with an overly high concentration of cleaning agent is used, the element of waste is introduced. Using cheaper bottle dishwasher detergent or a homemade solution will save money, and in many cases, also be better for the environment, as less excess soap is flushed down the drain. This assumes that you’re using dishwasher detergents that are phosphate free, which is currently required by law in at least 17 states.

Convenience at twice the cost

Having to use two single-use detergent squares is expensive. Concentrations ranging from two to six times the amount in an average dose of bottle or powder detergent look like less product and hence may seem less expensive, but the consumer is ultimately paying twice as much to do the same job.

Save money with homemade liquid dish soap

With basic household ingredients, you can save yourself even more money by making your own liquid dish soap. It’s an eco-friendly option, and it only takes minutes to complete. Courtesy of eHow, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Plastic dish soap dispenser
  • 2 cups store-bought Castile soap
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Lemongrass or lavender essential oil (optional)
  • Mild soap bar
  • Grater
  • Large mixing bowl
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Spoon
  • 1/4 cup glycerin
  • 1 tsp. lemon, orange or lavender essential oil (optional)
  • Funnel

Making soap, dirt cheap

To begin the process, rinse out the old plastic dish soap dispenser with hot water. Next, pour two cups of store-bought Castile soap into the bottle. After that, add a half cup of warm water and a teaspoon of lemon juice. If desired, use a few drops of lemongrass oil or lavender oil for added fragrance. Finally, screw the top back on the dispenser bottle and shake vigorously. The mixture will save you money on dish soap.

If you prefer working with soap flakes, eHow suggests another money-saving recipe. Grate a bar of mild soap until you have about a quarter cup of flakes. Put the flakes into a mixing bowl, add two cups of hot water and stir until the flakes dissolve. Then mix in a quarter cup of glycerin, plus a half teaspoon of essential oil for fragrance. Funnel the mix into a rinsed out dispenser, screw the cap back on and shake it to make another money-saving cleaning mix.

Save money by making your own dishwasher detergent



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