Discovering The New (and Ultra-Expensive) World of Laundry Detergents

New Method detergent
One of the uber-expensive laundry detergents, a pump dispenser, from Method. Photo: sciondriver,

We’ve clearly had our head in the sand. About laundry detergents, that is. There’s a whole new world of products for the laundry that have astoundingly high price tags. If you are frugal, you most likely do not use these products. If you do, you may want to reconsider after reading the retail and unit pricing. The last thing we remember is some sort of laundry detergent that came out specifically for black garments! Oh, but how things have quickly changed in the world of laundry detergents (and dryer sheets).

But…have you seen the prices of these new products? Whoa!

We went to Wal-Mart and Target today and stumbled across some of the new products with eye-popping prices from least expensive to most expensive:

Arm & Hammer gels — two kinds include: A&H gel With Oxiclean–31 loads for $7.00 and $2.09 unit price and A&H gel without Oxiclean–62 loads for $7.00 and $2.04 unit price.

New Method Pump Detergent–this is an innovative pump laundry detergent. Squirt 2 pumps for small load, etc. The sleek package takes up little room, and the fragrances look delicious (peony blossom, for one). The package says “astoundingly concentrated.” The cost–astoundingly high. A small bottle/25 loads is $7.99, unit price $25.57 and a large bottle/50 loads is $14.99 with unit pricing at $23.98.

Purex Complete 3 in 1 Laundry Sheet — $5.94 for a 20 pack (i.e. 20 loads) at…$29.70 unit price–ouch! (As a reminder, the unit price is the price you should go by–it tells you how much you are paying per ounce/load.) Evidently, there is detergent, softener, and anti-static cling product placed on one sheet.

We have also heard about Oransi’s Robby Wash HE detergent wash ball which evidently lasts for 12 months and is supposed to be reasonably priced.  But, no sight of it at Wal-Mart or Target so we could not comparison shop.

But…it doesn’t stop there. You could go into debt just creating a laundry environment inside your washer and dryer! Here are some other new products:

Tide’s Washing Machine Cleaner! Really–is this a gimmick? This is supposed to be for those of you with high-efficiency washers who put in too much detergent which created too many unrinsed suds which then created odors–it’ll cost you dearly! Here’s a new product to remove the damage. It costs $6.99 with a unit price of….drum roll, please…$233.00! Excuse us, but isn’t a HE machine supposed to, um…save money? If you do have a HE machine, why not try to alleviate the problem by turning on “extra rinse” or using the little hose included on many machines that is meant to clean the interior?

Tide’s Duo Pack Stain Release in Wash. A package of “packs” cost $3.99 for a unit price of $39.90 (a bargain, right?) is a companion product for detergent. (Isn’t the outrageously priced detergent supposed to get out stains on its own?)

Bounce Dryer Bar. A product that you place in your dryer (for those of you who forget to put in cheaper dryer sheets) costs $6.49 for a unit pricing of…sit down for this one…$649! You read this correctly. We don’t even know how to calculate that one! You pay $649 for exactly…what? In other words, if you buy this product, and presuming it lasts 4 months, and presuming you do a load of drying per day, you have spent $5.40 to dry your load every day. Perhaps we did not do this calculation right, but we think we did! If you want a more frugal way of drying your clothing, while getting that lovely fragrance, then get a clothesline, or, use dryer sheets at a much more sane price of $6.49 for a box of 180 Bounce sheets (the unit price: $3.61, which will last you more than four months if you do a load a day, and, will only cost you….3 cents a day to use. You choose!

We’re fairly sure these products are wonderful and work well…but maybe just as well as lower-priced alternatives–or the old-fashioned way of washing clothes with regular ol’ liquid detergent. We may, out of curiosity, and because we are a huge fan of peonies…splurge for the Method detergent.

In case you are wondering–one Frugal Fairfielder uses an environmentally safe HE laundry product called Sun & Earth (may not be widely available in stores), 50 loads for $7.00 a container (unit price unknown). The other Frugal Fairfielder goes for sale items, such as Arm & Hammer, and does not have a HE machine.


Teri Gault’s Shop Smart, Save More Book Review

Teri Gault's book
Teri's book spurred me to start saving $200 a month in groceries.


A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from my friend, Aimee, who said that one of her friends went crazy over Teri Gault’s Shop Smart, Save More book. Her friend said she saved $66 off of her grocery bill in one week. Of course, I ran right out to get the book from the library. As I skimmed it at first, I didn’t find much in the way of new information, but I liked reading letters from her fans. It made me go to her website,, where I signed up for a free trail run to get pre-organized lists of groceries that match up with existing coupons. Hey, I’d like to save $500 a month on groceries like her readers say they do! But–really now… 

Keep reading…because there is a positive outcome and there are positive comments on Teri’s book…  

So…I signed up for a trial run, and downloaded a couple of lists (Shaw’s, Stop & Shop, Walgreens, and CVS), saw that most of the lists included things I don’t ever want to buy regardless of the savings, and saw that I had last week’s lists and couldn’t figure out how to get updated lists. Sigh… 

Keep reading… 

I don’t really need the lists, and I don’t want to pay for a service that I basically already do on my own (match coupons to circulars, scour store for unadvertised sales, etc.). So, I ended my 12-hour old trial membership. 

What happened, though….? I was so envious of those letters about how much readers saved, I decided to round up my receipts and see where I am with my food shopping budget. I have not kept great track of things for a while. Lo-and-behold, my husband and I tallied up that since the beginning of January 2010, we’ve been spending $150 a week on groceries! And I considered myself a good shopper! That was just unacceptable so I decided we can and will make it on $75 a week, even in expensive Fairfield, Connecticut! Even though food prices have doubled and more!  

Teri’s book made me get hold of my grocery budget once again, I’m happy to say. And, I’m happy to say that it is Tuesday, and we have a full pantry and fridge and I’ve only spent $52.50 of my $75.00 budget that I have given myself each week (my week corresponds to store circulars, or, from Friday to Thursday is one week for me). If I hold true to this figure, I’ll save over $200 a month–not bad. I know that I’ll most likely spend some of my leftover budget from this week on stockpiled items ($1 bags of pretzels at Shaw’s, for example).  

So, even though I cancelled my membership, I am still ever so grateful to Teri. Plus, I read through her recipes last night–they look wonderful (a simple dinner of biscuits and bacon sounds great, and one that my kids will just love…for pennies). 

I’ll report back if I actually save my $200 in February!