Monday, April 13, 2009

Laundry - Loads of Fun

I hope to make several more parts to this series.

Through the years I have tried about everything for doing laundry. I'll share with you some of my trials and errors.

First off, I usually have my youngest child, Shayla (age 7) sort the clothes into two piles: colors and whites. She likes to help put them in and take them out of the washer, too.

While she is doing this, I am usually supervising. She and my husband tend to get the dirtiest. I look for any extremely dirty clothes that may need spot treated. If there are, I use what I have on hand. Occasionally, I have the regular spray & wash or whatever, but usually I just use a squirt of dish soap, or a little store bought liquid laundry detergent, or even rub it with a wet bar of hand soap.

Next, I set the washer for cold water wash. I wash all colors in cold water. Why? Because the colors don't bleed as much and mostly because it's more economical.

Now as for laundry soap. I think I have tried everything. I have tried about every brand on the market. And years ago, before it was even really popular I did try making my own.

As many of you I was very excited to try the recipe for Homemade Laundry Soap. Mainly because it was economical, but also because we live in the country and have a septic system.
Your septic system will work better and longer if you do not use bleach or laundry detergent containing phosphates. They kill the natural bacteria. So, I found 10 Homemade Laundry Soap Recipes at Tip I tried this recipe, since it seemed like a small amount to start with.

Recipe #3
Hot water
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/2 cup Borax
1/3 bar Soap (grated)

In a large pot, heat 3 pints of water. Add the grated bar soap and stir until melted. Then add the washing soda and borax. Stir until powder is dissolved, then remove from heat.

In a 2 gallon clean pail, pour 1 quart of hot water and add the heated soap mixture. Top pail with cold water and stir well.

Use 1/2 cup per load, stirring soap before each use (will gel).

Just some notes to consider here:

Washing soda is different to baking soda. It is also manufactured by Arm & Hammer. The appearance is similar. I found a box at my local Kroger or Meijer, but I have heard it is hard to find sometimes. You can ask your store manager to order it. The UPC 033200030201. It's around a 3 lb. box. When I purchased it years ago, it was just over $3.

I have heard that you can substitute baking soda for the washing soda. Personally, I did not try this. Apparently you have to use more because it's not nearly as good for cleaning. If you're interested, google it.

If you do choose to try baking soda, (and like to use it a lot for cleaning) don't buy the little bitty boxes at the grocery store. Call your local feed dealer and ask if they carry sodium bicarbonate. You can get a 50 lb bag for under $20! *Just a word of warning: This is not food grade baking soda. You can not eat it. I don't know why, just don't!

For the bar soap, I choose to use Ivory. Because it's what I had on hand and because my daughter has skin sensitivities and allergies. I have heard that Fels Naptha is the absolute best for cleaning power. Zote is supposed to be the next best and better for skin.

I seen that bars of Fels Naptha is now available at our local Meijer store. It is on the top shelf at the end of the cleaning or laundry products isle.

You can add essential oils to the concoction, but I personally have no experience with this.

Now, you may experience different results, but this is what I found. We personally did not like the homemade laundry soap. I found that it did not get our clothes clean enough. They just did not smell fresh, either. Many people can't get over the fact that it doesn't suds up, either.

Oh, and when we first changed over from our usual All Free Clear brand laundry detergent to the laundry soap, it left a slimy film all over the inside of my washer and to some extent on our clothing. I have read that this is the detergent actually coming out of your clothing. I think it was something to do with enzymes or something. After several washings, the slimy film did go away, though.

I wiped the washer drum out with a rag with vinegar on it and ran a load with no clothes in it.

Before I scare you into not trying this, let me say that some people may not experience this. I have read that this film may be worse for those using fabric softener. We don't use that, but we do have hard well water with a softener.

On the pro side, for most it would be more economical. For me personally, I don't believe so. For the past several years I have been CVSing. I have probably several years worth of my favorite laundry detergents that I paid little or nothing for by stacking coupons. When this is used up, I may consider the homemade again.

What works for me though is just using what I need. As I mentioned, we have softened water, so I experimented with how much laundry detergent do I actually need to use to get my clothes clean. The results really surprised me. I use the All 3x concentrated. It is good for the HE or regular washer. Look at the inside of the cap. There is a line in the middle. That is actually a full load, not the top of the cap, like so many of us have done. Through trial and error I have found that I can wash our family's laundry in about a teaspoon of this stuff. Which means this bottle will last a long, long time. I think I've been using my current bottle (labeled 32 loads)for about 3 months (at least one load per day)and there is still about 1/4 of the bottle left!

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