Laundry Week Day 1: Homemade Laundry Detergent

It’s Laundry Week!

Sorry I didn’t get this started yesterday, but life happens, right?
So today is WASHING DAY (if you missed my post on pretreating/ wet bucket, you can find it here)
The first thing about laundry week that I want to share is about washing machines.  Not all are created equal.  I’m sure most everyone reading this has a washer at their disposal, but maybe you’re thinking of buying a new one.  Please do your research.  Just because a certain washer is the most popular doesn’t make it the best.  Read reviews and definitely talk to knowledgeable sales reps.  I have always had good experiences getting information at Sears about appliances.  Check into the availability and expense of upkeep and repairs—some washers are great until they break and then you have to go on a cross-country goose chase to find replacement parts! 
A few years ago we chose a Whirlpool washer.  My favorite feature is that there is no “load size” indicator.  The machine weighs the load and adds the appropriate amount of water.  No wasted water because you’re not sure if your load qualifies as “Medium” or “Large”.  It’s also energy star rated, which makes this penny pincher happy!
Photo Credit
Photo Credit

Next I want to share my homemade laundry detergent recipe (which I originally found here).  I make a powder detergent with 3 simple ingredients.
1 bar Fels Naptha, finely grated
2c Borax
2c Baking Soda
Combine ingredients, use 1 tbsp per large load
There are lots of recipes out there and a lot of them call for a different ratio than I use.  I have been using this recipe for a few weeks now and am really happy with both the general cleanliness of the clothes and stain removal. 
I use 1 tbsp for a large load and just shake a little out of the spoon for a medium load.  Make sure you adjust the amount used for a smaller load—it does make a difference!  It works fine with cold water, which is all I ever use.  The jury seems to be out on whether this is a safe recipe for HE washers.
You’ll see that the picture shows Washing Soda and I named Baking Soda in my recipe.  Most recipes explicitly say not to use baking soda, that it must be washing soda.  I did some research to find out why.  Both products neutralize odors and both are alkaline—they offset acids.  The difference at which they do these things: Baking Soda’s pH is 8 in comparison to Washing Soda’s pH of 11.  Neutral is 7.  This makes Baking Soda safe for cooking and handling, but Washing Soda is considered caustic and gloves should be worn when handling and it absolutely cannot be eaten.  Don’t let the word caustic scare you.  Washing Soda’s big asset is that it is more powerful against stains.  I have read varying information, but I hear that for cloth diapers baking soda is better.
You may wonder why I didn't start with sorting for laundry week.  Confession time: I BARELY sort laundry.  In general my sorting goes like this: towels/washcloths, heavy clothes, lighter clothes, bed clothes, Nora's clothes.  Sometimes they get all mixed in together.  I don't really see a difference when I take the time to sort and when I don't execpt that the clothes are easier to put away later.  I don't sort by colors for the most part.  Occasionally I'll run a load of whites with some bleach.  If we have something new and bright I'll make sure it's not in a load with white t-shirts.  That's about it.  Consider it your bonus tip of the day!


Jama said...

I too make my own, recipe is very similar, but I had oxy clean to mine. The reason to use washing soda instead of baking soda, is that baking can change the absorbancy in certain fabrics, like cloth diapers, and water resistant scrubs. Cute blog btw!

Zach and Joy said...

Thanks, Jama! Good to know!