Thursday, October 9, 2014

Try These Suds On Your Duds

I've written about replacing fabric softener with vinegar and, in August, I blogged about the new bleach I'm using, so it only seems fair I should write about my experience with homemade liquid laundry soap. I made my first batch in August and have been using it (along with homemade bleach, vinegar, and a favourite laundry bar soap), exclusively, ever since.

To say this new mixture is thriftier than store-bought is a huge understatement. But, as with everything, it's not solely about saving money but about how well the product actually does the job. A good laundry soap cleans and deodorizes. A good laundry soap doesn’t leave behind anything objectionable that might harm the body, or stiffen, abrade, and/or discolour fabrics. By all these criteria, I have to say the new detergent is working fabulously well. It cleans, leaves the fabrics smelling...well, clean...without any odor (good or bad) and it leaves everything SO SOFT.

When I first replaced fabric softener with vinegar, the laundry was rinsed well, and the fibres plumped up nicely, but sometimes the fabrics felt stiff. I thought the vinegar was merely limited in its softening ability – we do have very hard water here. I was wrong, though. The problem, it turns out, was the laundry detergent. As soon as I replaced the commercial detergent I was using with this homemade liquid detergent recipe*, the laundry has been coming out supremely soft. (*Note: some recipe measurements are slightly off, so the total volume is less than stated; also, given our hard water, I use more than the recommended per-load amount.)

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap
Soft fabrics are delightful, but the real test for hubby and I is the effect the detergent has on our skin. Both of us, for different reasons, have sensitivities to ingredients in many commercial cleaning products. This new recipe has proven a "friendly" mixture for us both. Neither of us has suffered any of the rashes and skin irritations we had become used to dealing with. This result isn’t completely about personal perception, either. Ironing proves the difference. Where wrinkles in fabrics were once set so severely the iron was hard-pressed – literally – to straighten them, now, ironing has become a breeze. Also, after ironing, the fabrics remain soft and don’t have that “starched” feel they once had.

This is probably due to the absence of ingredients like builders, fillers, surfactants, emulsifiers and “optical brighteners.” While their omission might be reassuring, it does mean spending a little more attention to stain treatment prior to the wash cycle. For instance, surfactants attach to dirt and lift them from fabrics, suspending their molecules in the wash water and preventing their return to the fabric. The homemade detergent has no surfactants, so I use a favourite laundry bar soap for pre-treatment of any stain and our laundry is as clean as ever.
Just a few simple products now...
It seems the old adage, ‘less is more’ holds true with this cleaner, as with so many others I’ve made at home.  A simple mixture works as well as anything else we were using. No, that’s wrong. This laundry soap is better.  It’s very gentle on our bodies, on our fabrics, as well as on our budget!