Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Washin'

I've got to say, I never really realized how utterly disgusting regular laundry detergent was until I began to use cloth diapers.  It leaves a heavy residue of artificial fragrance, brighteners and dyes which becomes very noticeable when you put it on thick cotton diapers.  It produces a build up of ammonia that will smell horrific and suddenly makes my baby's tiny bum look burned by the nasty, blecky, gross, icky residue.  Sorry, I'm getting a little dramatic there.  We used regular detergent once we moved because everything (including detergent, silly me) was packed.  Going back to regular detergent I realized primarily two things 1) that I was far more sensitive to the smell of artificial fragrance - I didn't like it and 2) Brandt's skin became much dryer and even flaky where his clothes brushed him most, like the inside of his legs and arm pits.  Also, my cloth diapers went through about five wash cycles with regular detergent and, boy, did I pay the penalty in STINK.  Besides the noticeable differences, all those nasty detergent chemicals were going into the water system which someone will eventually end up drinking.  So, all this to say, I strongly encourage using natural cleaners.  Here's my little system!

The line up of champions!

I've used all kinds of detergent/soaps: the fragrance free, the additive free, the "natural".  I've made my own with washing soda and soap.  I've even used soap nuts (really interesting).  But I come back to Charlie's every time.  It's natural.  It's scentless.  It leaves no residue.  It's pretty cheap.  It only takes a Tablespoon.  I can be lazy and not make it.  And oh, it gets things sparkling clean!  I love Charlie's Soap.  It's 25% off here.  I wash all my clothes in cold water (except my diapers) and Charlie's dissolves beautifully, unlike many powdered detergents.

Baking soda is so cheap and basic but it's magic!  I can't believe all the uses it has!  In my laundry, I primarily use it for stinky laundry or super dirty loads.  If there has been a potty accident, if my towels are smelling less than fresh, or if we've had a campfire, I toss in a good 1/4 cup of baking soda with my detergent.  It also whitens and brightens if things are looking a tad on the dingy side.  I don't use it regularly because it can be slightly abrasive and I don't want to put added wear on my clothing. 

Vinegar!  Again, so cheap and basic but absolutely the champion in my cleaning arsenal.  I use a vinegar solution for all my household cleaning.  Adding a good glug (a 1/4 cup, maybe?) of vinegar to your rinse will make clothes much softer and fluffier.  I'm usually far to oblivious to notice when the rinse cycle starts, so I will add it with the detergent.  It still does a pretty decent job that way.  Vinegar is antibacterial so I like to do a vinegar rinse cycle with my diapers before the wash cycle.

Tea tree oil is rather expensive so I don't use it regularly.  I will occasionally add 2-3 drops in my diapers and towels if I have been unable to sun dry them for an extended period.  Tea tree oil is an anti-fungal and adds a nice, fresh scent.

THE SUN!!!!!

One of the best things I have found for any laundry is line drying.  It gives a fresh scent, neatly presses your clothes, and it's FREE!  If you use vinegar as a softener, your clothes won't be stiff.  Also, the sun is the best all-natural remover for stains and bacteria. 


This is my washin' system! What do you use?  Any tips?


Katie said...

That is awesome Hannah. I am going to have to use this as soon as I use up my stock pile of laundry detergent!!! Thanks for the info. I don't remember what type of detergent I used on my cloth diapers.

Virginia said...

Totally going to use the vinegar thing with my diapers. I use the sun, too. I wish I had a clothes line and I would dry more clothes that way. All my diapers, weather permitting, get dried in the drier half way and the rest in the sun. They are so white and pretty when they are done. I pour baking soda into my diaper pail to help with the smell. I've never used it in the wash so I'll have to try that, too. I just need to come to you with all my household questions!

Jenna B. said...

Great post, Hannah! In addition to all the dyes, chemicals, and artificial fragrances, many detergents have gluten in them as a filler. *BLECH* Several of my family members are celiac and were agitated by the detergent before making their own. The version I make for my family is: 1 c. of Borax, 1 cup A&Hammer Washing Soda, and 1 grated bar of Ivory soap. I've just started using baking soda and vinegar...and wow! Whoulda thunk it?!

Hannah said...

Jenna - That is so weird about using gluten in detergent! I asked Charlie's if they contain any wheat by-products and received an immediate reply back saying that they do not - yay!

I'm glad this helped you guys! Everyone needs to tweak it for their own individual needs, but this really works for us right now.

So...if I can just get the laundry folded and put away now...;-)

Sarah :) said...

I make the same laundry detergent as Jenna, except I use Fels Naptha soap. It's not very awesome if you're going for "natural" and non-abrasive (or so I've been told), but we go for CHEAP. To put it another way, in order for Charlie's soap to be the same cost per load as the detergent I make, I would have to be able to get that whole container you showed in the picture for $1. And that's why it worth it for me to make it....

Although, I must say, it's not awesome about stains, though that could also have something to do with the laundrymat washers I have to use. And I can't hang my diapers up in the sun because we're in an apartment complex and I'm not allowed to hang laundry outside :( But.... one day, the diapers will be unstained again... one day....

Erika said...

Sarah, you can get a folding drying rack that can just be set in your house by a sunny window. And then can be folded out of the dining room (which is our sunniest room) when the laundry is done and dried. :)