I've been making the most of this hot, summer-like October weather by hanging out lots of laundry. Today I washed up a few big things for the new baby (like the bumper pad for the crib, which is annoying BUT keeps a newborn safe(r) from toddler fingers!) and tomorrow, if I'm energetic enough, I'm hoping to wash bedding. :)
When it's not too hot or too cold outside, I love to fold the laundry into the basket as I take it down. It gives the children extra time to play outside, and keeps wrinkles to a very minimum. And it helps keep piles of unfolded laundry off our couch. ;)
Anyway, I've been meaning to write about altering the homemade laundry soap recipe I use.
First, Headmistress, zookeeper has a lot of notes about the laundry soap recipe here on her blog. Also thanks to her, I found this page (look at the very bottom!) which has an interesting bit about optical brighteners found in commercial laundry detergents.
Now, about my recipe alteration. The laundry soap recipe calls for bar soap, borax, and washing soda. Bar soap (like the Ivory I was using) tends to leave a scum on the top of the water, and honestly, I'm not really sure how essential the bar soap is to getting clothes clean.
So, I made the homemade laundry detergent without any bar soap -- just washing soda and borax. This resulted in a clear liquid.
I made the recipe double-strength (1 cup washing soda, 1 cup borax, and 2 gallons of water) and I use 1/3 cup for each load of laundry.
Now, keeping in mind that I have only been using this altered recipe for a couple months (not really long-term in my opinion!), here is my opinion:
I think it works just as well as the recipe that includes the bar soap! :) Our laundry smells fresh and clean, and even though it seems practically impossible that a little washing soda and borax cleans clothing so well, it does! (Actually, I think the water and agitation of the washer does a lot of the cleaning!)
For Joshua's (very dirty) work clothes, I had been using 1/2 cup of homemade laundry soap and 1/2 capful of commercial detergent. With this altered recipe, I'm using 1/3 cup of my homemade detergent and 1/4 capful of commercial laundry detergent, with good results. :)
One note about this detergent: Washing soda is rather harsh, so never put it directly onto your laundry. (I know this from first-hand "how did this fabric get a hole in it while I washed it?!" experience.) Just to be on the safe side, I start running water in the washer, add my detergent, and then start adding the laundry. :)
I think warm or hot water gets laundry the cleanest, but I try to find a frugal middle ground on water temperature. Diapers get cold water and one hot or warm rinse (sometimes with vinegar). Joshua's work clothes always get warm wash water. Our whites (underwear, socks, dishrags, etc.) get a hot wash. Most other loads get washed in cold water.
Also, if you feel like you need to see soap bubbles in the washer, then I suggest using about 1 tablespoon of commercial laundry detergent along with the homemade. It'll bubble nicely (and maybe even smell nice, if you buy a kind with scent!). :) I'm pretty used to our clothing not having any scent after laundering, but I do like how it smells after being in our dresser drawers! :)