Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Help! I Make My Own Laundry Soap…But My Clothes Are Dingy

I’ll just start off by coming clean (pun intended). I have been making my own laundry soap for a while now, but there have been times in the past when I have caved to the pressure and bought it from the store because commercial laundry detergent just seems to work better.

We can be honest here right? Well, let’s just be honest; until now, I was not totally thrilled with my homemade laundry detergent. Is anyone with me? I mean, I never felt like my clothes where getting clean. In fact, they appeared dingy and stains never really came out in the wash. So I would occasionally purchase and use store bought detergent.

However, I was determined not to give up and I began aggressively looking for a solution to the problem. I am so happy to report to you that my clothes have never been cleaner than they are today; because, here is what I have discovered:

My municipality’s water is extremely hard. Hard water is actually very common throughout the globe. It contains heavy deposits of minerals such as calcium and magnesium. And continuous laundering in hard water can damage clothing fibers and shorten the life of clothes by 40%.

How can you know if you have hard water? Call your water provider and ask. You may also see tell-tell signs such as

•There will be a "ring around your bathtub."
•Soaps and shampoos do not lather easily.
•A white film will form around faucets and drains.
•Laundry will feel stiff, and may appear dingy.

With this knowledge I was able to combat the problem and I would like to share with you my laundry care routine.

Pre-Treat Stains

Keep a spray bottle full of this Homemade Bleach Alternative ready to saturate stains you can’t get to right away. You may also choose to keep it in a 5-gallon bucket so as to soak already dingy clothing.

Laundry Cycle

Use ½ cup of this Homemade Laundry Soap. If you have hard water, increase the amount of this Homemade Laundry Soap to 1 cup per load. Use this Homemade Bleach Alternative in the bleach compartment of your washer (or for a top loader machine pour 1 cup in with the wash). Fill the fabric softener compartment with white vinegar (or for a top loader machine pour 1 cup in with the wash).

Note: Vinegar neutralizes the effects of hard water by dissolving the minerals.

Tip: In areas with hard water, it is important to limit the amount of time your clothing is exposed to the washer. Therefore, wash clothing on the shortest cycle.


You guys know I’m a huge fan of line-drying clothing. In fact, exposure to the sun really helps to brighten clothing. If you do not have a clothes line, hang your clothes on hangers somewhere near a window indoors. I’m telling you, it makes a huge difference.

Laundry is an area we all know a lot about! Please leave your comment sharing with us your laundry success stories. That way, we can all learn from each other!

See this post and a host of others like it here: Your Green Resource, Simple Lives Thursday, It's a Keeper


At October 19, 2011 at 10:57 PM , Anonymous Nichole's Modern Homestead said...

We also have very hard water. I haven't tried it yet, but what about powdered Calgon to help with the hard water? I saw this at the store the other day and I am going to add it to mine when I make the powdered version. I am really curious to see how it turns out! :)

At October 20, 2011 at 4:21 AM , Blogger Heather said...

I have been using homemade laundry soap for about 5 years now, and you are right, the clothes do seem to be a bit dingy. It hasn't bothered me too much because I do tend to pre-treat any serious stains, and the vinegar rinse helps - although I don't do it every load. I typically wash everything but diapers in cold, so I usually fill up a mason jar with the laundry soap and some hot water from the faucet to try and dissolve it a bit before it goes in the washing machine. I found that once I started doing that, it helped a bit.

At October 21, 2011 at 4:45 AM , Anonymous Kim @ Eat What You've Got said...

Thank you for this post! We recently moved and our water is extremely hard, so this will come in very handy for me!

At October 24, 2011 at 7:12 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am having trouble with purchased laundry detergent. It doesn't seem to get our clothes clean. They are advertising more cleaning power, well it's not working, and beside why do we need more cleaning power, that only means more chemicals and more dollars not cleaner clothes. I'm going to try your recipe for laundry detergent. Thanks for the post.

At November 11, 2011 at 9:27 AM , Anonymous sheree said...

Oh my! I thought I was one of the very few who hated the homemade laundry detergent just for those very reasons! Infact my husband had a ft because not only did they never lok really clean but they just didn't smell good, they didn't stink but they just did not smell good and we never looked clean. This also offended my husband because, as provider, he expects us to take care of our things and our clothes just looked awful! I use store bought, now, but find that with our hard water certain detergents just do not work. I am thrilled to see a way to make the homemade detergent work in our hard water!

At December 13, 2011 at 4:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm super lucky- I've been making my own homemade laundry detergent for over a year- and providing to other family members as well- and none of us have had any problems. We love it! In fact, a couple of months ago when someone gave us some store bought detergent to use up for them (they were going away) everyone complained how dingy and perfumey their clothes were! From now on I won't even use "given" store bought laundry detergent. I use Fels Naptha, Borax, and Washing Soda.


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