Green Clean Week: Laundry

It’s Monday everybody!  Yay!  (smirks)

I thought I’d do something a little different this week, and stick to a theme.  This week is officially

Each day, I’ll be talking about one of the “alternative” ways that I clean, be it the house or myself.  I’m going to try to make this more than just a regurgitation of recipes, since you can get those anywhere on the internet.  I’m going to give you a little more of my personal experience with each cleaning method, so hopefully you don’t have to go through as much trial and error as I did.

Day One: Laundry

My homemade laundry detergent recipe is the pretty standard version floating around the internet:

2 parts grated soap
1 part washing soda
1 part borax

For regular laundry, I used Fels Naptha, which can be picked up pretty cheap at most grocery stores.  For more delicate laundry or things I don’t want anything extra touching, like cloth diapers or very new baby laundry, I use an unscented 100% vegetable oil soap (I’ve used Sappo Hill and it’s cost effective and works great).

I know a lot of people use this recipe and dissolve it in water, but I haven’t found that’s necessary.  The key is to grate your soap very finely.  I find that most bars of Fels Naptha will grate up finely if I break them up with a fork and then run them through my super duper food processor.  If you have a soap that feels more oily, you will probably have to grate it by hand and also put it through the food processor.  This also gives you a chance to mix it with your other ingredients.  I usually put the borax in first, the soap in second, and the washing soda on top, and then blend until you can hardly see the soap anymore.  Just wait a minute or so before opening the processor because otherwise you’ll breathe in some borax and that’s not very good for you.  My recipe and process dissolves well in my top loader, even in cold water.

Many people also add their essential oil to their detergent, but I found this does very little to make your clothing smell like anything, especially if you use a dryer (which I do at least half the time).  I suggest instead getting wool dryer balls and putting several drops of your favorite oil on them.  We use lemongrass and the smell lasts through quite a few loads.  If you never use a dryer, then by all means, scent your detergent.

Which brings me to the second stage of laundry, the drying.  I have clotheslines, and I do use them quite a bit.  However, I don’t always have the time to hang clothes out, so I do use the dryer frequently.  I highly recommend the wool dryer balls – they seem to do just as good of a job as dryer sheets at reducing static, and they actually help you dryer work more efficiently.  Dryer sheets leave a film on your lint screen that will eventually keep anything from going through it, so even if you scrape the lint out of it, it’s not really working.  Here’s a test – go get your lint screen, scrape out any lint, and then go run it under your sink for a few seconds.  Does the water pass through or does it run right off?  If it beads and runs off, your screen is not working anymore.  Give it a scrub with your dish washing liquid and try again.  This time the water should pass right through.  Let it dry and put it back in your dryer, and watch your clothes dry remarkably faster.

Feel free to add your green/frugal laundry tips in the comments – I’d love to hear what everyone has to say!  Especially if someone has an HE (front loading) washing machine – I’m curious to see if the homemade concoctions work just as well in those, because when my current machine gives up for good I plan to look into them.

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5 Responses to Green Clean Week: Laundry

  1. As a real estate agent, I have people asking me for “green” homeowner tips. I can pass these along to them – thanks!

  2. I have made this also! You can use the purex crystals to give your laundry a great scent. essential oils are also useful but very very expensive. I am looking forward to seeing other things that you come up with! 🙂

  3. Deb says:

    How much do you use per load? Maybe I missed it.

    • Jessie says:

      I only use about a tablespoon per load. I didn’t really put emphasis on that because I feel like ever washer is different and you have to determine your own amount. I do know that a lot of people use way toouch detergent though, and that can cause buildup on your clothes.

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