Clothes Linens and Towels: Store-bought laundry products usually contain myriad fragrances and chemicals. These cost a lot of money, can irritate skin, and don’t always work as promised. Use the easy tips in this chapter to get your laundry sparkling clean—for a fraction of the cost!
Make your own washing soda for cents. If you’re in a pinch and can’t run out to get washing soda, you can make your own at home with almost no effort. Heat your oven to 400°F. Sprinkle a layer (1/2 inch thick) of baking soda on a cookie sheet, and bake for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. You’ll know it’s done by the way it looks. Baking soda likes to clump together, while washing soda is dryer and grainier. Let it cool, and store in an airtight jar.
Whip up DIY natural laundry pods for grab-and-go convenience. Now you can have the convenience of laundry pods without the dangerous chemicals in commercial brands! Take 2 cups of the DIY laundry powder described later in this chapter (or any natural laundry powder), and spray it with white vinegar until just damp enough to hold together when you squeeze it in your hand. Spoon a heaping tablespoon into each compartment of a square silicone mold. Pack it down into the mold with your fingers, and level it off at the top. If you don’t have a silicone mold, a regular plastic ice cube tray is fine. Let the tablets dry for 12–24 hours, then pop them out of the mold. Use 1 pod per load for front-loading machines and HE top-loading machines and 2 pods for regular top-loading machines and large loads.
Save money by making your own all-natural laundry powder. Clean your clothes, bedding, and more with this natural and effective DIY laundry powder at a fraction of the cost of store-bought laundry detergents. This DIY recipe is safe to use in high-efficiency (HE) washing machines.
1 bar of natural soap (I like Castile soap)
1 cup washing soda
1 cup borax
Airtight container for storage
- Grate the bar of soap with a cheese grater or food processor into a medium-sized bowl. Transfer the soap into an airtight storage container, such as a 1-quart glass Mason jar. Add the washing soda and borax, and shake or stir to mix well.
- Use 1 tablespoon for small loads or 2–3 tablespoons for large or heavily soiled loads. This recipe yields approximately 32 ounces of laundry powder, so it will last for about 32–64 loads (depending on how much you use per load).
Mix up an all-natural liquid laundry soap for pennies. Do you prefer to use liquid laundry soap instead of powder? Here’s an easy DIY liquid laundry soap that is just as cheap and effective as powder soap and is safe to use in HE washers.
5 cups water, divided
1 cup washing soda
3/4 cup Sal Suds
2 (1-quart) glass jars
- Bring the water to a boil. Put the washing soda in a large glass bowl, and slowly pour 3 cups of the boiling water over the washing soda. Mix well with a whisk until the washing soda is completely dissolved.
- Add the Sal Suds, and mix well. Then mix in the rest of the water. Store the laundry soap in a couple of 1-quart glass jars, and use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of soap per load. If the soap separates, just shake it to combine.
Use washing soda as a natural laundry booster. Add 1/2 cup to laundry (in addition to another laundry cleanser) to clean, brighten, and deodorize.
Make a “right away” bin for your laundry room to quickly prioritize really dirty clothes. Throw sweaty, stained, or smelly items in there, and wash as soon as possible. You’re more likely to get the stains out, and that will make clothes last longer.
Cut down on sorting time by washing family members’ clothes separately. Wash everyone’s clothes in separate loads so you don’t have to spend extra time sorting clothes. If your kids are old enough, you can even make them responsible for laundering their own clothing. Give everyone a set day to wash their clothes to help avoid arguments. You’ll be teaching them an important life skill and free up some much-needed time for yourself.
Prevent lice by using tea tree oil in the laundry. Add a few drops of tea tree oil in the wash to help your child fend off lice during the school year. (You can also add a few drops to their shampoo.)
How Often Should You Do Your Laundry?
If you wash your clothes too much, they may wear out faster, plus it will cost you money on higher energy bills (electric, gas, water) and replacement clothes. This guide shows how often you should wash your clothing with typical use.
Every 3 Wears/Uses
Pants, jeans, and shorts
Sweatshirts and sweaters
Every 3 Months
Every 6 Months
Store liquid laundry soap in a 1-gallon jar with spout for easy access. Put homemade or store-bought liquid laundry soap in a glass beverage container with a leakfree spout, and store it on an easy-to-reach shelf in your laundry room to make dispensing quick and easy.
Wash new clothes before wearing to avoid skin irritation. New clothes are coated in dangerous chemicals from the manufacturing process, so be sure to wash your new clothes before wearing them for the first time to keep harmful chemicals and dyes off your skin.
Keep colors from running with vinegar. Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the wash to keep colors from running.
Don’t overload the washer to clean clothes more efficiently. Keep loads to a manageable size to allow water and laundry soaps to work. The same goes for the dryer. Your washer and dryer can even last longer without the added stress of oversized loads.
Wash delicates in a mesh laundry bag to prevent tangles. Put delicate clothes like blouses, pantyhose and tights, bras, and lingerie in mesh laundry bags to protect them and keep them from getting damaged in the wash. You can find mesh bags for delicates at department stores, big-box stores, and online.
Use a laundry bag to keep socks paired. Tired of losing socks in the wash? Have each family member put their socks in a small mesh laundry bag. Toss the bags in the washer, and then wash and dry as usual to make pairing socks a cinch.
Stop static cling with natural hair spray. Spray clothes with hair spray to eliminate static cling instantly.
Fix static cling on your pants with a safety pin. Hide a safety pin near the hem of your pants. The extra weight will make static cling go away.
Chemical-Free Ways to Keep Jeans from Fading
Keep your jeans looking newer longer with these easy tips.
Wash correctly. Launder jeans inside out using the gentle cycle and cold water to help preserve their color. Wash with other jeans, if possible, so that if some color does leach out, it will adhere to the jeans instead of other garments.
Do laundry less often. Most people launder their clothes more often than they need to. Unless you have an active, dirty job or do lots of grimy household chores, you can probably wear jeans several times before washing. If your jeans are smelling a little funky but aren’t dirty, put them in a sealable 1-gallon bag, and pop them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to an hour to kill odor-causing bacteria without running through the wash.
Spot-treat stains. Instead of tossing jeans in the wash every time they get a little dirty, spot-treat them when you can. Spray ink stains with natural hair spray, then blot with a cloth to remove. For grease stains, put a tiny dab of natural dish soap on a white cloth, and use it to gently rub the stain away.
Hang to dry out of the sun. To keep colors brighter longer, hang them outside to dry out of direct sunlight or indoors on a clothes-drying rack. This will also keep them from shrinking.
Soften hard water with washing soda. Add 1/2 cup of washing soda to laundry to soften hard water. Softening hard water helps you save money on laundry since you can use less laundry soap and prevent costly washing machine repairs caused by limescale buildup.
Save money with a DIY stain remover. Combine 1 part natural dish soap with 2 parts hydrogen peroxide in a dark-colored spray bottle. (Hydrogen peroxide is sensitive to light, so storing in a dark bottle will keep it from losing its potency.) Shake gently to combine, and spray the solution directly on stains. Let them sit for 5–10 minutes, then wash as usual. For really tough stains, spray liberally, and let them sit overnight before washing.
Use vinegar as an inexpensive, all-natural fabric softener. Vinegar naturally softens fabrics and has the added benefit of removing detergent buildup and odors. Put some white vinegar in a Downy Ball or add to your washer’s fabric softener dispenser. Use 1/2 cup in regular washers to 3/4 cup for large loads, and use 1/4 cup in HE washers. Don’t worry about the vinegar making your clothes smell—that smell will dissipate once clothes are dry. You can also add essential oils to the vinegar to freshen clothes.
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