Laundry Detergent - what’s the best natural option? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 03-15-2013, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What is the 'best' natural option for laundry detergent? I have hard water. Does that make a difference when you'd recommend something to someone? Or is there just something I can add to overcome that? Also does it matter if you're using it in a front or top loader? 


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#2 of 16 Old 03-19-2013, 07:51 AM
 
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front loaders need a low sudsing detergent.

Hard water has its own needs. First don't use white vinegar, it often makes the mineral build up worse. You may need to add a water softener, for most things baking soda will do the job.

 

I would look at Charlies, if you can commit to using it for ALL your laundry. They also make a hard water booster.

 

For other options, look at cloth diaper detergents, since they have far fewer indgrendents and rinse cleaner. I personally love Country Save (Amazon carries it). Or home made detergent, but almost all lack surfactants and work differently.


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#3 of 16 Old 03-19-2013, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the suggestions! Why would I need to use Charlie's for all my laundry? 


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#4 of 16 Old 03-19-2013, 10:35 AM
 
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Huh, I've never run across anything saying vinegar is bad in hard water. Many people use vinegar to remove the deposits left from hard water.

 

We do not have soft water. It isn't super hard, I suppose. We do get minor deposit build up around faucets.

 

We have a front loader. Detergent does not get very sudsy in hard water the way it does with soft water. If you had soft water, you might have a problem and need a low sudsing detergent... Or you could just use less. Just keep in mind that front loaders use less water than top loaders. So only put in half the usual detergent for a full load in a front loader. Or a quarter for a small load. I dump vinegar in when I wash whites and towels because Dh is prone to fungal skin issues (ringworm and athlete's foot.) I dump in baking soda to get rid of odors (like from clothes I've bought at the thrift store.)  

 

I just use ALL free and clear so can't recommend a particular natural detergent. Honestly, I'm sure any kind is as fine as the next.

 

Personally, I hate soft water. It feels like you can't get soap rinsed off when you bathe and everything lathers too much:-)


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#5 of 16 Old 03-19-2013, 11:08 AM
 
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We have ridiculously hard water (off the charts even WITH a softener) and vinegar does cause me more problems than not. I do think it is important to know the acidity of the water too, though, becasue that can make a difference in how the vinegar works wth it.

For detergents, I don't have much luck wth homemade, and I have found that I get best results when I alternate detergents (regularly or every few months. I like Country Save as one, and we just recently tried Charlies and it seems to work pretty well.

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#6 of 16 Old 04-08-2013, 11:47 AM
 
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how do you all like ecos-lavender scent? I see that sam's club has it very cheap? I use whatever is on sale(conventional or natural products), but for the price at sam's I am thinking of getting ecos, it is 13.98 for 252loads. For cloth diapers I am using nellie's washing soda and like it okay, I put vinegar in every few washes and do use a bit of bleach if the diapers get the stinks.


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#7 of 16 Old 04-08-2013, 12:45 PM
 
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how do you all like ecos-lavender scent? I see that sam's club has it very cheap? I use whatever is on sale(conventional or natural products), but for the price at sam's I am thinking of getting ecos, it is 13.98 for 252loads. For cloth diapers I am using nellie's washing soda and like it okay, I put vinegar in every few washes and do use a bit of bleach if the diapers get the stinks.

I have friends who use Ecos and really like it - and their clothing looks clean to me.  I do not like scented detergents so I have not tried it.   When the neighbor kids are over - ugh - the perfumy smells of the major brands and the lavender scents of the natural brands are overpowering for me.

 

I have been using BiOKleen for ~20 years and really like it.  They have an unscented version but I cannot get it here.  I use the regular lightly citrus scented but there is no scent on the clothing after washing.  I tried a few others over the years - Seventh Gen, Ecover, etc. but like BiOKleen the best.  I used to add baking soda in the white loads but stopped when I purchased a front loading machine - was told I shouldn't use baking soda in the machine.  I now add BiOKleen or Ecover chlorine free oxygen bleach powder if the whites need a bit of a boost.  We keep the machine open when not in use and I try to take out the clothes right away.  But if the machine or clothing stays in too long and gets a bit musty, I spray in BiOKleen BacOut to remove the odor.

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#8 of 16 Old 04-08-2013, 01:04 PM
 
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Not sure if you are looking only for commercial options....

 

I have been making my own detergent for 2 years now with very good results.  I can do a batch to last 3 weeks in about 5 minutes time, so it is not a time consuming endevor, and is very economical.

 

All you need:

- 1 large mason jar or other container with lid

- cheese grater

- sunlight laundry soap (comes in a bar in the laundry aisle).  Grate the soap on your cheese grater.

- Borax (laundry aisle)

- Washing Soda (not baking soda, although you can make washing soda from baking soda but there is no need and it would be more expensive).

 

My recipe is equal parts by volume of each of the Borax, washing soda and grated sunlight soap.  (My measuring is far from scientific, just the good 'ol eyeball it approach so you don't need to fuss).  Add each to the mason jar and shake vigorously to mix it all together.  For a HE front load washer, 2 tbsp or so will do the trick.  If you want it to be scented you can add essential oils before shaking.  I never do.  I use Nellies dryer balls instead of any type of fabric softener and generally don't have issues with static, even though it is very dry here year round.

 

My water is "hard" (average for the year is 164mg/L or 11.5 grains per gallon according to the city's website) but not "very hard" (300mg/L or more).  It is "harder" in the winter, and not as hard when there is higher water flow in the river (spring and summer).  Ph is 7.1 - 8.0 (again, according to the city's website for water treatment in 2012).

 

Hope this is useful!


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#9 of 16 Old 04-08-2013, 04:30 PM
 
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dsam, I am thinking that it is the fabric softner/dryer sheets that give the overpowering smell. I use scented detergent but not dryer sheets or softener and my clothes scent is barely noticable, you have to put your nose to the fabric to get a sniff of the scent, I have used many brands from all, to purex, tide etc, but sometimes  i will encounter someone who smells like a laundromat and I am guessing it is the dryer sheets because those things are strong! I think  I will pick up some ecos and try it next time  I am at sams club.


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#10 of 16 Old 04-08-2013, 05:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ILoveMyBabyBird View Post

dsam, I am thinking that it is the fabric softner/dryer sheets that give the overpowering smell. I use scented detergent but not dryer sheets or softener and my clothes scent is barely noticable, you have to put your nose to the fabric to get a sniff of the scent, I have used many brands from all, to purex, tide etc, but sometimes  i will encounter someone who smells like a laundromat and I am guessing it is the dryer sheets because those things are strong! I think  I will pick up some ecos and try it next time  I am at sams club.

Maybe it isn't the detergent.  I have never used dryer sheets or softener so I never thought of that.

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#11 of 16 Old 04-08-2013, 05:18 PM
 
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I've used natural commercial brands and several homemade formulas, but my current favorite is soap nuts. They are a dried berry that contains saponin. You just throw a muslin pouch of them in with a load of laundry. After about 5 loads I compost them. Very easy, no scent, and fairly cost effective.

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#12 of 16 Old 04-11-2013, 12:01 PM
 
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I use Ecos brand, that you find almost everywhere nowadays (here in CA at least). One bonus is that for some reason, you don't need fabric softener for anti-static or dryer sheets, when you use Ecos (not sure about other natural brands). Something about the formulation prevents static. So my dryer never gets any sheets.

 

If you buy a box or Borax (you can find that anywhere, in detergent aisle), you sprinkle a little into your machine (or mix it in with hot/warm water then pour in, if it isn't dissolving), and that supposedly helps with hard water. I think baking soda may do the same thing. I have read the hard water thing.....either on the Borax box, or the Arm and Hammer box. I usually alternate between the two. Borax is a little harsher (more alkaline, though it's "natural") and grain-y-er. I don't think a lot of Borax is good for the machine, but if it actually dissolves and you use the proper amount, it should be a-okay. I use it on my new HE front loader with no fears. I can't put it in where I put the liquid stuff because it will clog the tiny hole that releases the detergent on my machine, so I put it in where it says to put powders (if memory serves). In general it "boosts the cleaning power of your detergent" and I think that is *because* it helps with hard water minerals. I always think of Borax like extra strength baking soda.

 

However, I don't think you need Borax or baking soda with the Ecos....but since you asked about hard water, that is what they are for, I think, or just to give extra boosting and deordorizing. My laundry always smells like body odor, so that's why I use them too.

 

With Ecos, it has a line on the cap to use for HE (high efficiency) and a line for standard machines. Most front loaders are HE (if not all?). Some of the newer top loaders can be HE too. You just don't ever wanna use too much detergent on an HE machine, in general, because it forms slime and then that gets stinky. Always err on side of too little detergent, is what repairmen have told me.

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#13 of 16 Old 04-11-2013, 12:37 PM
 
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With respect to Borax vs Washing Soda ~ They do have different purposes.  Washing Soda is more effective at softening the water and for de-greasing.  It is more caustic (PH is 11).  Borax is better for boosting "washing power" and for stain removal.  Apparently Borax breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, so it works like Oxyclean (PH is 9.5).


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#14 of 16 Old 04-23-2013, 11:13 AM
 
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I like Next Generation's products but I would like to start making my own laundry soap.

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#15 of 16 Old 04-24-2013, 12:09 AM
 
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I use Nellie's laundry soda, which is like the Canadian version of Charlie's.  Works very well on most loads.  I sometimes use soap nuts liquid as well, it's really good for making towels and sheets clean and soft.  Somehow just tossing in the wash doesn't work well.  Maybe because we have a front loader and it's not soaked for long enough.  Boiling them release all the saponin.


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#16 of 16 Old 04-25-2013, 08:14 AM
 
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Momsteader- I see you are in Montana, you might try to find KeliGreen Laundry Detergent, made by a mom here in MT-

 

http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/articles/article/homemade_detergent_makes_it_to_supermarket_shelf/23375

 

I know it is carried by many of the larger health food stores in the state, Rosaurs, some others. Economical, works, won't kill the fish. Smells nice. When I can't get that, I use Country Save. Works well in hard water.

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