In a bid to save money while avoiding sketchy chemicals, it may seem like a good idea to mix your own laundry soap. The science of cleaning is amazingly complicated and there are many important factors that contribute to why homemade laundry soap is bad.
In the wrong doses and ingredients combination, the natural ingredients in your homemade laundry soap can be harmful to you and your clothes. Also, your homemade laundry soap may lack proper labeling and child-safe packaging which can be a poison hazard to kids at home as well as pets.
First of all why homemade laundry soap is bad, soaps contain surfactants i.e surface-active ingredients that help to reduce the surface tension of water to enable spread easily while getting rid of grime on the dirty clothes. Soap is made up of natural fats and oil in addition to a neutralizing alkali compound like Sodium Hydroxide. Your homemade laundry soap will require a combination of borax, washing soda, and shaved bar soap which will not be soluble in water as necessary for washing clothes.
Another reason why homemade laundry soap is bad is according to a study released by the American Cleaning Institute revealing that if you are doing your washing with hard water, i.e water that is high in minerals, calcium, and magnesium, your homemade laundry soap will react with the dissolved minerals in the water, thus leaving unwanted residue on your clothes. This reaction can also harden and ruin your fabric.
What is Laundry Residue?
Laundry residue occurs when any type of matter gets lodged in the fibers of your fabric when clothes are not properly washed and rinsed. This is due to the reaction of your homemade laundry soap to hard water as well as soap flakes in your homemade laundry soap and also dust, dirt, bacteria and grime.
Alternatives to Homemade Laundry Soap
- Buy budget brand detergents instead while ignoring the artificial fragrances and questionable ingredients because you can only do so much;
- Spend a little extra on free & clear versions from brands that are totally natural, but at least lack the questionable fragrances and dyes;
- You can also opt for eco-friendly brands that are free of artificial dyes and fragrances, have better, plant-derived ingredients, and cost a bit more than the first two options.
But if the above-mentioned reasons do not convince you on why homemade laundry soap is bad and you still insist on using it…
Here are a few things you can do to make it dissolve properly and rinse away more thoroughly:
- Add vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar works very well to remove hard water deposits like calcium and magnesium. Add 1/2 cup – 1 cup during your machine’s last rinse cycle. You can add it to the fabric softener dispenser or use one of those Downy balls which will release it at the right time. Don’t worry – once your laundry is dry, it won’t smell like vinegar.
- Use hot water to wash. Hot water increases the effectiveness of soap, so theoretically, this could work to not only dissolve the soap better but also to remove dirt better. Not sure this applies to the rinsing part, but maybe if you also use the vinegar in the rinse cycle, they can work together as a 1-2 punch.
- Soft water is best. Obviously, this one is out of your control, as you’re at the mercy of your city’s water supply, but it’s important to keep in mind. If you don’t have hard water, which is loaded with minerals, your homemade laundry soap is probably doing its job and you most likely won’t notice a problem.
- Boost your detergent. Yes, your homemade laundry soap probably already includes borax and/or washing soda, but when you only add a few tablespoons of the mix to the wash cycle, the amount of borax/soda is negligible at that point. Try adding 1/4 – 1/2 cup of either or both to help soften your water and boost your homemade laundry soap’s effectiveness.
Want to learn more? Find out Homemade laundry detergent recipe here.