It’s like a school science project volcano in your washing machine.
I used to be addicted to some of the more popular brands of detergent. And when they came out with scents like Vanilla Lavender, of course I bought the detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets. I started to notice my work out clothes weren’t really doing their “stay dry” job and then did some research.
For me, the detergents weren’t as bad as the fabric softener. Softener gets inside your clothes and stays there. It’s great for static cling and for keeping that “fresh” scent in your laundry, but that’s the problem: it stays there. Workout clothing seems to retain fabric softener really well and it eventually it loses any moisture-wicking properties.
And… a lot of conventional fabric softeners have animal byproducts in them. Since softener smooths the fibers, the lipids and fats from an animal do a pretty good job. I enjoy a steak occasionally, but I don’t want to go around wearing a cow’s entrails.
There are all kinds of “sports” detergents out there and most of them are pretty expensive. I wanted something simple that would keep the stank out of my laundry. Baking soda to the rescue! It’s very gentle when used in a proper amount. About a half cup to one cup of baking soda is great for a large load of laundry in my space saver washer. I initially wanted to do baking soda only but the surfactants in laundry detergent really penetrate clothing fibers to get your clothes clean. So I tried a few different brands and started using Biokleen laundry liquid. I probably use a tablespoon per load of laundry, which means I only need to laundry detergent about once a year!
I was then looking for a remedy to get deodorant stains out of my shirts. I haven’t made the leap to natural deodorants since I really like my antiperspirant so I was stuck with a lot of chalky residue on my black shirts. Vinegar is the answer! Initially, I treated some of my shirts with a paste made from baking soda and vinegar and worked it into the stain with an old toothbrush. It didn’t fix my shirts 100% but it made it a lot better. From then on I soak my laundry in the baking soda and soap for about an hour and then use 1/2 cup of vinegar in place of the fabric softener. Using vinegar as a fabric softener will help dissolve the baking soda you used in the wash. It doesn’t take much for these two substances to cancel each other out! I think this has really helped keep the deodorant stains away. The true test is the smell test: if your shirts still smell like deodorant after you wash them, it’s still in there 🙁
Baking soda, when mixed with a mild dish soap to form a paste, is fantastic at removing fresh grease stains. Simply scrub the mixture into the grease stain with a toothbrush and let it sit for 10 minutes. I had to do this on a place mat stained with bacon grease and it worked wonderfully.
Even if you line-dry your clothes, the vinegar smell will not stay in them. Promise! It will also make your towels nice and fluffy. Fabric softeners also reduce your towel’s ability to absorb water, so it’s yet another reason to use vinegar. Your towels might not smell like Heavenly Cherub Breath or Vanilla Cupcake Violet but they’ll dry you off after a shower. The choice is yours!
Let’s talk money. It may seem like baking soda and vinegar would be cheaper than conventional detergent and fabric softener, but it’s not always the case. It really depends on how much you use. If you have a high efficiency washer, you can get away with using 1/4 cup baking soda since your washer uses so little water. Same goes for the vinegar. For any/all of us who have top loaders, a half cup or 3/4 cup is needed. This is one of those things that you can test out on your own and it’s not going to be a huge inve$tment. Vinegar has more than tripled in price in the last five years since the uses of distilled white vinegar are seemingly endless. It’s the base for several of my homemade cleaners and now it’s my fabric softener. I haven’t actually done the math but even if it’s slightly more expensive, my laundry turns out much better. Now when I smell other people’s laundry it almost is offensively strong!