How to organically whiten laundry — limiting bleach use
The adage «less is more» holds true in most cases and whitening or cleaning is no exception. With a minimum amount of product and some basic ingredients from Mother Nature, everyone can have clean clothes without harming the environment or the family budgets. Using too much detergent is common and harmful to the environment, the appliances, clothing and people’s skin.
Baking soda is a natural product that is non-toxic to humans and pets, biodegradable and won’t harm pipes or expensive appliances. A front loader machine will require less baking soda than a top loader, but the process is the same. Add a cup of baking soda to a top loading dishwasher or cut it in half for a front loader. Baking soda softens the water to reduce the amount of hard minerals that cling to clothing and makes them dingy.
Old fashion Borax
For older clothes that have been through the wringer (pardon the pun!), add a cup of Borax in addition to the baking soda. The power of Borax added to the mix will remove residues left from previous washes.
For very stubborn stains, odors, ground-in-dirt or heavily soiled underwear, socks, spaghetti stains or mystery stains, make a paste of baking soda and Borax and apply to the stains. Add the remainder mixture to the washing machine and soak the clothes over night. Launder as usual the next day and enjoy (almost) new clothes.
Since you are making the switch to smarter ways of cleaning that are good for your skin, your family, appliances and the environment, consider getting an environmentally friendly detergent. Many brands are available in HE formulas for front loaders and these same detergents can be used in top loaders. Keep in mind that mega-suds is not an indication of cleaning power and leave massive residues in clothing which over time makes clothes dull and dingy.
Clean smarter and better
A lot of detergent boxes and bottles recommend far more detergent than it is truly necessary to clean a load of laundry. Most people go over the amount «just in case» or because they feel that «more is better». Do the following: Take clean towels and put them in the washing machine with nothing else in there but water. If there are suds in the water, you are using too much detergent. ***A recent experiment took 6 loads of rewashing the same towels to eliminate all the residue left behind.***
*Bleach is a powerful disinfectant that does have its place among cleaners. However, it should be used sparingly and only in major situations such as: Sewage spills from a travel trailer that require a mixture of bleach and water to kill bacteria and prevent serious illnesses and contamination.
*Using it in laundry should be relegated to disinfecting the machine a few times a year or to decontaminate clothing that has been stained with bodily fluids. If used in baby or adult clothing make sure to re-wash again with baking soda and borax and add an extra rinse cycle to get rid of the toxic chemicals left in the fibers by bleach.