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There are a number of alternatives to laundry detergent which are not only more environmentally friendly than commercial detergents, but also much cheaper. Especially if you do a lot of laundry, these alternatives can save you a great deal of money, freeing up funds for trips, fun projects, or savings. Alternatives to laundry detergent are also easy to make and to alter to suit your needs.
Two techniques can be used to make eco-friendly laundry soap at home. The first results in a large bucket of a slimy, sloppy liquid which can be a real pain to deal with. The second is used to make a laundry powder, which can be made in batches of any size, and stored with ease. Since the only difference is the addition of glycerin or water to the liquid version, this wiseGEEK author highly recommends sticking to powdered alternatives to laundry detergent and saving yourself a headache.
To make alternatives to laundry detergent, you are going to need: soap flakes, washing powder, and borax. Some people also like to use baking soda, especially for laundry soap which will be used in bleaching. Soap flakes can be purchased loose in the store, but you can also just buy bar soap and grate it, or use home-made bar soap. Washing powder is found in the laundry aisle of most grocery and general stores, as is borax.
The basic recipe involves half soap flakes, one quarter washing soda, and one quarter borax, with around one scoop usually doing the trick per load. However, you can play around with these proportions quite a bit, and you can add baking soda to the mix to replace the borax. The key ingredients are the washing soda and the soap flakes; borax and baking soda just make your laundry soap a little more powerful, and they can also cut grease and odors, which may be useful for you.
For extra bleaching power, add lemon juice or peroxide to a load of laundry once it gets going with your alternative to conventional detergent. Lemon juice or vinegar can also be used to deodorize laundry. For stains, soak laundry in a mixture of cold water, vinegar, and baking soda; you may want to spot test the fabric first to make sure that the fabric does not bleach or stain in this mixture.
If your alternatives to laundry detergent don't smell as exciting as your favorite detergent or laundry soap, you can add essential oils to them to create a specific scent. Just be careful to avoid essential oils or floral extracts with artificial dyes, which can stain your fabrics.
I think that we are ignoring the larger issues of the world when we try to be persnickety and focus obsessively on small environmental issues such as laundry detergents. The environment is a concern, and should be, but it should be secondary to the plight of the poor and dying in the third world. There are diseases out there that need to be cured. Should we care more for humans or for flora and fauna?
The future of the world and the ecosystem that our children will have to deal with depends on our good decisions concerning what products we use and what level of discretion we choose to employ concerning small issues such as laundry detergents and other mass-distributed products in the market. Although you might not consider something as simple as candles or laundry detergents to be dangerous, think of your decisions amplified by a factor of ten million. This describes how societies function and harm the earth on a large scale. You can effect change.
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