Sunday, January 1, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent and Softener (revised)

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I have been exploring the world of various natural laundry detergents in my home after choosing to avoid borax in my cleaning, which is a common ingredient in homemade varieties.

Most commercial detergents are filled with harsh chemicals and the natural alternatives often contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other ingredients that are now being debated over their safety. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is the additive that brings the suds. Suds are not necessary for clean clothes – trust me!

Most commerical detergents leave perfumes (cover scents), brighteners, and/or fabric softeners on your clothes to cover up the fact that the detergent really didn’t clean anything. These additives can easily cause skin irritations… continue…

Distilled White Vinegar as Fabric Softener

Today’s experiment: Fabric Softener Substitute.

You are not going to believe this. White vinegar is a fabric softener. There it is. I spilled the beans. White vinegar is made by fermenting water and raisins a next step past being alcoholic. (No, I haven’t made it myself yet, but someday I will!).

White vinegar is a natural disinfectant. Using white vinegar in your laundry will soften your fabrics and will also disinfect it. Bonus!

In a normal load of clothing, I add two tablespoons of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. That’s it. Two tablespoons, People. If it’s a really big load, like a bunch of towels, I double it, adding 1/4 cup. That is seriously all you need for soft fabrics.

But you say, the laundry detergent doesn’t have a perfumed odor. The white vinegar definitely isn’t perfumed. What if I really, really like the perfumed smell of freshly dried laundry?

Ask no more, Friends. I have the solution. Take an old sock or rag that you aren’t using. Put six drops of an essential oil onto the rag. Throw it in the dryer with your wet clothing. Voila! Out comes smelly good dried clothing.

You shouldn’t add the essential oils in with the laundry because some essential oils can break down the fibers of the cloth over time. That’s also why it’s best to use an old sock or rag, not something that you’re going to want to use later.

So now my family buys a gallon-sized white vinegar. We hardly ever use it for food, but always use it for our laundry. If you were to use two tablespoons per load, one gallon would last you 128 loads. At Wal-Mart, a gallon of white vinegar costs $2.78. A gallon of store brand fabric softener that lasts for 60 loads costs $3.78. You are spending 2 cents a load when you use white vinegar. With the fabric softener, you’re spending 6 cents a load. The savings are tangible.

Using the essential oils to add smell can get pricey, depending on your scent of choice. To be honest, we don’t use it. The laundry smells fresh and we don’t miss having a scent... continue…

CareKate wrote: Do not Clean Your Face with Baking Soda 

Okay, the time has come for Dr. CareKate to assume her schoolmarm expression and step up to her lectern to give a stern lecture to all of her DIY fans and disciples:

It has come to my attention that many DIYers looking for an inexpensive/homemade exfoliant for the face have latched upon the idea of using baking soda to exfoliate one’s face, as an alternative to using an aspirin mask or something similar.

As you can tell from this notepad, I am an avid DIYer myself and am, therefore, always open to new ideas and recipes, but I have to say that the thought of anyone using baking soda on their face absolutely scares the bejesus out of me.

Lest you all think that I am making much ado about nothing, let me say that my own mother received the same misguided advice from a well-meaning “modeling teacher” back in the 1950s who instructed all of her pupils to cleanse their faces with a mixture of “salt and soda.” My mother often parroted this same advice to me when growing up but I am thankful that this was one occasion when I was quite right in ignoring my dear old mom’s words. Now, let me tell you why:

My mom is in her late 60s, and was quite a sun-worshipper back when we lived in SoCal in the mid-1970s. Today, my mother’s skin is not in very good shape. I know the lion’s share of the damage is a result of all that indiscriminate sunbathing back then, but I believe part of it can also be attributed to her faithful adherence to that faulty advice from that modeling instructor who exhorted the wonders of cleansing one’s face with baking soda.

Why am I so certain that it was so detrimental to her skin’s health? Because baking soda is extremely alkaline, and as such, when applied to one’s skin – especially the delicate skin on one’s face – it completely and utterly destroys the natural acid mantle of one’s skin.

Big deal, you say?! This acid mantle helps to maintain the delicate PH-balance of the skin. When this acid mantle has been disturbed or removed, it raises the risk of bacteria and infection getting into the flesh that you inadvertently rubbed raw by cleansing/exfoliating your face with baking soda!!

For those of you that HAVE used baking soda on your face in the past, you will recall that your skin smartly stung afterwards. Now, some of you might have dismissed this reaction by simply assuming that you had scrubbed your face too vigorously with the baking soda, but you would be wrong. The reason it stung like the dickens afterwards is because you tore away the protective layer of your skin! Please, please, for the love of your face, if you don't want to take my word about this, do a little research of your own regarding the dangers of using baking soda on your face.

Here is a little excerpt from my *own* research, when I was first seeking validation for my beliefs regarding the dangers of baking soda in skincare. I found this particular statement from a forum devoted to long hair (note: it might have been “The Long Hair Community,” but at this point I no longer remember):

Baking soda's alkalinity is as high as that of haircoloring products although I realize that the amount or application method makes if more or less harsh depending on how baking soda is used.

I say, leave the baking soda for household cleaning. I apologize if I sound put off by the baking soda on hair thing, it's just that there are so many wonderful cosmetics out there, ones that smell lovely and are pleasant to use, that I have difficulty understanding how something like baking soda could appeal to anyone for use in their haircare routine.

Here is a link for the pH of BSoda (I think it's the same one I posted yesterday in the vinegar thread):

The first sentence is the one that gets me: baking soda is as alkaline as hair dye? I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I sure as hell wouldn’t knowingly apply any product that strong to my face!!!

So use that box of baking soda to kill the odors in your cat’s litterbox or keep your refrigerator/freezer smelling fresh and/or to dissolve the gunk in pipes of your kitchen sink, but – FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY – please don’t use it anywhere near your skin!!

Hmmm, I wonder if I should seize this opportunity to also cluck over the dangers of St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub?! That stuff should come with a warning label and everyone who suffered microscopic tears to the skin on their faces (like me, when I was a wee young pollywag and didn’t know any better) should ban together in a class-lawsuit and sue those Swiss for every last watch, cuckoo clock and bit of chocolate in their entire country!! 

Seriously, though: avoid apricot scrubs the same way as you should baking soda when it comes to caring for your precious, beautiful faces. Please.