Homemade detergent and a front loader

imgodsgrlDecember 12, 2008

Okay, I have a question. I thought I had seen the answer once before, but now I can't find it. I have an "original" Maytag Neptune. I am wondering if I can safely use homemade detergent in it and how much for each load.

currently I use cheer powder (about 1/3 of scoop), occasional bleach (hot water wash for towels) and vinegar as my "fabric softener." I would continue with the bleach and hot water for towels and vinegar in all loads probably, but I wasn't sure about changing to homemade detergent. I'm not having any trouble mind you - just trying to be budget concious and maybe a bit friendlier to our clothes and our environment. I'll have to run the numbers for cost to be sure that I'd be saving or at least breaking even, but I'm giving this some serious thought.

So, can I use homemade and how much should I use?

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Why not try simply reducing the amount of the Cheer you are using? This would save money and immediately reduce the environmental impact by using less product. There are 16 tablespoons to a cup, so 1/3 cup is more than 5 Tbs. Try using just three or four tablespoons, or even less, for ordinarily-soiled loads, increasing only as the laundry challenge changes.

Making your own powder may or may not be cheaper, but also it may or may not be more environmentally "friendly", depending on what ingredients, and how much, you use.

Cheer is an old-line powder, that is naturally low-sudsing, without optical brighteners (though it does have enzymes). I have always found it to be very satisfactory and pretty inexpensive, too.



    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 12:16AM
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The problem with cost on homemade is that if you buy the small containers of it to make a batch at home, you're probably spending more than many commercial brands. A couple people here have posted costs before and it came to about 10¢-12¢ per load. That's not cheap IMO. And often with the homemade you need some extra additives to boost the effectiveness, which adds to cost. At that rate try a cheap brand and use the additives, which probably brings you back to the cost of a decent brand for cost-effectiveness.

But run the numbers to be sure. Don't forget to factor in any special trips you make to get supplies, since it is an added expense.

I'd try Molly's suggestion first though. You may be surprised how little you actually need. Time and time again we see people posting about "buildup", aka, they're using way too much detergent! Then they blame the detergent!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 7:22PM
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Thank you so much. I will reduce the cheer that I use...we have slowly been doing that over time, but I was afriad that if I cut it to 2/3 tablespoons it might be to little...anyway...I will give it a shot...thanks so much.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2008 at 10:37PM
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I have made homemade detergent. I used it in my top loader, but I am afraid of trying it in my front loader. As Cynic said above, it really isn't as economical as you might think. But, I have found that washing soda and borax are necessities that I cannot live without for handwashing dishes at my cabin... All is not lost.

What I have left for homemade detergent, I will use at the laundromat for dog beds, etc.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 1:43AM
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I have been using soap based laundry products in my front loaders for 28 years with no problems. I used to use Ivory Snow, which was a laundry soap powder. Now I make my own with Zote soap, borax and washing soda and use it exclusively in my Affinity front loader. I use about 3 tablespoons per load.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2008 at 4:29PM
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I have just revised the amount of laundry soap I can use per load. On another board I have learned some important facts on using soap, as opposed to detergent, in the laundry.

A preferrably hot or at least a warm wash is essential to rinisng out soaps. Cold water contracts the fibers, and can trap soap in the wash. Vinegar, in laundry speak a sour, aids in the rinsing out of soaps. Too much sour is worse than none at all. Sours counteract the harshness of alkaline soaps (and remember that the washing soda is very alkaline). Too much sour will "will cause textile fibres to shut down tightly and trap any remaining soap/detergent and other muck." (Thanks to Laundress at the other board for this infomation.)

Armed with this new knowledge, I looked at the cycles on my Affinity, and have revised how I wash. I always used the hot cycle for whites. My new machine only offers a cold rinse on the hot cycle. So last time I washed, I changed my usual routine.

Instead of hot wash/cold rinse I changed to warm wash/warm rinse. I used 1/4 cup of the soap powder, instead of my usual three tablespoons plus my usual scoop of Sun Oxy Wash. In the softener compartment I put in 2 tablespoons of vinegar, I usually use none.

The results impressed me. The clothes were still soft and fluffy as usual. Even with the increased ammount of laundry powder, they seem to have rinsed out more thoroughly. I have less of a scent on the clothes than before, and the clothes were cleaner. From now on I will be using a warm rinse whenever possible, and two tablespoons of vinegar in the softener department.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 2:25PM
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We live in Canada where, in the winter, cold water is very cold. My husband plumbed a link from the hot water line to the cold water line with a backflow valve (to stop cold water from bleeding into the hot line) in order for me to have warm rinses. I found a remarkable difference in the way warm water rinsed out soap compared to cold and will never rinse with cold water again.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 1:00PM
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And don't forget that "hot", "warm" and "cold" are relative, not measured terms. Some consider 90° as being "hot", while some consider it "cold"!

    Bookmark   December 26, 2008 at 11:55PM
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