When it comes to laundry, families whose numbers are larger than four could very well be considered experts in the field. Our family of seven washes a minimum of three loads per day, with the average being five loads per day. Nor is it an uncommon sight to push out 10 loads of laundry a day. We easily generate 2,000 loads of laundry per year. Laundry detergent use to be a costly purchase for our family. We would easily spend $20 each week for one of the leading detergents. The $1,000.00 plus per year expense was putting a strain on our single-income family.

We tried every cheap brand detergent there was to be found and were disappointed with the end results. It wasn’t until our oldest daughter was diagnosed with Acute Chronic Rhinosinusitis that my understanding of laundry detergent was formed. Before then I was like many people who just dumped and washed. As a society we have been trained to equate smells and bubbles to cleanliness. The new-found need for my daughter’s personal environment to be chemical-free transformed me into a detergent geek.

My research led me to the not-so-shocking discovery as to the extent of toxic chemicals that are used to make most detergents. I was now on a mission. I researched every detergent that I could find and was unable to produce a store-bought result that our daughter could use. I started making our own laundry soap and have done so now for several years. Our clothes are clean, our detergent is scent-free and our pockets are fuller. The cost of making a years worth of laundry soap? Under $40 and that is the large end of the scale. If I’m careful on my measurements we can make a years worth of laundry soap for under $20.

The next thing I found was that washing machine maintenance was extremely important. We now clean our machines on a monthly basis. This is done by simply running a load of two towels with 1 C. White Vinegar (bleach equivalent). Because we have a front loading washer, like so many do, I looked into just how much detergent we should be using. Repair men will tell you that you need not use more than 2 TBSP. of detergent per load. If you read your owner’s manual, you will find similar measurements. Most detergents recommend using no more than 1 fluid ounce per wash. I have found that for normal loads I need not use more than 1 TBSP. per load.

Testing your machine to see if you are currently using too much detergent is quick and simple. Take two clean towels and place them in the washer. Set on normal wash and start, DO NOT add any detergent. Once the tub has filled and begins to agitate take a look. If your water is sudsing, you are using too much detergent. If you are using one of the leading brands of detergent, I would venture that you could repeat this experiment with the same towels three, four, five times before the water no longer suds. Besides the obvious waste of product, your clothes and machines are taking a beating. When there is too much soap in the wash the suds rise above the water level taking the dirt and chemical residues with it therefore prohibiting the clothes from being properly cleaned. Once the rinse cycle is complete the remaining residue settles into the machine and produces odor and bacteria build up. You will note that on front loading washers, the instruction manual states that you should leave the door open to allow the machine to dry between loads. Anyone with small children in the house is unable to do this without there being major safety concerns, so proper maintenance of the machines is vitally important to the life span of your washer and your clothes.

If you are not into making your own laundry detergent, I would recommend the Melaleuca laundry products. This is what I use when I need a break from making laundry detergent. You will find that unlike most detergents this eco-friendly product does not come with a massive cap. The cap has a clearly stated fill line with a clear plastic allowing you to actually see what you are doing. When compared to the leading store brand Tide, Melaleuca also saves you money. Melaleuca MelaPower 6X Laundry Detergent is priced at $16.99 for Preferred Members. You would need three 2X Ultra Tides to produce the same 96 load result with the price tag of $26.37. When placed in a product test against Tide Total Care and Method 8X, Melaleuca won hands down in a four category test of safety, brightness, concentration and value, earning solid 5 stars across the board.


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