Years ago, I hopped on the homemade laundry detergent train. I thought it was cheaper, more natural, and worked just as well as commercial laundry detergent. I used it in my high efficiency front loading washing machine for years until we had Penny and then I decided to try a different laundry detergent on our cloth diapers. I figured they were the dirtiest laundry I would probably ever wash so I wanted a heavy duty detergent (aka not homemade) to tackle the filthy diapers. I bought liquid Ecos laundry detergent to try, as it is Earth friendly and claims to be “green”. It didn’t work very well for cloth diapers as it’s a pretty gentle detergent and the liquid I bought didn’t contain enzymes. At that point I decided to try to use it up on my regular laundry when the homemade ran out.
That is when the oil spots started appearing on our laundry. I would put in clothes that I knew didn’t have oil spots on them in the wash, and they would come out like this. I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I wasted trying to figure out the cause of these oil spots. I cleaned the filters to my machine, switched from powdered to liquid laundry detergent, switched back to liquid, tried scented laundry detergent, tried unscented laundry detergent, tried everything. I noticed the worst spots would show up on dark clothing, usually cotton knits. It wasn’t until I put in a navy pair of cotton jersey t shirt sheets and they came out with the spots on them that I knew without a doubt that something was wrong. I called an appliance repair place and they told me that there was no way that the machine could be leaking oil into the drum of the washing machine so there had to be something else wrong. They offered to send someone out to check on the machine, and I agreed because my next step was to take the washing machine outside and set it on fire. I am not joking-I was so tired of dealing with washing laundry and it coming out worse than when I had put it in!
The repairman came out, took a look at the washer and was disgusted. He said the machine was absolutely filthy and had a gunk build up around the rubber boot at the door and all around it. He removed the rubber boot and scrubbed it with a brush in the sink. He also scrubbed around the drum and where it met the rubber boot to remove gunk. He ran two washing machine cleaning cycles with washing machine cleaner and told me that should help. What was happening was the clothes would be washing and when they started to spin they would shake the rubber boot so hard that it was basically spewing the nasty gunk from around the rubber ring back onto the clothes. Disgusting!!
He recommended we switch to a liquid laundry detergent and use washing machine cleaner once a month and we shouldn’t have any more problems. We followed his advice and haven’t had any problems since! Whew. I also have wondered if it was bad for our pipes and septic system as the homemade laundry detergent contains bar soap which is notorious for build up. That is the main problem with the homemade detergent- all it is is soap, washing soda (a water softener), and borax (another water softener). Good laundry detergent needs surfactants and sometimes enzymes in addition to water softeners. Surfactants lift away dirt and enzymes eat stains. The water softeners allow the water to be softened so that the detergent works more effectively. We generally buy store brand free and clear laundry detergent now since I can’t stand scented detergents. We’ve been very happy with it, and I am so pleased to not be dealing with those annoying oil stains any longer!
What kind of laundry detergent do you use?