Saturday, 27 March 2010
My journey to clean clothes and diapers has always been a struggle. As most of you know, the traveling alone makes me want to throw a blanket over my head and cry! Finding detergents that clean well, leave no residue and don't cause irritation or allergic reactions has proven hard as well. Couple all that with all the trials and tribulations associated with the alchemy of water softening and laundry becomes a full time job.
This journey has taken me through testing every detergent that got 4 stars on every safe list, trying every homemade recipe and every WAHM brand as well! At one time I was washing diapers in my sink with baking soda and vinegar. Another point in time I was using original powder Tide, then Sun & Earth, Purex Naturals, Arm & Hammer Essentials, Charlie's Soap - till I finally found Lil' Outlaws for the win! All the others worked well too though, particularly the Arm & Hammer Essentials unscented and the Sun & Earth - both of which I still keep around and would use with no problem if my fav were depleted. Unfortunately Tide irritates both Luke's and my skin, Charlie's Soap actually burned him and the Purex Naturals were ok for the clothes, they took too many rinses to remove from dipes no matter how little I used!
For water softening I have tried vinegar, baking soda, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, RLR, Ecover and Borax until the right alchemy with Calgon/Oxyclean was achieved! Even though some of these things have the same ingredients and would seem to all do the same thing, they DON'T! It took a series of different tests over a couple years to perfect it. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda comes close to the water softening results I get from oxyclean but it's not as good in the hard water I'm using at the moment.
Oh and killing bacteria? Tried/used it all: tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, bleach (bleck! I only keep a tiny amount around now for my stubborn dirty toilet), BacOut and baking soda. Tea tree oil is my preferred choice, a drop or 2 in the offending washload, paired with an extra rinse cycle, does the trick for me.
The actual washing routine changed mightily as well. From pre-rinsing and double or triple washing to 2nd 3rd and 4th rinses after washing - I've done it all. I now have it down to a science that is pristine where I now do laundry. Lord help me when we move and I have to do all this again! For now though, it is simple but time consuming, inconvenient and somewhat expensive.
For our regular laundry I use 1 tablespoon of Lil' Outlaws with 2 tablespoons of (offbrand) Oxyclean in a full hot wash, no fabric softener in the wash or dryer - only my handmade wool dryer balls. For my diapers, mama cloth and heavily soiled rags/towels I use 2 tablespoons of Lil'Outlaws with 2 tablespoons of Calgon in a short cold wash, then run a full hot wash with nothing an dry on hot with the wool balls. This has been working for me perfectly for some time. I haven't had to strip dipes in months and months and our clothes have never been softer or cleaner - so I'm satisfied. But as I said, there are inconveniences and they are getting to be a bit much for me. So I began searching threads looking for something new...
Well thanks to the suggestion of some of the wonderful ladies over on the CWCB board I have successfully added a new weapon to my laundry arsenal!
Arm & Hammer with Oxyclean (powder, not liquid)!
I was obviously a little skeptical at first, since I've done SO MUCH testing and research to get to currently perfected laundry alchemy that I didn't want to mess with it and end up having to strip dipes or something!
So I went out the other night and picked up a box to check it out. The fragrance was STRONG straight through the box, which was a little disturbing. More disturbing though was the size of the scoop you are supposed to use for one load of laundry! I measured it out and it fit 14 tablespoons of the powder in it! 14!
Assuming I might need double what I'd normally use considering two products are combined here I used 6 tablespoons in my first try. I just happened to have a loads worth of stinky rags waiting to be washed which I thew in with it on a single hot wash! They came out of the washer seemingly stain and stink free, which doesn't always mean they are clean... but on inspection of the final rinse cycle I saw no suds or residue floating on top so I was really excited! Out of the dryer they smelled as fresh and clean as they normally do with Outlaws!! Next I did towels, the kids clothes and our clothes - same result!
This means I can save my Outlaws stash strictly for washing diapers!
Out of curiosity I had to test it on diapers, but first I had to test it on Luke's super sensitive butt! I trifolded a flannel wipe (that I just washed with the A&H w/Oxy) and laid it in his diaper. Next diaper change I found a nice smooth, non-red butt! Yay! Now onto the diapers!
After much deliberation, I decided on 8 tablespoons (or 4 scoops with the Oxyclean scoop) for a full load and ran through my regular routine. A 'full' wash load to me is 3/4 of the way up the agitator with plenty of room for everything to move freely through the wash. I took a peek into the machine during the final rinse/agitation of the cold wash to find NO SUDS! That means I most likely could have skipped the hot wash, but I wanted to be sure all the enzymes were rinsed clean so I ran the hot wash as well.
The result? Fresh clean diapers, with one exception - microfiber. Anyone that cloth diapers knows how well microfiber can hold stink when you are dealing with hard water, and I'm no stranger. I have a couple microfiber inserts that are 3 or 4 layers thick, sewn together, and upon using one of them in a pocket last night I found out that after one use on Luke - it REEKED! But the insert in Raven's nighttime pocket did not. Now, I generally always rinse inserts of this type prior to tossing them in the wetbag - weather they were poo'd on or not - but I occasionally forget, which would explain stinkage. I'm going to chalk it up to user error because some of the rags I washed initially stank to high heaven prior to washing and didn't even retain an inkling of stench.
I will of course do some more testing to satisfy my own idea of laundry perfection, and in the meantime I have quite a Lil' Outlaws stash to keep my dipes awesomely clean. For now though, the fact is, Arm & Hammer plus Oxyclean powder gets things clean, rinses away well AND is safe for sensitive little buns!!
What's your favorite laundry "weapon"? Do you or your children have sensitive skin? What laundry products do you find don't irritate your skin?