I'm a bit obsessive about a few things.
1. Locking doors.
2. Unplugging toasters
3. Folding shirts (Gap-style, of course)
4. Washing my hands after touching raw meat or sick people
And my very favorite...
So, let's talk about laundry. It all began in high school when my Mom (sorry to divulge this, Mom!) washed my favorite white undershirt and it came out pink! Fortunately, the stains were only on the edging of the shirt, leaving it cuter than before the wash. Around that time, I also had long, gangly thoroughbred legs. Since "long" jeans weren't in mainstream stores yet, I had to make due with regular 34" inseams, stretching them when wet & leaving them out to dry. With these things in mind, I decided I'd better start doing my own laundry.
Over the years, and especially since I had my first baby, I've become a FREAK about removing stains. Add to that my mother-&-sister-in-laws teaching me about the many uses of vinegar & homemade laundry detergent. I've become a laundryopath!
Stain removers. Blah. Most of them don't work. One of those includes "Spray & Wash Max with Resolve Power." It sounds so powerful - like it's gonna ZAP those poo stains right out of those onesies. Wrong. Waste of money. So, here's a regimen that DOES work: Melaleuca's PreSpot. That stuff has removed dried stains of all kinds, including strawberry & ketchup. I use it for everything. And for the stains it can't remove completely (like mildew, infant poo, blood), I soak in Oxy Clean powder - amazing stuff. I try to avoid bleach for several reasons - I don't like the baby's clothes/burp cloths/bibs to smell like bleach AND because the fumes are really strong and give me a headache (can't imagine what they must do to the kids). But, every once in a while, if the stains are on white stuff, I'll just use a little because it works so quickly. Then, I rinse well & add it to the regular wash to get the bleach smell out.
Baby clothes. I wash a load of Hoss's sleepers, onesies, blankets, bibs, & burp cloths a few times each week as needed. Just before bed, I set the washer to the smallest load size & fill with hot water & 1/2 C Borax. I use the smallest load size so the Borax doesn't dilute as much & is more powerful. I add all the baby stuff & let it agitate for a few minutes to mix it all up. Then, I pull the knob to turn off the washer, leave the lid down & let it all soak over night. In the morning, I add more hot water to the machine, detergent, the rest of the clothes I want in the load & let it run. Viola - clean baby stuff. No buckets, no waiting, no wasted water or Borax.
Vinegar. My love for vinegar began when I was pregnant with my first. Fumes from harsh cleaning products made me feel sick. I went to help clean a church building during that time & realized they clean with vinegar. I spoke to my sis-in-law who verified that it can be used for EVERYTHING. After some internet research, I found this website with 1001 uses for vinegar: Vinegar Tips Website. It claims, "Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew." So, in every load of laundry, I always add 1/4 C vinegar to the rinse cycle. If towels get stinky, a major problem in our first apartment, I wash them in hot water with 2 C vinegar to remove the odor & mildew. Then, I launder as usual with detergent. I used to use bleach for this, but then my towels always smelled like bleach - gross. Now, they smell like nothing - just cloth.
I also use vinegar for general cleaning. When I was preggo with #2, I started cleaning tubs, toilets, everything with vinegar because I couldn't stand the smell of anything else. Under my kitchen sink is always a spray bottle containing vinegar diluted with water. It's great for cleaning counters & wiping out the refrigerator. The best part is, once it dries, you cannot smell the vinegar. Love the stuff. Wait, no, the best part is that it's really cheap and lasts much longer than a $4 bottle of fancy all-natural eco-friendly cleaner.
Detergent. Homemade, for real. So, my mum-in-law decided to try making her own laundry detergent. What began as a small trial batch has turned into countless 5-gallon buckets that everyone in the family uses! The ingredients include Borax, Fels Naptha (old fashioned soap purchased online) & washing soda (not baking soda - also purchased online). Yes, ladies & gents, just three basic ingredients, add water & voila! You have several gallons of liquid detergent. It has a nice lemony scent and leaves clothes smelling fresh, which is really no type of scent at all.
Do not use homemade if you have hard water - read posting above.
I told you - LAUNDRYOPATH! I love laundering (hate folding). It's a passion of mine. And when people flatter me by asking for stain-removing help, my heart flutters & leaps a bit as I devise my first string of attacks. And when I conquer, as I nearly always do, I beam with pride and always call my husband at work. I can tell he's excited, too, by the drone in his voice as he congratulates, "Good for you, sweetie." Oh the joy! Oh and if anyone actually reads this far, you're either as bad as I am or not far off. ;)