Why me?! Why are my whites turning grey and smelling musty? My sheets smell musty, too! Why?! Could it be the homemade laundry detergent I've been using for over a year with no problems until recently? When I lived in my last apartment, my laundry was ALWAYS fresh-smelling right out of the wash. I've added more and more vinegar to each load, soaked overnight, tried both chlorine and non-chlorine bleach, and nothing has resolved the issue.
I finally broke the news to my mom-in-law, since she is the maker of the detergent. "I don't think the homemade detergent is working anymore. It must be building up in my clothes," I said. "My laundry feels strange - like there's a film on it - and it's smelling musty." "Do You have hard water," she asks? "Yes," I reply.
Turns out, my water is VERY hard! The laundry issues didn't begin until about a month after we moved into our new place. So, last night I sent Logan on an emergency run to Walmart to purchase Calgon, a laundry additive that is supposed to soften water in the washer. I added it immediately to my load of whites. Even during the rinse cycle, the water was murky and dirty! It must be working, I thought. It's cleaning out all the build-up in my clothes!
Well, they still smelled musty after the cycle was complete. So, I did some googling and found nothing new. I already knew Borax & vinegar were great at removing smells, but had no luck up to this point - but that's because my water was hard.
So, I re-started the wash with a capful of Calgon, 1/2 C Borax, and twice the homemade laundry soap that I normally add (since apparently you need more to clean with hard water). Then, in the first rinse cycle, I added 1 C white distilled vinegar. I also set the machine for a second rinse.
The verdict? They're more fresh but still not quite there. Hopefully I don't have to add ALL of those ingredients every time. I'll never give up! It's a complicated romance, my cotton and I.