After writing my previous article, DIY Laundry Detergent, I realized that there is no reason that any of you would trust a word I say on such a subject. If I were you I wouldn’t trust me, and I don’t trust other bloggers on blind faith either. When I find a topic I an interested in, I research. Here is some of my findings on DIY Laundry Detergent, and a few links to help you begin your research if you are inclined.
How does DIY Laundry Detergent Work?
For thousands of years humans have been washing fabric in water. At times we have also hit that fabric against rocks, with sticks, or against the beaters in our washing machines. We have boiled the water, or added things to it, but the use of water hasn’t changed. Why? Water cleans really well. That’s why it is often referred to as, “the universal solvent.” We could wash our clothes in plain water alone, get pretty clean clothes, and save a lot of money.
So if water does such a good job, why do we bother with soaps and detergents? The main reason when it comes to laundry is that oil and water don’t mix, soap acts like a match maker. Soap, or saponified fats, act as emulsifying agents so that oil, and the dirt attracted to it, can be washed away by water. Washing Soda, or Sodium Carbonate is added to the mix because we rarely wash our clothes in pure soft water. Instead, we use tap water, hard, soft, or in-between (for a cute story about the difference between hard and soft water click here). The washing soda bonds with some of the minerals in hard water, particularly magnesium and calcium, so the soap does not have to. Without the washing soda, we would need a LOT more soap.
Finally Borax, or sodium borate, a naturally occurring alkaline mineral, helps whiten whites and brighten brighten. Borax converts some of the water molecules to hydrogen peroxide, which you will know if you have ever seen a peroxide blond, acts similarly to bleach. As an added bonus, it also kills roaches, I bet your old detergent didn’t do that.