In Sicily, I have yet to find a top loading washing machine. Everyone I know, including myself, owns a front loading washing machine. The reason is because electricity is very expensive here, as well as in most parts of Europe, thus the reason for line drying (which I absolutely love!). Now, in the beginning, it was a bit of an adjustment for me as I was used to a top loader back home in California, and a dryer! What do we do when it rains?! Well, if you don’t have a garage or a covered patio, you find creative ways to hang the laundry! But there is nothing as “home-y” as walking along the street and seeing laundry hanging from balconies. It’s really an old world charm that I never get enough of. As a matter of fact, I now love hanging laundry out to dry =) Try it!
Now, since I get headaches, I wanted something natural and that didn’t leave a strong lingering smell after the clothes were washed. The clothes had to be clean, and that’s about all that concerns me. Also, I’m not really concerned if the liquid is runny or snotty-like or if it doesn’t have the texture like the commercial cleaners. Natural and clean is what I’m going for. You will be surprised to find out what I discovered!
Here is what you will need:
– Grated all natural vegetable soap flakes (finely grate your soap with a hand or electrical grater). Here in Sicily, a friend of mine bought me a bar of soap called “WINNI’S”….it’s an all natural vegetable soap with a mild scent of citronella. You can just use whatever natural bar of soap you like.
– Hot water
I usually do a 1:11 part ration, using a 4 ounce cup. 1 part grated flakes, 11 parts hot water. Mix the two until all the flakes are dissolved, fill it in a container (I had some recycled empty glass bottles on hand ), and when it cools completely, close the bottle. That’s it! You can double or triple the recipe according to your family’s size\usage. Note: You can also blend the flakes and water with a blender if your flakes don’t dissolve easily.
Dosage: My front loader holds 15 pounds of laundry. I use about 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) for a full load. (It may sound like a lot, but remember, it’s diluted with 11 parts water!) From my ratio, I usually get 1.6 liters or 50 fluid ounces of detergent. That means if I use 7-8 ounces for a full load, my mix usually lasts me about 7-8 FULL LOAD washes, which is about 2 weeks or so. An entire bar (250 grams) will usually yield me 4-5 months of detergent. Not bad considering the bar runs about 3 Euro or so, or about $4.20 =)
Your front loader should have a sensor to know how much water to dispense inside given the weight of the clothes. If your machine tends to add more water than less, you can try making a ratio of 1:9 or so. That way, your detergent won’t be too watered down while the machine is running. Try a few loads, see how the clothes turn out, then adjust your soap flakes to water ratio when making the detergent, as well as the dosage you add to the machine, accordingly. Now, just FYI: After adding the detergent to the compartment in washing machine, I immediately follow with 1\4 cup of baking soda due to the hard water in my area….others just like to add the baking soda for odor removal…..it’s up to you.
1) Remember, the consistency of your final product will depend upon what soap you use and the type of water you have. For mine, if I use less water it tends to coagulate like Jello once the water cools, so 1:11 ration gives me the perfect ratio.
2) I use normal hot tap water, because I don’t store this long term. I make enough for about 2 weeks only. If you want to make enough to store this long term, say months, you may want to use hot distilled, boiled, or purified water, adding some type of antibacterial essential oil, like Eucalyptus. (In California, the Target near my parents carries a bottle of Eucalyptus in the Hispanic herbal section of the OTC medicine aisles for about $3.00 a bottle)
3) Instead of using fabric softener, I use straight DIY citrus scented vinegar. (I place lemon or orange peels in a glass jar and pour white wine vinegar ….we only have red or white wine vinegar here in Sicily, but in the States, I’ve used regular distilled vinegar….over the peels, letting them seep for a couple of weeks, then filter out the peels so you are left with orange scented vinegar). No, the clothes do NOT smell like vinegar, don’t worry. And guess what I discovered? My clothes don’t fade and the colors are more vibrant than ever! Want another piece of good news? The vinegar helps prevent lint on clothes, along with static! =)
4) Coming out of the washing machine, your clothes will not have any lingering smell, “neither good nor bad” if you use all natural soap. Basically, you will have a “clean” smell, but not a “perfumed” one.
5) A word about stains: Since this is a method using natural soap and no chemicals, stains may not always disappear. You will need to pre-treat stains as early as possible. This is what I do, but you can follow whatever method you normally use, or search the Internet for stain removal tips.
—If stains are small are localized:
(Food\beverage): Rub a natural bar of soap or a tiny squirt of natural dish soap over the stain. Using a hard toothbrush, dip in COLD water and brush. Usually I see the stain disappear immediately. Wash as normal. If stains are cooking oil based, sprinkle baking soda over the stain and after 2 -3 minutes, dust off the baking soda. Then proceed with the above pre-treater method using the soap bar\dish soap.
(Blood\urine): Follow the above method for food\beverage, however use HOT water when scrubbing with a toothbrush.
—If stains are large \ multiple stains
Natural method: Soak overnight in VERY HOT water, sprinkling a generous amount of baking soda and adding 1\2 cup of undiluted vinegar.
What I call my “last resort method”: Soak in WARM water with the recommended dosage of OXI CLEAN (the kind for both whites and colored clothing) for a couple of hours. I really only use this method once in a while when all else fails, as I try to use a natural method first.
Happy Detergent Making!