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Monday, April 5, 2010

Everything You Want to Know About Natural Laundry Care

Maybe this should read as “Most Everything I learned from my grandmother about “Old Fashioned Laundry Care”. It amazes me that the older I became, the smarter my grandmother became. One of my very first memories of my grandmother is helping her push her old wheeled Maytag Model N 'Chieftan' out the basement door onto the concrete pad of the back porch. Every Monday, rain or shine, was laundry day. If it was raining, she would wash clothes inside in the basement and carry the baskets upstairs to the side porches on each side of the house where my grandfather had placed clotheslines. If the weather was good the laundry was hung on the 4 strands of clothesline that ran from one side of the yard to the other.

I can remember the wonderful clean scent of freshly washed and dried clothing as I undid the clothspins and grasped each garment to my chest to keep them from dragging on the ground. I couldn’t understand why my mothers laundry never smelled like my grandmothers’, but my mother was a “modern” housekeeper. Her washer was almost a twin of the one I use today, plus she had a wonderful time saving electric dryer. Our clothes never saw the light of day except when we wore them. Sunlight is part of the formula for wonderfully white clothes and linens. Bleach is great but often bleach can actually cause the “graying” of your white clothes or linens. If you have a medium to high manganese content in your city or well water the bleach will interact with it and turn your clothing grey.

                                                                        Mantas Ruzveltas
Laundry-The Natural, The Environmentally Conscious Method or How My Grandma Taught Me


Simply pre-soaking with your detergent or laundry soap for ½ hour will help clean heavily soiled clothing.


1. Add your laundry soap or  in 1st- Let powders dissolve or liquids dilute before adding clothes.

2. Loosely load the washer with dry, unfolded clothes. Overloading can be the cause of poor cleaning, extra wear and tear on fabric, extra lint and overworking your washer.

3. Load larger items 1st, then small items and then the medium articles.

Solutions for Stains

Ink stains- a. Moisten with vinegar, then add paste made of vinegar & cornstarch. Let dry then wash as usual.

b. Place cream of tartar on stain, then squeeze a few drops of lemon juice on top. Rub into stain for 1 minute then rinse well.

Perspiration stains- a. Saturate with equal parts vinegar & water and let set for ½ hour. Wash as usual.

b. Add 4 T. salt to 1 quart very hot water. Saturate and let sit for ½ hour.

Perspiration Odor- Add ½ cup of vinegar to wash cycle.

Stained or stinky socks- Dissolve 1/3 cup baking soda with 1 gallon of warm water and let soak for 30-45 minutes.

I Forgot the clothes were in the dryer odor or mildew odor- Run the clothes through an extra rinse cycle with either 1-2 cups of vinegar.

I Use Bleach but my Whites Are Not White!

How Do I Whiten my Laundry?

First you need to find out what makes your clothes dingy. Until you find out the cause the solution may escape you. Too much detergent or improper rinsing and/or hard water are often the main causes of dingy looking whites. Using less detergent is often a simple solution. Also I find that I overload my washer if I am not paying attention. Smaller loads with higher water levels will often help as well as simply adding a ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.

The absolute best method of whitening your whites is something many people are re-discovering, Laundry Bluing. I have only used one company’s which is Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing. It is the only one I have ever found and it was a difficult search. I had to go to four different groceries before I found it. Bluing is fantastic. It whitens whites and also brightens colors—Without harsh chemical! It is not only biodegradable and non-toxic, it also prolongs the life of your clothes.

What is Bluing and How does it Work?

Bluing is a simple, very concentrated liquid made of a fine blue iron powder mixed with water or a colloidal suspension. “Mrs. Stewart's Bluing is a simple, concentrated blue liquid that optically whitens white fabric. It does not remove stains, does not "clean", but adds a microscopic blue particle to white fabric.”

This is the explanation the Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing gives for why it works. “Because blue-white is the most intense white, most artists, when painting a snow scene, will use blue color to intensify the whiteness. As color experts would explain it, the proof comes when two pieces of fabric are placed under a spectrograph - the one with blue added will reflect more light, making the fabric appear its whitest.
Other great uses for Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing:

My absolute favorite use of bluing is one that I learned when I was 6 years old. My constant companion and very best friend was a parti colored Black and White Cocker Spaniel. Our “playground” was 120 acres of tilled earth that was planted with corn one year and soybeans the following year. It consisted mostly of a yellow clay that was impossible to wash out of my long haired dog. The solution for making “Tammy’s” white hair bright white and her black hair beautifully shine was a simple solution of ¼ teaspoon of bluing to 1 gallon of warm water.

According to MSB farmers use it in stock tanks and homeowners use it in bird baths, fish ponds and fountains to retard algae growth.

I have learned another great use for bluing. Are you tired of all your white flowers? Stick your freshly cut flowers in a container filled with a fairly strong bluing solution in warm water. Ever seen a blue rose?


1 comment:

Sydney said...

Great laundry tips while keeping a low carbon footprint.