Natural Laundry Products | Anyclean

updated: 23/10/2023

It’s washing day again (or it’s time to do the daily load of washing). If you look down the supermarket aisles at the amount of products available to help you do the laundry, the list seems endless: washing powder of various types, fabric softener, soaking treatments, stain removers, anti-static products to put in driers, starch, linen sprays… And every one of these laundry commercial cleaning products has a barrage of artificial (and possibly even toxic) chemicals and fragrances.

Thankfully, many of these products can be replaced by natural home made laundry products, or the need for some of them eliminated all together. At the outset, however, it is important to state that soap flakes may be unsuitable to use as a substitute for detergent powder in modern washing machines, as soap can leave a residue (especially in hard water areas) that can clog and damage the machine. If you have sensitive skin, use a low-fragrance or fragrance-free brand of laundry powder instead.

Essential oils can be added to any of these laundry treatments for natural scent. The traditional scent to use in laundry is lavender (the name lavender derives from the Latin lavare meaning “to wash”). Eucalyptus oil is another popular essential oil to use in the laundry, as it has stain removing properties. Other oils are moth repellents, especially natural camphor and cinnamon.

Soaking and pre-wash treatments: For many stains, a long soak in cold water is all that’s necessary to loosen excess dirt and float it out of the fabric. For tougher stains, add soap gel to the soaking water. Making soap gel is easy: simply save slivers of soap in a container, and pour hot water over the scraps to melt them – you can add essential oil to scent the gel if you like – eucalyptus oil has some stain removal properties. Select the water temperature carefully. While hot water can melt and loosen grease as well as enhancing the wetting properties of ordinary soap, hot water will set protein based stains (e.g. blood or egg yolk). Lukewarm (blood heat or about 30 degrees Celsius) water is probably the best option.

Fabric softener: To make towels and cotton sheets soft and fluffy, try adding ½ a cup of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) to the washing water, and 1 cup of vinegar to the final rinse. The baking soda and the vinegar will react within the clothing, and the resulting fizz will fluff up the fibres of the fabric. Alternatively, just add vinegar to the final rinse. This will reduce the pH of the clothing – a must for any washing load containing urine-stained items (nappies, and items from children who still wet the bed or have trouble holding on), as the vinegar neutralized the rash-causing ammonia in the urine.

Stain removers: Depending on the type of stain, clothing can be treated prior to washing with a range of natural stain removers. Vodka (or another strong alcohol), soap, lemon juice, glycerine, essential oil of eucalyptus and vinegar all have natural stain removal properties. Some people swear by using half a cut potato as a “stain removal stick.”

Anti-static treatments: You only need these if you use a clothes dryer, and you can eliminate the need for them entirely if you switch to drying clothing on an outside washing line or on a clothes horse.

Starch: If you like crisp, starched collars and cuffs, use the real original laundry starch: good old cornflour. Mix about a teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch) with water in a spray dispenser and squirt the item to be treated before ironing on low. Set the iron too high and the cornstarch will burn and turn brown – but this is washable. Or give the item to be starched the Mrs Tiggywinkle treatment – mix the starch mixture in a bowl and dip the item to be ironed into it.

Linen spray: Instead of aerosols laden with artificial fragrances, make your own from distilled water and essential oil (about 10 drops of oil or so to a pint of water). Lavender is a traditional scent to add to linen – it has moth-repellent properties – but experiment and blend to find your personal favourite. Any oil you love will do!

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About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.