Doing Laundry with Vinegar, Baking Soda, Citric Acid, and Salt instead of Regular Laundry Detergents & Fabric Softeners: Different Methods & Their Results
With all the information about the unhealthy aspects (hormone disruption, respiratory issues, allergies, etc.) of standard laundry detergents & fabric softeners, I decided to start using more natural ingredients for washing clothes, towels, and bed linens.
I've never seen borax (a highly recommended natural cleaner) or ammonia here in Israel (which either means they aren't available in the areas I've visited or else they're sold under a completely different name in Hebrew), so I use the following products instead (the ch in Hebrew-English transliteration represents a guttural sound not found in English):
The above are found in every grocery store in Israel.
Note: If you're totally new to any of this (as I once was), please be careful to not use anything but the clear vinegar because the coloring in other vinegars can stain your clothes (although I've successfully used the synthetic colored vinegar with dark laundry. But I wouldn't try it with white or pastel laundry.)
BTW: I never saw citric acid in America (except for in ingredients lists), so I was surprised to see it in the spice section of every Israeli grocery store, and initially wondered what it was for. Israelis use it to get rid of the hard water build-up in kettles and urns. There is also an Iraqi soup that calls for lots of lemons, but people use citric acid instead.
Yeah, the water in Israel is what's called "hard" water (I never knew there were different kinds of water like this—i.e., hard vs. soft—until I came to Israel), which basically means that white or gray limescale deposits build up pretty fast in your kettle, urn, faucets, sinks, and washing machine.
(White vinegar & powdered citric acid each help get rid of those deposits.)
Note: All the following applies to a side-loading washing machine using hard water, and then putting the wet laundry through a dryer.
(An added benefit of using the above products is that, when they clean your clothes, they also clean out the hard-water limescale from your washing machine and plumbing.)
Dark & Colored Laundry
What I use:
What I used:
Note: My brief research showed that citric acid might fade colors, so I only use it with white laundry.
A One-Time Experiment Using Salt Only
What I used:
Only once did I use coarse sea salt alone: to clean a load of very dirty cleaning rags.
So based on this, I would not generally use salt on its own as a laundry detergent.
What I Continue to Use
Here are my conclusions:
Reminder: All this laundry was done using a side-loading machine & hard water, not the soft water more common in the USA. That could make a difference in the results.
I hope you found this helpful.