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Article: Home remedies & homemade detergent – ​​useful or harmful?

Hausmittel & selbst gemachtes Waschmittel – sinnvoll oder schädlich?
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Home remedies & homemade detergent – ​​useful or harmful?

From an ecological perspective, there are some arguments in favor of homemade detergent. For example, less plastic is wasted and only ingredients that you have chosen yourself are used. Unfortunately, there are also arguments against using homemade detergent. You can find out what these are and what we can conclude from them here.

Why should you want to make your own detergent?

If you want to live more consciously and sustainably, start questioning your own habits. These include, for example, diets, consumer behavior or even cleaning and washing habits.

It is obvious that a lot of plastic is used in the production of commercial detergents. In addition to packaging waste, frequently used, dangerous chemicals also speak against the sustainability of detergents. Many detergents are not completely biodegradable. If you make detergent yourself instead, you can decide which ingredients ultimately find their way into the product. This can also ensure, for example, that there are no animal ingredients in the end product. You also save money and packaging.

Another reason for wanting to switch to a do-it-yourself (“DIY”) option can be allergic reactions that conventional detergent sometimes triggers on the skin.

How is DIY laundry detergent made?

Detergent made at home is quick to make and consists of only a few ingredients (which can of course be expanded as desired). The core components are washing soda, grated soap and water. Essential oils are usually added to give the detergent a personal scent. Depending on the recipe, citric acid, vinegar or spirit are sometimes added. Once the mixture has been mixed in the correct proportions, heated and then cooled, it is poured into used detergent containers or a container with a screw lid. The good thing is that such containers can be used again and again - plastic waste is avoided.

The specially produced detergent is then filled into the detergent compartment as usual before the wash cycle.

If you are interested in making your own detergent, you can quickly google and find many different recipes with detailed quantities and preparation instructions.

In addition to homemade detergent, there are also some home remedies that can be helpful when washing and make your favorite pants or tops shine again.

3 home remedies for washing that you are guaranteed to have at home

1. Restore faded colors with salt and pepper

Maybe you already use salt in your household as a first aid remedy for stains. For example with red wine. Salt and pepper are also suitable for rinsing out soap residue that remains in washed textiles. In the long run, these soap residues cause the clothing to become duller and less radiant. Simply add a teaspoon of salt and/or (ground) pepper directly into the washing machine and then wash your laundry at a low temperature.

2. Gray Veil, no thanks! Where baking soda can help

Many white textiles fade over time and acquire a gray cast. And this despite efforts to strictly separate white and colored laundry. Such a gray haze is often caused by dust and dirt that has found its way into the washing machine. A home remedy can help here too: the sodium hydrogen carbonate contained in baking soda cleans fibers deep into the pores. Simply add a packet of baking soda to the washing drum before your next wash. This will make your white laundry sparkling white again and leave it smelling pleasant.

3. Clean, well-smelling laundry thanks to lemon juice

Lemons not only contain valuable vitamins, but also helpful citric acid. This is effective against dirt and can also remove limescale from clothing, for example. It is therefore ideal as a natural cleaning agent. Another plus point: Lemons have a fresh aroma and make your clothes smell even cleaner. Simply cut a lemon in half and squeeze one of them. Now put the juice in the washing machine before your wash cycle. If there are severe stains on your clothing, you can also put the juice directly on the clothing and let it work there.

Person holds bottle with homemade detergent

Photo by Sarah Chai

What speaks against homemade detergent?

Despite its many advantages, DIY detergent is always criticized. It is said to cause long term damage to clothing AND washing machine. The biggest difference between homemade detergent and conventional detergent is that DIY detergent relies on the effects of soap, while conventional detergent contains enzymes and surfactants. These remove dirt from laundry even at low temperatures and quantities.

But what is the problem with soap? After washing, there is usually still soap residue in the clothes; it is not completely washed out. If you've washed laundry by hand, you may know that it takes a lot of friction, time, and water to rinse out all the soap residue. In addition, lime soap can form if the water contains a lot of lime. This means that the soap no longer has a cleaning effect. Another point that speaks against soap is that soap or lime soap residues build up in clothing and in the washing machine, trapping dirt, bacteria and fats. In the long term, such deposits not only damage the textiles, but also the washing machine. So if you expect this long-term damage, you can argue that DIY detergent is no cheaper in the long run than conventional detergent.

Because only a relatively small amount of soap is used per wash cycle with homemade detergent, it is also argued that the laundry does not get clean properly and a gray haze forms.

In order to remove soap residue from clothing during the wash cycle, vinegar is often added to homemade detergent. Unfortunately, the combination of the acidity of the vinegar and the metal of the washing machine means that the lifespan of the washing machine is significantly shortened.

Conclusion

In principle, there is nothing wrong with using homemade detergent for hand washing, for example, as the soap it contains can be rinsed out thoroughly. It should also be mentioned that conventional detergents can also cause deposits in the washing machine. Therefore, you should clean your washing machine regularly either way and run it at 60 degrees about once a month.

In addition, for normal dirt without strong stains, the water, heat and friction are usually enough to clean the clothing. The lower effectiveness of the (cure) soap in DIY detergents doesn't play such a big role here.

If you would like to use home remedies such as baking powder, lemon or salt, you are welcome to do so. However, you should pay attention to the frequency with which the food is used, as the salts and acids can cause long-term damage to the washing machine.

Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves whether they want to make their own detergent or continue to use conventional detergent in order to avoid any risks.

What you can and should definitely do is look for more sustainable detergent. Ecological detergent should be free of chlorine, phosphates and parabens. You should also look for an environmental seal to ensure that the product is free of microplastics.

If you would like to find out more about topics such as the environment and sustainability, mindfulness, family and pregnancy or healthy nutrition, take a look at the exciting blog articles here.

Person fills washing machine with detergent

Photo by cottonbro studio

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