I have spent the better part of yesterday and today catching up the laundry that multiplied during the holiday vacation. I didn't even know we owned that many clothes! Anyway, it got me thinking about how expensive laundry can be! When it comes to laundry I am picky about detergent. I can usually save money on detergent if I clip coupons and watch for sales, or buy it at Costco (their brand is fabulous; I give it two thumbs up!). My biggest pet peeve with laundry products are stain removers. They are a necessary evil if you have anybody at your house that eats, plays, goes to work, goes to school, works outdoors, works indoors, or is generally human. Most commercial stain removers are expensive and don't work that great either. So when I decided a while back to trim the fluff out of our household budget I started experimenting to find cheaper alternatives. Here's what I came up with ( and thank you to my family for providing me with such a wonderful array of stains to work with!):
A bar of Fels Naptha soap, which can be found in the laundry aisle at most grocery stores for around a dollar, is a great all around stain remover. I keep a spray bottle of water on the shelf above the washing machine. When there is a stain to treat I just spritz it good with water and rub it several times with the bar of Fels Naptha. Let it sit for a few minutes to break down the stain and wash as usual. This will even work on grease stains (lip gloss stains) that have gone through the washer and dryer. Follow the instructions above, but let it sit for about half an hour. Then wash in the hottest water the fabric will stand.
Just a plain old squirt bottle (think empty ketchup bottle) filled with liquid laundry detergent works great as a general purpose stain pre treat too. I like to use the concentrated (like All 3x concentrated laundry detergent. I can usually buy it for about $1.00 to $2.00 for a 32 load bottle if I use a coupon and combine it with a sale). Squirt a little on the stain, rub it in, wait a minute and them wash as usual.
Shampoo will take out ring around the collar. The cheaper the better. Squirt a line along the collar rub it in, and then wash in warm water.
Dish soap is great for grease stains and grass stains.
Mix half white vinegar and half water in a spray bottle and use it to spray on the armpits of shirts that starts to get yellow arm pit rings. Let the clothes sit for a few minutes so it can start to break down the stain. Wash clothes in warm water if possible.
Hydrogen peroxide will get blood out of any white laundry (carpet too). It also works to bleach out stains on white areas of patterned clothes (try not to get it on the colored section. It can bleach out colors). Use a cotton swab to treat the white area.
Dishwasher detergent (gel works the best) is awesome for getting grass and ground in dirt stains out of white football pants. Get the pants wet and squirt dirty spots with dishwasher detergent. Scrub with a scrub brush. Let them sit for several minutes. Rinse out well and wash in warm water. I usually scrub the pants laid out in the bath tub so I can hose them down with the shower head and contain the mess.
Finally, if you have dingy whites soak them overnight in your washing machine. Add a cup of baking soda and 1 1/2 cups white vinegar to the wash water. Let them agitate for a few minutes and then turn off the machine and let them soak overnight. In the morning drain the tub and then wash the whites in warm water with your regular detergent. If you have a front load washing machine use 1/2 cup of baking soda and 3/4 cup white vinegar. Put the baking soda directly in the wash tub, add the clothes, and then add the vinegar in the dispenser cup. Set your machine to the soak cycle and then follow the instructions for your machine. The combination of soda and vinegar will break down the build up in the whites and make them brighter.