Using Less Laundry Soap

by updated 2011/07/17

Recently, I have noticed that there are more laundry detergents free of certain dyes and fragrances. The ban years ago on phosphates in laundry detergent originated from research that showed those chemicals were causing harm in the environment, particularly in lakes and streams. The recent chorus of consumers asking for lower chemical laundry soap is not environmental in nature, but a result of a desire to limit exposure to those chemicals on clean clothes. A beneficial side result of these new products will be fewer chemicals down the drain.

People have been clamoring for some time for detergents that clean their laundry, but use fewer chemicals that can cause allergies and skin irritation. I remember the Blue Laundry Ball scam from several years ago. People would purchase one of these balls for 75 dollars and claimed that their clothes were getting just as clean as they were when they used laundry detergent. Some believed the claims of the ball’s distributors partly because they really wanted to be able to clean their clothes without all the chemicals in their laundry products. But, I think the main reason these balls were able to fool people is because water by itself, (which is what a load of laundry with a blue plastic ball in it is), can do a very good job of cleaning clothes. Although I was more than skeptical about the 75 dollar plastic ball as soon as I heard of it, the whole multi-level marketing laundry ball scam did open my eyes to something else…. If water by itself can in some instances clean clothes quite well, then I might get good results by reducing or eliminating the amount of detergent I used in my own loads of laundry.

What I tried was using 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent in each full load. There was not a noticeable difference in how clean the clothes turned out. Now we buy the largest liquid, free of dyes and perfumes, bottle of detergent we can find and use it to fill up the smaller bottle kept in the laundry room 1/2 way. I then fill the remainder with water and use the recommended capful with each full load thereby using 50% less detergent. My clothes always turn out perfectly clean, fewer chemicals are rinsed down the drain, and money spent on expensive detergent is reduced by one half.

Try reducing the amount of soap used in your laundry. You may find that when using 1/2 as much of a liquid, free of dyes and perfumes, detergent, you can still get your laundry perfectly clean. Some folks say they use even less than 1/2 the recommended amount. I have also seen people write that they need to use the full amount to get their clothes clean. Be aware that, as is said in marketing, “your results may vary” and may be influenced by your water hardness…. or your receptivity to advertising messages.

Will Sig
1 K.Fields

I do the same thing with my Fabric Softener; I think the clothes turn out even better. And they don’t have those grey looking stains on them anymore..
Great Post!

K.Fields last blog post..Whole Lotta’ Shakin’ Going on!

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2 David

Hello, years ago my parents spent 1500 on laundry balls. Then I remember seeing an infomercial claiming people could get their money back from this scam. But now its been about 8 years. Is it too late now? Please tell me if you have any information! Thanks!

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3 Kris

I am going to have to disagree. I am a university student and I was sick of lugging heavy and not so eco- friendly detergent up and down my dorm stairs on a weekly basis. A few friends in Europe (why are they so much more eco friendly in Europe?) told me about this product (Green Wash Ball) they have been using—a green alternative to detergent. I was a bit skeptical, but did recently try the Green Wash Ball It is amazing! My clothes came out clean,bright and and smelling fresh!

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4 Will

Kris that is because, with the exception of certain grease stains, etc. washing your clothes in plain water with no soap works fine. Washing in nothing but water will often get your clothes just as clean as using soap. Washing in nothing but water is what you are doing when you use one of these “laundry balls”.

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5 Will

Hi Kris – Also – Is that your article about the ball I found on Helium? If a laundry ball works for you, great, but I am still skeptical.

My skepticism is only heightened when I read on the Official Green Wash Ball site that it works by emitting “powerful remote infrared rays”.

I remember when people were saying the Blue Laundry Ball left their clothes “clean, bright and and smelling fresh”. Then this was tested by doing loads of wash with the Blue Laundry Ball and other loads with nothing but water. The Laundry Ball believers could not do any better than chance in telling the difference. Every test showed plain water worked exactly as well as the ball.

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6 Green Building

As Kris I too was skeptical at the beginning. But I thought I should try for the sake of the environment. And it did wash the clothes extremely well. That and plus its eco friendly

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7 Anonymous

As Kris I too was skeptical at the beginning. But I thought I should try for the sake of the environment. And it did wash the clothes extremely well. That and plus its eco friendly

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8 Will

Again, that is because the water works well alone. If you feel better adding an expensive blue ball to your washing machine, then that is fine. But it is having absolutely no effect on your clothes.

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9 Clair Bloom

Hello Kris (1/5/10)
What kind of laundry ball are you using?

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10 S. Holm

All of you who like the “infrared emitting super laundry balls” why don’t you just cut down on the amount of detergent used instead of spending a heap of money on a ball that probably is just a ball?

I don’t really mind that you’re using a laundry ball, there’s no harm in it, but me, I would really hesitate to spend $70 on a ball, at least I would try only water first and see if that makes my clothes clean.

Simon

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11 Will

Simon you have a lot of common sense. But then the marketers of these scam products are not targeting people with common sense!

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12 Gary Carraghan

What a great idea, you will not only be saving twice as much money by reducing the amount of detergent, but your also helping save the environment! Thanks so much for sharing. I will be trying this out my next load.

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13 Paula

I use one cup Baking Soda and one cup plain white Vinegar to my large wash machine. The first wash using this combination will show the removal of the buildup of soap and softener compounds in the wash water. If heavily soiled I add 1/4 cup Borax Laundry Booster.
This combination not only cleans the clothes, it also softens the fabric.
When removing clothes and flatware from the dryer hang what needs hanging first, then fold the flatware.
Additional laundry tips: Save on repair bills and lengthen the life of the washer and dryer; don’t overload the machines and don’t cook your laundry in the dryer; just dry it. On warm days, save the planet, your clothes, the dryer and your pocketbook; use the dryer for just five to seven minutes to remove most wrinkles and hang outside to finish drying.

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14 Paula

Baking Soda, Vinegar and Borax can be purchased in large quantities at discount warehouse stores.

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