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How to Make your Laundry Cleaner, Brighter and Whiter

Updated on August 23, 2010
Lots and Lots of Soap
Lots and Lots of Soap

If a little soap is good, then a lot of soap is great!

In our house, the lady in charge uses too much laundry soap. I know this to be true. Our washer is located in our daylight basement. The vent for the washing machine goes up, through the wall to the top of the house. This is two stories. I came home one day and the washing machine vent was pouring suds over the rooftop. We now have the cleanest roof in the neighborhood. But try as I might to explain to the dear woman that clothes cannot get clean with that much soap left in them, I cannot convince her to use less soap.

I convinced her to wash a load of towels that had just been laundered and dried without any detergent, this was a hard sell because they were still warm from the dryer and they were all neatly folded.

But we put them in the washer and started the cycle. She stood with pursed lips and folded arms. She thinks I'm too cheap to buy laundry soap so I just want her to skimp and get 50 loads out of a 40 load container of laundry detergent.

I have tried my best to convince her that the soap is sabotaging her efforts at white bright clean results. Some things are learned best by experience.

Cheapskate Thinking About Buying Detergent
Cheapskate Thinking About Buying Detergent

The Cheapskate

OK, I admit it. I am too cheap to buy laundry detergent. But I am not particularly focused on my yellow whitey tighties. I also would like to save money on a lot of other things.

My wife just does not agree with a more fugal lifestyle. I like to go to a certain fast food restaurant to get my horsey sauce. My wife says it is embarrassing to take more than one or two packets. I feel compelled to take at least a dozen and keep them in the fridge. What if someone comes by with a roast beef sandwich? Am I to turn them away because I do not have horsey sauce? I don't think so.

My wife thinks I should be ashamed of myself. For saving money? Really? And what about that potential meal that I might have to turn down? Should I be ashamed because I saved us the price of a meal. How ashamed should I be to put that $10 toward her next birthday present. Too ashamed to do it? No, I should be proud of myself.

Wash Day

Find the Children before the Soap Swallows Them
Find the Children before the Soap Swallows Them

No soap suds!

How does this happen to me. I am trying to explain about using laundry detergent and I end up defending myself. Guilty conscience? Maybe, but back to the laundry.

The washer filled with water and the agitation began. My wife had unfolded her arms and was now fiddling with the cap of the detergent container. You could see it in her eyes, she needed to add soap. She couldn't even hold her protest pose. The cap began to move back and forth. The soap addiction was kicking in at full throttle.

I calmly told her that there was no need for SOAP, these towels had just been washed. This was really like a third rinse. She insists on the extra rinse because she wants to spend extra money on water. When I'm not looking, she turns the rinse temperature to warm, too.

She comes out of her trance and acknowledges that the towels do not need soap at this time. Her hands drop from the detergent container. We look at each other.

I give her one of my "You are wasting a ton of money!" Looks.

She squints her eye and curls her lip for a "You are the cheapest cheapskate that ever lived!" looks.

At first I thought she had me, but about 3 minutes into the wash cycle, suds began to appear on the top of the load. By the time the towels had agitated for 5 minutes, the suds covered the whole tub of laundry and they were building. She looked agast. "Where is the soap coming from?" she demanded, as if I had sneaked a cup full of the stuff into her laundry.

I simply pointed out that the suds are coming out of the towels that you have just washed, dried and folded. She demanded another explanation. There was none. She would have to deal with it.

The amount of detergent left in that load could have washed clothes for us for the next month. Well, maybe another load or so.

Watered down rules.

My wife now follows this rule: If it seems like it needs more soap, go ahead and add a little, as long as it is not coming through the vent pipe and spilling over the roof and down the side of the house, then it is all good. Too bad there is no third rinse option, well at least she can set the water level to super and the wash time to heavy.

And I can calmly pour 1/4 of the contents of her precious liquid soap into a jar and add about that much water to her container. From the looks of it, I should have added more water. I can return it to her later when she has used up most of the soap. That will be in a couple of days no doubt.

Use the Sun to bleach!
Use the Sun to bleach!
Add some blue!
Add some blue!
Blue + Yellow = White
Blue + Yellow = White

Let's get serious about the yellow!

If you would like to have cleaner, brighter and whiter clothes, especially whites, try using less detergent, you might be surprised.

Other hints to help whiten dingy or yellowed whites:

  • Wash whites separately and use detergent sparingly.
  • Try the old fashioned remedy, add bluing. You can still get bluing and guess what? Blue+Yellow=White. It really works, and don't over do it, read the directions and follow them closely unless you would like to have blues instead of whites.
  • Some detergents have brighteners and dry bleach. Give one of those a try.
  • Liquid bleach may be the answer, caution, it is very strong indeed and caustic. Too much of this stuff could ruin your clothes.
  • Another old fashioned idea: hang your whites in the sun to dry, the sun can bleach the whites and it gives them a freshness you can't believe. Ultra violet radiation from the sun can disinfect, break down stains, and whiten dingy whites. Perfect for diapers. You might want to throw them in the dryer for a few minutes after line drying to soften them up.


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    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Diane Inside Haha, I have learned a long time ago to keep my mouth shut. I just can't help myself sometimes.

    • Diane Inside profile image

      Diane Inside 

      8 years ago

      haha, if my husband tried this with me he'd be doing his own darn laundry. Especially since he saves a fortune on a live in

      However I'm cheap myself so I already use less detergent than prescribed on the bottle. Sometimes I don't use soap at all since vinegar and baking soda does a good job as well. Nice hub.

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Tkumah LOL, thanks for the read and for stoping by. I admit it, I'm cheap.

    • Tkumah profile image


      8 years ago

      It is so true.

      This time, you win. Most wives would think same "cheap";)

      Awesome hub and a life saving topic.

      No kidding.

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      LOL Dana....I know, it's bad huh?

    • danatheteacher profile image

      Dana Rock 

      8 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      You know way too much stuff about the laundry department of life Steve ;)

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Prettydarkhorse Thanks for the comment and for reading. Nice to hear that someone likes America. Welcome.

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      Hi Steve, Now, you can do laundry, thats amazing, because I came from a culture where doesn't do this thing, I am hapyp to be here in America now and thanks a lot for the information. Maita

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Isn't that the truth Nellieanna. Thanks once again for your thoughtful, thought provoking comments. It is strange but I like you write from somewhere else inside, inspired by the dangdest things. That's why I am sort of all over on the topics and my niche just seems to elude me. Thanks again.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      You know what I like most? Authenticity!! You have loads of that! I'm not great at being funny either, though I have a quirky sense of humor & see the world a little bit cockeyes at times. One would think that would translate into humor but not if I set out to make it funny!! LOL. Like you, I do best when I just let the words flow from somewhere inside - who knows where? If they happen to be wise or uplifting, amusing or fun, or just remind someone of something of importance or nostalgia to him/her, I feel gratified. It's more than I "expected" because I just can't write 'TO ACCOMPLISH' something other than stringing words together. And if I 'try to' write , - that's about all it will be - a string of words.

      And maybe if folks wonder what the heck is fels naptha - it will inspire a science project for their kids or something - LOL. ;->

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      You know Nellieanna, something of some consternation to me is this: If I start out trying to be funny, it most definitely will be a bomb. I cannot tell a joke or make something funny on purpose. What happens to me is that the humor is always because of the story. Now ain't that something? I can't figure it out, but I know it must be something of a twist of fate. I say this because I have gone to the "funny" categories and they are somewhat of a bunch of stinkers. Everyone I read, I thought to myself that this stuff is not anywhere near funny. I sure a heck didn't want to be associated with the humorists I found here. So I just tell my stories and let them come to me. But I do seem to be somewhat of a master of telling a story T-I-C. I love how that comes to me.

      Thanks for all the sharing, your comments are the best. Most of the readers will probably just say what the heck is fels naptha, P&G, and borax. LOL

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      Yes, I have some Fels Naptha on my laundry room shelf, though I'm fairly certain it no longer contains naptha as the formula did originally! Naptha was then the favored dry-cleaning agent, but of course, it's quite volatile & probably shouldn't be used by the little housewife around her cooking, etc.

      Another laundry bar I have is Octagon soap. Neither of those was ever my favorite, though. I loved P&G Laundry bar. It's quite gone by the wayside now. When it first became obsolete, I called Proctor & Gamble to beg for it to be continued but was advised to use their wonderful new detergent products, which honestly do not clean like real soap does.

      I bathe in Ivory (which is probably nearly like P&G except for the air bubbles in it - LOL) It will clean any stain better than Shout or any of that type product. Only thing - it requires a little elbow grease to get it distributed & into the stain it's working out. Not a popular ingredient these days. LOL

      Borax was a good additive, but not dramatically effective as Oxyclean is. I never was hooked on it. Borax is a form of boric acid, I believe. It's not a soap, of course, but it has been a popular laundry additive in its heyday. Maybe the borax mines petered out. LOL

      I was aware that your hub was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, Steve, but I notice that T-I-C is often used to add a light touch of humor to a more serious subject. (wink) The subject itself touched off my own experience & some latent unresolved sticky-wickets which possibly could have been presented T-i-C as well - but heck, I'm just a noisy commenter here. hehe

      Thank you for a very good, enjoyable & informative hub - as usual!!! :-D

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Nellieanna Always such a delight to hear from you! Thanks for all the extra advice.....although my hub was a little tongue in cheek. You are not talking about fels naptha are you? Or, Borax? LOL I must add Oxyclean to my hub. Thanks again for the pointers.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      I agree, Steve. Too much soap is overkill & not only does no good but does harm to clothes & equipment. I'm not a cheapskate but my Mother was. LOL Well - she weathered The Great Depression. All I knew of it was as a baby too young to feel the pinch much. She used to say "Anyone can wash dishes with SOAP!" - AND she wasn't just being funny, though she did have a great sense of humor!

      My husband was the one in this house who overdid the suds!! He didn't do laundry when I was his wife but he did sometimes make it first to the sink to do the dishes where he poured way too much detergent in till the soapsuds rose - as well as far more water than needed. There was no convincing him that dishes were clean without being virtually too soaped up to rinse it all off! We must have taken in a lot of detergent with our food off his "clean" plates.

      Anyway - I use no-scented, no-extras laundry detergent (All Free), the kind which requires less anyway. I find that OxyClean really does remove all kinds of stains, brightens colors & whitens whites without bleach. I often let a load soak in the initial limited amount of All & a small scoop of Oxyclean dissolved in the load's water for a bit before starting the cycle going.

      I still have some old-fashioned laundry soap bars on hand for stubborn stains, too. When my kids were little it was the best thing for removing grass & chocolate stains!

      I don't add those scented, softening sheets of chemical additives into the dryer, either. Probably overuse of soap/detergent make softening needed, otherwise if clothes were dried the way they emerge from the washer, they'd dry stiff as cardboard. But frankly, mine are soft & smooth when I take them out of the dryer without adding any softening sheets. I take them out immediately so they don't lie there warm & cooling, making themselves wrinkled, as well.

      It's being smart, not cheap, to use no more detergent than needed, to use cool water & to avoid unnecessary & chemically intense extra additives.

      Spend the money saved on fresh cut flowers every laundry day!

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Paradise7 I was going to suggest that, but then you cannot control how much blue you get. LOL Thanks for stopping by.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      8 years ago from Upstate New York

      The laundry man!!! Good hub, friend. I wash my whites with jeans, and that must have the bluing factor enough to make them come out white.

    • SteveoMc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Thanks samiaali, always enjoy your visits.

      drbj If I could only focus on a nice little niche, I might make something of myself! Thanks for reading, gotta go do the laundry!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      What an eye-opener, Steve. Here I thought you concentrated on business articles and now I learn you are a laundry-maven. Thanks for the tips.

    • samiaali profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice hub SteveoMc. Good information. Thanks!


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