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Inexpensive Alternative Laundry Products

By HHI Staff

Many powdered alternative laundry products are very simple compounds that can be purchased in bulk at very low prices. If you decide to buy in bulk, be aware that wholesalers usually deal in very large quantities. Therefore, one bag purchased from a chemical-supply company could weigh 50–100 lbs.


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If you decide to purchase that much of a compound, be sure you have a proper storage container on hand so it can be kept dry and not spill out. To find a chemical-supply company near you, check your classified telephone directory or the Internet.

Washing Soda

A natural alternative to conventional laundry detergent is old-fashioned washing soda. Also known as sal soda, it’s actually a form of sodium carbonate. For your washing machine, 1/4 cup per load is often suggested. Arm & Hammer Washing Soda is one brand of pure washing soda often sold in both conventional and alternative grocery stores.


Unfortunately, because it’s a highly absorbent powder, it often picks up the scents of the fragranced cleaning products shelved near it.


Another unscented washing soda under the name Dr. Erlander’s Jubilee Washing Compound (Erlander’s Natural Products) can be ordered directly from the company. This washing soda is far less likely to have picked up fragrances from other products.


It should also be mentioned that local chemical-supply companies often handle washing soda. If so, it is often sold under its chemical name, sodium sesquicarbonate, in 50- or perhaps 100-pound bags.

Baking Soda

A few extremely sensitive and allergic persons have used as little as 1/2 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in their washing machine - without any other laundry product - to clean their clothes and other fabric washables. This may work well for you, too, and it’s certainly a very mild substance.


Of course, there’s usually no problem finding baking soda in your local grocery store. Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (Arm & Hammer) and cheaper generic store brands are widely available. But if you plan to use large quantities, you might consider purchasing it in bulk from a chemical-supply company to save money. This means a large bag in at least a 50-pound quantity.


Borax is basically hydrated sodium borate, a mined, water-soluble mineral. It’s been used as a laundry soap or as a detergent supplement for many years. One reason for this is that it can help soften the wash water so that soaps and detergents will clean better. However, another big advantage to using borax in your washing machine is that it helps remove odors from your laundry. Some sensitive and highly allergic individuals use unscented borax as a substitute for conventional laundry detergents. If you plan to do this, 1/4 cup per load generally works effectively, although you might choose to use more (perhaps up to 1/2 cup). Note: Borax has a mild bleaching action, so be careful with darker colors.


Of course, 20 Mule Team Borax is often available in grocery stores. Although it’s unscented, its absorbent nature means it will take on the odors of its fragranced shelf-mates. If you don’t care to use laundry products containing fragrance (even inadvertently acquired fragrances), you can buy unscented borax in bulk from most local chemical-supply companies in 50-100 pound bags.


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Inexpensive Alternative Laundry Products:  Created on May 4th, 2009.  Last Modified on September 24th, 2013


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