Well I have never used straight Dr. Bronner's for laundry. I used the bar grated in the Borax/Washing Soda recipe. It worked okay. The baking soda seems to me to work better and it is definitely easier. I use so much baking soda in the laundry, in the litter box, cleaning and it did get tedious buying the small boxes (my local stores do not have the bigger boxes like I have seen at Sam's when we lived in the city) it is so nice now that I can buy it 25 pounds at a time at the feed store.
We use the Dr. Bronner's liquid for liquid soap at the sinks in the bathroom and instead of shampoo for our hair. I also use the bar soap in the shower.
I have a lot of chemical sensitivities and Dr. Bron's is the only soap I have found that I can use. Since moving out here I have to order online as I am over 2 hours from health food stores.
I get the baking soda in bulk through a food buying club (Azure Standard). It would be hard to buy it in those small boxes if you use it so much!! I get the Dr. Bronner's online too - even though I live in a large city, it is much cheaper online through www.vitacost.com - if you get it cheaper elsewhere, please let me know!! (They might only sell the organic liquid, not the non-organic?? But they sell the bars too). Like you, it is the only soap some of us in this house can use. It has been a 'life saver' for my youngest (that and unrefined, extra virgin, organic coconut oil!!). Back to vitacost though - they have so many of the name brand health products for cheap. I place an order about every 2 months and make sure to order enough to last us. I do not order much from them, but what I do order is worth it - I still save money even after the shipping cost.
FYI, I would not have tried Dr. Bronner's by itself in the laundry!! That sounds like it might be a disaster I told my husband about just using baking soda and he said "not on my clothes". Ha ha (he was serious though). I told him I plan to try it on the next load of boy's clothes. I'll give a report here after that happens (real soon - maybe even today).
Thanks for the tips - I like this thread.
Update - I tried just baking soda yesterday on the boy's nasty clothes. It worked just fine Now I have to stock up on it (I only have 5 pounds of it ... need a little more if we are going to use it for our laundry!).
Baking soda has a pH of about 9 (I think), which makes it slightly alkaline. WASHING soda, on the other hand, has a pH of about 11 (again, I think), which makes it more alkaline. I'm not exactly sure, as my homekeeping manual that talks about this is in a box somewhere, but it's something like that.
Just a quick primer for those who (like me) slept through high school chemistry!
The pH scale measures whether a given substance is acidic or basic (alkaline). When you mix an acidic substance (like vinegar) and an alkaline substance (like baking soda), it causes a chemical reaction. The result is bubbling as it produces gas, and the end result of the liquid is generally a neutral. Distilled water, for example, is a true neutral, as is salt, and the pH for them is about 8. Most tap water and spring water, though, is slightly acidic.
Acids and bases can both be used to clean, depending on what it is you're cleaning. When it comes to getting things like paint, nail polish, etc. out, a mild acid can be beneficial. In fact, acids are routinely used by professional painters to strip paint and clean up messes. But most of the common household spills are best cleaned with an alkaline solution. Bases are best on greasy spills and stains. Pure lye is actually a very strong, very concentrated base. It burns just like a strong acid would.
So on to the issue of laundry detergent...
The key ingredient in the laundry detergent is actually the laundry SOAP--the Fels Naphta or Zote or whatever soap you're using. Our ancestors used plain soap to clean their clothes and it worked just fine. BUT in an automatic washing machine, it is important that the water be the right pH to ensure correct washing. That is why we need Borax and Washing/Baking Soda--to condition the water. Areas that have hard water may need a bit more Soda than those with water softeners or naturally soft water. Hard water can be very damaging to the fibers of the clothes and cause excessive wear, and it can in some severe cases leave stains or spots on them. If water is TOO soft, it can leave a film on the clothes which can interfere with any fabric treatments. Water that's too soft has a hard time rinsing soap off of fabric, and that's where the problem comes in. If you have a washing machine that has the option of having a second rinse, you can use softer water.
Baking soda is actually a wonderful tool. Not only can it be used to leaven quick breads, it can also make a wonderful gas-fighter. Put about a tablespoon of baking soda into your soaking water for beans, and you'll find that they produce much less gas. Baking soda will mix with stomach acid and neutralize it (You don't want too much, because your stomach NEEDS some acid. But if you get occassional acid reflux or heartburn, baking soda can help.). Baking soda is very mild.
Washing soda is not to be taken internally, because it is much stronger. It is generally more useful for laundry because of the additional strength, but baking soda can be used in most areas with great success (but if you have hard water, don't use baking soda). Additionally, baking soda works wonderfully on infant clothing and diapers, because it is so gentle.
If you're looking for washing soda, there's a number you can call (I think it's on Arm & Hammer's website) that will give you an automated message telling you where the nearest Washing Soda stores are.
Here's the phone number for the Arm & Hammer to find out where the closest place is that sells washing soda. Sis. Darlene, is there a Kroger near you? I'm not sure if the chain of Kroger stores are in Tennessee or not but that's where I get my washing soda..