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Homebody Living: The great laundry conspiracy

Jun 05, 2023

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By Brett Mundinger

Okay, time to put on your tin foil hat and talk conspiracies about a fairly mundane topic. Ready?

Let me begin by saying that the laundry industry is just sort of lying to you. For years, they’ve encouraged excessive, unnecessary use of products, invented laundry chemicals with few or transient benefits, and even damaged many a homeowner’s washer and dryer longevity. Most don’t know any better and so never research what substances they’re using. Much of what you know about laundry may be completely wrong, however, and it’s likely costing you money.

If you’re a detergent company, it’s smart business to keep people in the dark about simpler laundry options that cost radically less and are more eco-friendly than your product. In the Homebody spirit of helping you live better at home, here are a few laundry hacks to keep your clothes in top shape and your wallet heavy!

Dryer sheets and fabric softeners can leave a harmful coating on many types of fabrics. This coating reduces water-absorbency of cotton and moisture-wicking features of expensive athleisure clothing, and it can damage many fabric types you’d find in everyday outfit articles. Dryer sheets can also leave a similar substance that can clog lint filters and reduce air circulation. Good air flow is a critical component to drying efficiency and preventing overheating in dryers, and those same residues can coat moisture-detection sensors. Many softeners also have microplastics in them, a very net-unfriendly ecological addition.

It’s a slow-creeping, compounding problem that can inflate drying times, increase energy use, and damage machines. The solution is to use dryer balls, and it’s actually that simple a switch! They prevent clothes from clumping and retain heat as they roll around, helping to speed up the drying process, plus the balls cost just once (unless they break down) and provide the same anti-static benefits without environmental impact. Bottom line, dryer balls don’t destroy your clothes or machine, and that alone is reason enough to switch over.

Detergents are SO concentrated, and the reality is that more soap is not a straight line to cleaner clothes. Most Americans have high-efficiency washers nowadays, so not as much soap is actually needed to clean via modern detergents. Too much detergent being added to your laundry means it’s likely not all getting washed out, and this buildup over time can cause fabric degradation as it sits in clothing.

As it turns out, pre-marked lines on detergent caps are largely nonsense developed by companies in an effort to make you run out of product faster and buy more. Those notches will get your clothes clean enough- if they didn’t, companies would never sell a bottle- but we’re talking about clothing longevity here and the overall cost of buying it across years. Both are hard budget costs, but one of the easiest savings available is to simply reduce detergent usage in your home. How, you ask? See my next tip!

I’ve used this strategy for over a year now, and my clothes have never been softer, fresher, or in better shape. Baking soda is an environmentally-friendly, classic household cleaner that is also extremely cheap and highly effective at cleaning clothes. Baking soda won’t hurt your machine and does a great job of breaking down tough soiling and deodorizing clothes with its alkalinity.

Chlorine-based detergent can chemically degrade fibers, dull dyes, and hurt materials, things that baking soda avoids entirely. Utilize half a cup in the wash and scale up to a cup in the event you need more power to handle a stinky load of clothes. Best of all, baking soda is dirt cheap, and you can buy a months-long supply in bulk up-front to completely cut out high detergent costs.

Likewise, you can utilize distilled vinegar as a replacement for fabric softener, but be sure to add it just during the rinse phase for that particular use case. You can also utilize a cup of vinegar during a wash cycle to kill mold on things like towels or a forgotten laundry load from, uh, two days ago…Not that I know anyone who does that on the regular! Just wash your finished vinegar-soaked clothes another time in baking soda to eliminate the acidic smell, and you can proceed to dry your clothes normally.

Okay, you have my permission to take off your tin foil hat now! I hope these laundry tips, though perhaps boring, change your routine at home for the better! There are dozens more laundry hacks online if you research the topic, but these are my top ones I use every week in my own home. Did I forget a laundry detergent hack? Leave a comment below with your favorites you utilize!

This weekly Sponsored Column is written by Fountain Mortgage. Located in Prairie Village, Fountain Mortgage is dedicated to educating, and thus empowering, clients to make the best financial decision possible for their situation.

Contact Fountain today.

Fountain Mortgage NMLS: 1138268

By Brett Mundinger