6 Ways You Might Be Doing Laundry Wrong—Plus a DIY Detergent

July 7, 2015
by Dana Poblete for Thrive Market
6 Ways You Might Be Doing Laundry Wrong—Plus a DIY Detergent

Do you feel weird re-wearing a bra once, twice...maybe three times? Not to worry—you’re totally good. No need to feel shame about tucking your bras back into the drawer until the next load of laundry.

Certain things just don’t need to be washed as often as you think—but there are a few things that you might not be washing quite enough. On laundry day, you’re often being pulled in two different directions: You want to save water (and washer space), but you also don’t want to spend the next week swathed in germs or smelling less than fresh.

Some things are obvious. Definitely wash your underwear, socks, and shirts after each wear. But some items might be a little more confusing. Here's some help:

Bras

Go ahead and stretch it to a fourth wear if you’d like, but experts don't advise sporting the same bra all week. Dirt and oils from your skin can build up, especially on the underwire portions of a bra, so wash after three to four wears.

Towels

It seems kind of natural to wash towels every week. But washing every three to four uses is recommended to help keep them from developing a mildewy smell. (This is especially true if you live in a humid climate.)

Pillows

People should wash their pillow cases once a week because they can carry dirt, oils, and bacteria that can cause acne. But many people don’t even think about washing the actual pillows, which can develop fungus and attract dust mites. Throw them in the washer every three to six months. Don't fear washing feather or down pillows, either—it's safe.

Bed Sheets

If you wash your sheets every week, you’re in pretty good shape. But if your pets are sleeping with you, it's better to lather them up at least twice a week. Pets are super cute, but they do track dirt and bacteria everywhere they go.

Jeans

Denim can take a beating, so it's cool to wash your jeans every after four to five wearings. Some people never wash them at all—they put them in the freezer to kill the bacteria instead. Try it—throw your jeans into freezer overnight, once a month.

Purse

Who washes their purse? Most people don’t, but you should do it every week. Every time you lay your bag down on a surface, it accumulates germs like E. coli and even fecal matter. Gross, right? If you've got a leather bag, no problem—just wipe it down with disinfecting wipes.

Bonus Tip! Try this natural homemade citrus-mint laundry detergent.

1/2 cup washing soda (you can make baking soda into washing soda by baking it on a cooking pan at 400 degrees for 30 minutes)
1/2 cup borax
1 bar of castile soap (peppermint), grated
1/4 cup baking soda
15 drops of essential oil (orange)

With gloves, combine all ingredients into a covered container. Shake to mix. This creates a dry powder detergent. Use 3 tablespoons per load.

Illustration by Karley Koenig

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Baking Soda
16 oz bag

Retail Price:$3.09


Our Price:$2.05(Save 34%)

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Baking Soda
16 oz bag

Retail Price:$3.09


Our Price:$2.05(Save 34%)

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Multi-Surface Disinfecting Wipes
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This article is related to: DIY, Bacteria, Laundry, Jeans, Purse, Towels

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  • sweetpea

    antibacterial wipes, really?! Most of us know those are poisonous, how about a good suggestion?

  • http://www.hookedonhealth.co Hooked on Health

    I agree with sweetpea. Cannot believe you suggested using antibacterial wipes!!!

  • sadnana

    I have used laundry bags for years. They extend the useful life of clothing like jeans because they cut down on friction during the wash cycle. They also protect clothing from being damaged by buttons, snaps, clasps, and zippers, all of which can hurt the other clothes in the same load. It's also a good idea to hang as many as possible of your more valuable clothing to dry instead of putting them in the dryer. This not only cuts down on energy usage; it's much better for your clothes because heat breaks down the fibers in the fabric. Over time you could lose so much of the fabric that your clothes will be too thin to resist tearing.

  • KLarimore

    I use a similar recipe for laundry detergent: 1 cup each of washing soda, borax and baking soda, plus 2 bars of Castile soap, shredded, plus essential oil. However, I don't use 3 tablespoons -- 2 tablespoons is plenty for a high efficiency washer. To shred the bar soap, I cut it up and then run it through my food processor with the s-blade.

  • Lea Mall

    The one concern is with its potential to disrupt the reproductive system. Studies have not been done in humans regarding this; however, potential reproductive issues in mice are suspected from high levels of (ingested) borax. I use the basic recipe listed without borax.

  • MG Misanthrope

    Borax gave my son a bad skin rash which I didn't discover for 2 years because how could my homemade detergent be the culprit? It was all natural! After an elimination diet and trying a variety of creams, I finally ditched the homemade detergent on a whim and he's been fine ever since. FWIW, the detergent I made was the liquid kind that makes about 200 loads out of the same amount of ingredients…I can imagine that this recipe would BURN!

  • Rachael JI

    I change my bra every day. In fact, if I change outfits and bras during a day (for example I go from a strapless bra to a strapped bra), I put both in the wash at the end of the day. I once got a yeast infection at my bra line and my gyno told me NEVER to wear a bra more than one day so I have taken that to heart and since then, have not had the same problem. Plus it feels much more hygienic.

  • Laura

    Jeans in a Freezer? Did you know germs can hibernate for indefinite amounts of time at lower temperatures. To kill most germs, the temperature has to be much lower than a household freezer. And why would you introduce your jean germs to food in your freezer? Food in the freezer is not germ free, the freezer slows down the germ reproduction.

  • Amber Fuller

    I am not so impressed with the "Jeans" advice but some of your other points were good.

  • http://www.hookedonhealth.co Hooked on Health

    Branch Basics has an excellent all purpose cleaner recommended for laundry (only 1.5 tsp and all natural), windows, body wash etc. Copy and paste this link - https://branchbasics.com/?ref=60

  • BellaTerra66

    Borax us toxic and not needed in the recipe.

  • JLynn74

    4 to 5 wearings of jeans? Gross!