Chemistry question ---- BBB for laundry --- not for the pool

jakebear

New member
Oct 8, 2007
4
I found a recipe for a fabric softener for the laundry.

2 cups white vinegar
2 cups A&H baking soda
4 cups water

Mix well ---- use 1/2 cup in final rinse.

OK Richard ----- would this work or does the soda just neutralize the vinegar???

Also --- Laundry Detergent --- This works GREAT!!!
1 cup "Fels Naptha" soap (grated to a fine powder)
1/2 cup A&H Washing Soda
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax

Mix it up and use 2-3 Tablespoon full per load.
 

chem geek

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
12,083
San Rafael, CA USA
The fabric softener formula does seem a bit silly since you are right that the combination of baking soda and vinegar will result in a lot of outgassing of carbon dioxide. It will create water that is over-carbonated and a bit acidic (so tending to produce bubbles), but I have no idea if that's good as a fabric softener. Essentially, soda water would be similar except that the acidity from vinegar is acetic acid wheras from soda water it's from injected CO2 (carbon dioxide). You might recall that soda water is often used as a remedy for certain types of stains (I forget if red wine is in that category, but I believe it is) to assist in blotting them up.

Both washing soda (sodium carbonate) and Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) are useful laundry aids that help laundry detergents to a better job, partly due to the raising of the pH, partly from buffering that higher pH, and partly from acting to keep particles dispersed in the water (so prevents clumping of detergent molecules). You can read a lot more details about borates here. The "Fels Naptha" is an old-fashioned classic soap that is rather harsh and irritating (i.e. not to be used as hand soap). You could even make your own soap as that isn't very hard (essentially some form of fat such as tallow plus lye which is sodium hydroxide).

Though these homemade products probably do an adequate job, the typical laundry detergents really do have a carefully constructed combination of chemicals that maximize cleaning and they generally aren't that expensive. Some even have Borax already in them, for example.

Richard
 

The Mermaid Queen

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Mar 28, 2007
2,522
Northern KY
I know some folks that use plain white vinegar in the rinse as fabric softener... I tried it, and it WAS better than just rinsing straight, but I really like the scent and softness that a commercial softener adds to the laundry.\

And yes, it is red wine that soda water is useful in removing!
 

jakebear

New member
Oct 8, 2007
4
Richard, Thanks for your expert analysis.

I mixed up a batch of the "Softener" and after a bunch of bubbling and fizzing and letting the mixture sit over night ----- the baking soda settled out and got hard as a rock :shock:

I'm now adding the unmixed ingredents directly and I have to admit there appears to be much less soap residue in the clothing. You can see the difference and there is NO smell from the vinegar.

As for the laundry powder, the mixture costs about a nickle per load as compared to around 30 to 40 cents for Tide, Cheer, etc. etc. And I think it does a good job in my well water, and I think the "bugs" in the septic system will be happier. I'm sure every one will have different circumstances and results.

After seeing what BBB does for the pool ---- I'm into NATURAL if I can. :-D :-D