Homemade Laundry Color Catchers Recipe
We have all had it happen when doing laundry – that dark red top accidentally thrown in the wash with the whites or in the case of teen boys, tossing every color of the rainbow in the laundry with the whites– What a mess when it bleeds on everything. This is what laundry color catchers were made for.
For those of you who have never heard of color catchers they are specially treated white cloths that you can toss in the laundry and they absorb the color when something bleeds in the wash. With each load of laundry, toss in a sheet at the beginning of wash cycle.
Many people don’t sort their clothes when they use laundry color catchers but I’m afraid I haven’t gotten out of the habit of sorting yet. You can make your own homemade color catchers for much less.
You can reuse them again if you re dip and dry. When they get very saturated with color then toss.
You don’t need a huge cloth to do this with about 3×5 is plenty.
Felt works really good and probably is the best although wash cloths and other things work well too. Go to Jo Ann fabrics and get felt with a 50% off coupon if you need to and it doesn’t cost that much. 1/2 yd. can make a bunch.
Homemade Color Catchers
- Start with pieces of white cloth. They can be old towels, wash cloths, flannel or something like that. Cut the white cloth into about 6-8 inch squares. You don’t have to measure them exactly.
- Dissolve 1 tablespoon of washing soda into one cup of hot water.
- Dip the cloths in the soda/water and wring out. Hang to dry. Don’t dry them in the dryer.
- When they’re dry, store your homemade color catchers by washer so they’re handy when you do laundry.
Photo By: smittenkittenorig
I am so glad for this recipe. I have been wanting to have the color catchers for a long time but the price in the stores is exorbitant and I just don’t have the extra money. I just sort my clothes and try not to wash red with white. But when I wash my quilt fabric, it would be nice to have one for the really dark reds and greens. Can you reuse them after one wash? Like wash them and redip in the washing soda to use another time. A friend of mine crocheted some dish cloths for me but they are too heavy to use for dishes but might work well for this purpose. But I’d hate to toss them after only one use.
Thanks for sharing this tip.
You know Maggie I’m not sure. I think a lot depends on how much and the type of color they collect. Also the material they are made of may make a difference. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. I would maybe try one and see what happens.
Thanks, never heard of that you can make it yourself. I just want to know how long were you using it, and do you reuse the cloth again or does it need to be thrown away.
can I use used dryer shits instead of the cloth?
It is like I told Maggie. It really depends on what they caught for dye and the fabric it is made of. I would wash them, redip and try to use them again until they got to covered in dye or color. I’m not sure the dryer sheets will work because you really should us white 100% cotton if you can.
Do you keep re soaking them in the washing soda for reuse or are they good to go for a while??
Does it make a difference what brand of washing soda you use? Arm & Hammer? Borax? Something else?
The different brands of these items don’t matter but be careful because Borax and washing soda are not the same thing and aren’t really interchangeable. Washing soda does nothing but soften water which is good because most of the time dingy clothes are caused because of hard water and not rinsing well. Borax on the other hand not only softens water but it has a cleaning booster and you can clean many other things with it. It also is good at killing things like fleas, ants and such things if you have critters to deal with.
Another stupid question…what is washing sode?
Su not a silly question at all and is often asked. Washing soda is made out of soda ash. There is a big list of chemical names I could give you but it might be easier to explain by telling you what it does. It goes back to basic elementary chemistry where acid and alkaline need to be balanced out and this is what washing soda does in your laundry. It pretty much softens hard water and prevents mineral build up which causes clothes to look dingy. It really isn’t a cleaner either not like Borax is. They are 2 different things. Washing soda has been used for decades to wash clothes when people were making their own soap then went out of vogue when commercially made detergent started being used.
Grizzly Bear Mom
If you want to try reusing your clothes, wash them with jeans and see if they absorb the blue die.
what is washing soda?
Washing soda is a white powder used in making laundry detergents. It can also be used along with laundry detergents for an extra cleaning boost when doing the laundry. It is different from baking soda. The have a different chemical make up. Some people find it hard to find washing soda but more often then not it is because they don’t know where to look for it in the store and most clerks don’t have a clue where to look for it and just say we don’t carry it. It is almost always on the top or bottom shelves of where your laundry detergents are. Wal Mart, regular grocery stores and many hardware stores carry it.
So if I make my own laundry detergent that has the washing soda in it does it work as a color catcher or is it still good to make the material color catchers to catch the color?
Always treat homemade laundry detergent exactly the same as you would regular detergent. If you need a color catcher withe regular detergent then you will with the homemade. If you use fabric softener with regular then use it with homemade etc.
I shop in the thrift store on half price day. I bought two slightly stained white bath towels for 50 cents each. I’m buying washing soda Monday and will make lots of these. Thank you so much for this information.
Sandra, the color catching cloths are supposed to stop the dye in the wash water BEFORE it can stain something. They will not remove dye stains already on the towels. You can try using Detergent+Oxyclean+Borax+Clorox in hot water on the longest cycle to get the stains out. Have your washer rinse at least one extra time. You may have to re-wash yet a third time on a short wash cycle if they still smell of the cleaning agents.
If that does not work to get the stains out, there is a product named “Whink No More Yellow” that will remove discoloring from white cotton fabrics, whether from rust, hard water, dye bleeds, and more. I just bought some to remove some gray dye spots from white sheets where I had laid a wet black laundry item on top of them. I know better, but I am sick with the flu. You can buy the No More Yellow at some auto supplies, farm and ranch stores, and on Amazon. On Amazon, they have both a 20oz. and a 40oz. listed for the same price of $19.97 right now.
I don’t thinj she wants to get the stains out of the towels. She is going to cut them up and use them as colour cat hers. There were reduced because they were stained
To anyone cutting up a towel to use for this, make sure you hem the edges or you will have frayed edges and these could end up all over your clothes. Would not look good all over a black sweater, for example.
This is so true Renee. I usually only use wash rags because cutting up towels make such a mess.
Washing soda- is it the same thing as a brand -name “Detergent?” If so, then what brand is suggested?
No it isn’t a brand name detergent. It is something totally different. This is one brand of washing soda.
Also Arm &Hammer makes detergent too so don’t confuse the two because they are different. Pretty much washing soda helps soften the water which boosts the cleaning power of the detergent. Hard water causes dingy build up and any detergent will not clean as well in hard water so by add washing soda to soften it your detergent cleans better.
My dollar store carries pre-cut felt squares in different colours like pink, black, green, red. They have no white ones. Can I use those?
Trina I would be afraid that they would have dyes in them so it probably would be best not too but you could try using just a 100% cotton white wash rag or something like that and that would do the same or a square of white flannel.
Why do they need to be dried before using?
Patty Prit – she bought the white towels (stained) to make cloths with………
For those wondering about washing soda, you can make your own from baking soda. You literally bake it in the oven, just Google it
Baking soda is chemically different from washing soda and putting it in the oven to cook it does not change it chemically into washing soda. They are NOT the same thing. Baking soda is an edible leavening agent. Washing soda is not safe to eat.
I get what you are saying but I’m desperate. Trying to save a muti coloured woollen blanket I just finished making and washed.
I can’t get out due to poor health. Any ideas what an alternative might be?
You might try throwing in just a couple of white wash cloths in with it.
Baking sodium bicarbonate is actually part of the process by which sodium carbonate is manufactured, it drives off CO2 and H2O. It’ll absorb them back from the surroundings, so keep it well sealed just like store-bought. This is the way to make food-safe washing soda for easy, lye-free pretzel making. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solvay_process
Thank you for posting the actual recipe – I didn’t know how much powder to use in a cup of water before!
For those who keep asking What is washing soda? Washing soda is sodium carbonate. One type of sodium carbonate is soda ash (actually hydrated sodium carbonate). Washing soda is not the same thing as baking soda. It is not the same thing as Borax. It is not the same thing as detergent. If still confused, if you google “Washing soda” you’ll probably get a pic of Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda which is reasonably priced, usually available at Walmart or grocery stores, and a box lasts a long time. It is not to be confused with Arm and Hammer laundry detergent.
You can add washing soda to your detergent to soften water; however, that does NOT work as a color catcher. To use as a color catcher you should follow the instructions of using the white cotton. I use bar towels (white terry cloth small towels). I reuse them several times. I don’t know if its necessary to “recharge” them after each use, but to be safe I always redip them in the solution and hang to dry after each use. I haven’t tried felt but I think that would produce less lint than cotton towels.
I really like using the reusable option instead of the one-use ones available in the store. I haven’t seen reusable ones in years in the store, but they were really like a small washcloth so very similar to the DIY ones.
Thank you for that awesome explanation!
Do you think the one-time use sheets could be recharged with the washing soda solution?
I have never tried it myself but you could try a couple and see what happens