How To Reuse Laundry Detergent When You Need It Most

Using bleach isn’t always enough. You may not have time to do the hard labor of disinfecting a load of clothes.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with how to manage your laundry day-to-day, you could use a little extra help. A few easy ideas for using up any remaining bleach.

The Times of India’s Yashaswini Singh was curious if washing detergent could be recycled and reused in a way that would reduce the amount of water it wasted while on a load. This experiment led her to a recycling program at a school in Calcutta, which uses the liquid detergent to clean and disinfect in classrooms.

The detergent that Singh discovered was made to work with other liquid detergents to form a paste that is safe to use on clothing – which can be reused several times.

“The school used this detergent which was made according to the specifications and it made a paste which was safe but not as effective as the paste made from the liquid detergent,” Singh told Times of India. “And they also used it for washing the uniforms which cost more than the textbooks they bought from the school shop. For a long period of time they were using that paste on their school uniforms. At that time, this was the only product that cost more than the textbooks they bought from the school shop.”

The washing machines that were made for the school were expensive, so the school switched over to using the liquid laundry detergent for washing clothes.

What is more, the washing machines the school used used to clean clothes and wash clothes using the paste didn’t last very long, the school told Times of India.

“It was one of those machines which would last about two years,” said Singh. “After that it would break down. Then they would switch over to the new machines for washing clothes.”

According to the Times of India, that’s a cost savings of about $600 per year for the school, an amount which is significant for a group of students with little money.

In another experiment by Singh, a student in Bangladesh came up with another way to reduce the amount of bleach water used every wash.

A student, Sanket Tandon, used bleach in a dishwashing liquid to create a waterless bleach. According to the Times of India , this cleaner was used to wash a bag of mangoes and to clean a small swimming pool. As the paper notes, “a single use of a waterless bleach was as effective as chlorine.”

Other students in the school had tried bleach solutions but found the recipes were lacking so they created their own.

In 2013 there were more than a hundred thousand gallons of water used to wash clothes with bleach, according to a report by the World Health Organization. That same year there were more than 1.1 billion units of bleach used, which amounts to about one cubic meter of bleach.

“We believe that there are some great ideas out there which the world is just beginning to think about,” says Singh. “And this will encourage more research by the schools and researchers who are finding out the best ways to recycle these products.”

Readers can learn more about the recycling of laundry detergents and bleach by reading the full article by Yashaswini Singh.