I wondered if choosing a recipe with borax in would give better results, so set about finding some borax. This turns out to be more difficult than you might think, especially if you're reading American websites. It turns out that the EU have recently classified borax as a hazardous substance, which makes it somewhat less available than it used to be. In my investigations, I got the impression that this classification is not to protect the consumer, but to protect the miners who did the stuff up, and are inhaling the dust all day every day. This is health and safety doing what it should: Protecting the workers.
It's still possible to get hold of borax, but at a much higher price, presumably to cover the cost of the extra protection for the miners (she hopes, naively). There is also 'Borax substitute' available:
available; it's still not that easy to get hold of. I prefer to buy from actual shops rather than online, where possible, so I trawled around town, eventually finding it in the second of the two excellent hardware shops in Aberystwyth (in the first I tried, no-one had ever heard of borax).
So, I made up a new batch of laundry gloop, using larger quantities of soda crystals as well as the new borax substitute, together with a bar of grated soap. Result: No discernible difference from the first batch. You know how lists of tips for reducing your carbon footprint often include
Turn down the temperature on your washing machine. Modern detergents can cope with cooler temperatures? Well, this isn't a modern detergent.
I looked up what borax substitute actually is as I wrote this blog post and found that sodium sesquicarbonate is probably just a mixture of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium carbonate (washing soda), so it's hardly surprising that adding it doesn't improve the performance compared with plain washing soda.
I have another idea for laundry liquid that I'm going to try in the autumn, but in the meantime I've gone back to buying Persil. The clothes do smell nicer, but it's striking how
artificialthat freshness smells to me now.