What is a laundry sequestrant?
Sequestrants are used in detergents in order to reduce the level of ions in water. The properties of these ions are modified, and as a result, we obtain a higher efficiency of the cleaning processes. In fact, capturing calcium and magnesium ions in solution and preventing them from interfering with the surfactants (a substance which assists in cleaning) avoid the re-depositing of dirt on the washed fabric or surface.
The incorporation of a laundry sequestrant - like sodium citrate - improves the performance of detergents. Sodium citrate acting as cleaning aid and water softener allows the soap to work more effectively. The resulting soft water - treated with sodium citrate - requires less detergent for the same cleaning effort, as the soap is not wasted mopping up calcium and magnesium ions.
Soft water also extends the lifetime of plumbing by reducing or eliminating scale build-up in pipes and fittings.
When I add sodium citrate to my detergent, I actually note that the laundry is spotless and all the stains vanish!
By mixing citric acid and bicarbonate of soda, we can make a liquid version of sodium citrate to use in our laundry. I prefer working in grams because it is more accurate than ml/tbs/oz.
180g Citric Acid
250g Sodium Bicarbonate
HOW TO PREPARE
First, pour all the water in a container, then add the citric powder and stir in order to dissolve it. Then, gradually add small portions of sodium bicarbonate. The mixture will start to fizz.
Nothing to worry about!
This is just the solution reacting. In fact, every time you add sodium bicarbonate an intensive reaction will start producing lots of CO2 gas. Continue adding sodium until the reaction stops. The process is not complicated, but it can take a while, because adding large portions of sodium can make the reaction too intense and produce lots of foam. For this reason, I suggest you make your laundry sequestrant in the sink in a large pan or container. The solution is ready when the fizzing stops. It is better if you leave it to sit overnight before storing in a bottle.
The pH of the solution should be 7 if all the citric acid has been neutralized. If you wish, you can check it using pH strips (more info here).
HOW TO USE
Put around 50ml of the solution into the drum, on top of the laundry in a dosing ball, every time you do your wash. You can use the sodium citrate in powder, if you prefer. You just need to add 20g into the main detergent compartment for each load of washing.