Someone asked me via email recently if I had made a “homemade” version of those laundry color catcher sheets. I had to admit I hadn’t ever TRIED those before, let alone made my own! I honestly didn’t know what the appeal was. But I’m always open to new ideas…so I looked into it. Turns out there’s some pretty darn good reasons for utilizing these little laundry helpers!
A color catcher catches loose dyes found in the wash water and prevents the dye from running or bleeding onto other clothes. By using a color catcher in your washing machine you can wash darks and lights together which saves you time by reducing the need for sorting, and money by reducing the need for half-size loads. Makes sense!
So I took the challenge.
At first I was kinda stumped! It wasn’t hard to find homemade recipes for color catchers, but there definitely wasn’t a consensus. Some called for soaking cloth in salt water…some in washing soda & water. Some said you had to use fabric stabilizer (interfacing for you sewers out there), some even suggested dried out baby wipes.
These little color catcher things were so confusing! ;-) But when I stumbled across this comment on a sewing website I knew I was on to something. When a person refers to “Grandma” in their post…you know there’s got to be some merit to it! :-)
Here is what Erica had to say:
The color catcher is a piece of white something with soda ash solution dried onto it. You can make your own with soda ash, usually sold in swimming pool supply areas of hardware stores. (Grandma called it washing soda.) Just put a tablespoon of the dry soda into a cup of hot water until it dissolves. Put in a yard of white junk fabric, or ratty toweling, and let it become saturated. Let it dry. Cut off a piece and wash it with your bleedable fabric. The soda ash grabs and holds the dye. You can make a lifetime supply of color catchers with a buck or two of soda ash. For those of you who tie dye, this is exactly the technique for pre-treating fabric before applying dye. Soda plus cotton grabs loose dye molecules. Cheers!
Cheers to YOU Erica! I love the voice of reason in this crazy, mixed-up world. :-)
I decided to give Erica’s method a go. I cut up a couple of pieces of white felt I had on hand, soaked them in a solution of water and washing soda, and hung them to dry on my mini indoor clothesline (someday I WILL have an outdoor line!)
When they were dry (which doesn’t take long in Utah!) I washed two brand new washcloths together, one red, one white, and threw in a color catcher.
Here are the results (which are a little hard to see because of my less-than-brilliant idea to photograph white on white):
Not a hint of red on the white washcloth…and a fair amount of red on the color catcher. Convincing!
I then tried a single sheet of my homemade color catchers in a load of dark clothes. None of these items were “new”. They had all been washed plenty of times before, but the color catcher still managed to pick up some of the color from the wash water. Impressive!
Bottom line: I would definitely recommend trying these for yourself. They couldn’t possibly be EASIER to make…and saving TIME and MONEY is One Good Thing!