I’m a sucker for an infomercial.  I always have been.  I love the excitement and intrigue of whatever wonder product they’re selling me.  The first time I saw Billy Mays on television hawking Oxiclean I was transfixed.  I was amazed.  I was in college and poor so I was able to resist the urge to buy it.  Once I had kids I discovered stains and kids go hand in hand so I decided to give Oxiclean a whirl.  It was sold in grocery stores years after being only available on TV, so that had to mean SOMETHING, right?

I was hooked.  In fact, until today I bought the Oxiclean gimmick hook, line and sinker.  It works!  It’s an amazing product!  But it’s something I can easily make myself.

The secret behind oxiclean is a little chemical called sodium percarbonate.  And the magical formula for sodium percarbonate is hydrogen peroxide + washing soda.  I have both of those items at home, so I decided to give it a whirl.  I found a recipe for liquid oxiclean!  (thank you Google!!)  Luckily my two boys gave me ample opportunity to test stain fighting products today.  At lunch my older boy forgot that it’s best to shake the can of Yoohoo before you open it.  It’s a life lesson, I guess.  Later this afternoon at a play date  my younger son rolled around in the dirt for a while and got his shirt good and filthy too.

The recipe:

1 part hydrogen peroxide
1 part washing soda
2 parts water

My first test of this concoction is to toss in a scoop of washing soda and the same amount of peroxide into the washer along with my regular detergent formula.  If that doesn’t work I’ll soak the shirts in the actual mixture with water added and then wash them again.

My research says that pool supply and  janitorial supply stores carry sodium percarbonate in powder form.  I plan to investigate that further, as I’d love to have a powder version on hand.  My concern with mixing up a batch of liquid oxyclean is that the effectiveness may diminish rapidly.  Powdered sodium percarbonate is stable and activates when it hits the warm water of the washer.  I’ll do some research and see what I can find about buying sodium percarbonate in bulk and will report back with my results.

Behold the before pictures of the shirts! They match because today was the last day of Vacation Bible School and we were all wearing our VBS shirts.  I don’t always torture my children with matching clothing – only when we go out to places like the zoo or the circus to make them easier to spot in a crowd.

Anyhoo…. Here’s the Yoohoo shirt:

Yoohoo stained shirt

And an extreme close up of the Yoohoo stain:

Yoohoo close up

And the dirt stained shirt:

Dirty shirt

Close up of the dirt stain:

Dirty shirt close up

The results from test #1:  Epic Failure

To quote Mythbusters (my nerdy 6 year old’s favorite show), “Failure is always an option.”  Well, I succeeded in failing for sure.  Adding a scoop of washing soda and an equal amount of peroxide to the wash did not yield positive results.  The stains are still there. The dirt stains are kind of hard to see in the picture, but they are still there.

Dirt Stain After Test 1

Yoohoo Stain After Test 1

Test #2 is to soak them in the actual recipe.  I used 1/4 cup washing soda and 1/4 cup peroxide and 1/2 cup water.  It still seemed a little grainy so I ended up adding some more water to the mix.  I set the timer for 20 minutes and let the shirts soak in a plastic bowl.

Results?  Not perfect, but better.  I’m all out of washing soda – maybe if I’d used more in my mix it would have worked.   I’m using regular Oxiclean for test #3 to see if it can get the last bit out of the shirts.

Yoohoo Test 2

Dirt Test 2

Results of test #3 – near perfect stain removal.  Is this because I’m using the real deal or because it’s the 3rd time it’s been soaked?  Who knows… Further investigation is clearly required.

Yoohoo Test 3

Dirt Test 3

So what have we learned?  DIY Oxiclean isn’t perfect, but is a step in the right direction.  More research is needed on powdered sodium percarbonate to see if it really is the same as Oxiclean.

To be continued….

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