I feel I bit of a prat using the word "primal" in this kind of context - but there; it's done.
I heard an archaeologist talking about laundry. She said that in the old days women used to use lye, made from ashes, and cold water. They packed all the clothing - heavy linen sheets, linen shirts, wool garments in a barrel-like container called a buck. They'd carry that down to a river. (Carrying bucks - hence the phrase "the buck stops here".)
Only quite recently did soap and hot water come in. In medieval times soap wasn't so freely available, but wood ash was. With the gradual switch to coal for fuel, there was a move to soap. That needs hot water, unlike lye, so women stopped doing their washing down at the river. They lathered the clothes up in a tub with a wooden dolly. These housewives, and women who specialized in this - washerwomen - could probably have beaten the Governor of California at arm wrestling!
What she said about the current situation is quite interesting. She says the current situation is now different again: it is, of course, a washing machine rather than muscle power, and detergent rather than soap. But she says she doesn't use detergent at all. She says it's grossly expensive, not needed, makes the clothes itchy and uncomfortable, and pollutes rivers.
She says she's got a whole battery of harmless household substances she uses on particular stains - things like vinegar - rather than a lot of bought stain-removers that have God knows what in them. Apart from that, she just uses a good hot wash with no detergent, and she says extensive testing and experience has shown her that hot water is sufficient to clean normally soiled clothes. She says it takes two or three washes after you stop using detergent till the clothes turn soft.
How about this? I think this is quite interesting. At a basic level, I quite like the idea simply of not using a pre-packaged item from a mega-combine that'll only care about profit and will be quite happy to sell you something you don't need. I don't think much of harmful processed foods; I don't use antiperspirants and deodorants, because I stay clean, and I don't need to poison my body with aluminium. I recently read mouthwash is just as capable of killing healthy bacteria in your mouth, and real dental health begins with diet, and I'm wondering about throwing out that bottle of chemicals, too.
So what else are they selling me I don't need? If that archaeologist is managing fine without detergent, do I need it? But it's not just paying for things you don't need.
The issue of polluting rivers really does concern me. I don't think we can go on how we are: buying what we're told we need without paying attention to what it's doing to ourselves or the environment around us.