In some cultures, the notion of laundry, in general means using local river water and beating each item against a stone. This approach may give your jeans that stonewashed look, but let’s face it, most of us own a washing machine. While these machines are designed to save time, they tend to consume a great deal of energy. You help offset this by making a few easy changes.
If you have a new Energy Star washing machine, which uses 50% less energy, then you’re already half way there. Regardless of which machine you use, try using cold water for every load. It’s estimated that you could save around 90% in energy costs by switching to cold water. If you can do away with the machine altogether, try a classic hand wash. Instead of letting the tap run freely, fill up a bucket and wash all your dirties together. When you want to give it a rinse, be sure to refill the bucket with cold water.
With all the marketing efforts spent on detergents these days, it’s not always easy to understand what exactly you’re washing with. Although these detergents may smell fresh, most household laundry detergents are filled with harmful compounds.
Here are a few ingredients to avoid:
1. Phosphates – are usually present in most household cleaners such as dishwasher tablets and laundry detergents. These are known to cause nausea, diarrhea and skin irritation. Phosphate is difficult to remove from wastewater. As a result, it often ends up in inhabited water reserves. This in turn causes excessive growth in aquatic plants and suffocation of underwater life.
2. Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – is an effective foaming agent found in the majority of personal care products. Once absorbed in the skin, it can also be disruptive to hormonal balance in both men and women. It also contains dioxane, a cancer-causing chemical.
3. Dioxane – is a carcinogenic chemical that is detrimental to health. Nonetheless, increasingly high levels of this chemical are present in nearly two thirds of all detergents in America. It is also potentially toxic to the central nervous systems and various organs.
4. Nonylphenol Ethoxylate – is a synthetic surfactant used in a majority of cleaning detergents. Not easily biodegradable, this chemical is said to be a contributing factor to the decline in survival rates for many fish species.
5. Ammonia – is commonly found in detergents and known to have many side effects such as, severe chest pains, asthma and eczema.
Although most supermarkets stock a larger share of chemical detergents, take the time to seek out natural products. If you have trouble finding any, you can always check Amazon.com.
To get you started, here’s a short list of the best natural laundry brands:
- Nellies‘ ‘All Natural Laundry Soda’ is one of the most popular products in the market. It’s a complete hypoallergenic formula that has been created to keep your clothes feeling fresh and clean. The soda is incredibly concentrated, so you’ll only need one spoon per load. Nellies also make cleaning nuggets for both kitchen and laundry.
- Charlie Soap is incredibly popular for cloth diapers. This hypoallergenic solution is free of brighteners and scents. It is also completely biodegradable and contains no toxins. No wonder it’s a hit with mothers.
- ECOS is a PH neutral detergent and contains a natural coconut-based fabric softener. The ultra concentrated formula is designed to quickly remove ground in- dirt and stains.
- Method Laundry detergent is made with Smartclean technology ™. The product is 8x more concentrated than generic cleaners and uses far less water. The plant-based formula is made using 95% natural and renewable ingredients. On average you can expect to get 50 loads of washing from only a 20-ounce bottle!
- Rocking Green Soap is another favorite with mothers. It comes in several scents and three types of formulations from Hard Rock, Classic Rock to Soft Rock based on what type of water you have. They also offer sample packs if you want to give it a try.
- Seventh Generation produces plant-based cleaning products. It comes in an array of scents including Geranium Blossoms & Vanilla and Blue Eucalyptus & Lavender. The solution is ultra-concentrated, so you’ll need very little even for a large load.
- Eco Nuts are biodegradable soap nuts and come from a soap called Saponin. They are 100% natural and have been deseeded and sterilized. Popular with mothers, these soap nuts are perfect for ringing out diapers. Each box also comes with a handy reusable washing bag!
- Eco-me laundry soap, known as Emma, is an all-natural detergent. Consciously created, Eco-me has a range of household products that have been created to suit daily living.
- Country Save is one of the oldest green cleaning products. The detergent is 100% natural, completely biodegradable and gluten free.
If you are feeling more adventurous, why make your own washing powder? With a few organic ingredients, you can easily whip up a solution that is vegan and sustainable.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 x Organic soap bar (grated) my favorite is Dr. Bronner’s Classic Fair Trade soap bars.
- 1 cup Borax (Sodium Borate – you’ll find it in your supermarket)
- 1 cup Washing soda (Sodium Carbonate – you’ll find it in your supermarket)
Step 1: Grate the soap with a cheese or carrot grater.
Step 2: Combine with the borax and washing soda in an airtight container (an empty jar or Tupperware will work here).
Step 3: Shake it up, and you’re done!
All you need to do is add one tablespoon per load. This mixture should last about 36 loads.
Did we miss out some great laundry products? Tell us about them in the comments section below!