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Monday, June 27, 2011

Should you Change to A Natural Laundry Detergent?

This post is part of an ongoing series on Avoiding Toxins in our Lives.  To read more on how to avoid toxins click here.

Have you walked down the laundry detergent aisle lately? I am sure you have, especially if you have children.  They always seem to get dirty or change their clothes a million times a day.  Have you noticed the sheer volume of choices when it comes to laundry detergents? It can be overwhelming.  So why should you reconsider your current laundry detergent? Depending on what you are using there is probably an alternative. I have been researching laundry detergents for the past two month and checking out my alternatives.  Why would I consider changing my laundry detergent to a natural laundry detergent?  I had a laundry detergent that I researched when we moved out to the country. It was good for septic systems and appeared to be natural to boot.  At the time it was GOOD enough for me.  Living out in the boonies, so to speak the closest  big store was about twenty miles away .  While we did have a local store that has a a real butcher still,  it was not suited for the bigger  bulk purchases for things like laundry and cleaning supplies. 
It is hard to say good bye to an old and trustworthy product. It did the  job it was supposed to. But this past April, after  looking around and mulling around the idea of making my own detergent I happened across my neighbors at the Farmer’s Market.  They make soaps and lotions. They had added something new to their product line, concentrated  laundry powder. It was concentrated. It smelled wonderful (lavender), it cost $7 for a little bag about the size of a lunch bag (smaller actually).  My first thought was yikes! I just spent $7 for this tiny bit of detergent. But wait – this detergent was concentrated. I only needed 1-2 tbsp. of it to do laundry.  This little bag of laundry powder lasted as long 3 weeks for me. The biggest box of detergent  I was currently getting lasts me a month. Did I mention we do a lot of laundry here, at least two loads a day?
When the powder was all used up I went back to my regular detergent I had two unopened boxes of it home.  I immediately noticed the chemical fragrance  in my favorite detergent. However, since I had opened the big box I wanted to use it up and not waste it.  But it is then that  I started experiencing an uptick in allergy symptoms, itchy skin, watery eyes.  My frugal side won out and I finished up the box. The second box went back to the store to be exchanged for the supplies to make our own laundry powder.  When my husband saw the list of ingredients on the homemade laundry powder we bought in April he decided that WE could make our own. I took that to mean I would be the one researching the how, buying the raw ingredients, and mixing it up. 

Why should you consider changing your Laundry Detergent?

  • If you or a loved one in your family has sensitive skin, eczema, or psoriasis, you might want to change your detergent.  The chemicals in detergents can irritate your skin, and if you your water is hard or too soft it, you will have detergent residue.

  • Common detergents when used according to the manufacture directions will leave a residue. If you were to rinse your clothes in a washing machine filled with plain water you would see suds when you agitate it.

  • The worst part is most Americans use too much laundry detergent. They simply don’t bother to measure it and just guess. With high efficiency washer this has become more of a problem.  I have been decreasing the amount of detergent I was using steadily to see just how little I could get by with, much to my surprised, I discovered that

  • Soap is not even necessary to wash most loads of laundry, according to Seventh Generation's co-founder, Jeffrey Hollender,  “the agitation of washing machines often does the job on its own.”

  • Many detergents even unscented ones as I found out contain fragrance. This fragrance is usually made up of a synthetic chemical compounds. These chemicals contain xeno-estrogens.  These chemicals like the detergent never completely wash out of our clothing. Our skin is our largest organ, it breathes. We absorb these chemicals through the skin.

  • Many laundry detergents contain phosphates which end up in our rivers and streams. High phosphate levels promote over growth of algae and water weeds

  • We could all use less toxins in our lives.

  • Most laundry detergent are 50% builders by volume. That is right. Unless you are buying a concentrated laundry detergent, you are buying filler. (water) 

  • Perhaps a motivator for many is the high sometimes cost of many laundry detergents. Especially considering you are paying for fillers.

  • This past week I began experimenting with making  my own home made laundry detergent. For now we are mixing it in the washer as it fills with water. Not the  most efficient method but we are having good results so far. We are using a mixture of Washing Soda. Borax and White Vinegar.  I have seen a reduction in my allergy symptoms and hope to continue to see more reduction as we get all traces of detergents out of our laundry. In this up coming week I will be running some experiments to see what combinations  or cleansers work the best and will share with you my results.

    For now I am off to do laundry.



    Paula said...

    Hi Lisa! I just started making my own liquid laundry detergent with borax, washing soda and Fels Naptha soap.

    And, I'm also married to a permanent deacon! Charles was ordained in August 2006 and he is assigned to our Cathedral. His day job is as Director of the Office of Ministries at the Diocese of Juneau. He is also an iconographer.

    Come by and visit me at Home in Douglas!

    Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

    How neat your husband is also a Catholic Deacon. G was ordained this past Pentecost. His assignment will be effective in August so for now we are enjoying our Parish and doing traveling to outlying parishes in our diocese to encourage me to consider the deaconate.

    An Irish Italian Blessing said...

    Great post! I have a group of friends who make their own detergent since they just had babies and while I've been tempted to do this, we just keep using the costco natural stuff.

    I'm a new follower from the hop :)

    Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

    I wish I know about making my own detergent when my kids were babies. The only thing we knew about then was to grate ivory snow soap. Baby laundry powder is so expensive. Maybe you can give it a try.

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