It wasn’t long enough after I began my organic living journey that I realized that I needed to take a close look at my laundry routine because most of the typical laundry supplies contain dyes, perfumes and possibly other toxins.
First, I began using a free and clear detergent. However, these detergents still aren’t pure as they may seem. So if you’re ready to go to the next level, read these 5 tips:
1. Switch to a natural detergent.
What to stay away from:
• Fabric brighteners which give the illusion that the cloth is whiter/brighter than it really is. These can just cause skin irritations and possibly build-up on your laundry.
• Stain guards that coat fabrics.
• An array of chemicals found in laundry supplies that are actually toxins
Natural detergent recommendations:
A home made detergent may work for you. Here is one I’ve tried I felt like it worked for the baby’s laundry but maybe not as well for my stinky workout clothes. One thing to be aware of is the lack of suds. Because we like the way suds look and feel and we equate them with clean, more additives go into our products so they suds MORE. Just remember this when your 4 ingredient natural version doesn’t get all sudsy!
• Soap nuts can be used as well. These are very natural as they are berries from India and Nepal that grow from trees. Saponin is the main ingredient that they have in their shells, which, when coming into contact with water, acts as a natural and gentle detergent.
• The EWG database can provide you with info on your laundry products. It has about 678 entries in the laundry section alone. This can help you compare the ingredients of many different products to give you an idea of what can be used.
2. Use natural stain removers.
The Sun is my favorite stain remover. After all, it is 100 percent very natural, right? If I have a tough stain, I will hang the article of clothing out in the sun while it is still wet. The sun bleaches it within few hours. This I discovered by accident once my baby was born and I heard it worked for spit up stains. It also works for poop stains. (too much information, right?)
You can also try:
• oxygen bleach because it is a great natural alternative to chlorine bleach to or dissolving ingredients.
• powdered oxygen bleach in water; you can spray it directly on the stain.
• Fels naptha soap. Rub a bar of it directly on the stain before washing it.
3. Ditch the fabric softener.
Fabric softener has never been my thing. My mother didn’t use it either so I never knew how important it was. Today I have made it a priority to avoid fabric softener in favor of white vinegar. It is an ideal alternative to fabric softener. It will not only soften fabrics but it also keep the odors from wet clothes from being noticeable.
4. Forget the dryer sheets and use wool dryer balls instead!
In a former life, I always used dryer sheets. I would get the less expensive ones and cut them in half to make them last longer. And I’d stick them in my suitcase when I was a business traveler to keep my clothes smelling fresh in there. And then I learned that dryer sheets leave lots of residue that contains some rather harmful toxins.
I just got back from visiting relatives and they kindly did some laundry for us but I can feel the film on the fabric from the dryer sheets!
I then switched to using wool dryer balls and immediately saw a difference. Wool dryer balls made the drying time faster, reduced static on my clothing and as a bonus also has anti bacterial properties.
Mine were effective as they lasted for years. Etsy shop owners sell them too and have many of them. And if you are feeling crafty or you are really crafty, you can try making your own.
5. Stop taking your clothes to the dry cleaner.
Many potential toxins are in traditional dry cleaners. Clothes that require dry cleaning processes are kind of a pain anyway, aren’t they?
However, there are items that inevitably have to be dry cleaned. A comforter set or pillows are two of those items. Thankfully though in our town, we have an organic, non-toxic dry cleaner business.