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Keep reading to learn more about laundry detergents and why Nellie's is the best. In this article you will learn:
- What is in laundry detergent and how it works
- The toxic effects of laundry detergent
- The truth about many "natural" products
- Laundry detergent ingredients to avoid
- Tips to detox your laundry room
- Why Nellie's is the best Eco-friendly laundry detergent
How Does Laundry Detergent Work?
Ingredients combine to create a liquid or powder that gets grease and grime off of fabrics. Dirt is removed from clothing and then suspended in the washing water to be carried away. The ingredients commonly found in commercial laundry detergents include:
- Surfactants - a combination of the words "surface-active agents". One end of a surfactant molecule is attracted to dirt and grease, one end is attracted to water. When a washing machine agitates fabric, the molecules form tiny spheres that stay suspended in the water to be rinsed away when the water is drained.
- Builders - these are added to make surfactants more efficient. The bind to mineral ions in hard water, allowing the surfactants to work better. They can also help neutralize acids.
- Whiteners and Brighteners - laundry detergents may have chemical whiteners such as bleach added to them. Optical brighteners are sometimes added to keep whites from looking yellow. These optical brighteners emit blue light, tricking the eye into seeing clothes as whiter. They stay in the fabric and can potentially cause skin irritation. They also decompose slowly and can be harmful to marine life.
- Enzymes - these help break down food particles present on clothing. Also added are enzyme stabilizers to protect the enzymes and help them function.
- Fragrances and Dyes - give laundry detergents their distinctive scents and colors. Many use synthetic fragrances that are often made up of undisclosed hazardous chemicals.
- Fillers - help dilute and distribute the active ingredients.
Toxic Effects of Laundry Detergent Chemicals
- Toxic to aquatic organisms and algae
- Persist in the environment
- Can cause health problems in people including skin irritation, respiratory problems and even cancer
- Eutrophication of water, especially by phosphate-based detergents
- Can make water acidic
- Chemicals in laundry detergent get on your skin and absorbed into your body
The Truth about "Natural" Laundry Detergents
There is a large selection of "natural" detergents being created and marketed as alternatives to conventional laundry detergents. However, just because a laundry detergent is labeled as "natural", or "eco-friendly" does not mean that it is completely non-toxic. The term "natural" can be used with no regulation on what it means.
Many "green" laundry detergents still contain hazardous chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS). SLS is a foaming agent that is commonly contaminated with dioxane, a known carcinogen.
Fragrances are one of the most hazardous chemicals found in laundry detergents. Even unscented laundry detergents often still contain fragrance chemicals. These fragrance chemicals are being called "the new second-hand smoke". They can irritate the skin and eyes and many are suspected carcinogens. I have seen dozens of "natural" laundry detergents that still contain artificial fragrances.
Nellie's Natural Laundry Soda is free of artificial fragrances and sodium lauryl sulfate.
Tips for an Eco-Friendly Laundry Room
- Wash in cold water to use less energy
- Use concentrated formulas to reduce packaging
- Make your own laundry detergent to avoid all toxic chemicals
- Read ingredients lists on laundry products and avoid those on the list above
- Avoid products that are labeled with "danger", "warning" or "poison"
- Eliminate fabric softeners. Use 1/2 cup of vinegar in your rinse water instead
- Stop buying dryer sheets. Instead put a few drops of essential oils on a damp rag and throw it in the dryer with your clothes
- Use wool dryer balls to reduce drying time, wrinkles and static
- Add baking soda to your detergent to brighten clothes and reduce odors
- Pre-treat stains with a mixture of washing soda, water and vinegar
- Choose safer products
Making your own laundry detergent is a guaranteed way to avoid toxic chemicals, but you don't always want to make your own, sometimes you want a more convenient option. Luckily, I have a product recommendation for you.
The Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent:
Nellie's All NAtural laundry soda
- SODA ASH - (SODIUM CARBONATE) also known as washing soda. Used as a water softener.
- SODIUM METASILICATE - A major use is as a builder (a material that enhances or maintains the cleaning efficiency of a surfactant, principally by inactivating water hardness) in soaps and detergents.
- SODIUM CHLORIDE - Sodium chloride, also known as common salt, table salt, or halite.
- The Detergent is a coconut based (LAURYL) Ethoxylated fatty alcohol. Coconut oil on its own will wash nothing. It is therefore chemically modified so that it becomes surface active and thus performs like a detergent. This commodity is widely used by many detergent manufacturers because it is readily biodegradable, non toxic and mild and efficient. It is also NOT Petroleum based.
- Super concentrated
- Residue free
- Works in cold water
- Works on cloth diapers
- HE friendly
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate free
- Free of dyes
- No optical brighteners
- Leaves clothes soft
- Removes odors
There are plenty of things you can do to detox your laundry room, with every small change adding up to a big difference. Choosing a non-toxic laundry detergent is one small step in the right direction, towards a future where we are no longer surrounding ourselves with toxic substances.
Nellie's washing soda is the closest you are going to get to a homemade laundry detergent. It is quick, convenient, easy to use and it works!
Do you have any Eco-friendly laundry tips to share?