3 Ways to Detox Your Laundry Routine
This post is dedicated to all those mamas out there still using Tide. Or Dreft. Or All, Gain, Kirkland, Shout, Bounce, Snuggle, Downy, etc. Just about any laundry product you can buy off the shelf at your local grocery store. They are ALL toxic. Go ahead, look every product in your laundry room up on the Environmental Working Group's website on safe household cleaning products. Even Dreft, which is supposed to be formulated as a safe, hypoallergenic detergent made for babies gets an F rating. This type of rating means there are safety concerns at elevated levels contained in the ingredients that encompass most/all of the following:
- Asthma and respiratory
- Skin allergies and irritation
- Developmental and reproductive toxicity
I know we are all pretty well aware that all those issues listed above have become rampant epidemics in our society, and it is safe to say that making some changes to minimize our exposure and risk of developing health issues is prudent. Particularly when we have tiny, vulnerable developing bodies in our homes being exposed to these harmful toxins.
Don't worry, you DO NOT need to make your own laundry detergent and stain removers in order to remove the toxic burden from this arena in your home (although feel free! There are TONS of resources for that! Read on for my recommended resources).
I experience a great deal of frustration in the laundry room, and NOT just because, in a household of five + two dogs, I have too much laundry to do all the time (which is true). I get frustrated at what feels like a lack of options for effective products that aren't going to cause cancer or infertility or eczema or any other physiologic malfunction. And a great deal of the products that ARE safe are either ridiculously expensive, or are not effective enough at removing stains. Or both.
And even when I DO find products that I feel are safe, they can change, or still cause issues. Three exampls:
- I used Charlie's Laundry Soap for YEARS until one day my sister-in-law said, "You know Charlie's Soap gets a D rating, right?" I was like, "WHAT?!" I researched this product. I knew it was safe! Well, go take a look at the rating now, it is an A. This tells me that manufacturers change their formulas, so you may not even know if and when your product has been reformulated to include unsafe ingredients. (A great argument for making your own!)
- I switched to Seventh Generation, the powdered version as that received an A rating. About three weeks later, my six year old developed a painful and itchy rash on his bum. I initially assumed it was from not wiping thoroughly enough after using the restroom. After a couple of weeks applying every topical remedy I could think of, and making him change his underwear several times a day, it was only getting worse and the remedies were either painful or made it more irritated. When my daughter started to develop the same problem, the light bulb went on. I went to Whole Foods that day and purchased Biokleen, another detergent that gets an A rating on EWG's website. I rewashed every pair of underwear for both of my kids, and magically the rash disappeared within days. So, lesson learned. Even a "green" product can still cause problems.
- After baby #3 was born, she started to develop dry, bumpy, rashy skin. It appeared on her face first, and was the worst on her chin. At first I thought maybe it was baby acne, or was from something I was eating. When it spread to her arms, legs, back and belly, I knew something was really not right. Her skin felt dry and bumpy, almost leathery, to the touch. Such a sad sight when babies typically have the softest, velvety skin ever. The doctor wasn't sure what it was from, but suggested it could be from laundry detergent. I rewashed ALL of her clothing and bedding using Soap Nuts, and using only hydrogen peroxide and the sun for stain removal. Her rash disappeared.
It's definitely worth paying attention to what we use on our laundry. We can add to the toxic burden on our bodies and planet, or we can minimize our exposure to those chemicals that are not positively contributing to our wellbeing. And it doesn't have to be hard!
Three Easy Ways To Detox Your Laundry
1. Do not use fabric softener. Really, your laundry doesn't need it. I've been using 1/4-1/2 cup distilled vinegar in the rinse compartment for over a decade now. No one would ever notice a difference!
2. Throw out your dryer sheets and NEVER buy them ever again. I can always tell when my neighbor is running her dryer, the chemical fragrance smell travels well out into the street. This stuff is toxic people. Your clothes do NOT need to be doused in chemicals so they smell "fresh." Try replacing with wool dryer balls, or go au naturale like me and skip this unnecessary step.
3. Switch your detergent. Take a look at the top rated products on EWG's website and buy nothing less than an A rated product. To go super, ultra, non-toxic, crunchy-granola-mama green, go straight for the Soap Nuts (more on this product in this post on my laundry routine).
One day I will experiment with making my own laundry detergent. This is where I will start:
Both of these ladies have several recipes to try, but those two links should get you started if you are interested in venturing out on your own homemade laundry detergent adventures!
Have a favorite method of getting out your dirt and grime without all the toxins? Share below!