What would be a safer alternative to regular laundry detergents?
There are many ways to avoid using commercially produced toxic laundry detergents. Even those that are labeled “green” or “organic” are often as toxic as most commonly used detergents. Although each alternative method has its own pros and cons, we have narrowed it to a few most common and the least toxic methods of cleaning your clothes.
Safer, scent-free alternatives to common laundry detergents
In order to meet a “safer laundry detergent alternative” criteria, there are a few things to remember
- Never use dryer sheets or fabric softeners due to very high levels of toxicity
- The laundry cleaning substances must have virtually no odor and do not produce toxic fumes when placed in the dryer or on a hanging of a rack
- The alternative laundry “detergents” substances must leave virtually no residue on fabrics to avoid coming in contact with the skin
- The laundry cleaning substances must not produce any odor or off-gassing after the cleaning and drying cycles are complete.
The cleaning substances that are the least toxic
It is important to realize that any substance, whether synthetic or organic can become a poison in high concentrations. Therefore, when using even the safer cleaning substances, you should use the least amount necessary.
At Toxic Goods we have narrowed it down to the following
- Unscented organic Castile liquid soap (as cleaning agent)
- Baking soda (as cleaning agent, deodorizer, antiseptic and water softener)
- 3% Hydrogen peroxide (brightens colors, disinfects clothing and washer, removes odors)
Note that alternative laundry cleaning substances are to be used to avoid toxins and they do not have the same properties as commercial solvents. If you have hard to rid of stains, you need to treat the stains separately and prior to the washing cycle.
How to wash clothes using the safer alternatives to laundry detergents
For most common washers and dryers, follow these steps:
- Treat any hard to clean stains prior to the washing cycle
- Place your MEDIUM load in the washer
- Add 1/5-1/6 of a cup of Castile liquid soap to the detergent dispenser (for average load)
- Sprinkle evenly 1/5 cup of baking soda directly onto the clothing
- Add 1/4 cup of 3% Hydrogen peroxide to the bleach dispenser
- For high-efficiency washers, set your washer to a large load so that it uses more water in the wash and rinse cycles. This is to ensure that all cleaning agents are washed away from the fabric. If you use automatic settings, these machines will not use enough water to completely remove cleaning agent residues from the fabrics.
If you have stains that are hard to remove, just prior to the wash cycle you can rub the spots with a paste made from equal parts vinegar and baking soda.
The alternative laundry detergent methods shown in this article are provided as a reference. If you feel that the cleaning results are not satisfactory to your needs, remember that using safer for health laundry detergent alternatives achieves the balance between the cleaning power and your safety.
You can further modify the ratios of ingredients used above. However, keep in mind that using higher concentrations makes any substance more toxic to your body. To increase the cleaning power, you can increase the temperature of your washer water and dry the clothing on the racks to avoid fabric shrinkage.
More is not better. Clean your clothes when only absolutely necessary. There’s no need for regular laundry days if your clothes are still clean and wearable. On the other hand, owning fewer clothes could reduce the burden and win you more free time.