If you just started your zero-waste journey, you may be very conscious of the chemical cleaners in your house. One easy thing you may not have thought to switch out is your laundry detergent.
Laundry detergent is one of the worst products to have in your house. Not only is it filled with harmful toxins and chemicals, but you can't get away from it! It's on your pj's, your towels, kitchen cloths, your bed sheets, the list goes on! In some way or another, you are always in contact with the fabric that went through that treatment and is now covered in harmful chemicals.
You may be wondering what exactly is in your laundry detergent and how bad it is for you. After all, everyone uses it/needs it, right?
Let's start with the perfumes, shall we?
You know that feeling when you walk down the laundry aisle and have to hold your breath because the scents are so strong? That's fragrance.
Manufacturers combine several chemicals to produce fragrance, and you will see it listed as such on the bottle. The specific chemicals don't have to be listed on the label because of trade protection. But these chemicals are 'hazardous air pollutants', not only for yourself but also for nature. AKA, you don't want them around!
These are to help the products clean your clothes better. Some of these chemicals are, Quaternium-15, (known to release formaldehyde), diethanolamine, (linked to skin and eye irritation, nonylphenol ethoxylate or NPE, ( toxic to nerves, hormonal disruptor, toxic to marine life) petroleum distillates (linked to cancer and lung damage)...and so many more!
These are to help the detergent's shelf life. Some of these chemicals include polyalkylene oxide or ethylene oxide which are linked to eye and lung irritation. These are linked to lung and eye irritation, even dermatitis.
Bleach can be mixed into the detergent or you may be using it by itself. Either way, it is incredibly toxic and when mixed with wastewater can form toxic organic compounds causing respiratory issues and kidney damages.
These you will find in products that advertise "Brighter Clothes".
These chemicals trap UV light and remain on your clothes making them appear brighter. Care to know their names? Naphthotriazolystilbnese, linked with developmental and reproductive effects and benzoxazolyl...to name a few.
1,4-dioxane is a by-product of ethoxylation, "a cheap shortcut process companies use to provide mildness to harsh cleaning ingredients." It is considered to cause cancer in the State of California and has been found to be potentially toxic to your brain and central nervous system. Since it is a byproduct, (not an ingredient) it does not have to be listed on product labels.
Phosphates & ED
These chemicals are used to help the detergents be more effective in hard water. These chemicals are extremely harmful to the environment, particularly in streams and waterways.
So what can you do?
Well, stop buying commercial laundry detergent and find a natural brand!
At Bring Your Own LLC, we sell 3 different kinds of powdered laundry soap in bulk. It's what we use and love!
We have lemon, lavender, and unscented, and they are just as effective as store-bought detergents, without the harmful chemicals! While our powder laundry soap is 100% safe for cloth diapers, we also have a cloth diaper laundry detergent concentrate available!
We estimate that for every one load of laundry you do with a commercial detergent you could do 3+ loads with our powder detergent! It only takes 1/2 to one tablespoon of powdered detergent for you to wash a full load.
We also have a stain stick available that has ingredients you can actually pronounce! And if you have pesky stains but aren't ready for the stain stick, you can always try some baking soda and water on the stain.
A few other tips for making your laundry routine more eco-friendly are below:
- Re-wear clothes to get more usage out of them before having to do a load.
- Save up your laundry for full loads.
- Wash your laundry in cold water to save on the energy used for making hot water.
- Air dry when possible, either outside or on a drying rack in your house.
How have you been able to make your laundry routine more eco-friendly? We would love to hear from you in the comments! Remember, there are always alternatives out there; you may just have to do some research.
Written by Anneke Lamb